Wednesday, 31 October 2018


This post has been inspired by an article in the London Review of Books (LRB). Regular readers of my posts will not be surprised at this link between the LRB and my blogsphere. James Meek, for instance, is a LRB contributor who shaped one of my posts in 2016 - see this link here. Getting on for three years later, his anger at Tory misgovernment and mine still meld well. As does my anger and the academic analysis of Simon Wren-Lewis, emeritus professor of economics at Oxford, whose review article of Adam Tooze's 'Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crisis Changed the World' appeared in the LRB edition of 25 October 2018.

Simon Wren-Lewis provides a number of statements of economic understanding that are shared by many other academics. They deserve as wide a currency as possible. This post is one instrument in addressing that need to circulate the truth. Only the other day, I read the words of one Tory minister who had been programmed to repeat the lie that the financial crash of 2018 was due to Labour misgovernment and excessive public borrowing. Fake news, as they say these days, and here's a summary of Simon Wren-Lewis to show why:

  • What the West experienced in 2008 - the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) - was a global bank run, a complete collapse of interbank credit. 'Never before', as Tooze writes, 'not even in the 1930s, had such a large and interconnected system come so close to total implosion'.     
  • It was only the often frantic interventions of central banks and governments that mitigated the impact of the crisis. [RD - The Labour Government with Gordon Brown as PM and Alistair Darling as Chancellor of the Exchequer were vital to that rescue operation]
  • The implosion was triggered by events in the US, but … the more fundamental reason for the collapse was that the transatlantic banking system, which is in practice a 'tight-knit corporate oligarchy' of around 25 global banks, had left itself without buffers sufficiently robust to cushion it against local shocks. The banks had become highly leveraged: they had loaned far too much money compared to their capital and so they couldn't cover the total amount of loans going bad.  

  • It is taken for granted by many [moulded by Conservative ignorance, or misjudgement, or simple lies] that the collapse of the UK banking system reflected a crisis originating in UK borrowing, and that people and governments before the GFC must have indulged in overspending. That is simply not the case. 
  • The UK banking system got into trouble because it had far too little capital compared to the size of its loan book, and the loans that went bad were not to UK residents or firms. Northern Rock collapsed because it got its money for loans from short-term borrowing on the global interbank market rather than from domestic savers, and in 2007 those loans dried up. 
  • The GFC was a regulatory failure not just in the sense that an overleveraged transatlantic banking system was allowed to develop in the first place, but also in the sense that the warning signs in the mid-2000s were ignored - by the Bank of England and the national regulator and politicians of all parties. 

  • The Fed and the US Treasury did respond through bail-outs in a way that rescued the system across the Atlantic. In contrast, European politicians talked and acted as if it were a government debt crisis rather than a banking crisis and there was a widespread adoption of austerity policies in the Eurozone. This in turn was the main cause of a second Eurozone recession in 2012, which - in Tooze's words - 'through wilful policy choices ' drove up unemployment across Europe. 'It is a spectacle that ought to inspire outrage. Millions have suffered for no good reason. ' [My italics]  
  • In this story, the UK mirrored the worthwhile policies of the United States from 2008 to 2010. The UK economy was beginning to recover from the GFC under the guidance of the Labour government. Then, the newly elected Conservative-led government switched the UK onto the Eurozone's path of austerity. [As Jeremy Corbyn has said time and time again, 'Austerity was never an economic necessity, it was always a political choice'. Remember - millions have suffered for no good reason. Be outraged!] 

  • And now for the Trump and Brexit conclusions to this story of appalling misgovernment. In the US, although the policymakers succeeded in preventing an outcome worse than the Depression, they did so by fixing Wall Street much more than Main Street. There was modest growth after the crisis, but much of it went to the 1 per cent, not the 99 per cent. 
  • In the UK, Tory austerity also led to the weakest economic recovery in at least a hundred years. [Keep seeing this sentence whenever you see and hear a Tory minister boasting about what a wonderful state the economy is in because of their policies.] 

  • All this provided the fuel for populism to emerge as a serious political force. The implementation of austerity meant denying help to millions of people. To carry that off required politicians and influential parts of the media to ignore or actively suppress expert consensus (as well as the overwhelming evidence on which it is based) that austerity is harmful and unnecessary. In other words, a political deceit with huge costs to the economy was enacted in order to achieve a political or ideological goal. 
The consequences have been the people's revenge. Alienation has produced Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK. 

And at every stage, Jeremy Corbyn and like-minded socialists have been calling it right - speaking words of truth to the wealthy and powerful. Do get a copy of my 'The Road to Corbyn'. Give it as a present to young people you know. Read it yourself. Spread the message. Expose the lies. Here's the link to press:

Friday, 19 October 2018


In this post I am recycling material from my October Mailchimp Newsletter that has been opened by 34 subscribers to date. Hopefully, this will be a fruitful way to widen the circle of those who have heard the continuing good news about the path to publication:

'There are now, as I promised, more Jago stories and images from the other side of the Pond. Here is one that came my way in late August this year. On 22 August, 2018, Gene Scheid made contact through Facebook and gifted me a couple of images of the painting that Jago had made of the family house in West Adderbury, Oxfordshire. In response to my request for more detail and stories, Gene replied: 'Sure! My mother, Roxann Cummings Scheid has a great story how he came about painting this for us and I am sure she would be happy to share.' Here is Roxann's tale (dated 29/08/2018): 
'Absolutely! I've been meaning to get on and tell you! I loved this man. When we moved there wasn't much television. It was shortly after they had added the "Breakfast Shows" and Jago was one of the featured guests on one of these shows. He told about his painting of Sulgrave Manor. He did it for the Flying Tigers to present to the President. My memory is cloudy about this next part but I believe it was for Gerald Ford.' [Yes - the year was 1976 and it was Jago's gift to mark the bicentennial of the founding of the USA. Sulgrave Manor was the ancestral home of George Washington and not far from Upper Heyford.]

