Monday, June 17, 2013

Pope Francis writes to David Cameron on G8

A few weeks ago David Cameron wrote to Pope Francis about the G8 leaders’ summit in Lough Erne, setting out his agenda for the global economy.  He promised to maintain ring-fencing of the Overseas Aid budget (0.7% of GNI) and work toward 'the common good'. He wants 'fairer taxes, freer trade and greater transparency'. He advocates trade liberalisation, open markets, bilateral trade deals and less protectionism. He criticises 'poor rules, corrupt practices and weak capacity'. Much of it, indeed, could be taken as an attack upon the EU. 

The Pope has now replied:

To The Right Honourable David Cameron, MP

Prime Minister

I am pleased to reply to your kind letter of 5 June 2013, with which you were good enough to inform me of your Government's agenda for the British G8 Presidency during the year 2013 and of the forthcoming Summit, due to take place at Lough Erne on 17 and 18 June 2013, entitled A G8 meeting that goes back to first principles.

If this topic is to attain its broadest and deepest resonance, it is necessary to ensure that all political and economic activity, whether national or international, makes reference to man. Indeed, such activity must, on the one hand, enable the maximum expression of freedom and creativity, both individual and collective, while on the other hand it must promote and guarantee their responsible exercise in solidarity, with particular attention to the poorest.

The priorities that the British Presidency has set out for the Lough Erne Summit are concerned above all with the free international market, taxation, and transparency on the part of governments and economic actors. Yet the fundamental reference to man is by no means lacking, specifically in the proposal for concerted action by the Group to eliminate definitively the scourge of hunger and to ensure food security. Similarly, a further sign of attention to the human person is the inclusion as one of the central themes on the agenda of the protection of women and children from sexual violence in conflict situations, even though it must be remembered that the indispensable context for the development of all the afore-mentioned political actions is that of international peace. Sadly, concern over serious international crises is a recurring theme in the deliberations of the G8, and this year it cannot fail to address the situation in the Middle East, especially in Syria.. In this regard, I earnestly hope that the Summit will help to obtain an immediate and lasting cease-fire and to bring all parties in the conflict to the negotiating table. Peace demands a far-sighted renunciation of certain claims, in order to build together a more equitable and just peace. Moreover, peace is an essential pre-requisite for the protection of women, children and other innocent victims, and for making a start towards conquering hunger, especially among the victims of war.

The actions included on the agenda of the British G8 Presidency, which point towards law as the golden thread of development – as well as the consequent commitments to deal with tax avoidance and to ensure transparency and responsibility on the part of governments – are measures that indicate the deep ethical roots of these problems, since, as my predecessor Benedict XVI made clear, the present global crisis shows that ethics is not something external to the economy, but is an integral and unavoidable element of economic thought and action.

The long-term measures that are designed to ensure an adequate legal framework for all economic actions, as well as the associated urgent measures to resolve the global economic crisis, must be guided by the ethics of truth. This includes, first and foremost, respect for the truth of man, who is not simply an additional economic factor, or a disposable good, but is equipped with a nature and a dignity that cannot be reduced to simple economic calculus. Therefore concern for the fundamental material and spiritual welfare of every human person is the starting-point for every political and economic solution and the ultimate measure of its effectiveness and its ethical validity.

Moreover, the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers' wombs. Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.

In this sense, the various grave economic and political challenges facing today's world require a courageous change of attitude that will restore to the end (the human person) and to the means (economics and politics) their proper place. Money and other political and economic means must serve, not rule, bearing in mind that, in a seemingly paradoxical way, free and disinterested solidarity is the key to the smooth functioning of the global economy.

I wished to share these thoughts with you, Prime Minister, with a view to highlighting what is implicit in all political choices, but can sometimes be forgotten: the primary importance of putting humanity, every single man and woman, at the centre of all political and economic activity, both nationally and internationally, because man is the truest and deepest resource for politics and economics, as well as their ultimate end.

Dear Prime Minister, trusting that these thoughts have made a helpful spiritual contribution to your deliberations, I express my sincere hope for a fruitful outcome to your work and I invoke abundant blessings upon the Lough Erne Summit and upon all the participants, as well as upon the activities of the British G8 Presidency during the year 2013, and I take this opportunity to reiterate my good wishes and to express my sentiments of esteem.

From the Vatican, 15 June 2013

There is in this correspondence prima facie agreement on much common ground. But David Cameron's understanding of Roman Catholic social teaching is a world away from the Pope's. "Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves, people who need help," US Vice-President Joe Biden explained last year. For him, it's all about social justice. For his then opponent, Paul Ryan, the preferential option for the poor remains one of the primary tenets of social teaching, but it means you 'don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life'. Roman Catholic social doctrine compassionately sustains poverty - it fails the poorest. David Cameron wants the poor to take responsibility for their indolence and inaction. And so does Roman Catholic reformer Iain Duncan Smith.

IDS is a Christian, and his mission is evangelical: he sees things rather as Margaret Thatcher saw them – as a battle between good and evil, and the problem is sin. Of course, he can’t easily say so because all hell would break loose. But he is intent on renewing society, and you do that by renewing the heart of man, and that is easier the earlier you captivate the heart. And he is clear on the limits of government:
“The government can check the signals, but most of the intervention is done by the voluntary sector, private organisations, people who have proven programmes that work. You don’t want some official trying to descend from on high and intervene. We’ve been doing that for years, and it’s all gone wrong. I’m talking about intervention, but on a programme based around local communities. Government doesn’t do this. It can pave the way, set up the structures.”
He said back in 2011: "We care more about our society than we do for the political party. I don’t care if I’m attacked for it. I want to get Britain right — to me that’s more important than actually having a political spitting match." And that's undoubtedly true for Pope Francis, too.

