Tag Archive: North Sea

Thatcher’s Recession, and Now?

How Bad was Thatcher’s Recession compared to the Current Economic Slump?

Q. Well, how would you find out, exactly?

Slump's Progress

Slump's Progress

A. Surprisingly easily.  This graph here compares historical economic slumps with the current one, on a month by month basis.  It’s taken from the “National Institute of Economic and Social Research” (NIESR) website here.  Notionally, it’s an academic institution, but on examining it’s staff and management you’ll see that it’s a collection of vested interest groups, supplying a “knowledge base”.

But There’s No Denying their Facts!

Rig IIThe current slump is in black and the fall seems to have plateaued out a bit.  It’s tracking something like the red line and the green line.  So what you see is the Green Line, which is Thatcher’s Slump, being nearly as bad as the depression in the 1930s (the red line)!

However, in Thatcher’s time, Britain was awash with North Sea oil wealth!  Coal mines were still producing horrendous quantities of fuel and North Sea Gas had been on-stream for years.

In short, the country was sound with it’s own supplies of energy, dependant on no-one.  And yet, it had the worst economic state since the great depression!

So much for Thatcher’s miracle!

The current labour government has not been blessed with such good fortune during the current slump.  Britain is now a huge energy importer and is vulnerable to the vagaries of the market in oil as we saw last year.

Where Did the Money Go in Thatcher’s Time?

Thatcher Explains All

Thatcher Explains All

The legacy of Thatcher’s time in office was leaking schools everywhere, a crumbling rail network, hived off bus services that redefined “service”, a crumbling road system, paid-for medical treatment…. an almost endless list!

  • So where did the money go?
  • Where did the strategic national energy reserves of oil, coal and gas go?
  • Where did Britain’s manufacturing industry go?
  • Well the energy was burnt to get money to pay people on the dole.
  • Britain’s manufacturing (and most of the Western world’s) went to China and would have happened anyway

That leaves the money.  Where did the money go?

A. Tax havens, that’s where.

Thatcher and all conservatives of that ilk whine on about making a country fit for the entrepreneurial spirit.  But their actions, both now and historically, for the most part, go soundly against that spirit. (I’m thinking particularly of Ashcroft here who may be entrepreneurial but whose contributions to UK PLC as opposed to Tory Ltd have been minimal…)

It’s in their name – conservative.

Their gut reaction is to hoard wealth, and if they can’t do it at home, they’ll do it abroad (like Shirley Porter).  Remember, the wealth of “The City” is not derived from the re-invested wealth of landowning Tories suddenly looking for a home for their money once local industries had gone.  It comes from abroad.  There’s no way they’d invest their own money in infrastructure or development.  Sheesh!

Their other modus operandi is to do as little as possible for the country while maintaining the status quo.  Hence, this is why all large companies and financial institutions are full of the same old people, having the same background and speaking the same language.  The banks and other institutions behind the economic collapse are headed by these people, who flit from government to the military, to law, ‘business’ and finance with impunity.  Anywhere that’ll keep them busy, keep them wealthy and keep them pulling strings.

True, many do ‘charitable’ activities and are on the controlling side of many charities.  But that’s purely dressage.  Being involved with charity does not make you a good person.  You just look good.  In a truly civilised society there should be no need whatsoever for charity.  It’s a definition of civilised, or being civil, in my book.

Worms from Woodwork

Now, with the piss-poor Labour government and their own side’s resurgence all the old tories are all coming out of the woodwork again.  The odious slimery is oozing forth like the dark stain from history that it is.  The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is one such place.



The CPS, created by… Thatcher!… in 1974, proclaims it’s freedom credentials from it’s lofty privileged position.  Among it’s luminaries is Thatcher’s advertiser (Saatchi) and the European gaffer of Goldmann Sachs, one of the companies internationally bailed out with public funds and one of those businesses at the forefront of the whole current economic mess!  Most of the rest seem to have had various Tory positions over the last two decades.  So much for independent think tank!  (By the way, the CPS is a pseudo-charity – a non-profit-making organisation which relies on the donations of individuals and companies to carry out its work!!)

Part of the CPS’s ‘current thinking’ is to roll back the surveillance culture that has developed under Labour.  Personally, I can’t see it happening…

The trouble is, as has just been revealed in a book supposedly derived from recently released archive material from MI5, (The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5), like all power-grabbers, Thatcher used MI5 for her own ends.  She used MI5 to discredit Red Robbo the Trades Union Leader and had tabs on Scargill.  Prime Minister Wilson even had the tabs on him and ordered tabs on others….  and so it goes. (see Book tells of MI5’s secret pastthe fact is that Margaret Thatcher demanded action from MI5 to deal with “wreckers” in British industry and yet it was herself that wrecked that same industry!.)

That’s why I see it as highly unlikely that Cameron, if the Tories get in, will roll back the shutters on our increasingly closeted and shuttered state apparatus.  He’s there purely to re-instate the old status quo….

