Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

Labour focus on creative industries welcome. Should be part of Plan B

Posted on 21 May 2012 | 6:05am

As David Cameron and George Osborne flounder, play the blame game, lecture others, and stick to a Plan A that isn’t working, the economic argument is shifting Labour’s way.

Of course there are still people prepared to buy the Tory line that the global crisis and its impact were caused by Labour, but they are fewer in number, and less convinced having seen how spectacularly unsuccessful has been the coalition’s attempts to see the private sector fill the gap created by their slashing of the public sector.

So as borrowing rises, as the Tory ambition to cut the deficit within a Parliament fades, people are starting to listen to Labour again, and the polling on economic credibility is shifting fast. The Miliband-Balls mantra that the coalition was cutting too fast and too deep is bearing political fruit. Ed Balls is now able to point around the world to governments which took an approach closer to Labour’s, and which are not in the state our economy is in. And Francois Hollande is already shifting the debate in Europe.

Today we see two of the former ministers, James Purnell and Pat McFadden, adding to the debate with contributions more intelligent and creative than those coming from the Tory side, where Cameron and Osborne continue to lash out at others rather than have a proper plan for jobs and growth of their own.

James Purnell, now out of Parliament but still making a contribution, says in The Times we should be focusing on those areas of the economy where we are recognised as being world-class, and develop them. So universities, the creative and knowledge industries, a culture that is open to ideas and migration, contract law you can trust.

Pat, a former business minister, and still an MP, has published a detailed and thoughtful pamphlet for the Policy Network think tank setting out the need for, and the possible elements of, an active industrial policy. Here it is

And here is the argument behind it.

“Making Things” sets out plan for UK’s economic future

In the absence of a credible growth strategy for the British economy, former Labour business minister calls for a “making things” revival

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition blames Britain’s recent descent into double-dip recession, not on failing government policy, but on instability in the Eurozone. Meanwhile, Growth has replaced austerity as the leading buzzword in British and European politics – but how will it come about?

With an acutely unbalanced economy and a popular belief in the death of British manufacturing, everywhere you turn it is hard to escape the image of “declinism”. Worse, the government seems only to have one solution to get the deficit down and Britain’s economy growing again: fiscal austerity.

McFadden champions the UK’s great strengths in the automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries but also focussed on Britain’s strength in creative “weightless industries”.

His pamphlet, published by Policy Network, calls for Britain to reject the “declinism” which has too often characterised the discussion of British industry. Instead, Mr McFadden calls for a new project of national renewal grounded in “making things”.  “Making things”, he argues, should also include the creative industries where Britain excels – areas like music and computer games. These industries contribute hugely to our image around the world and to our economy at home.  “In this digital age, making things is no longer restricted to only what we can see and touch.  Music, computer games, television formats – this is making things too”.

For McFadden, making more is not just about good economics. It also has positive social and political effects too. “Too often we think the answer to political disaffection is about how we talk about politics. Political disaffection is also related to economic disaffection. Too many people feel left out of our economy, and thus, our national story.”

Having spent significant time embedded in one of Britain’s resurgent manufacturing companies – Jaguar Land Rover – and interviewed a number of SMEs and leading music industry figures for the pamphlet, Mr McFadden’s research has led him to devise five key things government should do to improve industry and help set the economy back on the road to recovery:

1. Equip people better to do the jobs making things requires.

2. Show that Britain is open for business by stopping sending out signals that the UK does not welcome foreign students or talented workers from abroad.

3. A Whitehall culture change that takes UK manufacturing and national capacity serious seriously. McFadden argues it is not enough to call for an industry policy – there has to be change in Government to ensure that one can be delivered.

4. Sorting out chronic finance problem for business via a new National Investment Bank and more alternatives for SME bank lending.

5. Building on creative industry strengths and restoring the belief that Britain makes things.

Describing Mr McFadden’s proposals Former Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: “There have been many calls in recent months for a plan for growth, but no solid proposals from government. This pamphlet puts flesh on the bones of what a plan for growth might look like. It is absolutely right to reject the “declinist” image about Britain’s capacity to make things. Instead government must help boost both physical manufacturing and the creative industries to get Britain out of this double-dip recession.”

