+According to the BBC news half of France’s nuclear power stations are ‘switched off’ at the moment due to a ‘systemic issue.’ Given that we import a fair bit of our electricity from France, this is a problem for the UK. It’s also a problem for the nuclear lobby, who without fail tell us that nuclear is the most reliable source of baseload electricity. What they never tell us is that it is also the most expensive. Back in the eighties, when Thatcher was in full privatisation mode, nuclear power was left out of the equation. As Nigel Lawson said at the time (in so many words) the market wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. No wonder EDF is owned by the French state. Here in the UK we’re promised mini-nuclear power stations all over the place, helped along by relaxed regulatory standards. I hope they aren’t going to be built near fracking sites.
+Will we have power cuts this winter? That’s a danger flagged up by the National Grid. I’m sure if it is the case there will be loads of opportunities for Liz Thick’s ‘growth’ agenda to flourish. Entrepreneurs will already be eyeing up their chances, like Private Walker in Dad’s Army, albeit on a much larger scale. The opportunities for gouging will not be resisted by the energy companies, who have already shown their form in the current crisis.
+The other night I watched ‘The Laundromat’ a film by Steven Soderbergh shown on Netflix. It is a somewhat flawed presentation of the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal, starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Co. making the best of a bit too much of an ‘in your face’ script. It is a film which makes up with anti-corruption evangelism what it lacks in subtlety. Anyway, what is the impact of these films about financial misdoings? We’ve seen and been entertained by Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short et al and nothing of course changes—the message is lost when corruption is presented as entertainment even though every scene tells us we’re suckers. In Laundromat there is a telling line (which I’ve just forgotten for the moment) which reminds us, the viewers, of our passive victimhood. For me, the most significant message to come out of Laundromat is the amorality of accountancy as a profession in the hands of the lead protagonists Mossack and Fonseca, the offshore business pals who facilitated multiple financial scams. These two lead characters appealed to the audience for indulgence, begging they were not the criminals, they only handled accounts. Why shouldn’t they feel aggrieved if they were caught up in holier than thou recriminations? It reminded me that one of today’s most gilded establishment financial institutions, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) had a history of thorough amorality too. The story is well summarised in a New York Times article Global Central Bank Says It Held Gold Looted by Nazis - The New York Times (nytimes.com) BIS allegedly handled 13.5 tons of Nazi gold, partly to pay interest payments on the reparations exacted by the victorious allies in WWI. These payments were made throughout WWII (what was Hitler thinking?). Some of this gold came from the teeth of Holocaust victims. 13.5 tons of gold is worth around £560,479,000 today. The point I’m making is blunt: if you can stay in the grubby financial market (and all its offshoots) long enough, you will become respected. I’ve not done a proper Google search where Mossack and Fonseca are now, nor where the fallen titans of Lehman Brothers are, nor where ’Fred The Shred’ has ended up—but I’m willing to bet they’ll all be forgiven by their peers, even if they have to lead a less prominent life. (I’ve since read that Mossack and Fonseca are both Panamanian citizens and so cannot be extradited anywhere.)
+Electoral Calculus has the astonishing prediction that Labour will win a majority of 292 at the next general election. Unbelievable. But such a prediction will create a headache for party staff, because unless they exercise total control over selection procedures, we might see elected quite a number of candidates who don’t see themselves as Starmerites—just as in 1997 quite a few candidates from the left, whom nobody seriously thought would be elected were. Their vetting for Blairite credentials wasn’t as vigorous as it might have been. I think a similar thing may have happened to the Tories in 2019, with Tory ‘red wall’ seat candidates now creating headaches for the leadership. But as we’ve heard so often, Starmer’s got a grip, and the mass exodus of Corbyn followers from the party will help Starmer clones gain nominations. The signs of this are already all too apparent if one looks at the Skwawkbox website.