Author Archives: whoknowsy

Van Gaal or Van Salesman ?

I have to confess I am a Manchester United supporter – much to my Dad’s disappointment, who thought my Everton lampshade and duvet covers as a boy might swing it. But for some strange reason I felt drawn to United whilst watching them lose the FA Cup Final in 1976 to Southampton. It may sound odd to support a losing team but it was their attacking football that did it. Whilst the next decade was a struggle with the likes of Liverpool, Nottingham Forest, Everton and Villa dominating the League, they never lost that attacking instinct (apart from a short period under Dave Sexton).

Then came the glory years under Ferguson – again based on attacking flowing football – and I think many people started to believe success was almost a right. But history tells us that everything comes to an end and under David Moyes last season the speed of decline surprised many – including me. So on to a new manager and the club have opted for proven experience in the form of Louis Van Gaal.

Now LVG is no shrinking violet and he’s perhaps the man who gave Mourinho the idea that self adulation was a route to success. Unfortunately, for me, that’s where the comparisons with Mourinho stop. In in my opinion, Mourinho is the best manager in football today by a country mile – he doesn’t concern himself with individuals who are all ego and no work ethic (he flogs them to Utd & EFC) and he builds teams that play in the way that best suits the country he’s working in. I fear that Louis Van Gaal is more of van salesman – quite adept at selling you an absolutely “blinding motor” only for you to discover when you get it home that it’s an old banger.

True, Van Gaal has had some success – but he’s also had failures. But it’s not the results that worry me. The problem in my book is his fit with United. His football philosophy simply does not match United’s culture of playing attacking free-flowing football. I watched Holland play in the World Cup and they were using a 3-5-2 system that made them the most boring team I have ever seen: They beat Spain 5-1 but Spain were well on top in the 1st half and but for a wonder goal by RVP would have gone on to win, but instead they collapsed. They struggled to beat Australia 3-2 and beat a Chile side that had already qualified by scoring twice in the last 15 minutes. They then went into the knockout stages and a Robben dive, cheated Mexico out of a deserved win – before they drew 0-0 with the mighty Costa Rica (winning on penalties) – then another 0-0 with Argentina before going out.

By the end I was struggling to watch, it was so boring I felt my love for the game was being slowly sucked away. How could a team play such negative football on the world stage. That’s where king Louis comes in and his mighty 3-5-2. Unfortunately, from what I hear he is wedded to such a formation and will force United to adopt the approach. I wonder whether he’s ever seen the Premier League. Does he appreciate that other teams aren’t afraid to attack and will exploit a weak defence – and if necessary by-pass a cluttered midfield – it might not be pretty but British football has never been afraid of a lump it forward approach. More importantly has he never seen United and why they’ve been successful in recent times. The importance of full backs to a United system – playing with width – speed on the break – incisive passing. Does he appreciate the players at his disposal and what they can do.

The question is what will change first. If Van Gaal persists in a 3-5-2 then I wouldn’t be surprised to see United in the bottom half of the league – dare I say it they might even be in a relegation scrap. Believe me it will get that bad if he persists for too long. Will the United board allow him that luxury or will they insist on a change of style or even another change of manager. Who knows, but as I write this before the dawn of the new season I predict that signs of a struggle might already be there by the game with Burnley and with QPR, Leicester and West Ham to follow before the big boys hit town, United could be in real trouble by December

Moyes failed at United because he forgot about United’s culture and the desire to win outweighing the fear of losing. Van Salesman must heed the warning or he’ll go the same way.


Tiger – may the force be with you – again

Tiger Woods was probably the greatest golfer I have ever seen. I don’t think he was the best in any one of the 4 main areas – driving, long irons, chipping, putting – there are better players out there in all of those. Yet he had an ability to put it all together when it mattered – but what made him really special was his competitive intensity.

When Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods played in the early part of his career, everything about him was electric. His stride had purpose, his eyes sparkled with adrenalin and his focus was unrelenting. When Tiger took the lead the field was beaten. Not since a black shorted, black booted Mike Tyson entered a boxing ring have I ever seen opponents so evidently beaten psychologically. It didn’t matter whether it was the opening round or the final round – as soon as he hit the front, the title was as good as decided.

