Archive of Postings for February 2014


Charity Begins At Home

Experience shows that the British press don’t always give out the right story. But today’s reports that our Chancellor of the Exchequer has jumped into the Ukrainian turmoil with “We should be there with a chequebook to help the people of Ukraine rebuild their country” beggars belief - even if the reports were sensationalised.

Heckerslyke_160Now the ideal Chancellor would be someone who combined financial acumen with geopolitical awareness and a tight grip on all forms of public spending. But in this case Mr Osborne seems to have failed on all counts.

The fact that the UK has huge debts, cannot produce enough to stop the debt spiral deepening, already gives away excessive amounts to undeserving nations and spends billions on vanity projects are not indicators of a well managed economy. The Bank of England’s continued all-time low for interest rates shows that the UK is still in a dire financial situation.  And the fact that those of us not in Australia for a G20 meeting are facing wrecked homes and farms, broken rail links, pot-hole filled roads plus financial cutbacks causing closures of care homes, sports halls, libraries, etc just makes ill-considered offers of overseas handouts even more grotesque. It certainly hit a nerve on the comments sections with thousands supporting every critical message posted.

The gap between what the Chancellor allows to be spent and what he can actually afford is already too great. And this is despite the fact that even after retirement Grandads continue to pay so much in tax from their modest pensions. Add up the 20% VAT, 50% fuel duty and the multitude of taxes on our gas, electricity, telephone, TV viewing and even holiday flights to see how high everyone’s tax burden - on top of income tax and NI - has become.

But even if the UK was in a healthy financial position then offering an open chequebook to the Ukraine would still be bad economics. The country already has huge debts and a zero credit rating. Any money we send will never be seen again - and not help the country recover. Plus the prospect of a national breakup on ethnic, linguistic or east-west political lines is a real possibility. In an extreme scenario a NATO versus Russia military conflict could result.

So not the best time to be providing fuel for the fire bombs George. In fact there is never going to be a best time while the country whose economy you are charged with managing so badly needs some better management ...

ps That country is the UK in case you forgot

tags: politicians, lightweight, bad, economics, waste, government



Another Fine Mess

EuroVis2014_200It’s hard to believe but the few remaining UK fans are already preparing for another year’s Eurovision Song Contest. As a result of last year’s victory the 2014 contest will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark with tickets for the Refshaleĝen being on sale since January. But if you fancy going then you will need some deep pockets. That’s partly because of the high cost of living in Denmark but mainly due to the number of events now involved.

This year the Song Contest will have nine separately ticketed events - starting on Monday with the 1st Semi Final Jury Rehearsal and going right through until the big finale on Saturday. This makes tickets for the week a whopping £720. If that is too steep then you could opt to miss out on the expensive final and save yourself £290.

But before spending that sort of money it would be nice to know the singer and, ideally, the song. However the BBC have, like last year, made no announcements or held any sort of public contest. With the deadline rapidly approaching Grandad’s proposal that Scotland provide the song for this special year seems to have fallen on deaf ears - like all the other improvement proposals. How different in Europe; where announcements of national short lists and selection contests have been making news since December.

So with the official BBC webpage lacking any updates and no new UK song being promoted around Europe it looks like Team GB will again be condemned to yet another low score come the final on the 10th of May.

ps Press reports naming Paloma Faith as a possible Eurovision contestant caused her to reply yesterday with the unequivocal ”Of course I'm not doing Eurovision are you all insane?!”. Will the BBC now try an approach to Geri Halliwell or better still Geraldine McQueen?

tags: song, contest, BBC, UK, Eurovision, humiliation



Rebuilding the East End?

Eastender1w200Next Wednesday will mark the 29th birthday of the BBC’s favourite soap opera - EastEnders. It started out in 1985 as 2x30 mins episodes each week but today airs as 4x30 mins (plus each episode is repeated twice). Throughout its run it has stayed one of the BBC’s most watched shows. Its current UK TV audience share is around 30%. And it is widely available overseas - mainly through the BBC’s commercial channels - where, for example, BBC Entertainment will be showing episode 4788 this coming Wednesday (along with three transmissions of episode 4787!).

Despite the show’s popularity yesterday’s news that a new EastEnders set is to be built at the BBC Elstree Studios - for an estimated £15 million - caused headlines in the anti-BBC media. But this seems a bit harsh. Considering the low-lying nature of London’s East End and the unstoppable effects of climate change on both rainfall and sea levels the relocation and expansion of the show’s set seems both reasonable and unavoidable. And since the new set could have built-in variable water levels the script writers could include dramatic new story lines that are presently restricted to the real life residents of the Somerset Levels.

However the programme’s glowing audience stats do not seem to equate with few Grandads being fans. Everyone asked did not rate the show much better than terrible. Its distinctive theme tune being the signal to either change channels or move to something more interesting online. At first this seemed that the Grandads were out of line with the average audience. But more thought showed that having 30% audience share for EastEnders means that the other 70% of the audience must be watching something else.

And it is no surprise that the time and numbers spent watching live TV has declined tremendously since the show started back in 1985. With viewing stats being collected from just 5,000 households (or about 0.02% of the population) this 30% audience figure hides the fact that the total viewer numbers have collapsed. After all, if those 5,000 stats-collecting households were the only people in the country still watching TV then the 30% figure would still hold true.

That’s the problem with statistics; they can be true and misleading at the same time.

tags: BBC, expense, TV, tax, statistics


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