Monday 26 December 2011

Boxing Day Colour

The weather on Boxing Day this year is pretty dreadful.  It is quite mild temperature wise, but it is rather dull and very, very windy.  So it really feels very cold.  Nothing to tempt one outside.  So to cheer myself up a bit I've put together some collages of photos from warmer climes.  The first is from a holiday we had in Palma de Mallorca way back in 2005.
Next up is this collage from a walking holiday we had in the Cinque Terre region of northern Italy.
Puglia is the next destination, which is where Alessio's paternal grandparents come from.  Another beautiful part of the world.
Just a few lovely memories to bring back a bit of warmth and sunshine in the middle of a dreich and dour Scottish winter.  As it is Boxing Day I could not resist ending with this collage of some of the boxes I use to store my stitching stuff.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Can Johann Lamont save Labour?

2011 has been a remarkable year in Scottish politics, with change the order of the day.  Only the SNP of the major parties still has the same leader.  And Alex Salmond has of course completely changed the game as regards the Scottish Parliament.  In May the SNP won an outright majority of MSPs.  Something that was not supposed to be possible with the Parliament’s partly PR voting system.  Yet the SNP did just that and the other parties have been in disarray ever since.  The LibDems and the Tories already have new leaders in Scotland.  Though as yet neither Willie Rennie nor Ruth Davidson has shown any signs that they can offer any kind of sustained challenge to the SNP.
The latest party to elect a new leader in Scotland was the Labour Party.  This time their new leader is not just the leader of the Parliamentary group in Holyrood, but is the leader of the whole party in Scotland, MPs included.  At least that’s the claim.  The new leader is Johann Lamont and as she was only elected last Saturday, there is no way of knowing just how she will perform as leader.  However the challenges facing her and her party are enormous.
Independence - it’s all about Independence
Now that the SNP has an overall majority in the Parliament, they will be able to hold their promised referendum on Independence.This is due to be held sometime in the latter half of the parliamentary term, ie sometime in 2014.  However the Unionist parties seem to have nothing else to talk about just now.  They go endlessly on about why not hold the referendum now or why not get the UK government to hold one instead.  All the Unionists seem to be running scared and have not as yet figured out how to challenge the SNP government.  The more they talk about independence and the referendum the more they help the SNP.  The real Independence campaign will probably not start in earnest until mid 2013 at the earliest.  
Yet this will be the key, defining moment for Scotland for a generation.  So the Unionists will need to get their act together if they are to save the Union.  However things are not looking good.  The Tories and the LibDems can be pretty much discounted as positive partners in any pro Union campaign.  The Tories have never recovered from the Thatcher years and the LibDems are paying the price of sustaining the Tories at Westminster.  Not to mention the rather important fact that these two parties are responsible for the largest and longest sustained attack on the living standards of ordinary folk.  You wouldn’t really want any of that lot on your side.  With friends like them, who needs enemies!
This leaves Labour as the only party that could mount a credible sustained campaign to keep Scotland in the UK.  However even Labour has  at least three major handicaps to overcome if it is to run a successful campaign.  The first is the lack of talent on offer at the top of Scottish Labour.  The few remaining well-known big hitters in the party are all at Westminster and none of them even considered standing for election.  As the new leader is not just the leader in Holyrood but the overall leader of the party in Scotland, why did the likes of Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy or Alastair Darling not even bother to stand?  I suspect that the main reason is that they recognize that the Scottish leader has to be at Holyrood.  This is where Scottish politicians have most visibility.  Not only that but most Scots like their own parliament in Edinburgh and indeed, by all accounts would like it to have more powers.  It would simply send the wrong message if Labour was to elect a Westminster MP as its leader in Scotland.  This however does nothing to hide the lack of talent among Labour’s MSPs.  The party has just suffered its worst ever defeat in Scotland and yet the new leadership comes from the very MSPs who led the party into this catastrophic reverse.  Not much hope for renewed leadership or inspiration.
The second problem that Labour has to overcome is that the party is still blamed by large numbers of voters as the party most responsible for getting the country into the economic mess we are in.  This is not just a problem for Labour in Scotland, but the inability of Labour UK to offer a credible alternative to the Tory/LibDem cuts is likely to damage Labour more in Scotland than elsewhere.  As in Scotland the deeper problem is that by and large the very MPs who were key figures in the previous Labour government - the one that got us into this mess - are still around in the top positions.  They may have shuffled the pack a bit, but the team and the message is essentially the same.  And having lost on this programme in 2010, there is not much reason to expect a different result in 2015.
This is particularly damaging for Labour in Scotland as the party benefitted enormously from an anti Tory vote in 2010.  Desperate to prevent the arrival of another hated Tory government at Westminster, Scots voted in large numbers for Labour.  Yet, despite this ringing endorsement in Scotland, Scotland still ended up with a Tory government, albeit in coalition with the LibDems.  Labour can never again go into an election claiming that only Labour can protect Scotland from the Tories.  Even if everybody in Scotland were to vote Labour in 2015, the likelihood is that we will still have a Tory led government to contend with.  
When it comes to standing up for Scotland, none of the Unionist parties can really make a convincing claim to do this.  They are all, after all is said and done, just branch parties of UK parties.  They are all committed to the UK.  This is their biggest problem.  They all put the UK first and Scotland second.  While the overwhelming majority of Scots put Scotland first.  This is true for most Unionist voters who want their parties to represent Scotland at Westminster and not to represent Westminster in Scotland.
This is most clearly seen in the debate, or rather lack of debate, about fiscal autonomy or devolution max, or whatever you want to call it.  Give the Scottish Parliament control over all or nearly all taxes is what most Scots want, according to opinion surveys.  Yet none of the Unionist parties is remotely interested in this option.  As the parties of government at Westminster the Tories and the LibDems could legislate for this now.  It is a policy which fits perfectly with both parties basic philosophy.  The Tories preach fiscal responsibility and want people to stand on their own feet etc.  While the LibDems are full of rhetoric about their commitment to Federalism.  Yet in power they do nothing of substance.  Why?  Presumably because it does not suit their leaders at Westminster.  The same is true of Labour, who have shown no interest in this option.  The only conclusion that I, and I suspect many others will draw is that the Unionist parties are more interested in the UK and Scotland comes a very poor second in their list of priorities.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Bologna and Ferrara - June 2011