He turned pro in 1996 and quickly won his first major at the Masters in 1997 and despite a minor blip in 2003 & 4 he amassed 14 major wins before his last win in the 2008 US Open. Since then nothing – other than extra-marital affairs, a divorce, a new coach, 4 reconstructive knee surgeries,  a bad back and a few less endorsements to worry about – but on the golf course very little to write home about. Has Tiger reached the end of the road?

I don’t think so. The individual components aren’t too much different to how they were in his prime. Yes, his injuries haven’t helped and he has to manage his game within what his body allows him to do, but in some ways that might add to his game rather than detract. The secret ingredient he needs to find is that intensity.

Over recent years, when things haven’t been going well we’ve seen him shrink into himself – he’s looked fed up, he’s lost his temper, he’s stomped from green to tee – he’s looked like a tormented man. The day he can put the mistakes behind him and stride purposefully around the course again whether it’s going well or badly, the day he is so focused on the golf course he wouldn’t notice a streaker sprinting across the green 3 feet in front of him,  the day that sparkle return to his eyes – that’s the day I’ll bet on Tiger to win his next major.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it returned for the Open at Hoylake this week but I think that might have come a little too early – he’s only played one tournament since his latest return from injury and missed the cut.  The PGA remains the last major of the year in August and that’s also going to be a stretch so for my money it’s 2015 and I think we’ll see Tiger back on the winner’s rostrum in April.    I for one certainly hope so because in the same way athletics needs Usain Bolt, golf needs a winning Tiger Woods.

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Full Disclosure – I know what you’re thinking


In response to – A mad scientist friend offers you a chip that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking. The catch: you can’t turn it off. Do you accept the chip?

The sales pitch went something along the lines of:

Enthusiastic salesman scientist: Hey there. Sir, inside this small box is something that will literally change your life

Me with a resigned “here we go again” look on my face: Go on then. What’ve you got?

Encouraged salesman scientist: Imagine what life would be like if you could read the mind of everyone you meet. To know exactly what they were going to do before they did it – great for poker. To know what everyone thinks of you and what they like and don’t like – great for impressing the boss, at work and at home (little chuckle) – just think you can change your behaviour so that you’re popular with whoever you want.

Me starting to engage: Sounds interesting – tell me more

Salesman scientist getting ready to deliver the punch line: Now I know what you’re thinking – there’s bound to be a catch.

Me, a little smug having spotted an opportunity: So you know what I’m thinking, which would suggest you have one of these yourself. Is that true? Go on tell me what am I thinking now!

Still confident salesman scientist: Your thinking – if he can tell me what I’m thinking then this thing really works, if he can’t then it’s a waste of time and if he won’t it means he hasn’t got one and how could I buy something from a salesman who doesn’t believe in it

Me now slightly perplexed: Spot on! But was that you telling me what I was thinking or simply stating the logic of your position – which happened to be what I was thinking? OK – let’s try this again. I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 20 – what is it?

Excited Salesman scientist thinking all is not lost: But you’re not thinking of a number between 1 & 20. You’re thinking about whether I can think of a number between 1 & 20 that happens to be the same as yours.

Me, intrigued further: I like that. You’re good – really good. 

Smart salesman scientistLet’s try this one on for size and perhaps this time I’ll show you how rewarding it can be.   Take the last two digits from the year in which you were born and then add it to the age you’re going to be at the end of this year.   I’ll tell you the number you’re thinking of and if I get the it right you give me £20. 

Me, now sure I’ll get to the bottom of this once and for allOk done it

Salesman scientist: I’m willing to bet that you got an answer of 114, right?

Me, now fairly hooked: Amazing.  You have one of these things don’t you?

Responding salesman scientist: Well Sir, if I had one do you think I’d still be here because it was quite plain when you first saw me that you thought I was just some mad scientist weirdo. And that might have been a little upsetting.

Me, trying to rescue the situation: No not at all. It’s just that you get so many people knocking on the door trying to sell you the latest wonder treatment. They’re all full of talk but little else. I just figured you’d be the same but with slightly worse hair. It’s been different though so how much is this thing? And is it safe?

Salesman scientist stepping up the sell: It’s fairly new but we’ve had no safety issues to speak of and it was tested vigorously a few years ago by a Mr N.Adamus who seemed to suffer no side effects.  In terms of price it’s 250k which is obviously a serious amount of money – but as I’m here I could fit one today at a discounted rate of 200k.

Me, picking myself up off the floor: 200k are you mad? Do you think I can afford 200k?

