A plot, or not? – Eurocrat talks down pound

So a top Eurocrat, president of the EU commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, reveals in an interview with a French radio station that “the people that matter” in the UK – which is to say, top politicians and capitalists – are set on entering the Eurozone.

Yes, that’s right – more European integration, this time the single currency. Business minister Lord (of Darkness) Mandelson has said he is very keen, which could indicate the line of travel.

Today, sterling fell sharply against the dollar:

The pound was down 5.2 cents to $1.486, its largest one day fall in percentage terms since sterling crashed out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1992.

In the past, the Brown administration has slammed those who would “talk down the pound”… Isn’t this what Barroso has been doing?

The PM’s spokesman, Michael Ellam has refuted the claims:

“We have no plans to change our position on the euro,” the spokesman told reporters. “There is no change in our position, there is no intention to change our position.”

Barroso told France’s RTL radio that British leaders had told him in conversation they would be better off now — given the financial market turmoil — if they had adopted the much more widely used euro as their currency.

“I don’t mean to say that it will be tomorrow and I know that the majority in Britain remain opposed to this idea, but it is evolving and the people who count in the United Kingdom are in the process of thinking about it,” Barroso said.

But Brown’s spokesman said: “I think the person who counts the most is the prime minister and his position is quite clear that we have no plans to join the euro.”

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At the crossroads

A bit of culture – a satirical poem by Adrian Mitchell:

At the crossroads
I built the best of England
With my brain and with my hands.
Liberty Equality Fraternity –
That’s where I took my stand,
And the people called me Old Labour
The brave heart of this land

I walked out of the smoky streets
To enjoy some country air,
But when I came to the crossroads,
I saw a weird sight there –
A man in a silver business suit
Swivelling in a black leather chair

He jumped right up and shook my hand
and giggled with mysterious glee.
Then he stared and said: ‘Old Labour,
I can tell your destiny.
I’m the Great Political Entrepreneur –
Would you like to do a deal with me?’

Well, the style of his smile and the size of his eyes
Made him look like a shopping mall.
I told him straight: ‘I’m a socialist,
I support fair shares for all.’
He said: ‘Capitalism means fair shares,
Provided that you play ball.’

I said: ‘I can think of something
Capitalism can’t arrange
And that’s the common ownership
Of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
And war makes so much more profit
That the idea of peace is strange.

‘I was born for peace and justice
For every race and nationality
I’m for people, not for profit,
I want to see the children free
With no more than 12 kids in a class
Revelling in liberty.’

‘But let’s not talk about the people,’
The sophisticated stranger said.
‘You must have targets of your own –
Let’s talk about you instead.’
And my brain was enthralled by his silver voice
Though my heart was filled with dread.

‘I know you have a heart,’ said the shining voice
‘And I know you have an excellent mind.
Why not become an Entrepreneur –
Leave those people of yours behind?
You shall live in mansions and grand hotels
And be constantly wined and dined.

‘You shall have your own island and bodyguard
And your own show on TV,
And a heated pool and a gymnasium
And become a powerful Celebrity.’
‘I think I could fancy that,’ I said,
‘But what’s the cost going to be?’

Well, I knew. But I signed – in my own life-blood.
He extracted my soul with care
and placed it in his credit card case
And gave me his black leather chair
Then he laughed and said: ‘You are New Labour now.’
I said: ‘Thank you, Mr Blair.’

George Galloway calls for Woolies rescue

The government has nationalised most of the banking sector – for the sake of the bankers – and word is that the Lord of Darkness is drawing up a list of companies too big to fail.

Far from being a lame duck, Woolies has been badly-managed and is laden with debt. This is not the fault of its workers, however. Some thirty thousand – and many more who work for suppliers – face being made redundant in the new year, something which will only make the recession worse as the government will be paying benefits to more people unable to find work as the economy contracts.

George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow writes:

Woolworths would have celebrated a century of trading in this country next year. It has survived two world wars, the Great Depression and the oil shocks of the 1970s. But it has finally succumbed to this terrible credit crunch.

Woolworths is one of the first shops I ever remember going to. Although it has changed somehwat since I was a child, it still provides cheap goods, from sweets and toys, to kids’ clothing, DVDs and CDs, kitchen hardware and other useful items, predominantly to those on lower incomes.

Just as importantly it employs 30,000 people nationwide, including a significant number in Tower Hamlets in the Bethnal Green Road store in my constituency, where we are already feeling the adverse effects of the meltdown in the banking sector.

In my view, Woolworths ought to be on Business Secretary Lord Mandelson’s list of companies which the government should intervene to save, as a matter of urgency. It’s on sale for just a £1 and, although there would be additional costs to keep it as a going concern, the government could turn it into a people’s Woolies, employing local people, buying from local producers and ensuring it provided the services and goods local people on low incomes need. The alternative is to allow the vultures to pick it apart for their own profit.

The government has been moving in the right direction in response to the credit crunch but not nearly fast or far enough. Now it needs to bite the bullet and take Woolies into public ownership to show it really does mean to try and stop the worst effects ot this mother of all recessions.