06 April 2010


UK General Election

Today Gordon Brown is predicted to call the general election.

Here's a few more predictions

In 2006 I said an uninspired Labour would feed into the hands of the SNP in Scotland and the Tories in England. Within a year, the SNP was in government in Scotland and in 2010 the Tories are leading in the polls UK wide.

In 2007 I predicted the resignation of Tony Blair, the SNP winning the Scottish elections and the Tories winning the UK elections in 2010.

In 2008, I predicted on the BBC website that 2010 would see Labour lose and Gordon Brown off to a well paid job in the City and the SNP a good 10 points in front.

In 2010, we see the SNP a good 10 points in front, and of course the Tories in the lead UK wide.

The polls have been wrong before - hopefully the number crunchers will have taken 1992 into account - but the predictions are looking good so far. I'm not much of a fan of the Tories, including the lack of help in sorting out the red tape I got from my then MP Alistair Darling, but anything has to be better than another 5 years of Labour.


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27 October 2009


Government adopts common sense approach to credit crunch and interest rates

It was announced today that the government would revise credit card terms including importantly stopping the unfair practice of forcing people to pay off the lowest interest rate first, leaving them on a potentially crippling high rate until the entire balance is cleared. Long recognised as unfair, I proposed this to the Department for Business last year and they rejected the idea. Here is the response received.

I'm glad to see that a year later, common sense has finally prevailed.


Dear Mr Cockburn

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the regulation of financial
services interest rates.

The Government has no plans to make regulations regarding the repayment
of loans having differing rates of interest. However, the Government
has introduced strengthened information requirements under the Consumer
Credit Act 2006. Lenders will be obliged from October 2008 to give
their customers clearer and more regular information on the state of
their credit accounts in order to help them identify potential problems
before it is too late. From October 2008, statements must also include
information about the consequences of failing to make payments or of
only making minimum repayments. In addition, lenders are already
required to provide a summary box, as part of the pre-contractual
information, giving consumers a consistent and succinct summary of the
key features of the credit card they are considering and enabling them
to compare different products more easily. The summary box includes APR
and other rates; the interest free period; interest charging
information; allocation of payments; minimum repayment; the amount of
credit; fees; charges; and default charges. Furthermore, lenders have
agreed voluntary post-contractual information guidelines for summary
boxes to be sent with monthly credit card statements. This means that
consumers will be better informed about their financial commitments and
able to check the features of their credit card on a monthly basis.

The OFT recently conducted a study which rejected the idea of forcing
lenders to move to a standard system for interest rate charging.
Instead, it recommended the establishment of a comparison website to
enable consumers to compare the costs of different credit cards based on
their likely patterns of usage and the way different providers calculate
and charge interest. FSA have agreed to host this site on their
'MoneyMadeClear' website, http://www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov, alongside
existing price comparison functions for insurance and other products.
Furthermore, APACS, the UK trade association for payments and for
institutions that deliver payment services to customers, has set up a
website at http://www.choosingandusing.com/ to help consumers understand
how credit cards work, the factors that they should consider when making
their choice and the best ways to use their card.
I trust this response is helpful.

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08 June 2009


Scotland is the place

My recent interview with Scotland is the Place, Scottish government website.

Hope you like it, the space was a bit limited. There's so much more I'd like to say.


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02 March 2009


The Fred Goodwin pension problem

OK, so the Government and most sane people reckon that Fred's £16m pension reward for the biggest failure in UK corporate history is unjustifiable. I would agree it's an outrageous reward for the biggest fail ever in UK corporate history, however if it's in his contract what can be done?

1. First of all the government should realise that by trying to weasel around contract law and pension law by claiming back his legal entitlement, it opens the floodgates for all those hard-done-by benefit claimants that really need the government's support and are all too often eliminated from the basic money they need by government red tape. I know, I've had the chancellor of the exchequer tell me so personally (he used to be my MP). The government all to regularly hides behind legislation that results in the needy being denied money because of red tape (e.g. form says "please return this form within a month otherwise your claim may be delayed" without informing the claimant that the underlying legislation requires the form to be returned within a month otherwise the claim will be invalid and so on). If the government can twist and bend the legislation to get back some of Sir Fred's pension then it should certainly have a thought for the hard done by citizens of this country, struggling in a recession on a lot less than Fred's feather bed nest egg and who the government is all to happy to exclude from a basic minimum entitlement, despite paying national insurance etc. If the government can bend the rules to rake in money, it can surely bend the rules to pay it out to those who need it most.

2. If the government is adopting the new found stance of ensuring that failure isn't rewarded and that people don't want away from failure with large fat-cat salaries then we really need to question what example MPs are going to set. After all, Gordon Brown has presided over the biggest economic failure this side of the great depression yet in 2 years will walk away from that failure with a well paid job in the city and a pension that even Sir Fred Goodwin would enjoy. Surely if bankers are to be penalised for failure, the same rule should apply to the politicians which allowed the bankers to be so reckless in the first place. The buck stops with government. I'm sure the politicians that preside over failure would be a lot less keen on calling for Fred to pay back some of his pot if the same politicians were having their pension pot culled by the same percentage and for exactly the same reasons.

That's what I don't like about Labour. One rule for them and another one for everyone else.

Shoe on the other foot, Gordon Brown?

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13 August 2008


Back to work by working together

My idea on the show us a better way government website. £20,000 prize to be won by making better use of government data.

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