In the years that followed 1967 the number of convictions for gross indecency, an offence that could only be committed by consenting gay men, doubled.
Whether there should have been such an offence is entirely another matter but that, as defined, it only applied to men seems just fine.
Turmoil in bond markets and a spike in the number of investors wanting to withdraw money “raises questions” about the suitability of popular bond funds, leading analysts have suggested.
Bond funds – where savers’ cash is pooled and then invested in loans issued by governments and companies – are among the most popular holdings in savers’ Isas and pensions.
But analysts Manuel Arrive and Alastair Sewell of Fitch, the ratings agency, this week questioned whether these funds could withstand a rush to the exit by investors alarmed by a fall in bond prices.
They have suggested restricting withdrawals to weekly intervals and requiring more advanced notice as potential countermeasures.
They argue that while these funds allow withdrawals to be made on a daily basis, their managers may struggle to sell holdings quickly enough to be able to pay out. The technical term for this is a “liquidity mis-match”.
Mr Arrive said current markets raised doubts “about the suitability of open-end, daily traded funds for less liquid or illiquid assets”.
Well, err, quite. In fact, who thinks open ended funds in illiquid securities is a good idea in the first place?
They’re another party that has returned to comfort-zone politics
They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. So Talleyrand said of the Bourbons and so much the same might be said of the Lib Dems today. If there’s one thing that we should take from the Witney by-election campaigns, it was the extent to which 2010-15 are now for the Lib Dems non-years.
With the disagreeable business of actually holding power and being able to do something with it now behind them, the Lib Dems are now clearly back to what they enjoy most: fighting by-elections. It’s something they believe they’re good at and going by local results this year, they have a point, with far more gains than anyone else and with Con and Lab both in reverse – though it should be noted that their results at the May elections were a good deal worse, recouping fewer than one in seven of the seats they lost in the same election round in 2012.
On the other hand, it’s now more than a decade since the Lib Dems last gained a seat at a Westminster by-election, and more than 16 years since they gained one from the Conservatives. Despite some overly optimistic assertions before the event, they never came close in Witney.
Nor was it ever likely they would. They’d have needed one of the biggest swings in history and to have come from fourth which would have been an almost unprecedented achievement. Perhaps, were the Conservatives unpopular, it might just have been on. Against a party polling in the mid-40s nationally, and with the Lib Dems starting fourth locally – more than 55% behind the Tories – it never was, no matter how intensively Farron’s followers campaigned and the apparently large number of bets staked to that end.
That shouldn’t diminish what was in many ways a good result. To climb back to second and to gain a near-20% swing were undoubtedly impressive achievements, if well short of those needed to win. Indeed, Labour ought to be asking themselves questions about how they let their challenger position slip, having finished second in Witney not only last time but in four of the last six general elections.
But in remembering all the techniques from the glory days of the 1980s and 1990s – the bar-charts, the two-horse races, the tactical ‘lent’ votes, and so on – they have failed to learn anything from their time in power about a wider truth: that elections are means to an end; to the exercise of power, not an end in themselves.
Perhaps this is one reason why the larger parties struggle to be as motivated as the Lib Dems for by-elections: by-elections simply provide neither the consequence nor the sport for them that they do for the Yellow Team.
Because while the tactical game is all very well in one-off elections, it’s only possible to maintain at general elections while two conditions are met: firstly, fights need to be kept local as much as possible, so that they can appeal to Tories in one place to keep Labour out, to Labour supporters elsewhere to keep the Tories out, and to both in others to keep the SNP out. And secondly, the party needs to be transfer-friendly at a national level. As soon as a party whose election machine is built on tactical voting comes into contact with the responsibility and accountability of power, both conditions break down and you end up going from holding fifty-odd seats to eight. So much there for tactical votes, personal votes or a superior ground game. And eventually, a centrist party with a reasonable number of seats will be faced with a situation where they cannot avoid choosing which of two larger parties will form a government (or whether to force fresh elections).