Salesman scientist: Well sir. If you had one of these you’d know exactly what I was thinking and you’d also be aware that I’d think you couldn’t afford to not have one of these.  There is however one catch and that is – you can never turn it off!

Me,  on the back foot but with a way out:   Never turn if off!  Sounds like it might be fun to start with but might it not get a little boring after a while?  Where’s the fun in poker if you win all the time – I mean part of the fun is not knowing what’s going to happen. And why would you want to be liked by everyone, always having to fit in with them and never really be yourself.  No I think I’ll keep my money.

Disappointed Salesman scientist:   Fair enough.  When you first opened the door I thought you’d say that.  But hey ho at least I go away with £20 and I hope you have a nice day sir.

And away he went.  But there was a nagging feeling I’d been had somewhere along the line.

England – learn the lessons and the future’s bright

So England travelled back from Brazil without the trophy, without a win and without too many people noticing. So where now and what can we learn from the nations that did the business.  Here’s a 5 point plan to future success:

  1. Play the English way:   English club sides have always played with a high tempo, pressing game that’s more blood and thunder than style and finesse.  Yet get those same players in an England shirt and you’ve never seen anything so limp in all your life.  Either they’re like rabbits caught in the headlights lumping the ball forward 40 yards to no-one in particular, or they’re retaining the ball at the back as if playing a 5 v 1 keep-ball training session.    Lumping the ball forward is no good because it makes a ball that was 100% yours into a 50:50 – which is plain daft.   Possession for the sake of possession is meaningless and retaining possession at the back achieves nothing other than annoying everyone watching.   Possession statistics only came into vogue because of the way Barcelona and Spain played, but goals win matches, not possession.   It’s not how much of the ball you have, it’s how you use it when you have it.  I’d much rather see a player lose the ball trying to do the right thing rather than retain it trying to do nothing.  One of the most obvious factors of success during the World Cup was tempo.  Teams doing well, played with a high tempo.  As soon as they had the ball, they looked to move it forward as quickly as possible  – not by lumping it – but by short sharp one touch football that didn’t give the opposition time to set up their defence.    We must play with a higher tempo – one touch football going forward.   We need to be brave and bold – where we’re not afraid to lose the ball if we’re trying the right thing.  It is a style of play that builds on what we see week in week out – fast,  attack committed football.   The sad thing is, that’s been the English way for years – look at Liverpool in the 70’s & 80’s and Utd in the 90’s & 00’s – that’s exactly how they played and that’s why they dominated but somewhere along the line we started to doubt ourselves and tried to become something we weren’t.
  2. Select a team, not individuals:  We have seen many experts talk about lack of players during the World Cup.   It’s an absolute nonsense.   There were more players at the World Cup playing their club football in England than any other league in the world – but only half played for the top clubs.  I mean would we really have considered any of the following small sample good enough for England – Giroud, Djourou, Schurrle, Mirallas, Coates, Fellaini, Sissoko, Cesar, Cameron, de Guzman, Lugano  – yet all of them played in the knockout stages.    We are obsessed with individual talent and we forget about the team.  We put a huge amount of pressure on individuals and never look at shape or what they’re being asked to do.   I bet all the discussion forums dissecting England’s plight are full of people picking their best players – who should be dropped and who should be brought in – but it’s like buying the ingredients to bake a cake but having recipe to put it all together and it completely misses the point.   The World Cup Final was billed as the world’s best team against the world’s best player – and you know the result.  The best teams win tournaments – not the best players.  We have to start to pick the best team and if that means better players are excluded for the good of the team then that’s the way it goes
  3. Be the fittest:   When England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, Lawrence Dallaglio said one of the keys to victory was that they knew they were the fittest.  They knew stepping onto the field that no matter what the opposition threw at them, they’d be able to withstand it and come back for more, when their opponents would be out on their feet.  When tired bodies give way to tired minds they knew the opposition would start to make more mistakes than them.  Look at the work Dave Brailsford has done with cycling – analysing every single detail so that when the riders take to the track they know they are the fittest and fastest.   Their physical condition gave them confidence – a confidence that grew as the game or race progressed.    With the amount of money and expertise at our disposal there is no excuse for England players not being the fittest at each and every tournament we play in.     To have 6 players going down with cramp against Italy, and Stirling going down after just 62 minutes was little short of a disgrace.  Philip Neville said that Alex Ferguson would have been furious if that had happened to any of his players and rightly so.   To play our style of football England need to be the fittest team.
  4. The right management:   If we want the players to do the right thing then the management need to lead by example.  They need to be brave enough to pick the best team rather than the best players.  They need to be strong enough to stand up to journalists and supporters when things go wrong (and they will) by sticking to the plan and not giving in to pressure to select this player or that player.  They need to develop a style of play that suits our game rather than try to copy the Continentals.  They need to insist every detail in preparation is controlled and if players don’t have the focus to put in the hard work and turn up to each and every training camp then they don’t make the team – no matter who they are. It needs to be supportive rather than brutal but it just needs to be honest – “this is what we need to win the world cup and you’re either in or out”  Set the rules from the start, be brave and be bold.   One other point – ex-footballers are not often equipped to make good managers and it’s about time we started to see the FA introduce non playing managers who have the skills and potential to manager rather than the skills to play
  5. Go with expectation rather than hope:   The most successful nations expect to win.  They have no doubts that their preparations are the best, their tactics are the best and that their spirit will see them through.   Speaking with Jens Lehmann before the World Cup semi-final, he stated Germany would win the tournament – it wasn’t posturing, or bravado – it was belief.    Without that conviction, when the going gets tough you start to question yourself.   From the moment Greg Dyke mock-sliced his neck at the draw, England never believed they could win.   It was all “we’ll do our best”, “there are some great teams in this world cup”, “we’re looking really sharp in training”, “obviously we think we can win or what’s the point in being here” – but there was no conviction.   Put the foundations described above in place then tell the supporters, tell the journalists and most importantly tell the players we will win.

