Once upon a time, back in the days when nobody had a home computer, laptop, mobile phone or iPad, my daily newspapers at work – paid for by my employer, Goodyear - were The Financial Times and The Glasgow Herald (it didn’t become The Herald until 1992). At home, I took The Guardian, which I had read since my teens, when it was called The Manchester Guardian.
Goodyear, notoriously parsimonious in peripheral expenses, nonetheless required its managers, especially those in finance and and employee relations, to stay up to date with both local and national issues and current affairs. I maintained a clippings file from both papers of items I considered relevant. (I remember specifically in June 1972 cutting out a small, obscure item at the bottom of an FT page reporting a burglary in a Washington Hotel called the Watergate, which housed the Democratic Party campaign HQ.)
I was highly politically aware back then, primarily because of the dynamically changing industrial relations scene and legislative context, polarised politically between the Tories and Labour. What struck me forcibly about the Financial Times was its total objectivity about politics. It had to be objective, because those engaged in the hard-edged business of money didn’t want the facts to be spun – they could get political bias from The Telegraph/Guardian polarity, but as my American bosses used to say – money ain’t funny, Pete – got to be able to tell shit from Shinola.
(One prime reason for the global financial mess that we’re now in is that international bankers and financiers, especially the formerly hard-eyed Americans, lost the capacity to tell shit from Shinola. Either that, or they ceased to care …)
I rarely buy the FT these days, because it’s not cheap, but yesterday, fed-up with the Christmas trivia in my usual papers, I bit the bullet and forked out £2.80 for the familiar pink pages. I had quite forgotten the superb quality of the typography and illustrations, both artistic and graphical, and the content didn’t disappoint either.
Among the items that caught my eye were these -
“Hedge fund partners earn $3bn amid crisis –Amid the eurozone debt crisis and a stuttering UK economy, three of London’s biggest hedge funds are on course to pay their tiny clique of top managers more that $3bn dollars this year”
Needless to say of the three only one remains domiciled in Britain. Don’t let anyone tell me these people are worth it or that they add to the sum total of human happiness.
“Unions pushed to agree pensions deal …. Frantic last-minute negotiations raised the possibility that the alliance of more than 29 unions that brought more than 1m workers out on strike on November 30th could fragment.
“… The government has threatened it may withdraw its latest offer, including protection for those within 10 years of retirement and a more generous rate for accruing pensions benefits, unless a preliminary agreement is reached by year-end.”
“We need religion in politics to provide morality that society lacks, says Cameron –God needs to be put back into politics, David Cameron has argued, treading into an area usually studiously avoided by politics.”
“Big Society is ‘damaged’ brand – The Big Society has been irreparably damaged as a brand through government spending cuts and a failure by politicians tosell the idea to the public, according to one of the most prominent figures in the charity world.” (Sir Stephen Bubb)
“Churchill is a poor lodestar for Cameron’s isolationism.”
This article by Peter Clarke, former professor of modern British history at Cambridge, closes with these words -
“ … Nothing he [Churchill] said or did in 1940 justifies appropriating his name for a policy of isolation from Europe. His own speeches about the importance of the European idea reveal his own sentiments. And his hardheaded political realism, as Britain’s wartime leader, meant that he never chose to stand alone.”
I stood in Duke Street, Glasgow, at the wall of the cattle market just opposite Dunchattan Street during the Second World War, to boo Churchill as he sped past in his open-topped car, wearing a siren suit and giving the V for Victory sign. We Dunchattan Street boys, street urchins, gave him the sign of the archers at Agincourt right back. Churchill's visits to Glasgow WWII
Maybe we were too harsh to Winnie. And maybe God – or the Archbishop of Canterbury - could have a word with the hedge fund managers about their $3bn bonanza. But I won’t live in hope. After all, somebody once said “the poor we always have with us …”