Yet Farron seems to have learned nothing from that devastating lesson. Perhaps the experience is still too raw or perhaps Farron, who never went near power himself during the Coalition, understands it only in the negative and isn’t yet willing to act on its implications. Once again, the short-term highs of by-election success (or, as in Witney, commendable advance), is allowed to trump longer-term positioning or the Lib Dems’ ability to influence policy.
Those who fail to learn from history will be condemned to repeat it. Talleyrand was on hand to see the natural consequences of his observation for the House of Bourbon as they were ejected from power a second time in 1830. Unless Farron can move his party on from trying to endlessly relive Newbury and Christchurch and instead build up a support base formed on positive support for the Lib Dems’ policies and values, they too will set themselves on the road of an inevitable future downfall.
I’ve written a lot here about the disaster of the Great War, and the moral culpability of all those who brought it about and continued it. It’s fair to say, I think, that the majority of commenters have disagreed with me and that many of those commenters have invoked some form of historical relativism, based on the idea that we shouldn’t judge the rulers (or for that matter the public) of 1914 on the same criteria we would apply to Bush, Blair and their supporters.
It’s fascinating therefore to read Henry Reynolds’ latest book, Unnecessary Wars about Australia’s participation in the Boer War, and realise that the arguments for and against going to war then were virtually the same as they are now. The same point is made by Douglas Newton in Hell-Bent: Australia’s leap into the Great War . He shows how, far from loyally following Britain into a regrettably necessary war, leading members of the Australian political and military class pushed hard for war. In Newtown’s telling, the eagerness of pro-war Dominion governments helped to tip the scales in the British public debate and in the divided Liberal candidate. I don’t have the expertise to assess this, but there’s no escaping the echoes of the push towards the Iraq war in 2002 and early 2003, when this blog was just starting out.
The case against war was fully developed and strongly argued in the years before 1914, just as the case against slavery was developed and argued in the US before 1861. Those who were on the wrong side can’t be excused on the grounds that they were people of their time.
The only defence that can be made is that those who were eager for war in 1914 had not experienced the disaster of the Great War and its consequences. The failure of today’s war advocates to learn from this disaster makes their position that much worse. But the same is true of anyone defending the warmakers of 1914 on any grounds other than that of their ignorance.
Pen: Nakaya Naka-ai Cigar, Soft Fine nib.
Ink: Platinum Blue-Black.
I am afraid that straight lines are not my forte.
Meanwhile, the dragon doesn't even know what a rotary phone looks like, and I can't remember the last time I saw one that wasn't on TV or something. :p I do have weirdly vivid memories of the ivory-colored one that my parents had in the living room when we lived in Ft. Leonard Wood, though.
I love the chutzpah of any municipal gallery that confronts you with a statue of Lucifer as you walk in.
Birmingham is another of those under-praised midlands destinations with an oft-derided accent.
I have no idea why the Birmingham accent is so often ridiculed, I think it suggests a delightful innocent sarcasm, scepticism without guile, a knowingness that may be missed by the casual visitor keen to delude themselves into a position of superiority.
It seems fitting that curators chose Jacob Epstein’s disconcerting Lucifer, with its male body and female face, to lure us into their Pre-Raphaelite wonderland (with added penguin portraits).
I was particularly drawn to the feet, human but inhuman. Unlike Epstein’s Paul Robeson bust in York, there was no touching suggested, which might have been for the best, what if my palm sweat awoke the dark, sleeping spirit of the satanic, just in time for the Hallowe’en screenings of They Live.
Spending time in local art galleries, I have been impressed by just how prolific some British artists seem to be. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gallery without a few LS Lowry paintings or a Walter Sickert. I am also sure I have seen David Cox’s very similar capturing of the sands of Rhyl on at least four occasions. My hankering to go to Rhyl is no longer at a subconscious level, though I need to work out how to get to Rhyl in 1854, and though most privatised train providers are able to drag out time to a destination, they are sadly unable to do anything useful like shatter the laws of physics for the purposes of a Victorian holiday. Anyway, being a Philip Larkin fan, I should probably go to sunny Prestatyn, or to Barmouth for the giant crabs.
