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The Price of Victory, by Michael Charlton, published by the British Broadcasting Corporation, London in 1983, ISBN 0 563 20055 3Review by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 11th June 2013
To read this review click on the Book Reviews page.
Arundells: The former home of the Prime Minister who brought Britain into the European CommunityReview by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 3rd August 2012
To read this article click on the Europe page.
Jolyon Gumbrell writes for Ideas on EuropesJolyon Gumbrell the editor of Jolyon’s Review has recently started to write a blog for Ideas on Europe. His first article on this blog is called ‘The shortcomings of a Eurosceptic editorial policy’ and can be seen at http://jolyongumbrell.ideasoneurope.eu/2012/07/10/the-shortcomings-of-a-eurosceptic-editorial-policy-5/. Although Jolyon hopes to be a regular contibutor to Ideas on Europe, it is also his intention to continue to write for and edit Jolyon’s Review.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Cheaper mobile roaming: Something the Eurosceptics won’t mentionComment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 3rd July 2012
To read this comment click on the Europe page.
Should Britain have a Europhile press?Comment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 29th June 2012.
To read this comment click on the Europe page.
Nineteenth Century Britain 1815-1914, Second Edition, by Anthony Wood, published by Longman Group Ltd., London in 1982, ISBN 0-582-35310-6Review by Jolyon Gumbrell 12th June 2012
To read this review click on the Book Reviews page.
Review of Parlamentarium, The European Parliament’s Visitors’ Centre in Brusselsby Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 27th April 2012
To read this review click on the Europe page.
Commemorative seat for the Queen’s Diamond Jubileeby Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 17th February 2012
Brian Barker of Georgian Gems, Swanage has informed Jolyon’s Review that a commemorative seat will be unveiled in the garden of Purbeck House Hotel, Swanage on 7th June 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The stone seat has been donated by the Swanage Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and designed by Lovell Purbeck Limited of Langton Matravers, Swanage.
Mr Barker said he had invited Her Majesty the Queen to unveil the seat, but understood if she could not attend, as he knew there would be many demands on her time during June. He hopes that the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Mrs Anthony Pitt-Rivers, along with the commanding officer from Bovington Camp, representatives from the three main polical parties, and the people of Swanage can attend the unveiling. Mr Barker will be raising money for Help For Heroes during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
5th February 2012
Blue Labour: A picture without a frameby Jolyon Gumbrell
The new Blue Labour ideology which is becoming more influential in the Labour Party requires some critical analysis. Blue Labour has an agenda to abolish the welfare state, and replace it with community organisations and self-help groups as the means of helping the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in society. Although charities and community groups can make a real difference in improving people’s lives, without some kind of supportive framework from the state this type of welfare will not only fail, but also inflict unnecessary misery on many people.
Blue Labour’s ideology in its raw form - similar to Phillip Blond’s Red Toryism - is a sop for a merciless laissez faire capitalism, which is opposed to state intervention in markets and the provision of welfare for the dispossessed and vulnerable. However, if Blue Labour had a Keynesian frame then some of the charities and voluntary organisations could effectively operate as well regulated and well funded support to the welfare system, while the state would regulate the market and provide jobs in areas where there is severe unemployment. The state itself can be regulated by democracy and the rule of law.
Maurice Glasman - now Lord Glasman - one of the intellectuals behind Blue Labour does have some good ideas to help ordinary people such as the Living Wage Campaign. For the millions of people living in Britain on very low wages, the Living Wage Campaign cannot be effective unless the state backs it up. How can a retail worker on £16,000 p.a get a mortguage on a small flat in central London which costs £900,000 or pay rent on a studio flat which costs £2,000 per month?
The state can either force employers to pay their employees a living wage, or it can invest in providing decent social housing for low paid workers who are priced out of the housing market. The state can raise money for the investment in social housing by either taxing the very wealthiest living in our society at a higher rate, or by using quantitative easing (printing money) as a means to invest in the infrastructure of the country. These types of solutions for providing housing for hard working low paid workers might be called socialist, but they are a good way of protecting ordinary people against the few who control the market.
Blue Labour’s rejection of Keynesian economics is also why Blue Labour has rejected the state as a possible force for good in the United Kingdom. The Blue Labour ideologists forget how Keynesian economics saved the United States from the Great Depression in the 1930s. It is very unlikely President Franklin D. Roosevelt would have created 1.7 million new jobs within his first 100 days in office if he had relied solely on charities, religious groups, voluntary organisations, and the private sector to run his economic policy without the help of the state. The state had the power to act and American citizens voted Democrat in the 1932 Presidentual election, because they were confident that the federal government would have the power to create jobs for them and get America out of the Depression.