Andy Heath, Chairman of UK music said, “This pamphlet finally gives the UK creative industries the recognition they deserve.  Britain leads the world in cultural exports but their economic impact has long been underappreciated.  In the digital age, these weightless industries already make, and can continue to make a very big contribution to Britain’s image and economic well being.”

For further information contact Gemma Ricketts in Pat McFadden’s office on 0207 219 4036 or 07919 530894 or Michael McTernan at Policy Network on 0207 340 2215

  • Ehtch

    Torys cutting the deficite was an amateur hobby for them, welcome to the real world lads, where lateral thinking is required. You have been married dysfuncyionally to the LibDems for two years now, any cracks? Or are you both living in fantasyland, as your average marriage councillor would no doubt say.

    It wasn’t going to work, would it? If you torys such simply say another GE Oct 2010, you might have got in with a majority, but you missed your chance. And anyway, what was wrong with a coalition with the second biggest party, Labour, ey? What was wrong with that? Not with the LibDem flannels, give me strength. Next time I see Vince Cable gargling on his tongue, with his unmoving upper lip, I will sling a brick through my telly. I now have it ready, and I park it up on my bedside cabinet, just in case if he appears when I watch late night telly.

  • It was interesting to consider Robert Peston’s views on German growth expressed on his programme last week – how they spent enormously in rebuilding the former East Germany and how growth followed. Labour’s plan for rebuilding schools would have ensured employment for trades as would a much overdue house building plan.
    There has been much in Spanish and French press on the horrors of daily life in Greece – I am unaware of this stark, present reality being in the minds of people here.
    Paralleles with the 1930’s abound. A renaissant right-wing in many countries is not to be ignored – Balkans again this weekend too.
    Growth can surely only come from investment – a decade of blighting austerity cursing a generation imposed by a technocratic elite will not be endured for long by people throughout Europe.
    Footloose and flexible, innovative and attuned to consumer nuance creative industries are an undervalued strength.

  • reaguns

    This is very disappointing Mr Campbell. I suppose a leopard doesn’t change its spots, and you have chosen spin over economic analysis.

    Where are Janiete and all the others now? I guess we know Alastair doesn’t read his comments eh. Even though all of you, and Ed Balls, have now admitted that there was no overall cut in year 1 of this govt, and a statistically insignificant cut in year 2, here we have El Spin Doctoro Supremo claiming “Its all about the bleedin cuts innit!”

    Perhaps Margaret Curran was listening to Alastair before she guessed on Daily Politics last week that the Tories had cut “about 10%”. Seriously, how can politicians talk about the economy when they think things like that, or when they talk of “paying down the deficit”. Then I get told that we must have our current cozy arrangements for MPs so that our brightest and best people get attracted to the profession?!

  • James Purnell when in the cabinet came up with the utterly revolting expression that the unemployed must “prepare for work.” As if unemployment is caused by the unemployed. Would like to see Labour take a stand against unpaid workforce which is equally as revolting as telling the unemployed to “prepare for work.”

  • reaguns

    Well I’ve done my criticism in the other post, so lets make 3 positive points now:

    1. Talk about Labour causing the crisis is partially true and partially false. Labour did absolutely spend too much, it pursued an anti-keynesian policy in the good times, when Keynes says you should run a surplus, leaving us in a terrible position to weather the financial storm. It then bailed out the banks, which means capitalism has no chance to work, it only works if the capitalists fear loss, but Brown protected them from that, and his arrangements make it certain that we will have another crash.

    But… and its a big but… the Tories would have done exactly the same. They would have spent as much, they said so, and they would have bailed out the banks too. They have also failed to reform the financial sector. So while some of us can criticise labour’s approach – the Tory party can not.

    2. I am very glad that James Purnell is thinking about this and I read the McFadden piece too. Ed Miliband also has some excellent ideas about reviving “making things” in britain, and has a great reason behind it: he believes people are just happier when making things, than they are in call centres and so on. However the problem is all their solutions might possibly be tinkering at the edges. Yes we need better education, and enterprise zones will help. But… we still subsidise almost every other industry but leave manufacturing without subsidy. We can’t afford more subsidy, so we have to reduce the subsidy to other industries. This subsidy is in the form of regulation which big business loves as it creates barriers to entry to competition.

