The Bank That Almost Broke Britain, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, narrator Blythe Duff and director Leo Burley.




  1. excessive pride or self-confidence.

Remember Blythe Duff, the actress who played Detective Jackie Reid in Taggart whose famous catchphrase, ‘Where’s the body?’ became much parroted. Ten years on Blythe Duff is the narrator in search of the body of capitalism, the rise and fall of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the biggest bailout in British history, around a trillion pounds, much of it going to prop up the nominally Scottish bank that was too big to fail.

Let’s put that into perspective. A trillion pounds of taxpayer’s money would build ten hospitals the size of the Queen Elizabeth  in Glasgow. It would build three new RBS headquarters in Edinburgh at Gogaburn £350 million, attended by the Queen, get you a fly past by the Red Arrows and with a nice view and corporate logos. Her Majesty did ask the difficult question, why did economists not see this coming?

And, equally, she could ask the same question now.  No one held to account. Fred Goodwin CEO of RBS kept his index-linked pension of £700 000 a year, but he did lose his knighthood. I’d love to be given that choice, knighthood or £700 000 a year public money for running up one of the biggest debts in history?

The interesting thing about this programme is Fred Goodwin was one of the bosses trust funds trusted. He was an accountant and megalomaniac bully to his workforce that slashed costs and kept buying even when the party was over. I laughed when I heard his nominal boss, Sir George Mathewson, admitted he’d lost a lot of money when Goodwin issued a new tranche of RBS shares worth…nothing now. I’ll chalk that one up for the little guy.

This is an insider account, with all the key players available, with the exception of the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who promised an end to boom and bust. The programme ends on a happy note, if you’re a banker, RBS announced earlier this year that it is, finally, in profit.

I see no profit. I see only loses. The losers have been the poorest in society. The culprits are the Laurel and Hardy of British politics Chancellor George Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron who propagated the malicious lie that the impending collapse of the British economy wasn’t down to banks and bankers, but poor people who like Oliver Twist with a begging bowl kept demanding more. Austerity was not for the rich, but for the poor. This is Britain’s shame. And Laurel and Hardy led us into another fine mess, before disappearing back, like Fred Goodwin, into comfortable prosperity. Only the poor pay the full price of nationalised debt. Too big to fail. Too wee to matter.


channelling the inner Nazi

queen and nazi

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”

It’s front page news in the Observer, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II giving a Nazi salute. Pages of piffle devoted to it. What is Her Royal Highness hiding in the royal wardrobe, an SS guard’s uniform? I’d say give her a little slack. She was a kid. Kids do stupid things.

I’ve done it myself. Well not that exactly. But on Friday night I watched a programme on Channel 5, channelled my inner Nazi. That’s right the propaganda channel with shows with modern Goebbels-like titles such as: 78-stone-fat guy and how he’s ripping the country off big-time by being too fat, not working, destroying NHS beds and expecting us workers to pick up the pieces. The NHS estimate 70 000 premature deaths a year are due to obesity, but in Channel 5’s Humpty-Dumpty reportage they’re not dying quickly enough.

It’s all about class. People that sniff nail polish watch Channel 5. I’m a BBC class of guy. When they showed a documentary about Napoleon on BBC 2, for example, I was gutted when he lost at Waterloo. Knew it was going to happen. History is history, but still gutted. I like the small guy to win.  Napoleon supported a meritocracy. He didn’t mind giving the wee guy with big balls a chance. Whisper it, you could even be Jewish. The British aristocracy supported the status-quo. I support anybody but the British aristocracy. Look at pictures of David Cameron and Company and you’ll understand why. Nothing’s changed since then. We’re back to bowing and scraping and the best job children can now expect is to serve the super-rich their well-fired peasant.

But I couldn’t resist having a look at Conspiracy: The Alien Files. I used to love all that kind of stuff when I was a kid. They had Raj Persuad, a psychiatrist, persuading us that we might not be alone in the universe. Raj should look between the lines, he is I believe a convicted plagiarist, guilty of being a little god and creating other’s work in his own image. Sigmund Freud thought we were along in the universe. Raj perhaps didn’t want to appear controversial and have a mind of his own. Looking back to my own childhood experiences Uri Geller was, of course, uber controversial. And when he told us in his autobiography he was abducted by aliens I believed him. That’s where and when he picked up his strange powers to bend spoons. I could never do that. It always pissed me off.  I used to sit alone in a deckchair on the surface of Neptune trying to bend a spoon whilst the wind whistled past me at 1500 miles-per-hour. If there was life on other planets I’d have known about it. The ten years it took a probe to get there and my thoughts were what a crap camera phone. It looks like a Noika. If that’s the best Earth can do I’m shopping elsewhere. On the balance of probability the Channel 5 programme concluded that 99% of reported sighting of aliens was highly unlikely. And less than 1% of the richest people in the world couldn’t control the economies and political apparatus of the rest of man—or alien—kind, or could they? Put some of the X-files music theme music on and think about it.

My guess is we’ll get more programmes about Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II on Channel 5. She’s in a monopoly position of power and not been properly market tested. Under the rules of perfect competition other quasi royals would rush in and offer to do the queen’s jobs cheaper. Her Royal Highness would be on the same wages as Santa, zero-hour contract, not paid for standing around looking bored. Make her way to her own gigs. Unpaid overtime part of the go-to-work corporate culture.

Her Royal Highness could play that to her advantage. She could copyright her image, employ Black Rod on the black market to open Parliament for her, get payment for her image being used on stamps, her name being on public building and like Hitler’s Mein Kampf she could write a best-seller based on her own prejudices. Prince Philip could supply a few hearty quips such as asking workers in crisis centres they are patronising who they’re sponging off. Har, Har. Aliens. They’re definitely out there and part of the 1%.