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Archive for September, 2008

Audio podcast: Charon Report (10): Day Two, Tory Conference

Exhausted from watching BBC News 24 coverage of the collapse of the financial world last night,  and reluctant to borrow any more shares from my local vicar in non-banking sectors to short sell, I decided not to flog up the motorway to listen to David Cameron today but to do it the easy way and wait for The Blue Blog to send me an email.

So, I report to you tonight, from the Boat, a glass of Rioja to my right and a pack of Britain’s finest woodbines to my left. The Blue Blog Email arrived about fifteen minutes ago. David, I was told, “promised that we will do everything possible to help the Government protect our financial security.”  I listened to his unscheduled speech.  He wants to get a couple of things straight – I paraphrase…..  we must not let anger cloud judgment, easy to see why people are pissed off with bankers who come to us to bail them out… will be a day of reckoning…. but not today. Must do everything we can to protect the stability…. and then a huge amount of clapping.  Today is a day for safety, security and protection. Cameron then, perhaps succumbing to omnipotence, told us that he would always do the right thing to protect our future.

All good guff, of course… but it was at this point that I started hunting around The Blue Blog to see if there were any Conservative policies lurking in dark corners.  I could not find any – but I did come across a blog post by George Osborne, written… possibly in a moment of post politico-coital tendresse, shortly after Cameron’s impromptu speech.  A beautifully and sensitively photographed Osborne… looking composed and serious, almost grave…. wrote: “We are in the eye of a global financial storm, and people across Britain will be worried by the events they can see unfolding on the news. We will not allow party politics to get in the way of tackling this crisis. That is why David Cameron has just made a special address to the Conservative Party offering to work with the Government to introduce new powers to save failing banks, protect savings and break the cycle of liquidity drying up by temporarily suspending mark-to-market accounting. Our principle is clear: we must protect the taxpayer where possible and stabilise the system where necessary.”

I could hear Jerusalem in my head, triggering images of our sceptred isle, of the recent summer season, the Henley Regatta, Glyndebourne…. the sounds of the English middle classes clapping at Wimbledon and shouting “Come on Tim!” – and then I realised I was reading what is supposed to be a serious blog.  I made a point of reading both comments – one from a chap called No Display Name…  who started his comment with.. and I quote:

“Sir,
Firstly, congratulations on delivering one of the most effective and honest speeches I have ever heard made by a Politician of any persuasion.  I have been and will remain a life long Conservative but the issue you Sir and Colleagues face is regaining trust.”

This was a man or woman, a lifelong Tory, proud of his party but either to thick to write his or her name or who perhaps does not wish, yet, to be identified as one of the faithful publicly.

I enjoyed the use of the greeting “Sir”…. perhaps the writer recalled the good old days of fagging and the lash…. who knows? but his words appeared on the page to have come from another era in terms of the style of writing. There is a hint of this when the anonymous writer goes on to say “The British are a nation still of famously long suffering but, they possess an inherent, almost in-born sense of fair-play.” I could almost see Tom Brown smiling approvingly. Labour may do the Hovis metaphor well… but you have to hand it to The Tories… their new website and blog is slick…  and the smooth looking photographs of Osborne and Cameron, subtly hinting at efficiency and the demeanour of those born to rule, is more Eton Boating Song than Keith Allen’s song ‘Vindaloo”.

It was at this point that my eye was caught by the words on The Blue Blog… “Show your support Join the Conservative Wall.”  I just had to click the link... and while things are bad under labour (I have always voted Labour)……  I began to feel a shiver down my spine… it was not one of patriotism or new found zeal… it was one of pure horror at what may come to be.

So… on that note, as I don’t need to sit on a train getting pissed on my way back from Birmingham… I shall bid you goodnight and spend a little time with my cellar as the tide comes in.

This is Charon, reporting on Day Two of the Tory Conference, from The Boat.

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Audio podcast: Charon Report (10): Day Two, Tory Conference

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30 September: Daily Legal news and podcast

Daily Legal News and podcast up on Insitelaw

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I didn’t have much to do tonight so I thought I would go on BBC News 24, waffle a bit, as BBC News 24 have been doing for much of the evening, and try out my new ‘George Osborne Serious’ look.

The US has rejected the $700 billion bail out. I just had to watch BBC News 24.  There was a lot of waffle on News 24 and hushed tones from the autocuties (male and female) and much watching of Dow Jones points falls and heavy breathing.

We had a cameo appearance from George Osborne, looking remarkably relaxed, saying that we needed to ensure that those in the UK earning £12,000 or £20,000 do not subsidise those earning bonuses of £2 million.  Osborne expressed the view, in a wonderfully languid, non-committal, confident, public school way, that Congress would need to reach agreement.  Then we were taken back to the hyperventilating newsreaders to watch some film showing someone standing around waiting to ring the bell to bring an end to trading at the ‘top of the hour’.