    However most important of all is this: We can talk about education, and enterprise zones, and making things, tell people to “work harder” (hague), “show a bit of fight” (cameron), send 50% of our kids to uni, the majority of whom study non-degrees, then complain when the lesser ones can’t get jobs and the brighter ones shun science/engineering for mor lucrative city employment.

    Or… we can:
    (a) Raise interest rates substantially. Then people will save more, there will be more money in the banks, which will then enable bigger capital projects to be taken on, ie investment in factories – this is the German model. There is absolutely no point in trying to copy germans welfare state, education and all the rest of us if we don’t also do this.
    (b) Stop borrowing. We currently borrow money and buy goods from abroad with it. If we didn’t borrow we’d either have to make things to trade for those goods (creating jobs making things) or make the things ourselves (creating jobs).

    3. I am about to make a small defence of Ed Balls against Andrew Neil! In an interview I rewatched from quite a while back, a wide ranging and interesting one between the two, Balls claimed that he would sell the nationalised sections of banks back to the private sector and use the net gains from that (3.5bn) to pay down some of the debt. Neil told him this was nonsense, that 3.5bn meant nothing compared with our debt. However, if we spent, I think it was approx 75bn buying up bad bits of the banks, then selling these bits back at a net gain of 3.5bn doesn’t mean we get 3.5bn for it, right? It means we should get 78.5bn ie our 75bn back and then a net gain of 3.5bn? Now stick with me here… if we already put the 75bn in, then that is part of our debt now. If we sell the banks for 3.5bn net gain, and use all of that to pay off debt, then the debt will not go down by the insignificant 3.5bn Neil states, but by a very significant 78.5bn?

    Now Balls didn’t quibble Neil on that, so I might be missing something, I could well be, but it seems to me that on this occasion Balls might have been right and Neil wrong – any thoughts? Anyone see what I’m missing?

  • reaguns

    Think I forgot to include the link for the bit where I might disagree with Andrew Neil re the 3.5bn:

  • reaguns

    Hear hear.

  • I can just imagine Mr McFadden wearing high shoes and doing a hip hop dance with his bellbottoms on sprouting the end to the UK economic woes. On stage, inside a see through think tank. I think you have more problems than that and you will need some serious consideration on how to solve the working reality of the future.
    Des Currie  

  • ambrosian

    You’re right. Purnell was one of the people who did the spadework for the Tories to cut benefits and demonise everyone in receipt of benefits. All a bit rich from someone whose expenses claims were said to have included £247 for fridge magnets.

  • Michele

     ”  Where are Janiete and all the others now?  ”

    In their offices?  Visiting clients?  Doing research at the library?  Doing housework? 
    Looking after children?  Down the gym?  Standing in line at the JC or PO? 
    Walking the dog?  Shopping?

    Where were you?

  • Michele

     You are daft 🙂

  • Michele

     As Margaret Curran is a Scottish MP I’d imagine she’s more au fait with what’s happening up there.

    You have been given loads and loads and ****loads of facts about other people’s versions of overview, they’re all as valid as yours.

    You know very well that every single set of stats can be up or down-valued dependent on what it is compared to and whether percentaged against an amount or a growth or a deficit.

    Don’t you ever wish that your hero sometimes tried to get his guests in debate?  Do you think everyone wants parrots that can jump to attention to a media mogul just so he can feel flattered they gave a toss about his plucking a Q from thin air?

    Not everyone is as desperate for dancing dogs as you …. I thought she looked at him as if to say ‘What, don’t you know yourself Mr High&Mighty?’

  • Michele

     Have you missed that some banks have already paid back considerable amounts?
    RBS is completely paid up.

  • reaguns

    As in… where are they now that Alastair has spouted the line that they claimed Ed Balls had abandoned two posts ago.