But it's curious - is it not - that the Prime Minister has not corresponded with the Archbishop of Canterbury on this matter. Surely, with all his manifest experience in business and consideration of ethical finance, he would have had a contribution to make?


Blogger Bob said...

Good morning Your Grace and fellow communicants,

Believers and unbelievers alike wish to help the poor, the needy, the sick etc. Writing to the Pope but not the Archbishop of Canterbury is quite an oversight. We, including the Prime Minister, must remember that labels like "Catholic" and "Protestant" and so on are really quite meaningless, and that to act as if they are real is to impose divisions where none exist - and this will only lead to suffering.

If only people would remember that humans are all one family...I think a group hug is in order ;)

Peace and love guys.


17 June 2013 at 10:46  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

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17 June 2013 at 10:57  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

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17 June 2013 at 11:02  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

It is funny that whilst Cameron and IDS want to apparently take away benefits from British 'scroungers' (TM- Daily Mail), and get them on their bike back to work (making sure banks can lend to business the money & having a proper education system for the 21st century would help), this government wants to maintain benefits to foreigners via the aid budget. There is a different degree of welfare dependency there, but surely the logic and principle is the same?

Why does no one call third world governments 'scroungers' or encourage them to get their economies on track?

Furthermore, why is no-one complaining about the waste of government spending money on overseas aid, which (as one can see by the continuing poverty, wars and other ills in the 'third world) is simply not achieving anything? Why give 0.7% of British national wealth away to the governments of the third world, who rather than spend it on something for the greater good of their own countries, seem to use it for wars or pocket it for self -enrichment.

So if cutting back welfare is an idea good and is about good verse evil in the UK, isn't it time that this was applied overseas as well, with the money used to pay back our own vast debts?

17 June 2013 at 11:06  
Blogger gentlemind said...

Moral recovery cannot come from economic recovery, since economic recovery can only come from moral recovery.

17 June 2013 at 11:07  
Blogger The Explorer said...

David K

Spot on!

Somebody said (I forget who: maybe Theodore Dalrymple, who spent time in Africa), that the EU aid programme (because it doesn't get to the right source) is about Europe's poor funding Africa's rich.

If that's true, there's a disastrous implication. The amount of aid your country gets is in proportion to its poverty. So the way to get more aid (and buy another Lear jet) is to generate more poverty.

17 June 2013 at 11:23  
Blogger David Hussell said...


Agreed ! First reform the individuals, and hence society, then economic improvements will follow. But without moral improvement first , society's wealth will be used up , wasted, applying expensive sticking plasters to gaping wounds.

17 June 2013 at 11:36  
Blogger bluedog said...

His Grace reports, 'But it's curious - is it not - that the Prime Minister has not corresponded with the Archbishop of Canterbury on this matter.'

Non-speaks because ++Justin took a stand against SSM?

Or is it because Dave has belatedly discovered the Catholic vote cluster in NW England and NW Scotland?

Possibly both. However one can scarcely envisage Dave chasing the Catholic vote down the Falls Road.

At least Pope Francis didn't embarrass Cameron with a direct intervention in the SSM debate, unlike the now disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien. Accordingly, it seems Cameron has concluded that he has nothing to lose by cultivating Pope Francis.

Will the Grand Mufti Mirza Masroor Ahmad be next?

17 June 2013 at 11:37  
Blogger Bob said...

Come on guys, let's be positive and give with generous hearts :)

Sure, a proportion will be skimmed off due to corruption, but compassion for the poor and suffering should trump such miserly concerns.

Where is the love?



17 June 2013 at 11:44  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Never let a day go by, eh Cranmer? And when the Pope speaks, here's a chance to stick it to Catholics. Well, now, just so you're clear on this, no, Roman Catholic social teaching does not "compassionately sustain" the poorest; rather, the essence of it can be found in John 12: 1-8

1JESUS therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. 2And they made him a supper there: and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. 3Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. 7Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. 8For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.

If you understand nothing else (and you clearly don't) then understand verse 8: the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always. It's the reason why generations of the very poorest of Catholics often gave what pennies they had to decorate their churches with the most gorgeous of statues and stained glass. It's also the reason why we "compassionately sustain" poverty. Because you, your friend Cameron and all of like kind will always see to it that the poor will always be with us. It can't be any other way, because above a certain level of income, enough is never enough. It becomes a race to have more than the other guy, and if you have to stand on the back of the poor to get it (and you do) then so be it.

As we speak, Cameron and Osborn are quitely getting ready of sell off RBS to their friends in the city. They will be doing this not because the taxpayers who bought it ("the poor", for purposes of this exercise) will make a profit from the transaction (they'll lose billions on what was spent in their names). They'll be doing it because they'll calculate that the few billion they'll raise from a firesale will be just enough to fund a tax cut before the next election. The billions spent propping up RBS will be completely lost (not to the rich, whose accountants were paid to stash their wedge in the Cayman Islands, but to the poor who actually funded the purchase in the first place.) This is just one example of how the world does and has always turned. The supposed "Christianity" championed by Thatcher, Duncan-Smith and indeed, Cranmer, was never designed to be anything more than a fig-leaf to cover it.

Christ knew this to be the case when he defended Mary against Judas, and the Catholic Church has always been aware of it. Our philosophy has always been that we were not made for this world, and although it behoves us to help others as we pass through it, we are no goning to build heaven in this life. To think otherwise is verging on blasphemy.

17 June 2013 at 11:45  
Blogger bluedog said...

Corrigan @ 11.45 says, 'The billions spent propping up RBS will be completely lost (not to the rich, whose accountants were paid to stash their wedge in the Cayman Islands, but to the poor who actually funded the purchase in the first place.)'.

But the City typically contributes 10% of UK tax revenue. Without that contribution your own standard of living would possibly be considerably lower.