When we visit Emma in Zürich we usually manage to fit in an additional short break.  This time it was all the way to Italy, to the region of Emilia-Romagna which sweeps down from the southern banks of the river Po to the mountains of Tuscany and central Italy.  We stayed in Bologna and also visited Ferrara.  It was a wonderful break and we were blessed with warm, sunny weather.  In the middle of a dark and cold Scottish winter, this is a good time to remember the heat and sunshine of Italy.
Bologna is the capital of the region and is also the biggest city.  In the centre is a very large piazza, suitably named Piazza Maggiore.  You can see one view of it above.  It is usually very crowded and is surrounded by narrow side streets with lots of cafés, bars and restaurants.  The narrow side streets were a feature of Bologna and here are three of them in the collage below.
A rather strange feature of Bologna we found was that once you got away from the main square the surrounding streets became almost empty of people.  There were hardly any shops and very few bars or cafés.  Most strange.  Another rather disconcerting facet of Bologna was the very poor state of the buildings in the old town.  The façades of just about all the old buildings had been left unkept and were covered in peeling plaster and often ugly grafitti.  Here is an example.
Of course the city does have some wonderful examples of Renaissance and medieval architecture.  Here are two doorways to admire.
One of Bologna's famous nicknames is la dotta (the learned), which refers to its university, which is apparently the oldest in not just Italy, but the whole of Europe.  Many of its faculties are located just off the city centre in some lovely old buildings.  Here is Kathleen by a very old courtyard with an even older statue behind her.
Another nickname is la grassa (the fat one), and this harks back to Bologna's fame as a centre of cuisine.  We can certainly attest to this as we ate very well while there.  Just off the centre is a small area of very narrow streets which must have been the home to the old markets of the city.  Here you can still find a lovely and appetising array of little shops selling just about everything you need to make a delicious gourmet meal.  Here are a few of the shop fronts.
In addition to Bologna we took in a day trip to Ferrara.  This is another very old city, though a much smaller one.  It is the capital of the province of the same name and is clearly home to a lot of very rich people, past and present.  Like Bologna, Ferrara has a very large and grand central square.  This is not really a square, but a longuish rectangle and goes by the grand name of Piazza Trento e Trieste.  One side of the piazza is mostly taken up by the side façade of the cathedral.  As you can see from the photo below, the good burghers of Ferrara were quite happy to mix religion with commerce.  The street level is used for shops.  
Just round the corner you get to see the marvellous Romanesque front façade.  Another stunning part of the cathedral is the campanile, which dates from Renaissance times.  Inside, you are just overwhelmed by the richness of the place.  It is full of richly ornate sculptures, painting and decorations.  Clearly Ferrara was once a very wealthy place.  Probably still is.  Here is the front façade and the campanile.
Another similarity with Bologna was the narrow streets that led away from the main square.  Some were busy with shoppers, but most were pretty empty.  Here are some.
Like almost all Italian cities, Ferrara has some truly outstanding and beautiful buildings.  Here is one, which is not a particularly famous one, but is lovely in its harmony and the colour of its façade.
Not everything in Ferrara was old or formal.  On the corner of one of the main streets we came across this little bear blowing bubbles.  We all loved it, especially Alessio, who could have spent the whole day chasing the bubbles.
Just going over these photos has warmed me up a bit.  Roll on next summer.