  • Michele

      What’s ‘utterly revolting’ about being offered schemes to prepare for
    work?  People can easily become de-skilled over time in one company that
    doesn’t modernise for its own or its workers’ sakes and after some time
    out of work we know depression and low self esteem can arise and the
    social aspects of work and meeting people on a daily basis is a habit it gets hard to

    As the £247 expenses was for 3,000 fridge magnets I rather doubt they were all for either of his homes don’t you?  I wonder whether they were for constituents, for an event, for a date/vote reminder?  There are hundreds of possibilities that are more likely than even thinking of personal use or a con.

    I don’t know whether all the hype we got about expenses was based on proper info.  I have often been unpopular for taking months to submit expense claims ….. ‘oh give the receipts to a clerk / can’t someone else to do them’ was a frequent (and stupid imhoo) idea.   That way lies the awful (even just once) possibility of purchases in two batches (prof and personal) and requested on two receipts being charged for on one and a PA not knowing or reading the scribble  ……   Yes there has been real abuse of expenses but so has there been of some MPs due to a 3rd party’s genuine mistakes (but as they shouldn’t happen …….)

    On the subject of MPs though I think it’s way past time that salaries were staged as they are for so many other public ‘servants’. 
    Now that MPs are looking in to others having varying rates of basic pay nationally it’s certainly time they looked closer to home; aren’t their expenses meant to cover the London/HoC aspect of their living costs?

  • Michele

    Nurse !!!!   Over here, quick.

  • Ehtch

    Just watch ‘im here Michele to see what I mean, his upper concrete lip fascinates me, as I am winding my arm up in temptation at this moment of slingling that brick through my flat tft computer PC seventeen inch crossways screen,

    And yes Michele, I am completely daft, and bonkers and eccentric with it too. : )

  • James Purnell, still making a contribution? 

    How dare he! So far all he has done is support the Tories in making life hard for the poor and needy. 

  • Ehtch

    Oh come on reaguns, Mr Campbell can spot a knackered horse without putting any spin on it, let alone a few quid. We can economically analyse things until the cows come home as in a difficult trignometrical maths class. But it is plain as day for even maths failures to see, the coalites just simply do not have a clue, and all they can come out with is we are in a worse state than Papua New Guinea, or some other such country. But I would love us to be like PNG – gives us a chance for some head boiling for some brains for tea. Now I am not saying…..

  • Making thing’s I get! But how does supporting an net import industry make a great Plan B?

    If you want responsible capitalism, industrial culture ain’t it!

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the theatre is a big earner but you wouldn’t know that from the government’s attitude to the arts in general.  And this ‘greenest’ of governments has actually turned its back on green industries, which we showed signs of being good at.  We have a lot to celebrate, but it’s back to your old dictum – they don’t like anybody.  I think they have OCD.

  • Michele

    Less need to get one up or over?

  • Janiete

    Who said Ed Balls had abandoned that argument? Not me!

    The Govt ambition to eliminate the deficit by 2015 was ‘too far too fast’. The consequences of this policy have completely undermined confidence and drained demand and investment. 

    Alastair Darling and Ed Ball’s criticism has always emcompassed direct effect of cuts, loss of confidence and loss of revenue. The whole thing is a disaster and they have been saying this since before the election. Where have you been?

  • reaguns

    Yes, if it has happened then I have missed it, the completely paid up parts that is. As far as I know the American banks repaid their TARP money some time ago, but its not long ago I read in city am how the british banks had not done so due to different conditions. If this has changed, I have not seen the figures, not seen it covered.

  • reaguns

    I agree that they don’t have a clue, but I do not agree that they have been making significant overall cuts yet. If they do, and they allegedly plan to (I’ll believe it when I see it) and things are still bad or worse, then that line of attack can be opened, but not before.

    At the minute they are left with the bullshit “confidence” line, though the tories also trot out “confidence” for a different reason. They should both be looking for competence, not confidence. Thats what Churchill or Lincoln or Attlee would want.

  • reaguns

    Don’t you think Ed Balls and him have good debates?

    Have you read anything I’ve posted on this matter in the past couple of days re Neil and Alastair Darling, and Neil and Balls?

