First the generics.
- Government in policy U turn. January: No 100 year jail terms. That was the first, but this depends on your political viewpoint. There is a distinct softening on the tax raising powers of the Scottish Parliament as we get
closer to the independence referendum north of the border and we can expect other, similar, promises over the next three months. It wouldn’t be hard for even the most diehard Conservative to acknowledge at least one
government U turn and everyone else would claim considerably more.
- New banking scandal emerges. Hardly a day goes by. Barclays, Lloyds and RBS all fined heavily for their part in various scandals.
- Former Top of the Pops presenter arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. No new revelations of late, but I suspect Operation Yew Tree has yet to run its course. The BBC is staying remarkably quiet. I suspect that senior executives know there is more to come and are bracing themselves, with the hand wringing excuses already prepared for publication. Of course no one at the BBC will accept responsibility for what happened but that is normal these
days (politicians take note). It isn’t acceptable but it is normal. Other TV personalities have been acquitted of charges and others have been charged with new offences. As several cases are sub judice I won’t comment further.
- Olivia Colman in new TV blockbuster. The 7.39, Mr Sloane, The Rev, W1A, The Golden Woggle (This is Jinsy), Cuban Fury (film) and post production work on Pudsey The Movie. A new series of Broadchurch due shortly. And let’s not
forget that second Bafta. I like Olivia Colman and think she’s a great actor, but hey, she could take some time off and let someone else have a go.
- Miley Cyrus releases raunchy pop video. If it’s not Miley then it’s some other pop chicklet. I’m not a prude, but there should be a difference between pop music and soft porn.
A football club will spend the equivalent of the GDP of a moderate sized country to transfer a player. He will earn so much money he won’t have to pay any tax at all. Actually quite modest this year. There were about a dozentransferred at over £25 million with many more fees undisclosed. An inch of snow will bring the country to a standstill. I got that one wrong. No snow but plenty more rain which had the same effect. Gardeners, time to sow the seeds of doubt.
Still Winter so expect two inches of snow to bring the country to a standstill. Still no snow but still raining. Lambing in full swing so expect to see a lot of Kate Humble looking concerned and sheep looking bemused. Yup, that happened. Gardeners, time to sow the seeds of despair.
Winds stronger than those in December but not as strong as in January. Yup. Councils will blame rises in Council Tax on
government under funding and government will blame councils for profligate spending. Yup. Both will be right. Northampton Saints wins the LV Trophy final. Got that wrong. They made the final but lost to Exeter Chiefs. Chancellor’s austerity budget condemned by everyone including the Chancellor. Well, the Chancellor didn’t condemn his own budget but everyone else did. Gardeners, time to sow the seeds of discontent.
With EU elections taking place in early May expect to be bored silly by politicians of every political hue telling us why we have to stay in the EU or why we have to get out. In the end you will be more confused than ever so you probably won’t vote. I don’t know about you, but I was certainly bored silly and was even more confused about which way to vote, except to say that I would never vote UKIP. Gardeners, time to sow the seeds of confusion.
EU elections result in lowest turnout ever. At 33% turnout certainly wasn’t high. UKIP gains seats and claims victory for their campaign to get out of EU, but as the turnout is less than forty percent of the electorate and UKIP polled less than a third of the total votes cast this is nonsense. An old man typing on an out of date PC could predict this result (and I did). You read it here first. UKIPs vote share was spread from a miserable 17% in London to around 35% in East of England, averaging about 28%. One team of overpaid foreign players beats another team of overpaid foreign players
in the FA Cup Final. I think Arsenal started the match with only two UK citizens on the field and one more on the bench. I didn’t expect Hull to make the final so perhaps I was a little unkind to them. As a smaller club they can’t afford a lot of highly priced imported players. Northampton Saints complete a unique treble by winning the Heineken Cup and the Aviva Premiership Final. Well it was the Amlin Cup, not the Heineken Cup but Saints won the Aviva Premiership Final in nail biting fashion. No treble though but as Meatloaf said, two out of three ain’t bad. Gardeners, time to sow the seeds of
Highest June rainfall on record. Well the month certainly got off to a wet start, though the second half was very pleasant.