  • To keep jobs for the boys
  • Re-exert the dominant power structures of the state and the wealthy, bolstering their unhealthy connections to their former pre-eminence
  • Say that all the new hospitals and schools which have replaced all the leaking and collapsing ones, would have happened anyway…
  • Say that the new fast rail links would have happened anyway without government sponsorship
  • Ensure that money stashed abroad by the wealthy remains unreachable by the state
  • Bring back smoking in pubs
  • Tax the poor to pay for the rich’s mistakes
  • Kill foxes ritually
  • Say that they’d have fixed the credit-crunch anyway..

All these and more will come under the banner of “freedom” and I’m quite sure that MI5 will be used to ensure they happen.  The media will naturally be roped in to lend a publicity hand to smooth the waters and ensure that the status quo has safe passage;  A media governed by;

  • a non-tax paying, non-resident Australian-American,
  • a non-resident Briton who prefers to pay French tax
  • and a brotherly twosome who threaten locals who don’t vote for “their man”.

Great?  Britain.

Thatcher’s Economic Legacy

  • Greed
  • Selfishness
  • The Channel Tunnel (economic disaster, multiple bankrupt)
  • M25, world’s biggest car park and fume cupboard
  • …er.  That’s it.

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Henry Vacuum Cleaner and Powered Flight

Well I Never!

Numatic HVR200-22 Henry..should be the title of this post.  Having lived in the South-West for nearly quarter of a century, it’s come as a complete shock to me to discover that my favourite vacuum cleaner (if there is such a thing, I’m now defining it here!) is little old Henry, and it’s made about 20 miles from here in Bridgwater!

Henry Mk 1 (or 2 possibly)

I first bought one in 1986 when the babies started arriving.  It lasted, and lasted and lasted.  It had a 1kW motor, little dinky wheels and a smile.  It could suck the carpet off the floor.  Below, is a really daft video of someone vacuuming with one from that era.. ?? (youtube never ceases to amaze me)

Dyson Animal


John Stringfellow's Flying Machines

When the motor & fan finally packed in by wearing so much that there was hardly any suck, we got a Dyson Animal.  What a mistake that was.  No suck and yes, there was a filter that needed cleaning perpetually under a running tap and then took ages to dry…  When it worked, it didn’t lose suction, just like the advert said –  but there again, it never had much in the first place!

The Henry lasted over 15 years – the Dyson we left out on the pavement after 18 months in the hope that someone would swipe it – which they did.  I expect they thought they were getting a bargain.

Miele 600

In 2003 I got  a little yellow Miele which worked very well for me but was chucked out by Jillian as she didn’t like it, after a year or so.  However, the benefit was that she walked in with a…

Henry HVR200-22

This has worked fine for 3 years but now needs a replacement head.  Fortunately, this is no problem as the factory, I’ve just found out, is down the road in Chard.

Chard – the Birthplace of Powered Flight

You see, all I thought Chard was famous for was it’s lace and for being the site of the world’s first powered, man-carrying aeroplane flight…

Yes it was!  Over half a century before the Wright Brothers at Kittihawk.  see link at Chard Museum.

I Love Chard Decorated Mouse PadIt was steam powered(!!) and launched inside a disused lace mill down a guide wire.  This was remarkably similar to the Wright’s Flyer which was launched down a guide rail to get up speed in a similar way.

The museum’s article has different information to mine which I’ve got from various sources.  My take is that it wasn’t Stringfellow who did the flight, but his manservant!

Upon landing, his manservant refused to go in the machine again, even when offered a five pound note – a lot of money in 1848!

Vacuum Cleaner beyond Excellence!

Numatic HVR200M-22 Henry Micro Vacuum Cleaner, Microtex Filtration System, 1200WWell now I’ve found that Chard is famous for something much more practical than a history lesson, and it’s a real innovative success story (see company history here) employing 700 local people.

And now, I’ve had a bizarre request from my daughter to get her a Henry for her birthday present.  Women are weird.  But I’m considering it because of her asthma. ;-)

Bad Joke Alert

Back in 1987, the Piper Alpha oil platform exploded in the North Sea, killing many men, mostly in horrible ways.  In the office where I worked, the black humour started up immediately.  There are two endings to the question;

Q.  Where do oil rig workers go on holiday?

A.  Burnham on Sea


A.  Chard

Sorry about that.  Fortunately, my mind has forgotten the even worse jokes surrounding the Lockerbie bombing only six months later.  That was one bad office.

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The Maldives and Tuvalu will be Alright Without People

A recent article on coral growth has confirmed my opinions that I’ve had for years that the assumptions about the environmental degradation and collapse of coral reefs have nothing to do with global warming, sea level rises or ice ages.

News Article: Coral springs back from tsunami – BBC News

Background from WCS.org:  Conservation Opportunity

Instead, the coral reef collapse is purely from direct human actions.

How can this be?  A: Simply, by observation and the principle of cause and effect.

Charles Darwin proposed many years ago a mechanism for the evolution of coral atolls and the large numbers of submerged seamounts.  My observations are that Darwin’s theory has been almost completely accepted in it’s entirety and that there is copious geological and other evidence for many variances in sea level over time.