Friday 16 December 2011

EU- Fiscal Union Anyone?

The recent flurry of activity at the latest EU summit in Brussels is proving to be a bit of a damp squib.  The proposed new treaty has not exactly set the heather alight and the bond markets remain unconvinced.  One of the minor mysteries about the new treaty is why so many commentators describe it as a move to a Fiscal Union for the Eurozone.  A Fiscal Union may be a good idea, but what is proposed is no such thing.  A bit like French cheeses Fiscal Unions can come in a variety of shapes and disguises.  However there are a few necessary properties of any Fiscal Union.  1.  There has to be some kind of central or common government - let’s call it a Federal government.  2.  This government has the power to set and raise taxes throughout the Union.  3.  The government also has the power to spend the money raised in a way that is deemed to benefit the Union as a whole.  4.  The government will raise more money from the richer parts of the Union and in return, redistribute some of this money in the poorer parts of the Union.
Now the proposals from Brussels do none of the above.  It is a purely inter-governmental arrangement.  It is as Angela Merkel more accurately describes it, a Stability Union.  Unfortunately the only stability the Eurozone has at the moment is the stability of the dead and the dying.  Economically speaking at least!   The new measures will impose even greater austerity on a patient that has suffered from too much austerity already.  Greece and Ireland are already in deep recession and Ireland is supposed to be the Eurozone’s star pupil.
What is missing from all the EU’s endless round of summits is any sense of urgency and in particular any measures to promote growth in the Eurozone.  As with generals, EU leaders are more interested in fighting old wars than in facing up to the realities of the current situation.  To recap, inflation is not a major problem for the foreseeable future and government deficits and national debts did not cause this global crisis.  The current deficits and high levels of debt are primarily symptoms of the crisis and not its cause.  The deficits and debts will only rise, as is happening in the UK, until governments come up with some kind of credible strategy to generate growth in their economies.  Don’t hold your breath.  What we are likely to get is more re-arranging of the deckchairs while the good ship Euro sinks further and further into the mire.  It will probably take some really serious shock - an Irish default?, the collapse of a major French or German bank? to propel our leaders into genuine action.