If Preasident Herbert Hoover had won the 1932 presidential election then the United State’s economy would have been left to the market, and the market would not have created 1.7 million jobs. It is probable that without the federal government’s investment in the economy, the United States would have broken up as a nation state. The individual states of the United States would have ended up as separate countries, because there would have been no money or infrastructure to keep that nation together.
Much of the ideology of Blue Labour is explained in two publications: an ebook entitled, ‘The Labour tradition and the politics of paradox’ which was edited by Maurice Glasman, Marc Stears, and Stuart White; and ‘Tangled up in Blue: Blue Labour and the Struggle for Labour’s Soul’ by Rowenna Davis. Both books recognise the dangers unregulated financial capitalism has on British society. However, Blue Labour‘s rejection of the state is also the rejection of a useful weapon in the fight against the power of financial capital. The state can allocate more resources to the Serious Fraud Office to investigate fraud within the financial sector. The state through its institution of Parliament, can impose laws forcing financial institutions to pay a financial transaction tax or Robin Hood tax.
Maurice Glasman has some good ideas for setting up regional banks as a counterbalance to the City of London. In the ebook Glasman talks about, “local relational or mutual banking, that would entangle the short-term imperatives of investment with the longer term needs of economic growth”.
This type of banking would be good for investing in industry in cities such as Middlesbrough, where there has been serious long term unemployment because of loss of traditional heavy industries. However, without the help of central government or the European Union giving grants or loans to set up these local mutuals, it is difficult to see how the local communities will have the money to invest in them where so many people are unemployed.
Blue Labour is short sighted to reject Keynesian economics, because state intervention can invest in the local mutual banking project just as much as it can invest in the big national infrastructure project. These mutuals will need money to employ local people to run them. People cannot be expected to work for these local banks voluntarily, as people need decent paid employment in order to feed themselves, put a roof over their heads as well as giving themselves some dignity, independence and respect.
On 19th January 2012, the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawn was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on the Newsnight programme on BBC2. Hobsbawn while speaking about the problems caused by capitalism said: “One major problem - transformation of world through capitalism and high technology, enormous extraordinary advance - one element of production has become surplus to requirement, namely people. If we go on developing, what happens to the people who previously managed to get in on the system largely through getting jobs, good living jobs or bad living jobs but jobs? And we can see some of the problems right now in de-industrialised areas. What happens particularly to the men if there are no longer any jobs?”
Returning to the example of Middlesbrough, Keynesian economics would invest in that city by the state setting up a new North Sea ferry service, that would link Middlesbrough with another nothern European city such as Hamburg. This type of project would also be a means of a regional city taking advantage of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. This sea route would require state subsidy, but would stimulate the tourism and business travel between England and Germany. German engineering companies could be encouraged to set up in the Middlesbrough area, on condition they invested in the training and employment of local people. However, without development grants from the state or the EU a project of this type would never get off the ground, because the private sector would not see it as a profitable proposal in the short term.
There are many good ideas behind Blue Labour, top marks for the idea of putting a worker on the board of directors in every company. This would allow the employees within a company to keep an eye on the way the company is managed at the top. This policy was originally implemented in West Germany after the Second World War as part of the denazification process. In that country the policy has allowed workers to become more active in the management of their work places, which has promoted democracy, happiness, and prosperity. However, without the help of the state many of Blue Labours policies would never be put into practice as the private sector would not be willing or able to invest in them, or as in the case of worker representation in the boardrooms it would require legislation being put through Parliament forcing employers to make their companies democratic.
Blue Labour’s ideology is like a beautiful painting without a frame. It needs Keynesian economics to frame and support the painting, otherwise the painting will be too weak to survive on its own, in the same way as the Keynesian frame would have no purpose without the Blue Labour painting.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Tangled up in Blue: Blue Labour and the Struggle for Labour’s Soul, by Rowenna Davis, published by Ruskin Publishing Limited, London in 2011, ISBN 978-1-780-72-068-5Review by Jolyon Gumbrell 13th December 2011
To read this review click on the Book Reviews page.