    With Curran he was only responding to her saying “The tories have cut too much” by replying “Really, how much have they cut then?” And she didn’t know, he then logically asked how could she say they had cut too much. And he did eviscerate the Tory beside her too don’t forget.

  • reaguns

    Well, maybe less need, but not no need, hence they posted the things I am calling out!

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this on this blog… all I really want to do is explore free market ideas within labour… but it seems all I explore is arguments and yes, one-upmanship, with people who I feel should be on the same side as me.

    I am over prolific and arrogant, and over argumentative for my part, but I feel others want to jump down the throat of anything to do with markets or capitalism, like I am the enemy, like there is no way that I might just believe that markets and capitalism are among the greatest tools to help labour’s people.

    I am reassessing my approach to this blog.

  • Whatifs

    We’ve heard this morning from Ed Davey (one of the election’s trailing-3rd party’s beneficiairies of a second salary) that each household will be paying a few hundred more per year so our electricity / grid infrastructure can be improved to allow for the new forms of power.

    I understand why we did that when power was nationalised, I’m not sure why we should be doing so now it’s privatised (and much of it owned abroad too).

  • Michele

     Nope reaguns it’s because of phrases such as ‘calling them out’ (not the first use, it was even a Tarzan-like yodel on another thread where the subject being co challenged by you wasn’t even someone on the blog or someone likely to be reading it).
    None of us is fully right, no decision really can be.

  • Whatifs

     Yes I have read you opining recently that EB did better vs AN last time he was on.  That followed yards and yards no! miles of fan worship of someone with little more to prep for per day than a few minutes sticking pins of randomness into people in his (owned?  is it another one of these productions the Beeb buys?) virtual bullring.

  • Michele

     ooops think I forgot to ‘sign’ my last …..  but as I’m back on to claim it …….
    disembowelled?  I don’t think it’s a very constructive format.

  • Michele

     This was the agreement drawn up at the time of the bail out to RBS. 
    I’d imagine something similar was agreed for all the other banks so rescued (or their clients’ assets rescued).

    I doubt it would be legal for RBS to meld with Santander unless the debt had been repaid; not be allowed by the present ‘govt’ even if they all have shares in the latter!

  • reaguns

    I made a post the other day, saying how Ed Balls backed down under questioning from Andrew Neil, he conceded that there has been no significant real terms cut in spending so far, and that therefore that is not the reason for stagnation/recession.
    He changed the argument to “Its all about confidence.” I can probably find the interview for you, I believe I posted the link the other day.

    I thought that on that day you were agreeing with me, Andrew Neil, and Ed Balls position as of that day. I don’t know if that was a misreading of your position on that day. But anyway today it seems you and Alastair disagree with the clearly conceded position of Ed Balls in that interview.

  • reaguns

    Hopefully you are right, but again I’ve not seen the figures, I’ve not seen any financial journalism saying that the bailout has been paid back yet. If the bailout gets paid back then the government can indeed sell of its shares, and what’s more there would be no need for furore over Hester’s bonus, with the proviso that he should only be paid it when:
    – The bailout money is paid back
    – The bank is returned to the private sector.

    Achieve that and he’s worth every penny, but not before.

  • reaguns

    I also stated that, until I see further information, I have reversed a position I took re Andrew Neil vs Ed Balls on the 3.5bn paying back of bank debt. Neil beat Balls down that day and Balls seemed to accept it, but having taken a second look I now think Balls might have been right, but I think Balls missed the angle by which he was right, as did I at the time. I am not 100% sure though.

    I also said that Andrew Neil pretty much endorsed the bailout and indeed monetary and fiscal policies that Darling and Brown took during the crisis. So I do not blindly follow my “hero”.

    Your point regarding prep is a fair one, Balls has to do cabinet, parliament and constituency work, work on strategy, deal with 100s of interviews and communications etc whereas Neil can spend a whole day focusing an attack on Balls. Ok this is not quite true as they both use advisers to help a lot, but yes I accept the job of shadow chancellor leaves less time to prep than does Neils. Nevertheless I feel Andrew Neil uses that time well, and if it is an easy thing to do it is surprising that no one else seems to manage it, including Humphrys and Paxman.