Remember too that before the 2008 financial crisis, the whole of RBS take-over driven expansion was an exercise in Scottish hubris, almost certainly designed to be the economic corner-stone of an independent Scotland. It was in fact the British tax-payer who bailed out the largely Scottish and recklessly incompetent management of an Edinburgh based bank. It got to the stage where the RBS balance sheet was orders of magnitude greater than Scottish GDP, but Gordon Brown chose to ignore the risks. Why?

A public float of RBS will almost certainly introduce the large investing institutions as anchor shareholders, among them possibly the managers of your own pension fund, if any. In this event you will have an indirect beneficial interest in RBS.

Do these observations square with your ill-informed prejudices?

17 June 2013 at 12:19  
Blogger Corrigan said...

None of which tells me that more will be returned to government coffers than was expended. If my pension fund benefits from floatation, that's still a benefit for the (relatively) rich, not the poor, who usually have no pension.

17 June 2013 at 12:42  
Blogger IanCad said...

Yet again more evidence that The Holy See is a foreign power.
It is not for our Government to communicate its policies to a nation that hides its sovereignty under the guise of being solely a spiritual entity.

17 June 2013 at 12:47  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Ian, if Catholics want to know your government's policies, we'll ask the City of London - just like Cameron does.

17 June 2013 at 13:14  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

It matters not so much what David Cameron wrote. What is curious is that he bothered to write at all. After all, he doesn't care a damn what the Pope thinks. The RCC may have no credibility to speak on marriage but it seems that macro-economics is well within its purview. Or something. This is an exercise in cynical manipulation. I suppose the Pope had no choice but to allow himself to used by responding. But still. Cameron is simply trying to leach some political benefit. The Pope could have responded with a 14th century Papal Bull for all Cameron cared about its content.

It's a kabuki dance, full of earnestness and gravity, signifying nothing.


17 June 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger richardhj said...


I assume then that your criticism is of Cameron who chose to " communicate his policies" etc.

Your dig at the Vatican, is I assume merely a side swipe.

Or are you suggesting that the Swiss Guard marched down Downing Street to demand the information.

17 June 2013 at 13:52  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Why the Pope, rather than the Archbishop?

The Pope, in his letter, refers to Britain's presidency of the G8.

If Cameron wrote in his capacity as PM, then that would be odd (although they do say Margaret Thatcher preferred the Chief Rabbi to the Archbishop of the time). But if he wrote in his G8 capacity, that seems common courtesy.

Forgive me for being a bear of little brain, but what am I missing here?

PS: There IS an issue, though, about the basis of foreign aid: as David Kavanagh has very ably illustrated.

17 June 2013 at 13:53  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Your Grace, The more I see of posts like these, the more I keep coming back to this foresight in the 1800's (from someone who professed to be apolitical) - after the 1832 Reform Act was passed. It predicts the increased weakness and infidelity of Protestants and 'infidel' or atheistic influence squaring up to Rome as power to power.

"That bill was a revolution. That is, it was not an admission of excluded influences into existing institutions, but a total change in the institutions themselves. Democracy became ascendant, and possessed the power. The Lord's House became insignificant, and populous boroughs acquired the power once wielded by the land. Old habits modified the effect, but every one knows that this is what took place. The ancient institutions of the country were in principle overturned.

With this, railroads and the commercial movement, and the refusal of landlords to increase the population on their lands, concurred to throw the population into the towns. Vaunted education ministered immensely to general infidelity, Satan in that being let loose in that respect, and by the growth of this and of dissent, which predominates in the great towns, the clergy were, on the one hand, thrown into ritualism and popish principles, or, on the other, adopted infidel or semi-infidel principles; and (the bands of the Establishment and its general hold on the population of the country loosened) infidel notions acquired a powerful influence over the mental activity of the country, and exercised a very great power in the governing body, the House of Commons. Morally speaking, the Protestant church was gone, and rationalism and popery, in principle, divided the country. Evangelicalism became practically null in the Establishment. ... Other social questions, as primogeniture, will soon come in; the importance of money and luxury, the necessary consequence of its abolition, will rapidly increase, and the moral degradation and dissipation which go with it."

I'm off to buy something by Burke to see how he compares or contributed to the above - any suggestions?

17 June 2013 at 13:58  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

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17 June 2013 at 14:00  
Blogger The Explorer said...

There is a common theme between today's thread, and yesterday's: the West in relation to the rest of the world.

Where there is a genuine strategic issue or humanitarian crisis I can see the case for intervention. It's the Enlightenment air of telling the rest of the world how to conduct itself that irks me.

PS on 'Question Time' last year I learned that we are still giving aid to India; although India itself is now conducting space research. Something odd there.

17 June 2013 at 14:03  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


'Scottish hubris'. Or indeed Irish hubris. I think the Scots can look at Ireland & their banking collapse to see how they would fair outside of the UK.

As for Corrigan, firstly I cannot see the anti-Catholic bit in this article and secondly, whilst he is moralising about wealth and poverty to the rest of us, perhaps it's time for the Vatican to take a vow of poverty, sell its riches, turn St Peter's into a Real Estate Investment Trust (floated in London of course) with 90% of the profits going to poor Catholics around the world...?

Why, after all, if this life is just transitory, does the Roman Catholic Church need such wealth and property? Indeed (Read discussion below), if Peter was the first Pope, what would a humble Jewish fisherman want with such luxury?

Surely the sistine chapel should be used to house Rome's homeless people?


Why thank you. As a PS, I have no problem with charity giving, just not the govt doing it on our behalf.

Although the list is endless- had the battersea dog's home knock the door on Shabbat, alas the guy didn't like my lecture on how cats wee the garden....

One thing which DOES depress me, though, is the aid given to those "Poor countries" which will eventually have a higher GDP than us, whilst we have FOOD BANKS springing up all over the place in the UK. Now that is wrong (or good vs evil, if one has to be more manichean about these issues).