A New Deal for EuropeOpinion by Jolyon Gumbrell 14th November 2011
The simplest way that the sovereign debt crisis can be dealt with in the eurozone area of the European Union, is for the Euro to be devalued. Over several years the European Central Bank (ECB) could print €2 trillion as a means of writing off the debts of Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugual. However, the money that would be made available should not be seen by Member States as a bailout without any strings attached. The conditions would be that Member States would have to give up more powers voluntarily to the institutions of the European Union.
The term used for printing money is often referred to as quantitative easing, but if the ECB prints €2 trillion over five years, that money should not solely be used to pay interest on EU Member State’s debt. Many of the banks and financial institutions - owed money by EU Member States - are themselves in debt and on the brink of collapse. The bond market can only operate if it has the protection of a state where it does business, so it is in the interest of the market itself that a state can provide a safe place for its banks, borses and IT systems to be located. If a state collapses - irespective of social disorder, anarchy and chaos that this causes - then no market can operate. Therefore the money printed should first be used to keep state infrastructure in place. The wages of police officers in Athens and Rome still need to be paid, as do the wages of teachers, doctors, nurses, and those directly involved in social services. The bonuses of bankers are not a priority.
A New Deal for Europe would be a means of stimulating Europe’s economy by means of quantitative easing. The idea of a New Deal has its historical precedent in the New Deal implemented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States in the 1930s as a response to the Great Depression, or the Marshall Plan as was implemented by the United States to rebuild Europe’s infrastructure and economies after the Second World War. The New Deal for Europe would have to create millions of jobs for European workers through European Union public works schemes.
At the moment we are witnessing austerity measures imposed by the bond market and the IMF on Memeber States of the EU such as Greece and Italy. The bond market and IMF demand of these countries severe public spending cuts, which will lead to further mass unemployment when public sector workers are made redundant. This in itself will lead to further redundancies in the private sector as businesses that rely on consumer spending of state employees lose their markets. The bond markets are demanding that state assets of counties should be sold off, which in effect will lead to the dismantling of these states. This situation can only worsen the economic crisis in Europe and could cause a war.
The New Deal for Europe would reverse this process, put the bond market in its place by asserting control over the market. The ECB would be in the position to buy up state assets from Member States, if Member States could no longer afford to run them. However if that happened the ECB would have to be more accountable to the Citizens of the EU and its accounts would have to be made public in order to prevent fraud. The ECB could also fund public works projects such as research and developement into ways of better recycling household waste. The disposal of household waste costs billions of Euros each year to municipalities, and tax payers across the EU. The disposal of waste into landfill sites also causes damage to the environment. If household waste could be turned into a material that could be reused, this in itself would create new economic activity. A new sustainable economy could be built on repair and recycling and these technologies could stimulate further trade by licencing them to counties outside of the EU.
A New Deal for Europe could only be put into practice if the Member States of the eurozone of the European Union were further integrated. On the one hand the EU’s institutions should be given more power to interfere with Member States economies where necessary, but that can only happen if the EU’s institutions are made more democratically accountable. As I wrote previously, that could happen if more power was given to the European Parliament and MEPs were appointed as European Commissioners.
The New Deal for Europe would not be available for Members of the European Union which are not in the eurozone such as the United Kingdom. However, the option to join would always be there, if in future Britain or other members such as Poland decided to adopt the Euro as their currency.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2011
10th November 2011
Art of MadridReview by Jolyon Gumbrell 10th November 2011
To read this article click on the Art Reviews page.
Elected European CommissionersOpinion by Jolyon Gumbrell 17th October 2011
The consequences of the ongoing sovereign debt crisis - that is causing real economic distress and hardship to millions of people in member states of the European Union - threatens to break up the European Union itself and lead to an unimaginable catastrophe similar to the Second World War. The European Commission and IMF demand austerity measures within member states, to try and prevent members such as Greece and Ireland from defaulting on their debts, but these measures themselves are causing mass unemployment as millions of public sector workers within the member states of the EU lose their jobs. The people at the top of the European Commission - the European Commissioners - have become too distant from the real lives and suffering of the citizens of member states. There is growing anger from citizens who see the European Union, along with unregulated global capitalism as the cause of their hardships.
If the European Union is to survive the current economic and financial crisis, then it must be seen to act on behalf of the citizens and not the financial traders who caused the crisis. This can only be done if those who run the European Commission are made accountable to the citizens of the European Union, and this will only be achieved if the European Commissioners are directly elected by the citizens. This could be achieved by only appointing European Commissioners who are actively serving Members of the European Parliament. A system is already in place for electing MEPs once every five years. If the European Parliament had the power to appoint its own members as commissioners to the European Commission, it would make the European Parliament more relevant to the European electorate. The purpose of electing MEPs would also be to elect the European Commission.