    I think it is a legitimate criticism of Neil, one he recognises himself, that if he is so clever as a Sunday Times editor or political interviewer then why did he not try to become Chancellor, which he says is a question that has always troubled him.

  • Michele

     He will have been ‘conceding’ (right word?) what is known to be true and what I’m sure you have posted before, namely that what has happened so far is so little compared to what is still to come.

  • Michele

     Harumph …. as well as being owned ‘internationally’ it’s also now part of a company that owns parts of USA’s grid.

    How can one company, owning two such very different organisations, one (ours) having an infrastructure that’s miles better than the other’s (and far less ugly and overground), possibly be expected to invest in each part properly pro-rata according to the profits from each? 

  • Michele

    You might want to listen to a real debate, on radio instead of with the distracting features of TV. 
    At 12mins in, MK starts to interview Ed Balls.

    That is followed by her interviewing Chloe Smith who copes in the way some can with wielding a hatchet.
    She’s another of the Tories’ fast-tracked new women MPs whose background includes (post an English Literature degree) working for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu where she (quote) advised private businesses, government departments and public bodies.  Wow !! 
    Could ‘advised’ mean sold something?

    Just by the by, that company happens to be one of the many that have been criticised for their humungous bills to councils etc where (snigger) IT projects have gone several times (sometimes over a dozen times!!!) over their quote.

  • Michele

     If the bail out has been paid back surely that’s in exchange for the virtual shares?

    As RBS is now being absorbed in to Santander (it’s to be completed in a couple of months) I doubt any part of it isn’t private now.

    I took months, years and years ago (scowl), to open my first cheque book account.  Plumped for Wms & Glyns as the most ethical of UK banks (no investing in bl**dy SA or in literally-bl**dy gold).  It wasn’t long before earlier crashes and gobblings-up meant it was eventually part of RBS and pretty much like any other bank.

  • Anonymous

    ” If the bail out has been paid back surely that’s in exchange for the virtual shares?”

    Would have thought so yes. I don’t really watch much news believe it or not, nothing ever really happens and if it does I’ll hear about it somewhere, but the commentariat I follow haven’t mentioned this payback. If that is because they don’t want to cover it because it is some vindication of Bush, Brown and so on (which even I concede it would be) then this will be disappointing, and telling. But I haven’t seen it on the guardian comments pages, or the telegraphs and I would have thought most of them would be believers in bailouts.

  • Anonymous

    That would be a fair enough line to take, but it is not the line that has been taken by Balls, not to mention the guardian and so forth, so far.

    (Just to separate, its ok to say there have been cuts, there have been, but macroeconomically cuts here and there are not necessarily austerity, its only if there has been an overall cut in spending that its austerity.)

  • Michele

     I guess you didn’t bother reading any part of the agreement I linked you to yesterday?

    Have you seriously been thinking the bailouts were no-strings gifts from Govt?

  • Michele

    George Osborne must adopt an economic “Plan B” and slow the pace of public
    spending cuts if the British economy remains weak, the International Monetary
    Fund warned the Chancellor yesterday. The managing director of the IMF,
    Christine Lagarde, came to the Treasury to deliver the sobering news: that the
    Government should consider slowing spending cuts if recovery stalls.
    She also called on the Bank of England to do more to support the economy –
    presently in the grip of a double-dip recession – by printing more money.
    The IMF repeated its broad backing for the Coalition’s deficit reduction
    strategy. And unveiling its annual verdict on the British economy, Ms Lagarde
    said that Mr Osborne’s 2010 Budget had successfully steered Britain away from a
    potential financial crisis two years ago. “When I look back to 2010 and what
    could have happened without fiscal consolidation, I shiver,” she said.
    Nevertheless, the message that deficit reduction may need to be slowed down is
    awkward for the Government given Mr Osborne’s repeated assertions to the
    contrary. The Labour Party has accused the Chancellor of undermining the British
    economy by cutting the deficit needlessly quickly. “Unfortunately the economic
    recovery in the UK has not yet taken hold and uncertainties abound,” said Ms
    Lagarde. “The stresses in the euro area affect the UK through many channels.
    Growth is too slow and unemployment – including youth unemployment – is too
    high. Policies to bolster demand before low growth becomes entrenched are
    The IMF suggested temporary tax cuts, such as a reduction in VAT, and greater
    infrastructure spending, to help restore growth. “I think the sort of measures
    we have in mind are, one could consider cutting the value added tax,” said the
    leader of the IMF’s survey team, Ajai Chopra. “One could consider the payroll
    contributions because these can be credibly temporary.”
    The IMF stressed  ……. ……….. more here (from a more respectable outlet than the Wail and one which is on a similar wavelength to Beeb’s Stephanie Flanders) for GillDes – all this from a woman that shops at Chanel 😉