17 June 2013 at 14:08  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

btw, the Pope's response was an exercise in meaningless platitudes.

"Peace demands a far-sighted renunciation of certain claims."

Really. What might those claims be? There is a reason that statement was left undeveloped. Any explanation would have necessitated a defense. It would have made the letter a partisan document. So it was left vague and therefore empty.

The whole letter was like that.


17 June 2013 at 14:08  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Well said Your Grace - "this is a battle between good and evil, and the problem is sin. Of course, he can’t easily say so because all hell would break loose." My question is "Why should it ?".

17 June 2013 at 14:14  
Blogger Corrigan said...

How the Scots would fare outside of the UK, D. Kavanagh, would greatly depend on how much of the absolutely astronomical British debt mountain they would have to take with them upon exit. If, as the British nationalists tell us, they would be a new country whereas England would be the successor state, then the proportion of debt on Scottish shoulders would be somewhere in the region of zero percent. They would only have to take a share of the unimaginable British millstone (90% of GDP, or 1.36 trillion pounds and rising) if both Scotland and England were recognized as successor states. You really can't have it both ways.

As to the Vatican, most of its "wealth" is tied up in trust for the Italian state under the concordats. In any event, I thought my first post made the position clear on this point. Helping the poor is incidental; not stealing from them is what is important.

17 June 2013 at 14:22  
Blogger Who Stole the Coal? said...

bluedog writes 12:19) (and essentially endorsed by David Kavanagh 14:08) -

"Remember too that before the 2008 financial crisis, the whole of RBS take-over driven expansion was an exercise in Scottish hubris, almost certainly designed to be the economic corner-stone of an independent Scotland. It was in fact the British tax-payer who bailed out the largely Scottish and recklessly incompetent management of an Edinburgh based bank. It got to the stage where the RBS balance sheet was orders of magnitude greater than Scottish GDP, but Gordon Brown chose to ignore the risks. Why?"

Don't be surprised if most Scottish readers find your foregoing comment ridiculous. Brown and Darling are of course British Unionists to their bone-marrow. With Cranmer's indulgence, perhaps you would find informative the following extracts from "Why did the banks only become Scottish – after they failed?" by Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp on the "Business for Scotland" site -

'Some relevant facts:

- The banks Royal Bank of Scotland, (RBS) and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBoS), were wholly regulated from London. They were only allowed to change the way they lend money by the Westminster Parliament who were following the neo-classical economic strategy of little or seemingly no regulation, and a no limits on lending strategy as long as the loan is secured against an asset. The joint architect of this economic strategy that helped to collapse the global economy was Alistair Darling now the leader of the ‘No’ campaign (in run-up to Scottish Independence Referendum 18 Sept 2014).

- 90% of RBS and HBoS UK employees were based in out-with Scotland so 90% of employers income tax was paid to Westminster, and not counted as Scottish or Scottish Government revenue.

- Likewise 90% of the banks national insurance contributions were paid to Westminster and not counted as Scottish.

- 80% of the losses of RBS for example were generated from the banks London based operations.

- As with all companies corporation tax is not considered regional and therefore the corporation tax paid by the banks is not considered to be a Scottish Government revenue, it is all paid directly to Westminster. Note: RBS paid £16 billion in corporate taxes from 1998 to 2007, NONE of this was counted as Scottish Government revenue.

So if all the Government revenues associated with the banking operations in the ‘boom years’ were added to the UK balance sheet, why should all the losses in the ‘bust years’ only be added to Scotland’s balance sheet?

As Andrew Hughes Hallett, Professor of Economics at St Andrew’s University, put it (in Radio interview): “The real point here, is by international convention, when banks which operate in more than one country get into these sorts of conditions, the bailout is shared in proportion to the area of activities of those banks, and therefore it’s shared between several countries.

“In the case of the RBS, I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but roughly speaking 90% of its operations are in England and 10% are in Scotland, the result being, by that convention, therefore, that the rest of the UK would have to carry 90% of the liabilities of RBS and Scotland 10%.

“And the precedent for this, if you want to go into the details, are the Fortis Bank and the Dexia Bank, two banks which were shared between France, Belgium and the Netherlands, at the same time were bailed out in proportion by France, Belgium and the Netherlands.”

Did you know that RBS was also bailed out by the American Federal Reserve and the Australian Central Bank? The UK government bail out of RBS and HBOS amounted to £65bn, a lot of money but the US federal reserve made emergency loans available to RBS of £285bn and to HBOS of £115bn and $552.32bn to Barclays – sorry who bailed out the British banks again?

Again it is worth noting that 80% of all losses generated by RBS came from their London based investment banking division.'

17 June 2013 at 14:29  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


OK, but I thought most of the great cathedrals of Europe- including England's (and South America) were essentially built upon the backs of peasant labour and taxes, so quite how you say people shouldn't 'steal' from the poor... is beyond me.

Of course as a good ecumenical capitalist, I do wish the Churches well (both Anglican and Catholic), but I do think their funding and wealth management needs to be, ahem, brought into the 21st century...

17 June 2013 at 14:44  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


I'd say that depends on what happens if the Scottish vote for independence and who gets what, doesn't it?

As it happens, I'd be quite happy if there is a yes vote. My only gripe is that the rest of the British isles (Ulster, Wales, England) has been denied a vote, presumably because England would vote to walk out of the UK.

Perhaps I would actually like to see England become a separate Kingdom (then you chaps wouldn't be whinging and would have to find someone else other than English to blame all the world's ills on).

Re Scotland and national debt- I really doubt that a Scottish Republic would be able to get away with *not* taking on a bit of the UK debt burden, despite the Chutzpah of 'Braveheart' Salmond.

Of course even at zero, Scotland would rapidly create a lot of its own debt to sustain its welfare arrangements (at higher interest, being a new country, with a new currency) or it could join the euro and agree to a massive squeeze on whatever welfare state it would cleave to as a sovereign state.