Cyclops came on to tell us that he was disappointed, looked serious for a while,  and then we were taken back to listen to some more American pundits.  The BBC cut the US commentator to take us over to David Cameron, looking ever more like the Pilsbury Doughboy, and Cameron, also trying out the new concerned bipartisanly serious look, said that he would work with the government….. and then, I am afraid… I had to check Rioja prices worldwide… and lost interest in what Cameron was saying.

I did flick back to hear that George Bush is disappointed…He said:  “The plan was big… because we have a big problem”….

I wasn’t asked to stay for very long by the BBC…. maybe they realised I shouldn’t really have been on TV tonight… a bit like that wonderful African taxi driver who was wheeled onto News 24 in error and ended up giving us an opinion on intellectual property and Apple.

I bid you goodnight. Gordon Brown is taking ‘decisive action’… and so am I taking ‘decisive action’.  I am going to drink some Rioja… decisively.

PS: Hank Paulson is looking cream krackered.

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Audio podcast: Charon Report (9) – from The Tory Conference

I report today from Britain’s second City, Birmingham – a city almost unknown outside of its own city limits – to report on the gathering of the Tory faithful.

For two years now Cameron and his band of merry Etonians have been able to sit back and watch as Labour digs itself deeper into the merde and enjoy a 20 point lead over Labour – albeit cut back to nine points after Brown’s speech last week.  Now, even The Sun (in an article written by the great spinmeister Alastair Campbell, is demanding that Cameron shows us the political money – and tells the 4 million + Sun readers what The Tories stand for and how they will run Britain.

As a warm up to the conference, Mayor Boris was able to repay Arnold Schwarzenegger’s insult  describing Boris as ‘fumbling” by telling the faithful “Thank you very much for that welcome. Much more generous than in 2006 when I was physically pelted with pork pies by the press corps or last year when my speaking style was criticised by Arnold Schwarzenegger….. And it was a low moment, my friends, to have my speaking style denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.”

David Cameron, concerned about recent Tatler photographs showing a group of young ‘potential’ MPs in designer clothes is reported in The Sun as saying  “Am I completely happy with all that? The Conservative Party has got to demonstrate that it is deadly serious about not being complacent.”

And William Hague has decided that he is like Bruce Willis. The Sun reports “The ex-Tory leader said he could double for the Die Hard actor as he said the Conservatives would be “tougher” on criminals. But not to be outdone … apparently… David Cameron had been likened to a “young John Wayne” in a poll by the Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

So…. so far, nothing of any substance from the Tories… but George Osborne… according to The Telegraph will say (and may already have said, but I was not listening attentively enough as my eye was caught by my picture looming over Osborne in the conference hall) quite a bit.

Mr Osborne, the shadow chancellor, will blame Labour for encouraging people to run up “more than a trillion pounds” of debt, without pausing to consider what would happen when credit dried up. He will vow that the Tories “will make sure that this mess never happens again….  Mr Osborne will warn that “the party is over” and promise to end the country’s “dependence on debt”.

That is all for this first report from Birmingham.

I won’t however, be going to the Lap Dancing Club in Birmgham featured on Guido Fawkes’ blog – a banner over the front door proclaiming” the ROCKET CLUB welcomes the Tories.  There’s nothing conservative about us”.

This is Charon, about to nip off and have a balti, from Birmingham.

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Audio podcast: Charon Report (9) – from The Tory Conference

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28 September: Daily Legal News and podcast

Daily Legal News and podcast up on Insitelaw

Also: Free one hour CPD online course on offer from CPD Channel. See Insitelaw magazine for details

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28 September: Postcard from The Boat

I write, on this day of our lord, from the boat – amused to learn that The Church of England has been accused of being involved in ‘short-selling’ – a wonderful irony after the ludicrous intervention of the two archbishops last week accusing short sellers and  Lloyds TSB et al of being “bank robbers and asset strippers”.  The initial story moved me to dress up in the kit and report from “Lambeth Palace” – but I was moved on by a freelance exorcist. It appears that declared short sellers accounted for only 2% of share sales. Fat Bigot has an amusing (and informative) view on the concept of short-selling for those who are unsure what short-selling is. I have just read it.

There is a degree of schadenfreude in reading the Guardian article.  I quote but a small section: “Jonathan Bartley, co-director of Ekklesia, said: “The archbishops should be extremely careful when attacking City bank robbers for short-selling and speculation. Amongst the billions of pounds that the church currently invests in property and shares are hundreds of millions invested in oil and mining companies.”

This weekend has been most unusual. I met with White Rabbit in “The Pig’s Ear” in Chelsea – a deliberate choice of venue given the way UK PLC seems to be going down the pan.  Also, it has to be said – a very conveniently located establishment to The Boat.  White Rabbit is, as regular readers will know, a barrister, published author and a law blogger who manages to avoid writing about law on his blog. A man after my own heart.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening – despite the problems caused to WR by London’s transport problems this weekend.

The government, in a belated return to socialist principles, has decided to nationalize yet another failed bank. (BBC) This time it is Bradford & Bingley.  As I assume that readers have access to newspapers I shall take soundings on this not from the fourth estate but from the world of the bloggers.