  • Michele

    He has said it many many times and in various places.

    Stop denying things happened.  It’s a blog, not life or death, Tarzan 🙁

  • Janiete

    I bank with RBS so Michele, I bank with RBS so I’ve been watching this too. As I understand it RBS have paid back the £75bn it borrowed under the credit guarantee scheme.

    However, separate funds were used to effectively nationalise the bank and the UK Govt still owns 82% of RBS shares. The sale to Santander was forced on RBS by the European Commission in connection with the size of the UK bailout.

    RBS branches (in England and Wales) and Natwest branches (Scotland) are changing to Santander, so if you bank with Nat West (via a branch) in England then that is still 82% owned by the UK Govt.

    The Govt hasn’t sold these shares yet as the share price is only about half what we paid, but Govt have recently reported they are in advanced discussions with Abu Dhabi to sell about a third of our stake in RBS.  
    Whether they’ll sell at a loss in their desperation to raise money for pre-election giveaways remains to be seen but it wouldn’t surprise me. 

  • reaguns

    Yes I read it, or skimmed through it at least, but it was the agreement, and yes I know in theory they were meant to pay back what they owed, but a lot of us were sceptical that they ever would, and Northern Rock never paid back what it owed, govt cut losses and sold to virgin.

  • reaguns

    Me either, Northern Rock shares were sold at a loss.

    I’ll have to look at this “other” support the government gave beyond the 75bn (also I thought the 75bn was shared between Lloyds and RBS.)

  • reaguns

    Yeah, he said our “too far and too fast” cuts have caused the recession, but under pressure admits thats not true (though it may be later when there really are big cuts.)

  • Michele

     Thanks J, so I must have just caught part of the info (or the radio programme took it as read that listeners were better informed than I was).

    Abu Dhabi hmmmm, I might welcome a bit of a Sharia non-profit MO at RBS!  However, having seen that Islamic banks in East London are also offering buy-to-let mortgages I think a lot of principles are shifting.

  • Michele

    Off topic (or actually on topic re some apparent new ‘soft exports’?).

    I’ve been reading some self-righteous blogging today bemoaning TB’s
    (and AC’s?) new role(s ?) in a country between Russia and China. 


    The blogger has a lot to say about that country’s human rights
    records.  It doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind that if the country is
    employing people whose life-long records have been about supporting human
    rights perhaps (let’s hope) they are employing expertise to improve those in
    their own country.


    Tit for tat is tedious but hey, what the heck.

    There seems to be no such ambition to improve human rights in a country
    that the blogger supports to the hilt, publically and self-righteously. 
    I’m sure he’s aware of all this exploitation of humans


    The Gaza Strip occupies 140-ish (ie: -2%) of Israel’s almost 8,000 square miles.

    Arabs, despite being 28% of the Israel’s population, are confined to this
    area of less than 2% its total size.



    USA gives ex-Palestine( ie: renamed
    Israel post WWII)  mountains of dollars
    per year.

    Lots of $s have been invested
    in irrigation systems for orchards and groves.   

    Do any of these systems
    reach in to the Gaza Strip for those captive  Israeli citizens?


    Israel’s area of 8k sq miles includes
    172 sq miles of inland water, its rivers and lakes. 