And then there is the cost of propping up the Scottish banking system. Would Salmond want the 2 biggest Scottish banks being 'foreign' owned?

Choose your poison....

17 June 2013 at 14:53  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

'Who stole the coal?'

In same way that Andy Murray is British when he wins and Scottish when he doesn't! (:

However the board of RBS was the bastion and heart of Scottish banking (the HQ, is I believe in a brand spanking newish location, just outside of the Scottish Capital?).

It was the CEO/Chairman's and the board's ultimate responsibility to be prudential and not go on a massive spending spree and loaning to people who couldn't afford to repay money back. They didn't and just made deal after deal, which eroded their capital base to zero.

In respect of HBOS, I think that the biggest loss came from the Bank of Scotland bit, which again lent more than it should have done.

Which gets to my point in the posts above. A bit like Irish banks eh??

17 June 2013 at 14:58  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

A subject very close to this man’s heart, Archbishop - Shaking some life into the indolent poor.

Some years ago, the local rag reported that a single mother on benefits discovered pieces of broken glass under the soil in her garden. She asked the council to come round and remove all of it, as she was concerned her child was at risk. The council wrote back saying she should do it herself. She then went to the press.

A fellow can’t help feeling that if he was to arrange an evening cleaning job for her at his place of work, she’d go to the press again…

17 June 2013 at 15:04  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


I understand if a petition gets so many votes, it has to be discussed in Parliament. Why don't you arrange for a motion to be put up on the downing street webpage to bring back the workhouse?

17 June 2013 at 15:06  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

PS- got to dash. I'm trying to make sense of Len's comments on the trinity in the thread below and have written down a few a few queries which I intent to address to him.

17 June 2013 at 15:08  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your facetious remark, David K does nothing to hide the fact that this country’s benefits bill is now so high, we had to get rid of an aircraft carrier. Tell this man where it is written that the able bodied feckless are owed a living ?

17 June 2013 at 15:18  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


Well there's the thing, because I'm all for people working and earning wages. Trouble is, those of us who can and want to create jobs can't, thanks to the banks (see above) pouring out too much money and now lending too little. That and the fact there is no parental family discipline anymore (and nothing of the sort at school).

17 June 2013 at 15:42  
Blogger IanCad said...

richardhj @ 13:52.

To address your comments in order:

Para.1: Yes.

Para. 2: Not a sideswipe; an observation.

Para. 3: Of course not.

17 June 2013 at 15:58  
Blogger Albert said...

But it's curious - is it not - that the Prime Minister has not corresponded with the Archbishop of Canterbury on this matter.

It's not curious at all. The sheer size and spread of the Catholic church (in contrast to the Anglican Communion) means that, in order to do anything worthwhile in international development, the UK Government has to work with the Catholic Church. Anglicanism, for all the good things it does, is simply not big enough, nor deeply rooted enough in most places to be considered on the same level.

17 June 2013 at 16:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Roman Catholic social doctrine compassionately sustains poverty - it fails the poorest.

I think some of the claims contained in the link at a bit daft to be honest - really to make such sweeping claims of a tradition as old and thorough as Catholic social doctrine on such grounds speaks of a failure to engage properly. Sure: Catholic social doctrine refuses to see the market as the only criterion. But that's because we're Christians, not utilitarians.

17 June 2013 at 16:19  
Blogger Peter D said...

carl jacobs said...
"btw, the Pope's response was an exercise in meaningless platitudes."

Sadly, something Catholics are increasingly having to become accustomed to. For some, Jesuits especially, the pursuit of 'social justice' appears to be taking the place of evangelising.

Traditional Catholic social teaching focuses on structures which inhibit man's creativity - poverty being one but also dependency on the State which diminishes personal, family and community responsibility.

Pope Benedict understood this. Does Pope Francis? Watch this space .....

17 June 2013 at 16:20  
Blogger David Hussell said...

The enormous size of the welfare bill is indeed an unsustainable burden, threatening even the effective military protection that we will always need, as well as other essential central functions. But how does a nation achieve the social, attitudinal, spiritual and economic changes necessary to enable short term vote seeking politicians to make drastic cuts, that's the question. Or do we have to wait for the sheer lack of funds to force a brutal reduction in benefits, regardless of the consequences ? And would such a government survive ? There are no precedents in history for welfare reversal, to my knowledge ? Are there any great thinkers, let alone leaders, capable of rising to this colossal challenge ? At worst case scenario we could "need" the end of democracy to effect such drastic steps, which is a frightening prospect.

17 June 2013 at 16:32  
Blogger Bob said...

@Peter D

Sadly, something Catholics are increasingly having to become accustomed to. For some, Jesuits especially, the pursuit of 'social justice' appears to be taking the place of evangelising.

I understand this point of view, but really this is just froth on the surface of the waters. Ultimately words are nothing unless they are followed by actions. Indeed, proselytising at the expense of helping others is like buying a car with no engine. To see the situation as a choice between the two is an illusion.

We must live our lives, be compassionate and loving, and everything will fall into place. Everything's looking A-OK.

Chop wood, carry water.


Peace, dudes.

17 June 2013 at 16:36  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Peter D.

Snap ! The sermons of Anglican clerics frequently remind me of Labour (welfare) Party broadcasts. Don't get me wrong, I am all for Government assistance when absolutely necessary to bridge those down on their luck into better situation. But it is the instilling of an attitude of practical self help and improvement that benefits the individuals, families and the whole of society in the long run. As you said, I think, arguing constantly for more and more state assistance ultimately diminishes individual independence, self esteem, family values and the human flourishing that The Pope says he seeks. Christianity is not Socialism with prayers thrown in I feel. Certainly my denomination does not join up the dots I feel.