Looking at Alfred William Hunt’s Norwegian Midnight, I remember that for most of the gallery promenaders of the 19th century , this would be the nearest they would get to experiencing a Norwegian midnight. We have grown to blasé in our ability to travel the world, one more currency collapse and it may be better to get an art pass than a holiday abroad.
The Tate Britain exhibition of the epic biblical paintings of John Martin recreated the theatricality used to bring hell and damnation into the original exhibition, and looking at Samuel Coleman’s Delivery of Israel out of Egypt, I see it as the Charlton Heston movie of its time.
One room is dedicated to images of the personalities of Birmingham, including the Arthur Shorthouse’s portrait of the Official Ratcatcher of the City of Birmingham, Big Issue seller Vernon Burgess, and Emily Spark’s Ode to Christian Joy.
And then there was a container filled with copper coins and congealed milk. This was the work of Donald Rodney. At York Art Gallery there was a photograph of his father’s hand with a small, paper house resting on the palm, except it wasn’t made of paper. The house was made from a skin sample of his son, now looking dry and sharp. This is one of Donald Rodney’s art reactions to his own sickle cell anaemia, a genetically inherited disease. There, from his own skin, he had built his father’s house.
Inside this container of milk and coins, we can see the decline and corrosion of its contents. This is Land of Milk and Honey II. From other matter, he has constructed a representation of his declining health. Donald Rodney succumbed to sickle cell anaemia in 1998.
Barbara Hepworth’s garden is one of my favourite places to see the meeting of sculpture and spiders’ webs, in Birmingham Art Gallery you can see her H Graph works. They are unembellished by arachnids. Inspired by the surgeons who operated on her daughter to treat her bone disease, Hepworth became fascinated by “the extraordinary beauty of purpose and co-ordination between human beings all dedicated to saving a life”. It reminded me of the Ken Currie’s Three Oncologists, a painting that continues to obsess my partner in anger, Michael Legge. During the Edinburgh Fringe, he would go to the National Gallery almost every day just to look at that painting.
Waiting to see Arab Strap, he took a trip to see Ken Currie’s Jesus and is now similarly obsessed, he may now have to commute daily from Lewisham to Glasgow. This is the first time he has felt any need to make a pilgrimage for any Jesus.
(other works of excellence in Birmingham Gallery include
-Spencer Gore’s Wood in Richmond Park from his final series of works, painted shortly before he died from leukaemia.
-Edward Burne Jone’s Pygmalion series
-Germaine Richier’s emaciated, leaf patterned sculpture of depleted man)
Currently it says
Parental Abandonment: Dead parents appear rather often. James Nicoll had a project of reviewing one Lee a week for a year. His review of Black Unicorn includes a table of dead parents: after 29 books we have 27 missing or dead mothers and 21 missing or dead fathers.
That should read
Parental Abandonment: Dead parents appear rather often. James Nicoll is reviewing one Lee a week for a year. His reviews include a table of dead parents: after 50 books we have 37 missing or dead mothers and 32 missing or dead fathers.
+ a Prison Governor and a chorus of crooks and cops.
Amazing Spider-Man #11 is not so much a turning point as a staying the same forever point.
Stan Lee piles the irony on as only he can "I hate you Spider-Man .. If only Peter were here!" cries Betty. Oh what a tangled web we weave...! When Betty has calmed down, she modifies her accusation, instead damning Spider-Man with the most terrible kind of faint praise. "It wasn’t his fault! He was trying to help us!". And she replaces her hatred of Spider-Man with something worse: an irrational revulsion. The girl who didn’t want Peter Parker to take photos because it reminded her that her brother had a gambling debt (or something) announces "I still never want to see Spider-Man again! I couldn’t bear being reminded…of Bennet!" Her hatred of Spider-Man is irrational. Like J. Jonah Jameson, she is an arachnophobe.