Monday 12 December 2011

Champions League 2011/12 - The Last 16

This season the group stages of the Champions League has thrown up some surprises.  The biggest is undoubtedly the failure of both Manchester clubs to progress to the last 16.  This is the first time in a long time that only two English clubs have made it through to this stage.  This achievement or failure, has somewhat overshadowed the fact that only two Spanish teams have succeeded in reaching the last 16.  Again the first time this has happened for a long time.  Is this the start of a new trend or just a temporary blip?
Only time will tell of course, but I suspect this is more a temporary blip.  While Manchester United’s failure is really surprising, given that they have been in three of the last four finals, winning one and losing two, and were in a relatively easy group, Manchester City’s failure is less so.   Though they are now the richest club in Europe with a very big and impressive squad this was their first experience of the Champions League.  And they were in a very difficult group with Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villareal as their opponents.  I expect both clubs will be in the Champions League next season and that both will progress to the last 16.
The Spanish situation is slightly different.  There, the gap between the big two - Barcelona and Real Madrid - is growing wider and wider.  None of the other big Spanish clubs - Valencia, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid etc - seem able to develop a sustained financial base.  They will still be able to develop good teams, but it will become more difficult to progress to the last 16 on a regular basis.
However if you look at the bigger picture and take the last five seasons, including the current one, there is little to suggest a major shift in power in the Champions League.   The Big Five countries - England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France - continue to dominate.  This year 11 clubs from the Big Five progressed, while the average over the past five years works out at 12.6.  Hardly a crisis.  This dominance  can be shown in another way.  18 clubs from the Big Five have access to the Champions League out of around 70 clubs in total.  This represents around 25% of the total.  While their representation in the last 16 mounts to around 75% or more.
Within the Big Five there is a clear division between the top three - England, Spain and Italy - who tend to get three clubs through to the last 16.  In the case of England this is often all four clubs.  While France and Germany have never managed to get more than two clubs to this stage.  There may be some long term change within the Big Five.  I would expect England to continue to get three and sometimes four clubs to reach this stage.  On the other hand, as already mentioned, Spain may find it more difficult to get a third team through.
Outwith the Big Five there is no consistent pattern to participation in the last 16.  Only three countries have managed to get a club through to this stage more than once in the last five years.  Portugal stands out in this respect - one Portuguese club as progressed on four of the past five years and two in 2008/9.  Russia has managed this feat twice, and this year two Russian clubs have progressed.  Greece managed one team in the last 16 on three occasions, but none in the last two.
Otherwise there has been no pattern or consistency.  Six other clubs have managed to make it through to the last 16, and all six come from six different countries and each has only done it once.  On three occasions two such clubs have progressed, while in the other two years, none did.  The countries represented are Scotland, Denmark, Turkey, Ukraine, Switzerland and Cyprus.  The latter two made it this time around with FC Basel and APOEL.
However there is nothing in the above to suggest anything other than continuing domination of the competition by clubs from the Big Five.  What is perhaps even more surprising is just how few teams manage to reach this stage on a regular basis.  Only 37 clubs have managed to reach the last 16 over the past five seasons.  This is out of a potential total of 80 places.  Of this 20 have only appeared at this stage once, while a further six have managed two appearances at this stage.  This leaves just 11 clubs who have managed to reach the last 16 on three or more occasions.  Two, Roma and Porto have achieved this on three occasions, but have never in that time progressed further.  Porto have also missed out on the last 16 on the past two seasons.
This leaves us with just 9 teams who have recently dominated the competition, year in year out.  Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Manchester United have appeared in the last 16 in four of the past five seasons.  While Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Lyon have reached this stage every time.  It is also noticeable that the finalists in this period have all come from this group.  Indeed if you take the last 10 completed seasons - from 2001/2 to 2010/11 - 14 of the 20 finalists have come from these 9 clubs, and 8 of the 10 winners.
The interesting question for the coming five years or so is will the composition of this elite group of 9 clubs change.  The persistence of Lyon is quite remarkable, though they are the only one of this group to have never reached the final.  So perhaps there is really only 8 elite clubs in Europe.  Whatever, it will be even more remarkable if Lyon can continue to reach the last 16 year after year.  Inter Milan are struggling this season in Italy and may not make the Champions League next season at all.  Juventus though are doing well and may make a comeback into the Champions League.  The rise of Manchester City on the other hand may put the continuing presence of either Arsenal or Chelsea in this elite group at risk.  Particularly if Tottenham Hotspur maintain their league form.
Whoever makes it into this elite group in the years to come, one thing is for sure, no club from outwith the Big Five will make it there on a regular basis.  For that to happen we would need to change the whole structure of European football.  More likely to see a solution to the Euro crisis!

Friday 9 December 2011

The Euro - Crisis? What Crisis?