'At the time I saw this broadcast it was still hanging in the White House. I was so taken by his story that I researched how to contact him. I asked him to paint our first home in England - #1 St Amends, West Adderbury. Now we were living on Whitley Drive on RAF Upper Heyford. We commissioned him for this piece, he did it - and 

Saturday, 29 September 2018


I explained about Bertie Barrett's part in the Jago Stone story in a couple of blogposts back in November and December 2016. Here are the links to them:

And here is a section from the second of these posts:

'I promised to put more flesh on the bare bones of the story of the Oxford discovery I told in the blog on November 13 a few weeks ago and now I have permissions. The enterprising teenager whose Peruvian adventure holiday is being partly funded by the sale of Jago Stone paintings is Bertie Barrett. Louise and I have had the pleasure of meeting Bertie in person, with mum and dad and younger brother. A lovely family! We wish Bertie well in his future and hope and trust that he follows his dreams and achieves his ambitions. Watch 

Sunday, 23 September 2018


Louise and I returned yesterday from our Greek vacation on the island of Patmos in the Aegean - and there will be a post on that regenerating experience in a few days. This post is designed to widen the circle of those who know what happened with respect to my yet-to-be published biography of Jago Stone in the fortnight before we left for Greece at the beginning of September - and to whet the collective appetite for more updates. Here is what the subscribers to my September Mailchimp Newsletter have read:

At the beginning of last week - on Monday August 20 - I dispatched Submission No.28, the last in the long list of attempts to interest first literary editors and now publishers that I have been conducting since March of this year. Six months of frustration. Now it would be self-publication - not ideal but at least the story of Jago would see the light of day.

  Monday afternoon, an email appeared from the Chairman of Unicorn Press - the recipient of Submission No.28 - saying my proposal looked interesting - please send 'what I had got'. A WeTransfer sent him my completed biography - 'Jago'  - in a file. He downloaded early next morning, did a publisher's read on a train journey that day - and emailed me at teatime. The communication was headed 'Jago Lives'. I opened and read: ' enough to see … it is a good story well told, and I like the use of images and the cyber angle … No reason for it not to do well if marketed properly.'
We arranged a meeting in the cafĂ© at Waterstone's in Piccadilly, London, for the following Tuesday. Thus,  two 

Monday, 27 August 2018


Around three months ago, in May this year, I was canvassing on behalf of Pedyr Prior, our Labour candidate in a St Ives town council by-election. In the end, the Conservative vote was too strong. But we in the Labour Party locally gave it our best shot and Pedyr came close. Pedyr was our man - respected and seasoned and tough. Chair of the Cornwall Labour Forum. He had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy, even as he led his team of canvassers. The medical prognosis looked good.

Suddenly, the word came that Pedyr had taken a turn for the worse. He had had an adverse reaction to his fifth session of chemotherapy. Three weeks later, Pedyr passed away. On 25 June, we attended with many others his funeral at Treswithian Downs crematorium.

This blog-post is my tribute to Pedyr through the paintings and poetry of his wife, the St Ives artist Mary Fletcher. Mary has expressed her grieving through these images created on her iPad and in the words of her poems. I hold these images and word in high regard and am so pleased to play my part in helping them reach a wider audience.

                                     I  wake alone

                                     heart thumping

                                     pain through all my veins



                                     likely to pitch over

                                     can't drive

                                     can't survive

                                     can't see a way

                                     without you and don't want to

                                     Grief won't kill me though

                                     I asked it to.


                                    In love for so long, two sides of a calm quiet arch all held together, all happy and dancing.

                                    Balanced and sure, sweet and strong 

                                    Aware of this fragile fortune.



                                    He is dead so quickly, three weeks of suffering and hope and longing

                                    I'm left,  a loose marble shot out in a moment to rattle around so painfully

                                    Ricocheting stupidly, salted with crying
                                    Lost and lonely

                                    Afraid of everything 

                                    on my own.

                                    The palliative care team, the death squad

                                    invite you to choose a day to die.

                                    But we hung on to hope two more weeks.

                                                 Yes I hear you talking
                                                 something about plants
                                                 or something else
                                                 Its like a film in the next room
                                                 Its like I'm behind glass
                                                 and you go on talking
                                                 about your happy life
                                                 about how life goes on
                                                 and I am behind glass
                                                 stuck in grief
                                                 hating it.

                                                    We made a circle

                                                    a strong fortress

                                                    and now its broken

                                                    and I am toppling.

                                                   A ruined broken circle


                                                   salt soaked




                                                       Tell Richard Gere I'm free

                                                       My husband died quite recently

                                                       I need someone to dance with me

                                                       I need someone to love me who I love

                                                       So much it makes me want to die

                                                       To whom I cannot say goodbye.

                                                       But if Richard should call by

                                                       One short waltz will do

                                                       I can pretend it's you.