Later continuity reveals that Bennet Brant did not die from the gunshot, but survived to become the Crime Master. Later continuity can fuck off.
We end the day as we began it by paying tribute to the people, past and present, of Aberfan. Here is a newsreel of the day from British Movietone:
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. As part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team he helps with photos and moderation on the site, as well as occsionally contributing articles. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.
The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, that killed 116 children and 28 adults on 21 October 1966. The collapse was caused by the build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale tip, which suddenly slid downhill in the form of slurry.[...]
More than 1.4 million cubic feet (40,000 cu metres) of debris covered a section of the village in minutes. The classrooms at Pantglas Junior School were immediately inundated; young children and teachers died from impact or suffocation. Many noted the poignancy of the situation: if the disaster had struck a few minutes earlier, the children would not have been in their classrooms, and if it had struck a few hours later, they would have left for the half-term holiday.
The stirring achievements of Bolivarian socialism as practiced in Venezuela never cease to amaze. They’ve managed to create, at one time, an entire country running out of beer. The banknotes cost more to print than they are worth. A fertile tropical nation has widespread food shortages. They’ve even managed that the place sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves has to import oil from the U.S. To add to this list of blows struck against the imperialist Yankees we can now add the possible bankruptcy, or at least default on its debts, of the monopoly oil company sitting on top of that ocean of oil which is the world’s largest reserves.
Venezuela’s state-owned oil company has warned that it is in danger of defaulting on its debts after investors declined an offer to swap bonds.
Four times in the last month, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) has extended an offer to investors to swap their bonds which mature next year for notes due in 2020. The oil company is required to pay out $1.8 billion this month and $3 billion next month in debt interest and bond maturities.
This week, it warned investors in a statement that if they declined to swap their bonds, the company may end up defaulting.
Bankruptcy and default are not quite the same thing although one can lead to the other. Neither are evidence of great care or skill in managing this most important part of the Venezuelan economy.
The underlying reason here is in contention. Some lawmakers are shouting that it is corruption:
A report by a Venezuelan congressional commission accused Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) [PDVSA.UL] of corruption on Wednesday, saying about $11 billion in funds went missing from the state-run oil company while Rafael Ramirez was at the helm from 2004-14.
“It is more than the (annual) budget of five Central American countries,” said Freddy Guevara, comptroller commission president and a member of one of Venezuela’s hardline opposition parties, alleging widespread malfeasance at the state oil producer.
“We’re talking about $11 billion they cannot justify,” he added, as he presented a report by the legislative body that audits the state.
Default would make matters problematic to say the least:
It’s likely the company will retain control of its assets such as the refineries in Venezuela, said Mara Roberts, a New York-based analyst at BMI Research. The story is different when it comes to oil being exported, she said.
“Oil tankers could also potentially be at risk, with those carrying Venezuelan crude likely to face attachment claims upon arrival,” Roberts said by e-mail. “This could discourage take up of PDVSA’s shipments.”
My own explanation would be the more traditional one. The one common before these latest allegations of corruption. This is that Venezuela’s oil is very heavy and thus needs large capital investment for it to continue to be extracted. The basic operating method of the Chavez and then Maduro administrations has been to skimp on that capital spending and then spend the money saved on consumer imports into Venezuela. Largely as a means of buying political support despite their complete and total mismanagement of the domestic economy. There were also further borrowings using the oil company as the legal form doing the borrowing, again to fund such spending upon consumers.
But, obviously, borrowing spent on rice doesn’t increase the ability of the oil company to produce more oil to pay back the borrowings. Production, and thus income, has been falling, even without any influence of the falling oil price itself.
You can indeed buy bread and circuses with resource rents. But do too much of it and you’ll not have the capital to keep those resource rents coming. Which is what I would say has been another great success of boli socialism. And, obviously, one that we ourselves don’t want to repeat. Seriously, socialism, don’t do it.