At the moment the system of appointing European Commissioners is done by the government ministers of the member states. The European Commission is seen by many citizens as a commission of cronies - with redundant politicians from the member states getting sinecures at the European Commission. Creating a new system for the appointment of commissioners would also cut down on the costs of running the EU. If only elected MEPs were appointed as commissioners it would mean the European tax payers would get better value for money out of their MEPs, because some MEPs would also have to serve as European Commissioners. It would also mean that the additional costs of appointing a separate group of politicians to serve as European Commissioners could be done away with, because only elected MEPs would be permitted to serve as commissioners.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2011
8th September 2011
Beyond The Crash Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation, by Gordon Brown, published by Simon & Schuster, London in 2010, ISBN 978-0-85720-285-7Review by Jolyon Gumbrell 8th September 2011
To read this review click on the book Book Reviews page.
26th July 2011
Londongrad from Russia with cash: The inside story of the oligarchs, by Mark Hollingsworth & Stewart Lansley, published by Fourth Estate, London in 2009, ISBN 978-0-00-727886-2.Review by Jolyon Gumbrell  26th July 2011
To read this review click on the book Book Reviews page.
19th January 2011
A new play ready for the stageby Jolyon Gumbrell
I have written a play of three acts, taking approximately 100 minutes to perform. The play which has six characters would be fairly inexpensive to stage, as only basic household props and furniture are required for the stage set. The theme of the play is about a man motivated to search for the identity of his natural parents, because of the difficult relationship he has with his cantankerous adoptive sister. He believes he is a member of the Royal Family because of clues in an old mysterious letter which came into his possession. However, in the last scene of the last act he finds out the truth of his origin, which is far more unexpected and unsettling.
If an artistic director or producer would like to read this play, please contact myself or Mr David Ian Gumbrell who is acting as my representative.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2011
19th October 2010
Sharing advice and experiences on submitting a scriptPlease see http://newwriters.blog.co.uk
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2010
29th September 2010
3,096 Days, by Natascha Kampusch, translated by Gill Kreuer, published by Penguin Books in 2010, ISBN 978-0-670-91999-4Review by Jolyon Gumbrell 29th September 2010
To read the rest of this review click on the book Book Reviews page.
28th August 2010
A controversial Berlin rebuild project could highlight the social purpose of classical architectureTo read this article by Jolyon Gumbrell please click on the Features page of this website.
2nd July 2010
Dorset County Council's £28.1 million Icelandic bank lossby Jolyon Gumbrell
In October 2008 Dorset County Council lost £28.1 million, when the Icelandic bank Landsbanki collapsed. According to an artical by Timothy John published on the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo’s website on 29th December 2009, entitled: ‘Council tax could rise by 3 per cent’, most of the funds were still not recovered at the end of last year. Timothy John wrote: “Millions of pounds remain locked in failed Icelandic banks. Some £15 million is still tied up with Landsbanki, while only £2.1 million of the council's £13.1 million investment has been recovered from Heritable.”
The reason why so much council taxpayers' money was originally invested in unstable Icelandic banks has never been explained adequately. Neither do we know who made the decision to put such large sums of public money into those banks. Nobody in Dorset County Council has been forced to resign over this, at a time of council tax rises and public spending cuts. If Dorset County Council is forced to make council staff redundant due to spending cuts, then surely the first person to be made redundant should be the person responsible for Dorset County Council's Icelandic bank investment portfolio.
The issue of the missing millions was brought up in the ‘Dorset County Council Annual Audit Letter 2008/09’, which was released on 5th March 2010 and can be seen on the Audit Commissions website at http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/localgov/audit/annualauditletters/aal0809/Pages/dorsetcountycouncilannualauditletter200809.aspx?AIBID=66#downloads
In section three of the Audit Letter it said: “We note that the Council incurred an impairment charge of £7.8m in the current financial year in relation to the £28.1m deposits in the Icelandic banks that went in to administration in October 2008. The Council appropriately followed the guidance issued to account for this impairment charge within their financial statements.”
An “impairment charge” is according to the website ‘InvestorWords’: “A specific reduction on a company’s balance sheet that adjusts the value of a company’s goodwill.”