Government advice is to grow webbed feet and build arks. It was worse than that. The government issued almost no advice and anything they did was only after severe public criticism in the press. Loads of pictures of concerened ministers standing in their wellies up to their knees in water. Thames Water issues drought warning and threat of hosepipe ban. First hints at hose pipe bans were published in the newspapers in mid-June after just a few days of dry weather. Gardeners, time to sow the seeds of peace.
Well, I wasn’t 100% accurate in my predictions, but I suspect I was as accurate as the “professionals”. Of course this was all very tongue in cheek, but it also had a serious purpose.
The media are forever speculating on what is going to happen in the future, rather than focusing on telling us what is actually happening now. Hardly a news bulletin goes by without the studio anchor asking their correspondent (usually, for no apparent reason, seen standing outside some important looking building) “what does this mean for the future?” or some variation of that question. The correspondent then makes a few speculative comments and no one ever looks back to see if their speculation was right or wrong. The newspapers are just as bad, of course. Any important item of news
will be accompanied by pages of speculation about the “impact” the event will have on the future, some written by journalists but often by “experts” drafted in because they can be relied upon to follow the paper’s editorial line.
Well, they’ve got to fill air time and newspapers, haven’t they? And it doesn’t really matter much what they say, does it?”
Well, actually, it does. Share prices rise and fall based, in part, on what commentators say about the future and that affects us all. That’s because a significant amount of our savings and investments are held in the form of shares by banks, building societies and insurance companies. Markets rise and fall on confidence or the lack of it and confidence is a
fragile thing. Ask any sports star.
Our economy is affected by how confident investors feel about the future and that affects jobs. It is possible to talk the economy down by influencing how confident investors feel. The TV news and newspapers play a significant role in building or damaging confidence with their endless speculation.
Perhaps the most marked example of this is the building industry. If builders don’t feel confident that house buyers will be able to afford to buy then they won’t start building houses. So jobs for people employed in the building trade are affected, but also jobs in other sectors as well because if people aren’t buying houses then they aren’t furnishing them or
planting new gardens or doing a whole lot of other things.
But there’s more to it than that, we are in the middle of a serious housing shortage and the builders who build the houses for commercial sale also build the social housing that is so badly needed as part of the same development. The profits from the commercial housing, which in any new development is usually the first to be built, pays for the building of the social housing. Those houses, once built, are then sold to the housing associations or councils en-block so the builders can recoup their profits. But if the social houses aren’t built in the first place, because the builder doesn’t feel confident of being able to sell the commercial houses, then the shortage of social housing continues. The government
and opposition may wring their hands in anguish about the lack of social housing, but they can’t force builders to build and they will only build if they feel confident they will make a profit.
That is just one example of how media commentators can affect markets. The same could be applied to just about any sector of industry or commerce. Of course the media isn’t entirely responsible for market confidence. Politicians have a big part to play. How many investment decisions were affected by Ed Balls continually prophesying first a double dip recession and then a flat lining economy, both of which we now know were considerably removed from what was actually happening. In wartime his pronouncements might have been regarded as sabotage. I have never heard any TV commentator remarking on this, or read any report in a newspaper that suggested that the Shadow Chancellor might be talking the economy down. Why not? Perhaps the media doesn’t want to be accused of doing the same, or perhaps it’s just that no one has considered the possibility. Tell someone it’s going to rain and they’ll carry an umbrella with them because they won’t be confident that the sun is going to shine.
Can we stop the newspapers and TV from speculating in this way? I doubt it. But I would ask my reader to remember that when they see or read this sort of speculation then it doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen. Your guess is
just as good as theirs, most of the time.
Next week's blog is going to be based on a suggestion made by one of my readers and is on the subject of arrogance.