At the End of the Day

The turning of the tide continues

There was a lot of bullish sentiment about Barclays Bank results earlier today across the financial blogosphere – headlines like ‘Barclays leads recovery’ were commonplace – but it turned out yet again to be a load of old toss. Late this morning GMT, posts saying ‘Barclays 26% shy of estimates’ began to leak. And now we know (for now) the full picture. I say ‘for now’ there, because with each minute/hour/day that passes, what passes for full can very easily become a debate about half-full versus half-empty.

In this case, the former Diamond fiefdom is a quarter empty. As Bloomberg reports today, ‘Adjusted pretax profit for 2013 was 5.2 billion pounds ($8.5 billion), London-based Barclays said in a statement today. That’s 26 percent down from 7.05 billion pounds in 2012 and missed the 5.4 billion-pound consensus analyst estimate compiled by the bank.’ Well duckie, I suppose if you let the bank estimate the consensus, that’s what’ll happen: after all old thing, a chap must have time to sell his shares at the top through a disguised intermediary, must he not?

I couldn’t possibly comment on that, except to say that a rather sad bloke called Tim Hames has been given space at the London Daily Telegraph to opine that ‘Doing good is not incompatible with making a profit‘. So far, Tim has attracted just the one comment, and it goes like this:

‘Quite right, but it’s equally true that doing bad and doing well are not incompatible. The key social/economic question of the age is to what extent the people who are doing well are also doing good, and to what extent they are doing bad. My feeling is that the more egocentric society becomes, the more they will be doing bad, and the less they will be doing good. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Western society is becoming more egocentric by the year.’

I do agree, but feel on the other hand that I could’ve been more succinct: ‘Overlay the desire for enlightened self-interest onto a culture whose morals are f**ked, and you’ve no chance squire’.

Meanwhile in Geneva, Middle East mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will meet representatives of the warring sides in Syria separately prior to a second round of talks. Lakhdar is urging the negotiators to commit to discussing core issues. So far, perhaps, they have been discussing peripheral matters such a who gets the seats most perfectly pointing towards Mecca, and how long David Moyes can survive as Manchester United manager. The speed with which conference organisers can install swivelling seats while working on a live link to the Arsenal v United game this Wednesday night could well be the telling factors as to the success or failure of these talks.

Whatever things might be left to talk about after Ezak Hunt and Baroness Frunt-Bottomlee have finished taking a razor-sharp meat cleaver to the NHS, Ed Miliband is nevertheless offering a pledge that, under a Labour Government, the public would be given ‘a much bigger say over hospital closures’. Oh dear. Setting aside the fact that the criteria of public opinion re that one would be impossible to judge, we are still left wondering why the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition thinks the job of a future Labour Government would be to manage the disappearance of free medical provision from our Nation.

What is it with the Labour Party today? It has become like Manchester United, in that it has leaky defences and no offensive strategy at all. It is in opposition to a hugely controlling Government whose every instinct is to promote laws that silence such opposition. And yet this is the best it’s Tweetmeister Ed Miliband can come up with:

EdmiltweetsCorporate-speak of the worst kind. Where’s the passion? Where is the instinct able to see that the tide is indeed turning against Big State’s incompetent control via its unholy wedlock with Big Business?

I suspect the answer to my own question is that the tide isn’t turning against one unrepresentative political Party: it is turning against an Establishment concerned solely with how to finance itself at the expense of We the People. The process is a gradual one, but it will in the end leave a gaping hole where protection of the vulnerable citizen used to be.

That bunker is currently being occupied by UKip. Nigel Farage is attracting more and more support, but with every day that passes it becomes clear that he’s merely another pol grasping at this and that opportunity. He thinks the Government has been slow on flooding. He wants Quango management sacked. He wants overseas aid cut. And he wants the creation of a Civil Defence corps to deal with failures in the very deregulated economy he so avidly supports.

As it happens, I too would support such a corps. But it would be weapons-free, and dedicated to the idea of inculcating selfless mutual help within decentralised communities. It would not be there purely to deal with self-inflicted problems caused by under-investment in social infrastructure: it would be an everyday presence designed to teach every citizen – high or low, without exception – what social service really entails.

UKip is not the answer to the yawning gap in the ordinary Britons’ ability to oppose. I wish it was, but it isn’t. The only solution to that gap would be a new movement where Labour used to be. But the Left won’t engage, and so the gap will remain.

I repeat: the tide is turning. But what will the next incoming tide bring with it: fresh water, or waves contaminated by the filthy oil of corruption?

Earlier at The Slog: Obama’s rebound recovery has been shown to be complete bunk