    None of this fresh water is in the Gaza
    Strip, where H2O for any agricultural or domestic use is only drained  from the surface or comes from the sea (but
    there are no functioning de-salination plants).


    C&Ps in quotes (not my words) :
    “Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish State relies upon maintenance of a
    Jewish majority so demographers, politicians and bureaucrats have treated the
    promotion of Jewish population growth as a priority.

    Non-Jewish population growth and immigration is regarded as a threat to a
    Jewish majority and therefore to Israel’s security, as detailed in the Koenig
    (a  nasty document full of prejudice). 

    Comparing Gaza Strip to London:
    At around 140 sq miles
    it’s around 1/5th the area of Greater London.

    Its population is also around 1/5th of GL’s but GS doesn’t have our


    Thinking back to our riots of Aug ‘11 and the possibility of our
    ‘protectorate’ reacting as Israel’s does to its far fewer hooligans ….???


    Israel has a Police Force but for
    some reason it is not the service deployed against idiotic violent hooligans firing homemade rockets across in to southern Israel.    


    Its Police Force/Service must
    be kept in reserve for other sorts of response; which ???

    Given that the only Israelis living
    outside of GS must be Jewish or Christian, what sort of crime keeps its PS/F
    apparently so occupied?

    How would UK citizens
    (including certain tweeters) have felt if our Airforce had been deployed
    instead of our Police Service during last August’s riots?

    IDF is supposed to stand for
    Israeli Defence Force, a defence force is usually deployed against foreign
    Israel’s Arabs in Gaza are
    NOT foreigners, they are citizens.

    Which actual foreigners does
    the IDF fight against, where does ‘national defence’ apply?

    How could a non-Police ‘defence
    force’ be used against a nation’s own citizens, killing them with fire from
    their own air force?


    Imagine if an area 1/5th
    size of GL had been attacked by our Air Force instead of being reclaimed by our

    Who would have approved if all
    London’s teenagers had been rounded up and imprisoned, starved and dehydrated even during those few days? 

    Does such activity as IDF’s
    make people feel protected by their Govt or make them paranoid?

    I can understand why ALL Israelis
    live with fear of (even homemade) rockets but if I was in fear of such a thing
    being lobbed over my wall would I want Exocets or their like being used in
    response at the lobbers or anyone happening to be near them no matter how good
    or bad, young or old, deserving of it or not? 



    It’s been said that it’s long been an ambition for people in the Jewish
    diaspora to reclaim the land that had become known as Palestine. 

    Wasn’t that given as the reason for the Zionist Movement from 1860ish?

    Yet there was a relatively peaceful and successful Aliyah before Zionism started wasn’t

    These are numbers (in thousands) of Jews, Christians and
    Muslims living in the country from 1800 onwards.

    I don’t know what had happened 
    1914-22 (in fact given the 1931 numbers it seems likely ‘22’s were
    incomplete / inaccurate).


                Jew      Chr      Msm    Tot  

    1800      7        22        246      275

    1890    43        57        432      532

    1914    94        70        525      689

    1922    84        71        589      752

    1931    175      89        760      1,033

    1947    630      143      1,181   1,970

    So ….. was there ever anything preventing  Jewish immigration pre-WWII?   Numbers grew by many more times than those
    of other ethnic groups in the first third of 20C.


    So why are the descendants of those emigres and survivors of the
    Holocaust or their descendents finding it necessary/excusable to behave in the
    paranoid cruel ways shown to Muslims now – people whose ancestors stayed/lived
    in ex-Palestine/Israel  throughout the
    more recent centuries and who were not the perpetrators of the Holocaust
    anyway (and whose co-religionists had been persecuted too, especially in Spain, forced to convert)?


    It’s insane.

    Some very recent examples of behaviour to FELLOW humans :

    Israeli tank fire wounds seven
    Palestinians in Gaza   

     Gaza press restrictions imposed – BBC
    News – 14 May 15:51

    A quote:

    ”   What has become of a noble

    13 of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.  

    state of Israel will . . . foster the development of the country for the
    benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace
    as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of
    social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion,
    race or sex . . . ; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of
    the United Nations.”  
    UN Mandate for a two state