Monday, 10th October, 2022

[Day 938]

Today dawned as another, beautiful autumn day with quite a clear blue sky and only a modicum of wind. This will no doubt persist as long as we have some high pressure but we are trying to enjoy it whilst we can. Meg and I got going this morning changing (with my son’s assistance) the battery in the smoke alarm battery which was beginning to ‘chirp’ at us to tell us that the end of its life was nigh. After we got ourselves down into town and our newspaper collected, we made our way to our normal park bench. We were not surprised to find it unoccupied as it was very wet fom the night’s rain before. But we come prepared with an old tea towel and some wads of kitchen paper which we keep stored in one of the pockets of the rucsac for such a contingency. We never expect to see any of our park acquaintances on a Monday morning and so it proved today but nonetheless, we always feel better for a breath of fresh air and some coffee to revive us. When we got home, we updated on some of the rolling news and then I went on to prepare our midday meal. This wwas extraordinarily easy because we had quite a lot left over from the superfluity of vegetables that I had cooked yesterday so it was a simple case of heating these up and munching away. I made some routine telephone calls and sent a few emails and looked forward to a relaxing afternoon.

I am pleased to say that belatedly, some reporters are starting to be less craven towards our political leaders and are starting to ask the questions that are on everybody’s lips. This trend may well have been started by local journalists who gave Liz Truss a very hard time when she went on a ‘tour’ of local radio stations. Local journalists have less investment in maintaining the cosy ‘status quo’ between Westminster based policitians and metropolitan journalists – if you persist in asking challenging questions and/or insist that politicans answer the question asked then you get excluded from ‘the lobby’ and, like Channel 4, politicians will never agree to be interviewed by you. One of those Westminster based correspondents rising to the challenge is Sky New’s Beth Rigby who, in the middle of an interview with Liz Truss, listed the various ways in which the economy ‘tanked’ and then said directly to Liz Truss – ‘Did you listen to the warnings? Rishi (Sunak) was right, was he not?’ Needless to say, we got the typical, by now robotic-like response which is to reply that ‘I do not accept that analysis’ which we must have heard several times before.

I must confess that I normally skip quite quickly over the financial and business news in the newspapers but an article which I read today in The Times gave me pause for thought. A recent research report has found that more than 21,000 limited liability partnerships bear all of the hallmarks of companies used for financial crimes. More than 21,000 partnerships, some 14% of the total (i.e. one in 7) share these suspect characteristics known to be used in corruption and money laundering schemes. The report by Transparency International UK argues it is the first to expose the scale of abuse of this type of company with a conservative estimate putting the economic damage to be hundreds of billions of pounds. Almost 950 of these ‘partnerships’were registered at an address in Cardiff which alone should have been a cause of suspicion – are these things not checked at Companies House? The particular structure of limited liability partnerships is particularly favoured by those who set them up because they allow multiple levels of secrecy making it difficult to identify the true owner. A bill to regulate some of these issues is before Parliament at the moment but it may well be a case of too little, too late.

An interesting debate is taking place in the letters columns of The Times whether economic growth, particularly as measured by GDP, should be the overriding aim of government economic policy. With increasing growth, it is possible for the ‘haves’ to allow the ‘have nots’ to have a little more of the cake without damaging their own economic position. But a counter argument beuatifully expressed in a one sentence letter to The Times is that ‘if economic growth means the unsustainable consumptions of the worlds natural resources and unstoppable climate change, should we not be all in the anti-growth coalition?’ It is also argued that a completely respectable counter-proposition is to put ‘justice’ at the heart of our economic policies and that we might erect a principle that everybody has the right to a basic means of sustenance (a ‘Citizen’s Income’) and that part of the national income, for example a quarter, should be shared equally between all citizens regardless of age. Even as long as 1967 in university, our economics lecturers communicated the view that an all-our pursuit of ‘growth’ however measured, was not always to be desired.