THE VILLAGE SOAPBOX

Ron raises the lid on three important issues: money lending,Coastal floods and the Opening of Parliament

Money Lending

For some years now we have been told about the mounting personal debts in this country. Many of us have complained at the way in which people were being encouraged to borrow money; credit cards, buy-now-pay-later, cash-back mortgages, mortgages barely related to the mortgagee’s ability to pay etc. Apparently this behaviour on the part of the lenders was not restricted to the UK, the trend was just as bad, if not worse in the USA. We read with horror the scale of the borrowing, much of it secured by assets in the form of inflated property prices. Property values could be a balloon that could burst at any time. Now the chickens are coming home to roost, the Bank of England has had to prop up Northern Rock with billions of tax payer’s money and we discover that many banks have lost billions. The full consequences of all this have yet to be realised.

The aspect of the situation that really makes me cross is that the people responsible for the mess are being rewarded handsomely. The boss of Citibank that resigned because of his bank’s losses took with him a reward of no less than $53million. The boss of Northern Rock, the man that could have caused a disaster had it not been for the Bank of England, is still there and he is now lending our money.

Coastal Floods

We were very fortunate in early November when the combination of North Sea surge and high tide failed to result in quite such high seas as were attained in a very similar combination of weather and tides that occurred in 1953. Nevertheless it was a close call that came very close to a catastrophe for a lot of people. Needless to say the event brought forth the prophets of doom claiming that the event was further evidence of global warming. One spokesman on BBC TV went so far as to say that within 50 years sea levels could rise by 5 metres and that one third of East Anglia could be under water. He appeared to be quite serious. How can the BBC give such people air time? How can anyone stand there and say such things when they know perfectly well that more than fifty years ago the seas reached even higher levels? Sea levels have been rising for at least 200 years and the rise has been carefully monitored. Over that period the level appears to have risen by about 180mm or 7 inches. The rate of increase has shown some variation from one decade to the next. It is not difficult to realise that accurate measurement of mean sea level is not easy and detecting a change in the rate of increase is very difficult. The average for the last 200 years is about 1mm/year. The general view is that the rate has increased, some say it is now 1.5mm/year others that it is as much as 2mm/year. Even at the higher rate of 2mm/year it would take 500years to achieve a 1metre rise in sea level. Talk of 5 metres in 50 years is absolute nonsense.

Opening of Parliament

Once again we were confronted with the pomp and pantomime of this occasion. Men in black tops with red hose, men in red coats, black rod knocking at the door. The Queen’s speech followed by a grovelling motion before the House along the lines of “Most Gracious Sovereign: We your most Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech…………………..”. A speech that they themselves had written. To cap it all we had Jack Straw re-introducing a tradition by walking backwards before the Queen. What a load of tosh it all is. It is the same with many other traditions such as our lawyers wearing wigs. Why do we do it?

Ron Watts

Leave a Reply