It seems irrational that an impairment charge should apply to the Council, when the decision to invest in Landsbanki and Heritable was made by the leaders and senior management at the Council. The impairment charge means nobody will be held responsible for the huge losses to the Council pension funds, which will be paid for by the taxpayer.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2010
30th April 2010
Review of the play EnronOn 28th April 2010, Jolyon Gumbrell saw a performance of Lucy Prebble’s play Enron at the Noel Coward Theatre in London. A review of the play can be seen on the Features page of this website.
1st March 2010
Is London’s architectural heritage in danger?This article can be read by clicking on the London page of Jolyon’s Review.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2010
19th January 2010
Jolyon Gumbrell offers promotional reviews to antiques dealers, fine art dealers and estate agents in Londonby Jolyon Gumbrell
The editor and creator of Jolyon’s Review is now offering an exclusive publicity service to antiques and fine art dealers as well as estate agents in London. For a negotiated fee Jolyon Gumbrell will write a bespoke feature on an exhibition, work of art or property; which the client is then free to publish in any media outlet. The client may decide to publish the feature on their own website, or purchase some advertising space from an on-line or newspaper publisher to display the exclusive promotional feature. Once Jolyon Gumbrell has written and delivered the completed feature to the client, it is the clients own decision which magazine or newspaper to use.
The rest of this article can be seen by clicking on the London page of Jolyon’s Review.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2010
5th January 2010
Review of a job advertby Jolyon Gumbrell
In a difficult jobs market at a time of recession, the job seeker cannot afford to waste time applying for unsuitable jobs. The old advice of applying for as many jobs as possible is wrong. The job seeker needs to make a more selective approach, in a similar way to the method an employer uses to be selective about the type of person they employ. A critical approach to job advertisements - as seen in recruitment pages of newspapers and websites - needs to be adopted in order to get the best deal.
The following advertisement which recently appeared on the website of the recruitment agency reed.co.uk, will be analysed by Jolyon’s Review:
The title of the advert ‘Art Gallery Sales - Bond St, London’ and the ‘Location Central London’ contradicts the first words of the job description: ‘Fabulous opportunity to join this stunning gallery in High Wycombe.’
Would the successful candidate be expected to work in London or High Wycombe or both locations?
According to the advertisement the recruiter for this job is a company called Career Factor, however as Career Factor is another employment agency, no clue is given of the name of the employer. From the advert it appears as if two employment agencies are handling the recruitment process. Perhaps the employer is unaware that Career Factor are outsourcing part of their recruitment operation to reed.co.uk?
For the job seeker who is applying for this job, it means their application will be passed along a chain before it reaches the employer. This is not a good situation for the candidate, because it will mean that his or her CV - with all that person’s personal details and employment history - will be read by quite a few people. This creates an opportunity for identity theft as the candidate does not know whether the people who are handling the CV are trustworthy.
There are extensive duties involved in this job. The successful person who is taken on, will be expected to sell art in clients homes; sell art at the gallery; as well as carry out administrative and stores duties. One person would be expected to do the work of three people. If all the duties and tasks were split between three people, this position would create employment for a travelling sales person; a retail sales assistant; and an administrator/stores person. The duties of re-hanging pictures for exhibitions and curating are very time consuming in themselves, so even the most well organised and energetic of individuals would struggle to cope with the work-load of this position.
The job description states: ‘The position will require a person who is motivated by sales targets and inspired by commissionable sales to help meet the monthly targets.’
People who are motivated by sales targets might not necessarily be the best people to sell works of art, because clients with the money and interest to buy art, are not generally responsive to the hard sell. Knowledge of the product and a genuine love of art, is far more important than being ‘target driven & hungry to make sales/commission’.
The art market is changing at the moment, as much of the abstract and conceptual contemporary art has fallen out of favour since the credit crunch. The job description does not state, which type of contemporary art the successful candidate will have to sell. If the gallery deals mainly in figurative and representative art then the work of the sales person might be slightly easier. However, trying to sell Tracey Emin’s bed would be a futile task and guarantee failure, even for the type of sales person who has the charisma to sell fridges at the North Pole.
In hard times job advertisements need to be approached with some critical thought. Job seekers would probably be wise not to apply for the job in the advert, quoted above. Whoever gets the job will need super human abilities to hold it down. It is very probable that whoever is successful in getting this position will face redundancy within three months.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2010
10th December 2009
Launch of features page on Jolyon’s ReviewToday Jolyon Gumbrell has launched a features page on Jolyon’s Review. The first article to be published on this page is: ‘Dorothy Dickson, an icon of the 1920s and 30s’. The new page can be visited by clicking on the Features link.