So the big EU summit has come and gone.  The really, really big one we were assured.  Some informed politicians and commentators had even declared in worried tones that we had only 10 days in which to save the Euro, or the EU or both.  Well the 10 days have come and gone and what has happened?  Short answer - not a lot.  Long answer - not a lot.  One is tempted to ask if there really is a Euro crisis after all.
For example take the case of David Cameron, our very own Prime Minister of the UK.  After months lecturing the Eurozone countries on the need for them to get their act together and quickly, what was his big idea at the summit?  Some useful and practical ideas for resolving this crisis which, remember, is so damaging to the future growth prospects for the UK economy?  Hell no, Cameron’s sole contribution to this crisis summit was to insist on cast iron guarantees that the City of London would be forever exempt from any future EU regulation.  Yes, the very same City of London that is home to the banking and financial sector which due to its loose, lax and unregulated practices was the prime cause of the economic and financial woes which threaten all of us.  Clearly David Cameron doesn’t believe there is a Euro crisis.  Otherwise, surely, even he would not risk a collapse of the Euro just to protect rich bankers?
Next up, the rest of the leaders of the EU.  In the face of a threat to the survival of the Euro, what do they do?  Why, let’s negotiate yet another treaty!  One in which everyone solemnly promises that in the future they will behave like good little boys and girls and never, ever borrow lots of money again.  Neverland to the rescue!  And in the meantime?  If this is all it takes to stave off the bond markets then there was never much of a crisis in the first place.
This reading is probably correct in as much as the crisis is not fundamentally about the Euro as a common currency.  It is much more likely to be a banking crisis and a global one at that, in which the US may be more at risk than the EU.  Ann Pettifor has a good summary of this view here.
The summit’s focus on national budgets and deficits is a classic example of our leaders continuing determination to fight the wrong battle.  The most pressing danger facing not just the Eurozone, but the whole of the EU - just look at Germany’s latest export figures - is the real prospect of  deflation and recession.  The weakness of banks is a part of this very real crisis.  And yet the EU has not even begun to work out how to get us out of this mess.  Much easier to draft another treaty.  As usual Paul Krugman has summed up the summit perfectly, if rather pessimistically thus:  “This looks like a disastrous meeting. More austerity, more posing of the crisis, wrongly, as being all about fiscal deficits; no mechanism for ECB funding. Somehow southern Europe is supposed to deflate its way to prosperity, while everyone runs a trade surplus, presumably against that potentially habitable planet we’ve discovered 600 light-years away.
Maybe Draghi’s actions will be very different from his words — but actually, since this is to an important degree about expectations, Europe needs both actions and words.
Oh, and for desertdessert (Oh well — and it’s a floor wax too!) we have Cameron acting as a spoiler to protect the wheeler-dealers, poisoning EU politics.”
How long will we have to wait for an EU summit which tackles the real issues?  The real irony is that it is the failure to come up with positive solutions to avoid deflation and recession that is most likely to bring about the collapse of the Euro - new treaty or not.

Monday 5 December 2011

November 2011 in Photos

The highlight of November, at least for us Scots, comes at the very end of the month.  November 30th is when we celebrate our very own saint - St. Andrew.  Well he's not really ours as Russians, Greeks, Romanians and some others also claim him.  However we are not a mean people and are delighted to share our saint with all these other lovely people around the world.

Alas in Scotland St Andrews Day is not yet a public holiday.  This year though it was a day of strikes in the public sector and most schools were closed as a result.  This meant we had the pleasure of Liam and Jamie as our companions for the day.  We started with a bit of window shopping in the Ferry to see all the weird and wonderful Christmas displays.  Here are some below.

In the afternoon we visited St Andrews itself.  As part of the celebrations all the museums were open to the public, free of charge.  We visited the castle, or rather the remaining ruins.  Here are the two boys on a window ledge.
What the boys like most about the castle is the underground tunnel that was built during the siege in the 16th century.  No photos of this alas.  Before we headed off home we came across another early sign of Christmas with this brightly decorated tree in the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church in the centre of the town.
The rest of the month was not without its unexpected pleasures.  Early in the month we attended a conference on Food hosted by Fife Diet, a campaigning group for a better diet and lowering our carbon footprint.  There we met some students from the USA who were all over at Edinburgh University on various one year programmes.  One of them, Liz from Boston has some ancestors from Dundee and was due to visit the city to find the graves of her great, great granny I think.  Anyway we met up with her and spent a most enjoyable day showing her around the city.  Here she is with Dundee's famous son, Desperate Dan.
Another unexpected pleasure was meeting a group of musicians from An-Najah University in Nablus, Dundee's twin town in Palestine.  They were over to celebrate an agreement between their university and Abertay university in Dundee.  As part of their visit they played some traditional Palestinian music at a concert.  Here they are on stage.
I am particularly fond of the oud and have a couple of CD's of traditional oud music.  Here is the beautifully decorated oud from the concert.