First up… a trip to Guido to see what the commenters are up to over there.  They can usually be relied on to come up with a balanced view: “Love it. All these fukin holier than thou politicians are at it robbing stealing whoring drugs and cash.ohh and eating their own snot live on TV. Stones and glass houses spring to mind.”

And now we go over to Capitalists@Work – a website worth reading every day for a bit of analysis: “The line has to be drawn; this is a small UK lender. There will be no global impact of B&B going bust.”

WebCameron has gone… to be replaced  by the imaginatively (and rather tediously) named “The Blue Blog”.  I am pleased to be able to report, as the Tories gather for their annual conference to hear the wisdom of Cameron,  that today’s entry on THE BLUE BLOG included this fascinating post by someone called Charles Barnwell: ” Something happened this morning that I don’t think has ever happened before. Party conferences are usually about talk. And that moment of reflection set the tone for what’s been a very different conference already. Black Voices Gospel Choir Sang; the council leader told us how Birmingham has become a global city with a local heart; and Karen Brady cheered “Come on you Blues!”

To borrow (and alter slightly)  the aphorism of F.E. Smith, barrister and Lord Chancellor,  “I am better informed….but none the wiser” after reading Mr Barnwell’s fascinating post on The Blue Blog.

Be sure, I shall be going to Birmingham,  for only the second time in fifty years, to bring you a report on what the Tories are saying. It is curious though, that for our second City, there is very little coverage about Birmingham in the national press or television.  I do recall, some years ago, that a soap opera called CrossRoads was set in Birmingham.  I can’t remember watching it that often but I do remember some fat bloke in a beanie hat who was a bit simple called Benny being one of the characters. And who could forget Amy Turtle and Meg Richardson?  I shall log on to Wikipedia and find out more about Birmingham before I go there to report.

RollonFriday.com, normally a place of cheer and amusement, finds itself reporting on redundancies and Minter Ellison lawyers nicking meals this week as the credit-crunch bites.

A short report from The Boat this week – simply because I have had a demanding weekend.  I may well write more later…

As always, best regards

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Audio Podcast: Charon Report 8 – From Lambeth Palace

I report today from outside Lambeth Palace in London, home of The Archbishop of Canterbury.  I used the bridge to cross the river as I didn’t think walking across the river itself would be looked upon that favorably in these circles. Today two of our most senior clerics have been doing their own bit of chasing the money-changers out of the Temple.

Times Business online reported this morning: “Leaders of the Church of England launched fierce attacks on the world’s stock market traders last night, condemning them as bank robbers and asset strippers and calling for a judicial review into Britain’s financial services. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York demanded stronger regulation and an end to speculation and living on debt.”

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, is reported as saying “The love of money is the root of all evil.” He said: “We have all gone to this temple called money. We have all worshipped at it. No one is guiltless . . . we have all become enslaved.”

Speaking at the Worshipful Company of International Bankers’ annual dinner in London, Sentamu said: “To a bystander like me, those who made £190 million deliberately underselling the shares of HBOS, in spite of a very strong capital base, and drove it into the arms of Lloyds TSB, are clearly bank robbers and asset strippers. We find ourselves in a market system which seems to have taken its rules of trade from Alice in Wonderland.”

As I look about me, at the splendour of Lambeth Palace, when I consider the history of religion in this country, the wealth, the control by the Church in times past over a repressed people I cannot help but marvel that the Banks are being chastised.  Next we will hear that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be instructing brokers not to short any shares if the Church of England holds stock…….  hang on, just a moment…I stand corrected… the studio is telling me through my earpiece that the Archbishop does not want any short selling of shares where the Church has an involvement.

I spoke to a vicar who was about to go into the palace.  I asked him if he was taking some loaves and fishes in for lunch.  He smiled wryly and told me that the sack was full of money.  He had just taken his savings out of a local bank just in case things got worse.  I asked him if he was worried about theft.  He raised his eyes heavenwards and told me… “We have just seen a form of theft on a global scale, perpetrated by banking sinners…. and… it is unlikely that any of the inhabitants in here will steal my money.  We worship a different God in here.”

It was at this point that a young priest walked towards me, a benign smile playing on his lips, his eyes fierce with zeal.  He produced a small bottle and started flicking cold water at me…. and then he said “I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this servant of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, by the coming of our Lord for judgment, that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure. I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.”

I left…I got the point…..I felt quite chilly as it happens… I’m still not entirely sure whether the priest had exorcised the demon from me or if I was the demon…

This is Charon, reporting from Lambeth Palace

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Audio Podcast: Charon Report 8 – From Lambeth Palace

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BREAKING NEWS

Grateful to fellow blogger May Contain Nuts for alerting me to story in Guardian revealing that Church of England were into short selling in unbelievable financial markets as well as the general unbelievable stuff they are in to. Wonderfully ironic…. but…. entirely consistent with Church practices going back over centuries.  Bank robbers?

I was rather busy on Friday doing work – and then I had to go to a very demanding wine tasting.  As a result I did not have time to read all the papers on Friday.

Guardian story

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