The theory goes that the corals grow until they’re right at wave height.  Then the tops get chopped off in storms and piled up to make beaches.  That’s the steady-state.

If the land rises, the exposed corals die but new ones grow in the sea.  If the land falls, the corals grow towards the sunlight again.

But corals can only grow so fast.

If the land falls too fast, the corals are trapped in darkness and die.  There are hundreds of submerged tropical seamounts, topped with dead coral at depths of around 1000m, that prove this.  The same goes for steady-state.  If coral is left to grow, it naturally makes harbours, beaches and islands under the influence of staorms and tides.

What this means is that corals are actually very robust creatures.  They’ve existed this way for millions of years.

During these times the sea has gone up and down as well as the land.  There have been several ice ages.  There have been countless tsunamis as well.  The coral recovers, well, by definition;  it’s still there!!!

And this is what has been observed to happen in Indonesia.

The tsunami came in 2004, killed a lot of coral, but crucially, it killed a lot of fishermen as well and the whole tourist industry! And it’s really people that kill coral.  These last few years have a been a welcome breather for the coral as an escape from people.

They overfish, chip away at it, use it to build houses, concrete and ports.  Sell it as trinkets.  Build airports on it.  This is what’s happened in the Maldives. This BBC Country profile: The Maldives, makes it clear that following the 2004 tsunami, there has been a massive rebuilding!    It’s a red-herring that the hot water is responsible for coral’s demise.   Or starfish.  The world has been hotter in the coral’s past – and they’ve always had predators like the starfish.  Coral seeds itself in the water.  If it’s too hot for a certain species of coral, another will take it’s place.

Left alone, the Maldives and Tuvalu will still be there.  As the sea rises, and without human intervention, the coral should grow and be smashed to bits by storms, cast up to make new beaches.  But people, with their feet and their animals, their cars and houses, their aeroairplanes and boats, their work and their play, whittle slowly away at the coral when it should be growing!   When the big storm comes, the coral and thus the islands are more vulnerable.

In that respect, it’s a shame that the tsunami didn’t wash right over The Maldives.  Thousands more people would have died and the tourist industry would have completely collapsed.  As it was, a complete physical disaster for the islands was thwarted (i.e. it could have been much worse).

But the coral could have re-grown.  The Maldives wouldn’t dissappear like they are now assumed to do so…

As an allegorical story, the tsunami wiping away the fishermen and tourists of Banda Aceh etc to save the coral reefs would make a fantastic script.  But many years ago I read a real story much like this.

Buy on Amazon: The Curse of The Wise Woman, by Lord DunsanyIt’s set in the bogs of Ireland and was written by Lord Dunsany.  It is called “The Curse of the Wise Woman“, and is well worth a read as a Gaia-like warning to look after the world by letting the world look after us.  To work with nature, not against it.  That’s surely a good goal.

In this respect, the destructive fishermen of Indonesia are in no way different to those that wiped out the North Sea and Grand Banks fisheries of the last century.  High latitudes don’t grow coral though.  What we have done however, is made huge increases in atmospheric CO2.  We mine the crust on an industrial scale.  We have the ice sheets.  We have the warming. We have huge industries and complex civilisations.   What will Gaia do?

Read the Curse of the Wise Woman.

Daisaku Ikeda has said; “Life is a chain. All things are related. When any link is harmed, the other links are affected. We should think of the environment as our mother. There is no crime worse than harming one’s mother.”

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The Big Green Con Trick

a.k.a.  Is the wind more expensive now?

Just a quick thought….

Everyone knows that global energy prices are going up and have roughly doubled in the last year.  In the UK, domestic fuel companies have for some years offered a “Green” tariff on gas and electricity.  The cost has been close to the “normal” tariffs, but a bit more, something some nice middle class people in the mee-jah living in Islington would be prepared to pay.

This is the current British Gas tariff blurb: http://www.britishgas.co.uk/products-and-services/energy/electricity/renewable-energy.html I’m not picking on BG in particular – it’s an example.  My current supplier, Scottish Power’s terms are a bit harder to differentiate or show in one place.

You’ll see you’ve got to pay £2 extra a month and then British Gas will source the supply from renewables.

And here lies my problemLast year, the energy firms still charged the same green premium as they do now!!! But in reality, it should be cheaper.

If I bought renewable energy last year for £1000, then allowing for inflation, it should cost £1035 this year.   But it doesn’t.  It’s doubled to £2000!!!  It’s a pure rip-off con, profiteering on the grossest scale.  As I said right at the beginning,

Is the wind more expensive now? No

Is it the law of supply and demand? No

Is there really less wind to go round? No

If the renewable price was the same as last year, like it should be, as it’s renewable energy, the population would be lobbying parliament to get every last one of the cancelled North Sea turbines stuck up and running, the Bristol Channel, The Wash, Morecambe Bay and the Thames Estuary would ALL be barraged off and creating electricity and Elephant Grass and Withies would be grown everywhere as fuel for energy production.

But they’re not.  The energy companies are just raking it in, like hay in the summer.  And the blame has been chucked at the government.  Shame on them all.  You can be sure of Shell.

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