The end of November is pretty much the beginning of winter over here.  The weather has now changed and it is a lot colder.  Though thankfully no snow in our part of the country as yet.  Despite the colder weather there is still a little colour in and around the garden, as you can see in this photo of a single fuchsia flower with some geraniums.
November is also a time of long dark nights.  Though this can be compensated by some great views of the moon and I end this piece with one of my attempts to capture a full moon in a very dark sky.

Friday 2 December 2011

Let’s Just Blame the Public Sector!

Last week in the UK we have seen a further descent into nastiness by our unloved government.  First we had a massive strike by public sector workers and then the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.  Both were used by the government and their lackeys to blame or further punish workers in the public sector.
The strike which was about proposed changes to the pensions of public sector workers was pretty well supported and even brought out on strike for the first time in history, headteachers.  Yet another great triumph for our nasty Coalition.  The government’s proposals will mean that public sector workers will have to pay more, work longer and in return get less of a pension.  A triple whammy indeed!  The government’s line is that the country can no longer afford the supposedly “generous” pensions paid to public sector workers.  This is because the private sector, which apparently, creates all the wealth can no longer bear the taxes needed to pay for public sector pensions.  To rub salt into the wound as it were, the Chancellor then announced that public sector workers would see future pay increases limited to 1% per annum for the next two years.  This after two years of no pay increase at all.
All of this is based on premisses which are not just untrue but wicked in their implications.  Let’s take a brief look at the nonsense presented by the government.
  1.   The taxes of workers in the private sector pay for the pensions of public sector workers.  This is pure economic illiteracy as the government does not distinguish taxes by who pays them.  It just collects them and then spends the money.  Taxes paid by public sector workers are just as essential to the government as those paid by the private sector.  Otherwise I would like all the money I have paid in taxes back please.
  2.   It is only the private sector that creates wealth for the country.  Again this is pretty stupid stuff.  The wealth of a country is normally measured by GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or GNP (Gross National Product).  Though different both measure roughly the same thing, namely the value of all goods and services produced in a country in 1 year.  It makes no difference to the total whether the goods or services come from the private or public sector.
  3.   Part of the government’s argument is that the private sector produces or makes things.  In the popular image this is generally regarded as a good thing. However our private sector in the UK does not actually produce or make many things.  Most of the private sector is in services and one in particular - the banking and financial sector has not exactly covered itself in glory recently.  Not only has it not contributed much to the economic wellbeing of the country, it has in fact been the major source of our current economic and financial woes.  Another prominent industry in the private sector is Advertising and PR.  Again not clear how they really add to the country’s economic wellbeing.  But to the extent that they encouraged people to go out and take on extra borrowing to buy things, then they too have had a negative impact on our wellbeing.  
  4.   It is difficult to make a positive case for private good, public bad, when in many sectors the same or similar services are provided by both the private and public sectors.  For example are we to believe that the taxes of a retired policeman, who now works for a private sector security firm, are worth more than the taxes he previously paid while working in the public sector?  While education and health are, still, predominantly public services in the UK, there are many private sector companies which work in both education and health.  Again are we to believe that the taxes paid by a nurse in a private hospital are worth more than the taxes paid by a nurse working in the public sector? 
All this of course is deliberately repeated by the government, and rarely challenged by our supposedly independent media, in order to engineer a split in working people.  If you can get one group of workers - those in the private sector - to blame their fellow workers in the public sector, then the heat is off the people who are really guilty.  The elites in the banking and financial sector to start with.  Followed by those in government and the so-called regulatory sector who failed to foresee what was happening.  Not to mention the very rich and the top companies that continue to pay little or nothing in taxation.  If we were really “all in it together”, there would be no need for any of these changes to public sector pensions.  Instead we could be making sure that there was decent pension provision for everyone, irrespective of where they work.  As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the money is there.  We just need a fairer taxation system to ensure that this wealth is fairly distributed.  However our politicians would much rather blame the public sector than face the wrath of their ultra wealthy friends in the City.