17 June 2013 at 16:43  
Blogger Anglican said...

‘David Cameron wants the poor to take responsibility for their indolence and inaction.’ Yes, certainly, for those who are indolent. The dependency culture must be ended. But a good number (especially children) are poor though no fault of their own; they have to be helped. Reforming our culture so that there are far fewer family break-ups and fatherless children is going to take a long time, particularly as certain political parties have a vested interest in a large dependency culture. Perhaps national bankruptcy may have some advantages in the long run.

17 June 2013 at 18:09  
Blogger IanCad said...

David Hussell wrote:

"--There are no precedents in history for welfare reversal, to my knowledge --"

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was a big step toward welfare reversal. President Clinton signed it and took most of the credit for it after it was proved to be at least moderately successful.
It should be remebered that, at the time of signining both the House and the Senate were controlled by the Republicans.
Clinton had promised welfare reform as a part of his platform but it is doubtful that he really was thinking of any substantive change. He did run with this and it guaranteed him a second term.

17 June 2013 at 18:12  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Inspector,

The workhouse just wouldn't work, as there are now billions of slave children in China, India, Indonesia and everywhere else that are prepared to work for less than nothing (where they give, their money to work).

But, I agree that people need to be in work. If only there were the jobs out there.... now how do you suppose we create jobs in a recession?

That is the big question.

17 June 2013 at 18:56  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Sorry, David Kavanagh, but as I have said, you cannot have the jam on both sides of the bread. The British Nationalists have been beating the Scots over the head with the threat of expulsion from the EU (as though England had the clout to make that happen) if they vote for independence. They claim that they, England (and we can ignore the Welsh and the Ulster Scots) will be the "successor state", and that Scotland will be a new country. Ok, fine. New countries don't have historical debt. How can they? They're new. But then, this has been the entire dynamic of the Bitter Together campaign: any threat, even those which are contradictory, will do.

17 June 2013 at 20:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say, Hannah, you’re not pally with Nigella Lawson by chance ?

If you are, do pass on the Inspector’s admiration of the dear lady, won’t you...

17 June 2013 at 21:08  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...


I am a big fan of Nigella!

She is a lovely, bubbly, kind, sincere and tenacious Jewish woman (even if she is officially atheist).

I won't have a bad word said against her. I think she and her family needs our prayers.

17 June 2013 at 21:19  
Blogger bluedog said...

Who stole the coal @ 14.29, as David Kavanagh says, 'They didn't and just made deal after deal, which eroded their capital base to zero.'.

Precisely. This communicant recalls the press release that accompanied the final rights issue of RBS before its collapse. There were words to the effect that after the issue it was anticipated Tier 1 capital (equity) would rise to 4.5% within six months. As the issue was about 5% of the loan book, one could conclude that the bank was bust and thus trading while insolvent before the equity issue. Note that Tier 1 capital under the Basel accord prevailing at the time was required to be 8%. So even after a panic recapitalisation, the RBS was still going to be grossly under-capitalised and only years of retained profits would correct that in the absence of yet another equity raising. Disgraceful.

While it is true to say the bank was supervised from London, that supervision had been greatly complicated by Gordon Brown's division of supervisory responsibility between the Bank of England and his newly created FSA. Gordon Brown hated the Bank of England and wished to see its power diminished.

Ultimately a bank depends on the probity and competence of its directors. The regulatory regime either makes that assumption of probity and competence or it cancels the banking licence.

It cannot be denied that the bank was managed in Edinburgh and its chairman was a leading light in the Scottish independence movement. That the investment banking division incurred most of the losses does not alter the circumstances of RBS management.

Perhaps the public disgrace of Mr Fred Goodwin is the only evidence that you will believe.

Even then I'm not sure. Professor Hughes-Hallett's subjective and selective analysis seems to have persuaded you that RBS was a victim rather than the perpetrator.

17 June 2013 at 21:35  
Blogger Peter D said...

"Moreover, the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers' wombs."

A fine sentiment and in line with Christian teaching.

According to the WHO, every year an estimated 40-50 million women decide to have an abortion. This us circa 125,000 per day.

Given this level of murder, one would have preferred a more direct, stronger statement. Replacing "even" with "especially would have been more appropriate.

17 June 2013 at 21:43  
Blogger bluedog said...

David Hussell @ 16.32, a great post that perfectly summarises the dilemma faced by the UK and other near-bankrupt social democracies.

It seems to this communicant that the political elite are well-aware of the dilemma. Note that all policy options are based on no recession and absolute avoidance of depression, which would rip the social fabric of the increasingly ethnically Balkanised UK to shreds. A situation such as that in Spain or Ireland where GDP has dropped c20% from its 2007 peak would cause a demographic pressure cooker like the UK to explode.

The political elite's solution is inflation, so that in nominal terms the economy looks and feels slightly better than awful.

17 June 2013 at 21:50  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Bluedog,

Don't mention banks to me, especially RBS! I lost £20,000 of my savings (in fact ALL of my savings, which I'd saved ever since my paper round at the age of 12), when it was bailed out.

Thankfully, my sister knew better and from 2005 shorted banks and invested long in gold,Israeli debt and companies (thanks to us both saving all of my student loans) and thanks to sis, I've more than made up that money.. So sis is in charge of my little 'hedge' and 'pension' portfolio...

17 June 2013 at 21:59  
Blogger Peter D said...

But Bob, surely poverty is an illusion; an unnecessary desire that causes anguish.

17 June 2013 at 22:45  
Blogger Peter D said...

"But it's curious - is it not - that the Prime Minister has not corresponded with the Archbishop of Canterbury on this matter."

Is it? Surely not where the State is in ultimate control of the Church? And anyway, the Pope is a the Head of an independent State as well as the leader of the worldwide universal Apostolic Church.