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Ode to Michael Gove

The teachers are delighted
He’s gone into the night,
His stay in office has been blighted,
He should have played more PLYT.

For David, wants to stay Prime Minister,
Wants a woman in that job,
That might be viewed as sinister,
Assuming she was never called Bob.

So Nicky Morgan’s in the hot seat,
Will she continue with reform,
Or maybe she’ll rise through Downing Street
Keeping David nice and warm.

So what exactly is chief whip,
It sounds a little kinky,
Getting MP’s in a vice-like grip,
before poking ’em in the eye with his pinkie.

But I do feel sorry for the man,
Because change is never easy,
Of improving education I am a fan,
But Michael just left me queasy.

My mum’s boomerang – it’s all coming back to me now

Here’s what I found in the attic in response to the Leftovers blog

On 2nd June 1961 my mum, in her early 20’s, boarded the SS Canberra with 2,237 other passengers and set sail on its maiden voyage for Australia.   Able to afford only a one way ticket and not much caring for the sea, I can only imagine the combination of excitement and apprehension.    Anxiety that can’t have been eased by her father’s anger when he heard about her plans and his refusal to see her off.

She spent the next 6 years in Australia, working largely for the Daily News, experiencing plenty of what the country had to offer.  A mixture of letters, recordings and one pre-planned phone call a year (her family back home in England didn’t have a telephone) was all she had to communicate with her parents and 5 brothers and sisters – oh for a facebook, twitter or blog!

She no doubt had some incredible experiences – many more than she’d every admit to her children. When she did eventually return, she was only able to bring with her a few treasures.   Two items that stuck in my mind were a large bow and arrow set and a boomerang – both given to her by an aboriginal tribe whilst covering a story with her boss for the paper.

I first saw them when I was about 8 yrs old – an age when my parents could trust me to visit the attic with confidence I wouldn’t come crashing through the floor via a mis-placed foot.   I remember the brutal strength required to pull the bow and the lethality of the tribally feathered arrows.    But what fascinated me most, however,  was the boomerang, which had been delicately carved and painted with aboriginal scribe.   How on earth could this funny little bent stick possibly come back to you once it had been thrown.   Impossible I thought.  But the seed was planted and I knew one day I’d have to give it a try.

During a hot summer holiday day a few years later,  I was off school and kicking my heels for something interesting to do and mum asked me to get something from the attic.   So up I went and purely by chance came upon the bent stick.  A light bulb went on – today this stick was going to fly and I would be the pilot!

With the boomerang stuffed under my shirt I strode purposefully outside and into the garden.  The image you might have at this stage is a large open meadow with a few apple trees clumped in one corner and a crumpled looking hedgerow framing the view as far as the eye could see.  Perhaps a more accurate image might be a square grassed area, size capable of parking 2 cars with a brick garage at one side (good for football I might add), a huge beech tree (always interesting to climb) to its left, a lamp-post (great for kick-stone games with the other kids) opposite and 2 cars parked on the drive providing cover on the final side.