24th November 2009
Launch of the London page of Jolyon’s ReviewJolyon Gumbrell has recently launched a London page on the Jolyon’s Review website. Today the first article entitled: ‘Traditional architecture for Social housing in London?’, was published on the new page which can be seen by clicking on the London link.
21st September 2009
Why did UnLtd, a charity, fund 2old.co.uk?Comment by Jolyon Gumbrell
On 3rd September 2009 Jolyon's Review published a comment article entitled ‘A database for cheap labour’, about a website called 2old.co.uk which claimed: “Local employers, particularly small and start-up businesses would be more willing to employ mature job seekers if they were willing to work for less”.
Funding for 2old.co.uk was provided by UnLtd - the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, which is a charitable organisation. Why was UnLtd - a trustee of the Millenium Awards Trust - funding a website that appeared to be promoting the exploitation of older members of the workforce in the United Kingdom?
David Edwards the founder of 2old.co.uk is listed in the online directory of UnLtd. In this directory there is a short description of his website which says: “2old.co.uk is an online database that brings together jobseekers and start up local business with limited finance in order to increase employment rates and help small businesses”.
No further information is given on this page of specific individuals or businesses which 2old.co.uk has helped, or any reason why David Edwards is qualified and experienced to set up the database. The listing does include the words: “London, the South and the East/Level 1/Oct-07” which refers to the place of the award and the type of award “Level 1”, and when it was made, October 2007. In the appendix of UnLtd’s financial report: ‘The Trustees’ Report and Consolidated Financial Statements’ for the fincial year which ended on 31st March 2008, David Edwards’ is listed as having received a financial award of £3,000. In the report his region is put down as the South West.
UnLtd describes Level 1 awards as being: “aimed at individuals or informal groups of people who have an idea which will change society for the better, and want help getting it off the ground”.
It is difficult to see how 2old.co.uk “will change society for the better” when it encourages job seekers to work for less. David Edwards has aimed his website at people living in “small-town England”. Anyone who has had experience of the jobs market in rural villages and small towns in England, will know that wages are often already very low in these locations. However for those trying to survive on low pay - the expenses of rent, mortguage, council tax, electricity, water, transport and food still have to be paid. In idylic rural locations in the West Country the cost of buying a house is comparable to that of London, yet Mr Edwards is suggesting rural workers should work for less.
Doubts have been raised whether 2old.co.uk actually has any jobs to offer. On 13th July 2009 an article appeared on the website of Sirona Consulting entitled: ‘You are never too old to use a job board to find a job!’ The article which was about 2old.co.uk said: “While it is a nice idea - they do need to get some jobs on there soon to attract all those ‘mature jobseekers’”.
2old.co.uk has been advertised in a number of local magazines and websites around the country. These include: The Purbeck Gazette; Worthing Chamber news; Sevenoaks and District Chamber of Commerce; Henley News; The Villager; and Equality North East.
The effect of a website such as 2old.co.uk could be to depress the local jobs market in some areas, because it will drive down the pay and conditions of workers. It is therefore hard to understand why the trustees of UnLtd approved the funding of 2old.co.uk?
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2009
3rd September 2009
A database for cheap labourComment by Jolyon Gumbrell
An advertisement for a website called 2old.co.uk appeared in the September 2009 edition of The Frome Valley & Isle of Purbeck Gazette. The advertisement was published in the form of an article entitled: ‘Bringing Maturity To The Workplace’. The article claims that “2old.co.uk brings together the local employer and the mature job seeker”. It goes on to make the extraordinary claim that mature job seekers are willing to work for less.
The article insults older members of the working age population by saying: “Local employers, particularly small and start-up businesses would be more willing to employ mature job seekers if they were willing to work for less.”
The article claims that: “2old.co.uk is free to all employees and to all job seekers, there are no hidden charges.”
Apparently the 2old.co.uk website has been endorsed by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, because she is quoted in the article as saying: “Many mature job seekers find it difficult to get back into work after a redundancy or a period away from the workplace. I welcome the launch of 2old.co.uk and hope that it will provide a valuable resource for mature job seekers.”
According to the article in The Purbeck Gazette: “2old.co.uk was founded by David Edwards as a positive response to his experience as a mature job seeker in small-town England. Start-up funding for 2old.co.uk was provided by UnLtd.”