17 June 2013 at 22:50  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Peter D (and Albert),

I wouldn't get too carried away here. I think David Cameron would appeal to the King of the polar bears if he thought it would

1. Make him look good


2. Would make him look like he is continuing his 'detox' of the 'conservative party'.

Or in other words, it is interesting to note that Cameron did NOT seek out the wit and wisdom of the Pope during the SSM 'consultation', despite many a Catholic hear identifying it as a key crucial 'red line' issue.

The reason is that Cameron wanted to 'detox' his party of the 'nasty party' image, so showing a nod in the direction of SSM helped.

The next big 'wish list' of the left/guardian is to 'eradicate' world poverty/save the planet meme. So what better political tool to use than a new 'third world' Pope for another detox ?

Or am I too much of a synic at 26?

17 June 2013 at 23:13  
Blogger Peter D said...


No, you're correct. He's chasing the nominal Catholic vote in the North. You know the type. Wants to break the link between the Tory Party and the Church of England.

17 June 2013 at 23:24  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Peter,

I think Cameron is going a bit further up 'orf than the British Isles.... perhaps beyond our planet even 'where no man has gone before' so to speak.

18 June 2013 at 00:05  
Blogger Who Stole the Coal? said...

re Bluedog @ 21:35

With respect, it was not my intention to defend any bank, but to argue against what I consider to be an overly simplistic "Scotification" of the whole miserable affair. You may be aware that Alistair Darling (lugubrious head of the "Better Together" campaign against Scottish independence) pretty much pushes your view, minus the maligning of Gordon Brown (at least in public). Darling's prime tactic is to seek to demoralise the Scots into remaining in the Union. In this project he has of course full estabishment collusion, including that of pivotal BBC Scotland. So I suspect it will work.

18 June 2013 at 00:34  
Blogger LEN said...

Perhaps Cameron hopes by involving the Catholic Church in his schemes he(Cameron) hopes to get his hands on the vast fortunes stored within the Vatican coffers?.
The Catholic church’s priceless art, land, gold and investments across the globe make it is one of the wealthiest institutions on Earth.

And the Apostle Peter(supposed founder of the Catholic Church) said said "Gold and silver have I none". I wonder how Peter would have assessed the vast fortunes stored within the Catholic Church?

Jesus told the 'wealthy young prince(could nowadays be the wealthy' Global Corporation')"sell all you have and give to the poor"
to assess how much they were attached to their riches and bound within their 'Worldly Kingdoms?.

18 June 2013 at 07:44  
Blogger Corrigan said...

As I have repeatedly explained, Peter was not the founder of the Catholic Church, Christ Himself was.

18 June 2013 at 07:48  
Blogger bluedog said...

Who stole the coal @ 00.34, good to hear you (grudgingly) recognise that Scotland will probably remain British. That marks you out as a realist. Geopolitically speaking, there is no alternative, as the Irish subliminally admit but can't do so in public. Idealists such as Corrigan would eat the carpet.

18 June 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


In actual fact I'm not arguing from a 'unionist' viewpoint. As I said I'd quite like a vote on whether or not England can leave the UK or possibly have devolution as well.

But, let's just do a little 'what if' process. You become the first President of the Republic of Scotland and doesn't take on any of the debts when it had been part of the UK, which is what you want, but as President will have the following to think about :

1. Do you want to join the EU?

2. Do you want to join NATO?

3.Do you want the English to control your 2 biggest banks?

4.What currency will this Republic use?

5. Will the debt markets allow you to borrow to pay for the public deficit and at what interest rate?

6.If you want to join the EU, that means entering the single currency. Are you prepared for massive austerity to keep the Scottish dollar in line with the Euro?

Now I could think of others. But the above questions are quite legitimate ones, if one is discussing the future of a country.

If I lived in Scotland and I considered it 'my' country, I would be asking these types. True sentiment and patriotism are important, but you've also got to have your realistic logical side as well.

18 June 2013 at 15:28  
Blogger Peter D said...


The Catholic Churches 'treasures' are being maintained for future generations. Would you have them sold? To achieve what?

We've covered this in the recent past. Being 'asset rich' to preserve artistic and property for the future is a duty.

Care to provide evidence for all these investments and annual returns? Time to lie low (again) to avoid answering.

"The Catholic church’s priceless art, land, gold and investments across the globe make it is one of the wealthiest institutions on Earth.

As advised previously, its annual turnover is lower than a medium sized University.

18 June 2013 at 19:24  
Blogger Who Stole the Coal? said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

18 June 2013 at 21:10  
Blogger Who Stole the Coal? said...

bluedog @ 13:50 wrote:
good to hear you (grudgingly) recognise that Scotland will probably remain British. That marks you out as a realist.

For amusement, let's try a bit of transposition. Bach on guitar as it were. Or trombone. Let's imagine David Cameron actually follows through with an in/out European referendum. Let's further imagine that it quickly becomes clear as the referendum campaign unfolds that the newspapers are all pro-European - some stridently so and carrying almost daily a lurid front-page headline warning of yet another calamity which will befall ill-starred Britain should it try to "go it alone" (the very thought...).

Let us imagine there is no BBC. For as long as memory serves, the State broadcaster in Britain has been the European Broadcasting Corporation (EBC). Programming is of course almost entirely European (and of world-class quality). Local British news is more or less limited to an evening half-hour opt-out newscast from the "EBC Britain" studio in London. However, it is common knowledge that the Head of News and Current Affairs of EBC Britain is a lifelong pro-European and partner of a pro-European MP. In fact a remarkably high number of the station's key news commentators are evidently pro-European and have personal connections with pro-European politicians. When referendum discussions feature on EBC Britain, a pattern emerges whereby a single Euroskeptic is faced with three pro-European spokespersons.

Let's imagine (being just a bit naughty) that David Cameron is well aware of the foregoing media "contrivance" regarding the Euro-referendum campaign, but he tacitly gives it the nod (unlikely, I realize) because it suits his own agenda on Europe.