At that age, little did I know that a boomerang requires more space than a yo-yo, but rest assured it was a lesson I was shortly to realise.   My right arm drew back like a pitcher and with all the ferocity I could muster I sent it off into the distance.   Well I’m sure it would have gone into the distance had the garage wall not provided an inconvenient obstacle.

The boomerang splintered into 2.  I involuntarily jumped from side to side as if standing on hot coals whilst muttering “oh s**t, oh s**t” – inappropriate language for a 10yr old I might add.  For a second or two I was so gripped by terror, I couldn’t function.  My legs wouldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, blood drained from every limb. If candid camera had been present I’d have been carted off to an institution.

Eventually I strode up to the shattered stick and like all boys of that age pondered how to get myself out of the mess.  First thought – who could I blame?  Sadly a very short-lived thought.   If Mum & Dad discovered the crime – that I had ruined a prize and irreplaceable possession, my life was surely over. I imagined that in all probability the bow and arrow might also get a first use in many a year, only with me as a target.   If I couldn’t admit it, then there was only one other course of action.  I’d have to try to fix it and hope for it never to be discovered.

So to another product young boys are rarely supposed to touch – unless accompanied by a mature adult – the superglue.  The strongest glue the world had ever seen – strong enough to hold a grown man upside down from an aeroplane according to the advert, so strong enough to fix a boomerang surely – and I might just get away with it provided I didn’t glue my fingers together at the same time.      A quick dab of glue on the boomerang, sandwiched between 2 books to keep it pressed firmly together and it was job done.  Up to the attic to return it (and the accompanying books) and all was calm.

I was in the attic a few weeks ago and found the boomerang – still actually pressed between the very same books.  Not by design, but because the books had also stuck to the boomerang – they certainly weren’t lying about the strength of the superglue. Maybe my son will follow in his father’s footsteps by one day attempting to throw the books & boomerang to see whether they all come back – now that would be interesting.

You might think I’d got away with it for all these years.  Sadly not.  A couple of years after the incident my Dad was clearing out the attic when he came across the scene of the crime.  A roaring bellowing noise crashed down through the attic hatch as I was summoned – don’t know how he knew it was me, I mean it could have been my sister – but obviously parents just know.   Mum came scurrying along to intervene. I’m sure with the intention of protecting her son from the angry attic beast. I prepared myself for my William Tell moment as Mum was presented with the evidence.    Clearly upset that a precious gift from another age was destroyed, she turned to me and saw my distress – my remorse for what I’d done and my fear for what was about to be done.

She just smiled, patted me on the head and said “I’m not sure it ever really worked anyway. So never mind – it’s been sat up in the attic for over 20 years so I’m sure we won’t miss it.  But you should have told me rather than trying to hide it and just tell me next time you need to use to super-glue as I don’t want a visit to A&E”.

I learnt a lot about being a parent that day and what’s really important.  I hope when my children put me to the test, the boomerang and all it entailed come back to me.   My mum passed away a couple of years ago and I never really told her how sorry I was for breaking the boomerang or how grateful I was for what she taught me.  Thanks Mum.

Austerity – myth or reality

Just read an article by Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, that has prompted this quick response – would like to have done it through twitter but I need more than 140ch to get it off my chest.

Now I must admit I went into this full of optimism that someone was finally set to expose the austerity story. The article at starts quite well – but then it tails off into a whole pile of populist drivel. The sort of garbage that raises a loud cheer amongst the troops, but does nothing to show us the light.

The situation in the UK is fairly straightforward. We have an enormous debt of around £1.3tn (excluding a public pension deficit that would probably dwarf that figure) that continues to grow at an alarming rate. All we hear in the news is about reducing the budget deficit – which means we’re not reducing the debt at all, just reducing the rate at which is grows. I’d say that’s cause for concern not just for this generation but all those with the unpleasant task of following us and sorting out our mess.

So let’s be clear Mark about your statement, “But is there really less money around? Of course not. Our economy is still one of the largest in the world and some people are still doing very nicely, thank you very much”. What you fail to observe is that technically we are bust – if we were a business or an individual we would be declared bankrupt. The only money that is around comes from increasing the debt which a business or individual would not be allowed to do. I’m one of those old-fashioned types who believes if you can’t afford it, you can’t have it, but clearly when you refer to money your views are more “I want it, therefore it is my right to have it”.