Why is there a need for a website that brings together mature job seekers in small-town England with local employers? Surely a mature job seeker has been living long enough in his or her small-town to know who is offering work. If the mature job seeker has just moved into an area, then he or she can find recruitment adverts in the local newspaper, jobcentre or on the internet. Likewise the employer will be able to advertise with the local jobcentre or newspaper in order to receive many applications, which will give the employer a good choice of people to fill a vacant position, especially in the present time of economic recession.
The purpose of 2old.co.uk appears to be to find cheap labour for employers, rather than giving the mature job seeker “meaningful employment”. The employer will benefit from this situation through extra profit - while the mature person will be expected to survive on a pittance. Surely if somebody has years of experience, they will not be expecting to have a pay cut. Some employers might use 2old.co.uk to undercut the wages of their existing employees by bringing cheap labour into their companies.
2old.co.uk also appears to be a cynical ploy to drive a wedge between older and younger workers. The article in The Purbeck Gazette said: “The mature job seeker has many advantages over their younger counterpart.”
Surely the employer must expect to pay more for the advantages of the mature job seeker and not less. In the past employers used to employ young people because they were cheaper, now with the help of 2old.co.uk, they won’t employ young people at all, but older people who will work for less.
If one visits the 2old.co.uk website, there is no information given on its founder David Edwards. If people are to have trust in something, then they like to know who is behind it. David Edwards is a fairly common name, so it could be difficult to trace the actual individual responsible for this website.
UnLtd, the charitable organization otherwise known as ‘The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs’, provided funding for 2old.co.uk. The question needs to be asked of UnLtd: why were funds given by a charity, to set up a website that appears to be promoting exploitation and slavery?
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2009
11th June 2009
Review of Goshka Macuga’s The Nature of the Beast at the Whitechapel GalleryJolyon Gumbrell has written a review entitled ‘History as art at the Whitechapel Gallery’, about Goshka Macuga’s ‘The Nature of the Beast’ exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery. This review can be read on the Art Reviews page.
8th May 2009
The offshore black hole of the financial crisisby Jolyon Gumbrell
When the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, visited the United States in March of this year and addressed Congress, he said: “And you are also restructuring your banks. So are we. But how much safer would everybody’s savings be if the whole world finally came together to outlaw shadow banking systems and offshore tax havens?”
These words were a passing recognition of the role that offshore financial centers have played in the present global economic crisis. Up until now it has been too easy for wealthy companies and individuals to take millions of pounds, dollars, euros or any other currency made in one country and deposit them without any questions being asked in a tax haven where there is little scrutiny or regulation.
Tax havens such as Belize, the Cayman Islands, and Panama have become notorious not only for tax avoidance, but also money laundering and the finance of drug smuggling and terrorism. Tax havens have also contributed to the financial crisis, because they have been places where massive debt is hidden.
On 26th May 2007, an article by Richard Northedge was published on the website of the Daily Telegraph entitled: ‘Business profile: The fantasy world of Vincent, the Other Tchenguiz brother’. The following paragraph, which describes some of the business dealings of the brothers Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz, shines light on some strange business practices:
“Their Rotch company bought £4bn of property in three years, funded by £3.5bn of debt. Investing in finance companies secured sources of funds and by securitising the debt it was bundled off the balance sheet allowing Roch to borrow more - though the balance sheet is hidden by offshore ownership. Tchenguiz ignored convention and applied actuarial techniques to value his property on cashflow - thus putting a £5bn value on the £4bn portfolio.”
It would be interesting to know about all the other companies and individuals that have used offshore financial centers as a means of hiding their debts. This loophole was never closed, following the fraud that caused the collapse of the American energy giant Enron in 2001.
World leaders attending the G20 Summit in London on 2nd April 2009, were forced to recognize that tax havens have contributed to the global recession. Tax havens and non-cooperative jurisdictions were briefly mentioned in a joint statement by the G20 leaders entitled: ‘Declaration on strengthening the financial system’. Tracking down people who use offshore tax havens to avoid or evade tax should now be of international concern, but whether cooperation between tax authorities will be effective remains to be seen.
President Barack Obama has recently indicated that he will close offshore tax loopholes for US companies and citizens. In a television address of May 2009, he mentioned a building in the Cayman Islands which houses the headquarters of 12,000 businesses. Mr Obama said: “Now I have said before, either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world. I think the American people know which it is. It’s the kind of tax scam we need to end.”