Oh yes! The weather! Let's not forget "The Weather". Let's imagine (being just a bit paranoid) that the evening weather map of Europe is always in an exaggerated perspective such that the image of a greatly minaturized and marginalized Britain disappearing off the top of the screen (like the Shetland Isles) becomes deeply imprinted on the minds of a generation of viewers until it is taken as reality. They then go on to argue in irritation if it is suggested that this is a geographical (and political) travesty which leads them to subconsciously dismiss the viability of Britain.

This is fun, isn't it? Let's imagine just a bit more. Lets imagine that in a supermarket you can hardly purchase an item which is devoid of a European flag, large or small.

And in conclusion (lest we weary ourselves), let us imagine that the said David Cameron suddenly and enigmatically announces there is to be, just a few short weeks prior to the day of the Euro-referendum, a major Eurofest with key Olympic "opening-spectacle" planners invited to repeat past success. His pretext for this Eurofest is, bizarrely, to celebrate all "Past Outbreaks of War in Europe" (but with no finger-pointing allowed - it's a team-building exercise, you see).

Surrealist? Not to a "realist" Scot...

18 June 2013 at 21:19  
Blogger bluedog said...

Who stole the coal @ 21.19, a tortured soul indeed.

Clearly you have already left the UK in spirit yet your bodily remains are still rooted in a British hell on earth. All Scots are to be given their choice and we will see who is in the majority. The hellish kingdom you outline through transposition is simply the world as it is and hopefully, ever more shall be.

As other communicants have pointed out, Ireland has found 'independence' within the EU to be a poisoned chalice. The question for Scots can be simply quantified. Do they feel that the benefit of being 8% of the UK is greater or lesser than the equivalent potential benefit of being just 1% of the EU?

Primary school maths.

18 June 2013 at 22:01  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Dog, why are you speaking as though the situation in Britain were in some way superior than that in Ireland? Your country is hanging on by a thread, you are crashing under a mountain of debt and that currency you are so proud of is teetering on the brink. You have no influence in Europe, the seat of all your laws and the UK itself is breaking up. Whether the Scots go this time or not, the momentum, which started in Ireland (remember, WE used to be part of the UK too) has already delivered self-government to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (a situation which would have horrified most English people even in your Father's time). It's only a matter of time before England reappears on the world map as a separate state. That's fine, but since you're the man who's whittering about "reality", don't you think it's time you gave up these imperialist pretensions, admit you're sucking off the hind tit of America and start cutting your cloth accordingly? Cancelling that stupid nuclear deterrant of yours would be a start. You might have some money then to pay for a proper military.

19 June 2013 at 11:39  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

19 June 2013 at 11:54  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


Yes it is all doom and gloom over here.

Except Ireland had a comparable banking crash to the UK, following the flood of 'hot money' from Germany and Northern Europe... but unlike the UK, Ireland couldn't devalue the currency or print more cash and was instead forced to agree to the draconian terms imposed by the Eurozone and the IMF. (At one time, I think you were even being told to get rid of that tiny rate of corporate tax you have over there, I am sure that'll come up again at some stage).

Also remind me, what currency has been called into question recently and might break up and secondly, who is Ireland biggest trading partner ?

Other questions- doesn't the Irish membership of Euro mean abolishing control over her economy? Finally, one of the famously marketed 'Irish' brands (create a Proddy family no less) is owned by an Irish or British company?

ps- if anyone has got 'imperial' ambitions it is the European elites, led by Germany, who is the real master of Europe now. I can't really see what influence Ireland has on Europe as you are told time again to have another vote anytime the voters of Ireland say something different.

What I do find strange is that such an apparently strong, proud and nationalistic country allows itself to bossed around in such a fashion.

Perhaps it is because it isn't the English doing the bossing?

19 June 2013 at 11:59  
Blogger Who Stole the Coal? said...

Is "Kavanagh" your real name?

19 June 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

19 June 2013 at 13:57  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Yeah, David Kavanagh is really a nome de plume and in actual fact, my 'real' name is 'who stole the coal?', you see in reality I am a chip on the shoulder Scot whose is chaffing at the English overlords that run bonnie braveheart land...

19 June 2013 at 14:01  
Blogger kafur said...

Let the Catholic church send half of its diamonds, gold bullion and cash. That should feed the worlds "hungry" about a million times!
Why does Cameron write to the fucking POPE???

19 June 2013 at 21:06  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Corrigan @ 11.39, apologies for a belated response. You say, 'don't you think it's time you gave up these imperialist pretensions.' Coming from a Catholic who repeatedly asserts the primacy of Rome and enjoins all Anglicans to come home to Rome - ROFL. Pot, kettle, black.

This communicant makes no assertion that the UK is superior to Ireland. He merely feels that if the British and Irish can agree on sending a joint team to play Rugby football half way round the world without getting all chippy, it should be possible to work together closer to home. It's all to do with attitude and avoiding the vanity of slight differences. Yes, England should be devolved and yes, the UK in its current form could be improved. This communicant believes and repeatedly suggests that the UK should be reconstituted as a federation that includes a united Ireland. Think it through and you may understand that such an arrangement is in fact a conspiracy against England.

On the Roman Church, keep an eye on Pope Francis' reform commission. Early indications include:

A greater role for women,
An end to celibacy in the priesthood,
Married priests,
A less authoritarian church

The final point could be a hint of the introduction of a Synod. Time will tell.

Sounds almost Anglican, don't you think?

20 June 2013 at 21:55  
Blogger Peter D said...

"Sounds almost Anglican, don't you think?"

Er, NO!

Actively homosexual Bishops;
Women priestesses;
The Five Solae; and
A Monarch as Supreme Governor.

Now that would be Anglcan.

All achieved through democratic synods (apart from the latter two which were imposed)!

20 June 2013 at 22:35  

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