What saves us is the fact that many other countries are in the same boat and one country will not call the loans on another because it would spark a meltdown that would put 2008 into the “nice to have” category. Fortunately, we have the luxury compared to some of being able to set our own interest rates. The Bank of England decided that low-interest rates were the order of the day – again only possible because everyone else was doing it. There were several reasons for that decision and one in particular related to our very high levels of household debt (which last year stood at around £28k for every single adult in this country) – and the absolute need to prevent a housing crisis similar to that seen in the US with sub-prime.

So prior to the 2008 financial crisis, we had interest rates running at around 5% and they are now at 0.5%. So what that means is the vast majority of people in debt were actually financially better off after the crisis than before because they were paying less to service their debt. Without all the trimmings (again to keep it simple) the average mortgage payments for approximately 10 million mortgage holding households have gone down by over £3000 per year. So every person who has remained in employment (we have more people in employment now than in 2008) who carries debt is better off now than before the crisis. That’s an awful lot of people.

I do however recognise that alongside that, many people have seen their pay reduced and for them the benefit of interest rate reductions might simply soften the blow. Mike points out that the public sector has come in for some fairly rough treatment and that is right. However one could argue that the public sector has simply become too big and needs trimming back – in 2013 almost 20% of all jobs were in the public sector. Whether you like it or not, the size of the public sector is dictated by the size of the private sector – the bigger the private sector, the more money is taken into the public purse to pay for services. The size of our national debt would infer the public sector is too big and the choice facing the budget holders is to reduce jobs, pay or both.

However, the people I feel sorry for are those with savings because the cut in interest rates means they are worse off. The moral of the government approach is spend yourself silly, get into debt, have everything you want now regardless of whether you can afford it (spending is always good for the economy) and then when it all goes pear-shaped we’ll help you out and shaft all those people who’ve tried to live within their means. Brilliant but the inevitable consequence is people won’t learn. Only next time it will be worse because all those debt addicts will carry on and many savers will join them because they might as well enjoy themselves.

Mark also refers to poverty which is something of red rag to a bull with me. Relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average. So let’s assume we have 5 people with incomes 100, 150, 175, 200, 225 – to put the average at 170 – which means that 2 people are in relative poverty. Now if someone enters our country with a large wad of cash (perhaps a Russian oligarch, a Chinese billionaire or rich Europeans hedging their assets) and an income of 350, then all of a sudden our average moves to 200 and we now have 3 if not 4 people staring at poverty. Their circumstances haven’t changed, but the headline figure of 4 in 6 people now in poverty is a real attention grabber. Even better, our economy is now showing growth because our new wealthy immigrant has lots of money to spend in the shops and on property and is more than willing to do so.

So let’s be clear relative poverty is not a very good definition of a person’s struggle to survive – it is simply a measure of the gap between the top and the bottom. That’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s place, but it is currently being used mischievously out of context. And when you then use the poverty card against utility companies you seem to ignore the reasons why their prices have increased or the fact that many of our pensions a leading shareholders in those companies.

It also leads to another interesting question. In your country would you rather have more millionaires or less? Personally I don’t want to see millionaires who are well off because they have simply exploited others. I categorize people working in and around the stock market as such because all they do is gamble with other people’s money – if they win, they receive a ridiculously high bonus whilst the pension pot receives 5% and if they lose they receive a moderate bonus whilst the pension pot is obliterated. How the stock market is allowed to work as a no-lose casino for the traders is beyond me – but that’s for another day and another blog.

However I do want to see more millionaires who have created something – created products and services that generate good employment. Employment where the employees receive a fair market rate and good working conditions and prospects. The more of those millionaires the better and I’m sure their money will be welcomed up and down the country in every shop they walk into. I agree morally it is not comfortable to hear that the top 5 wealthy families are worth more than the bottom 20%. Clearly there is an imbalance but I’m not jealous of what they have earned – I’m thankful that they’ve chosen to do it in the UK so we have a little more money to fund our public services without financially crippling our future generations. Having said that, you might find if those families chose to leave the UK (and they are wealthy enough do so) then it would drag a large number of people out of poverty.

If Mike is going to be a responsible trade union leader he needs to think first about what is best for the country, then what is best for his members. That cannot ignore the debt.