Paying the Price: The Philanthropy Paradox

Charitable donations to UK universities passed £1 bn a year for the first time in 2015/16 reported Sally Weale, Guardian Educational Correspondent on 3 May 2017. What not to welcome, even if Oxford and Cambridge remain the biggest winners (46% of new funds and 34% of total donors)?. The total is a new high on the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) 15 year survey and, with Brexit looming, no doubt a source of joy and relief for Vice Chancellors and Conservative governments alike. Continue Reading »

The UK’s Pro-Brexit Asset Sale of the Century: Everything Must Go. People Optional

Unilever’s recent escape from Kraft-Heinz’ (£115 bn) predatory bid inaugurates the Takeover – Leviathan’s latest asset – steeple-chasing season. Unilever’s salivating shareholders are already up-in-arms about a killing missed, and demanding bigger and better others.

Paul Myners, ex City Minister and M&S Chairman at the time it fought off the bid of the egregious Sir Philip Green (of BHS notoriety) has sensed the threat and urged the prime minister to wake up and protect UK prime assets from the depredations of a potential ‘garage sale’. Continue Reading »

“What’s in a Name?” The Rose That Smells Less Sweet

The poet sang he’d never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Whereat, some less poetic japer
Hacked it down to craft the paper
On which to read – but thus destroy-
This unique fountain of his joy.


From “All Shades of Green
Bertie Ramsbottom 2014

Juliet’s ill-fated admonition to Romeo – (“what’s in a name? that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”) has long set the criterion for the intimate language of true love. Continue Reading »

The Brave New World of Dis-Enlightenment
PublishedMarch 16, 2017 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

The Brave New World of Dis-Enlightenment

The more the media expand
The less we seem to understand;
The more the information flow
The less we somehow seem to know;
The more the messages we send,
The less we seem to comprehend.
Communication rules, OK ?
Although there’s nothing much to say.

From ‘The Medium is the Message’
Bertie Ramsbottom, 1985

This far into the Brexit imbroglio, which has put most other issues in our lives into uneasy suspension, we have achieved the deplorable score of multiple questions and zero answers. Continue Reading »

Markets and the Wrath of God
PublishedFebruary 10, 2017 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

Markets and the Wrath of God

“The Business true-believer’s shrine
Is something called The Bottom Line;
All great religions need their Sign,
Some symbol of the Most Divine…”

Bertie Ramsbottom
“The Bottom Line” 1985 *

In the recent momentous weeks, over-shadowed by the Trump inauguration and our more local bumblings-towards-‘Brexit’, we could well ask again the eternal question – when will we ever learn? Since, for better or for worse, each of such happenings entails yet another inescapable period of delusionary self-harm; and – in the long run more important – further diversion from the known priorities of saner, happier societies. Continue Reading »

The Flat-Earthers of Globalisation
PublishedOctober 13, 2016 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

The Flat-Earthers of Globalisation

Last time, in “Whatever Happened to the Good Society?” we warned against the commentators who were already, post the EC Referendum, rushing to write the obituary of neoliberalism – in apparent ignorance of the formidable political and other defences it had built around itself over its many socially divisive years. In Jackson Lear’s chilling words (London Review of Books, July 2015)

“Neoliberalism is everywhere and nowhere; its custodians are largely Invisible.”

There’s much remaining to be done to fully locate and finally eradicate its deeply destructive social consequences; but in the recent, post-brexit, cacophony of comment, there seems little beyond the political posturing to suggest, even now, any deeper penetration of how this system works, has for so long maintained and propagated itself, usurps both the language and institutions of our democracy, and inflates our soul-less inequalities. Continue Reading »

Whatever Happened to the Good Society?
PublishedSeptember 19, 2016 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

Whatever Happened to the Good Society?

In a slightly overblown, technicolour, double-page-spread in the Observer (Comment 21.08.16) Martin Jacques confidently proclaimed “The Death of Neoliberalism”.

I wondered how I could possibly have missed the so-much-wished-for demise of the direst of our social and economic scourges since the unholy alliance of Reagan and Thatcher conceived it during their 1980s Chicago-School fling?

Yet sadly, as with so many of the multitudinous commentaries on the 2008 melt-down, Jacques’ presumption of its ‘Death’ seemed not to survive the very first paragraph of his own account…

“The crisis challenged the foundation stones of the long-dominant neoliberal ideology but it seemed to emerge largely unscathed.

Continue Reading »
The Money Frackers
PublishedAugust 11, 2016 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

The Money Frackers

The Achilles’ heel of the neo-liberal project, and a prime prop in our now crumbling capitalist system, is a naïve faith in the infallibility of money and markets as key motivators of economic and social action.

Despite the benefits of a grammar school education, our new prime minister clearly remains a devotee of this money/market faith, and is losing no time in extending its seductive influence to the reluctant luddites still blind to the benefits of ‘fracking’ around their homes and gardens. Continue Reading »

Market Speak and the Erosion of Political Truth

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics – Mark Twain

Twain, like most of us, was no stranger to the ‘porkie’; and a modern-day George Washington’s “I cannot tell a lie” would not quite seem the unequivocal assurance of integrity of other times. Taking liberties with the truth, in this more sophisticated age, has come to seem a marginal blemish in the savvy politician, given some suitably contrite shrug of the shoulders. It’s tough out there and fuddy-duddism gets you nowhere. Continue Reading »

A Positive Case of Mistaken Identity
PublishedJune 24, 2016 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

A Positive Case of Mistaken Identity

The Referendum jury – the British public – has given its split verdict and cancelled its membership of the European Union.

Found guilty-as-charged by Mr Farage and other staunch defenders of our freedoms and sovereignties, the accused has been banished to Brussels, Berlin and other distant-sounding, foreign places.

But was it a case of mistaken identity, with the wrong accused in the dock?

For the early evidence of the vote’s geographic split suggests that the ‘leavers’ were predominantly those citizens who have arguably suffered the greatest pains of austerity, inequality, job insecurity, health, housing, educational and other deprivations which have been their lot since the 2008 financial melt-down and beyond. Continue Reading »