President Obama’s speech is recognition of the harm that is done to any nation’s economy when huge amounts of capital are transferred offshore. It would be interesting to know what Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are going to do about closing the offshore tax loophole for companies and individuals based in the United Kingdom?
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2009
19th April 2009
Has Jacob Rigg duped Liberal Democrats in Dorset?by Jolyon Gumbrell
Jacob Rigg a man who claims to have been a speech writer for President Barack Obama of the United States, was unable to disprove allegations made by Katie Connelly on the blog of Newsweek, an American current affairs magazine.
Katie Connelly wrote in a blog, published on Monday, March 16th, 2009, that Rigg is: “a tax lobbyist who, according to the London Telegraph helped Favs [Jon Favreau, Obama’s speech writer] dish up some of the most memorable political lines of the last campaign from a flat in London’s trendy Notting Hill. Unlike Favs, it seems Riggs totally makes things up. Obama’s team has never heard of him.”
If Rigg did not work with Barack Obama’s campaign team and did not help write Obama’s speeches, then Rigg has duped quite a few people on the British side of the Atlantic including journalists and members of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Last year, at the time of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, Rigg was featured in the British media. On the website of 4Talent magazine in an article of May 13th 2008 entitled ‘The Persuaders’, Catherine Bray wrote: “Over dinner in Soho I met Jacob Rigg, who through his work for the Liberal Democrats and American Democrats Abroad, has come to write for Barack Obama, a politician hailed as much for his magnetic style and persuasive speeches as his liberal policy agenda.”
In another article that appeared in The Guardian on May 16th 2008 entitled ‘Barack Obama’s theatrical tactics’, it was written of Rigg: “He’s part of Barack Obama’s campaign team, and lead writer of the American Democrat’s so-called ‘Unity’ address, given at the Ebeneza Baptist Church in January this year, which prompted Radio 4, amongst others, to make favourable comparisons to John F Kennedy’s Ask not ... speech.”
The “London Telegraph” article referred to by Connelly, was written by the Daily Telegraph's political correspondent, James Kirkup and published on the Telegraph's website on 6th November 2008. The article said: “Parts of the speech were crafted by Jacob Rigg, a volunteer advisor to the Obama campaign.”
However, when Connelly made an inquiry to White House Spokesperson Tommy Vieton concerning Rigg, Vieton’s response was as quoted in the Newsweek blog: “None of us had heard this individual’s name until we read these claims in the paper. Apparently he’s a talented fiction writer.”
Jacob Rigg has recently been touring Dorset in England, the guest of unsuspecting Liberal Democrats. His itinerary on Saturday April 18th, 2009, included “Campaign Workshops” at Swanage Middle School, and a “Buffet Lunch” and “Presentation lecture” at the Mowlem Theatre in Swanage. People who attended these events were charged £2.50 for the workshop, £6.00 for the buffet lunch, £5.00 for the presentation lecture, or £12.00 for an all event ticket.
The event was advertised on the website of Swanage & The Isle of Purbeck Liberal Democrats as “Washington comes to Swanage”. The lecture that took place at the Mowlem had the title: “Working with President Obama lecture”. In the write up it said: “Jacob was part of a team of speech writers working behind the scenes in the Obama campaign. Some of his writing was adopted in several of the speeches and he had a unique insider’s view of events - from playing basketball with Barack Obama to watching the election develope, and will be sharing his personal experiences of campaigning across America.”
If Rigg lied about his involvement in the Obama campaign, then the victims of this misrepresentation are all those who bought tickets to the events and the Liberal Democrats who accepted his story in good faith.
Although Rigg may have written speeches for Liberal Democrats such as Chris Huhne, speech writing is not his day job. Rigg works for an organization called The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), which helps wealthy non-doms to avoid paying taxes in the United Kingdom. So if Rigg really did work for the Obama campaign, was the STEP organization happy to give him time off work for this project?
Jolyon Gumbrell was hoping to interview Jacob Rigg at the Mowlem on April 18th, but Rigg refused to have his conversation recorded. Rigg therefore failed to give any evidence to Jolyon’s Review, which would have supported his claim that he contributed to Obama’s election campaign by helping with speech writing.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2009
2nd January 2009
Review of The Shock DoctrineJolyon Gumbrell has just reviewed ‘The Shock Doctrine’, by Naomi Klein. This review can be read on the Book Reviews page.
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