Wednesday, 31 October 2012

John Browett, Apple

Well, it is very much less of a surprise that John Browett has gone from Apple than when he got the job in the first place. The whole operation at Apple is a million miles away from what Browett stands for, I have no idea what they saw in the guy. At the time, Apple were banging on about the unbelievable customer service focus that he apparently had. From what I saw, I probably could do better and my experience is way short of his!

I don't know if Browett is a complete numpty and just rose on the wave of success Tesco has experienced in the past, or if he genuinely was a part of it. But he brought that mindset to Dixons and it was entirely inappropriate to their business. What followed was a period of confusion and inertia, as Browett led the company into blind alleys with no clear strategy at a time when it needed strong leadership. The recession merely highlighted the flaws in his policies.

It was sheer genius though, to land the job at Apple, not just because it got him out of the failing company he was responsible for, but also because of the target. I mean, Apple! But it hasn't taken long for a company that makes massive profits on the desirability of its brand (which means huge sales even with huge margins), to discover a man steeped in the tradition of cheap, minimal staffing (both in numbers and talent), 'sale', '50% off'', 'must end soon' wasn't right for them.

Browett might be a lovely man and he may have genuine talent, but his target should have been Poundstretcher or Wal Mart or Costco. There he might have stood a chance.

It is interesting though, that the man has gone from Apple and the only things we know about his time there is that on being offered the role, we heard he was some kind of customer service guru and on leaving that he was cutting staff. In what way do those two things sit together well?

Interestingly, it seems things are very much better at Dixons these days. If they could just get a proper grip on their place in the market and shift away from the 'sale' mentality they will be fine.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Chris Patten

The ridiculous figure that is Chris Patten has launched himself barking into the public gaze, just after comments suggesting he might have to 'fall on his sword' emerged, during the Saville affair. Obviously the thing that is most important to this member of the BBC Trust is his own comfort. Up until now, he didn't seem to have a view, nor from his previous lack of interest any care. That's the Patten we know.

He thinks George Entwistle was fine at the CMS grilling because anyone would have felt the pressure, he was only 11 days into the job when this all blew up and he is entitled to blame the editor. What we know though is that Entwistle worked, in a senior capacity for the BBC, before he became DG, that he was tipped off about the Newsnight programme and now claims to have been aware but not that interested and that Rippon, the Editor didn't 'step aside' as was repeatedly reported, but was told to by Entwistle.

We also know that Rippon's boss, Helen Boaden has taken a vow of silence and that the BBC, which Patten fiercely claims to be independent, has hired lawyers to look into the Saville scandal who have done a significant amount of work for the Corporation previously and presumably, would be keen to get more in the future.

It may be difficult to discern exactly what did go on at the BBC, but some of the actions of the senior management would suggest that they don't ever want us to know, for whatever reason.


I get confused by tax fairly regularly. Head in the sand approach I think. Anyway, we have heard a lot recently about the tax big companies don't pay in the UK, which seemed to rise during the Blair years. One of the things we keep hearing (apart from the head of HMRC going out of his way to help Vodafone pay a fraction of their tax bill), is that tax avoidance is OK but tax evasion isn't.

The problem is that it seems this is actually a clever way of manipulating words (beloved of the Left) to make us believe one of these is something it isn't. See, to the ordinary Joe Public tax avoidance is when you use allowances that are within the rules to reduce your tax bill, but to those who have really large amount of cash it means so much more. Companies and people like Jimmy Carr use 'vehicles' and overseas companies to hide from their UK tax liabilities.

I gather Starbucks buy from other Starbucks entities to move cash around to tax friendly countries and avoid tax on healthy UK trading. Clearly this is not avoidance, it is evasion. You have created a route to hide your earnings, which whilst within 'the rules' is obviously only designed to evade taxation.

Now taxation in the UK may well be too high (in the same way that the Sun may come up tomorrow), but if you want to be here you pay your way and agitate to get the burden reduced. Remember, we do have a lot of hare-brained schemes, waste and expenses to pay for before you include the politicians club, the EU. Hence the tax.

So let us be clear here. It seems HMRC are deliberately not going after the big companies and celebrities leaving a very large tab for the rest of us to pick up, by the misuse of language. It's time for them to stop their evasions and address the issue of evasion rather than avoidance; they can't avoid evasion any more.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Crazy Argos

I've mentioned before how blindingly obvious some of the mistakes that Argos are making are, but the last comment was something along the lines of 'we checked our navel and we aren't doing anything wrong'. Now that can be true and the best thing to do is batten down the hatches and ride out the storm, but things clearly weren't right.

So in the time honoured tradition, outsiders in the form of costly Consultants were brought in and here are the results of the Spanish jury. Argos will close some 75 stores (that's money saving) and concentrate on internet sales. There is some merit in this, but I'm guessing what Terry 'Dud' Duddy means is shifting the brand onto a more online led outlet basis.

This will be another nail in the coffin. The problem if you are a shop is that online is a pain in the backside, except when it isn't. What Argos don't seem to understand (and they are not alone) is how to discern the difference; when is the internet useful to a shop.

The first thing I would do is get rid of computers and photography. These are fast moving technologies that have an intense market, unsuited to the Argos model. Keeping cheaper compact cameras is OK as is tablets and such, cheaper devices.

Concentrate instead on house wares, gadgets, toys and a better range of jewellery and watches, not necessarily more expensive, just buy better. and stop selling stupid, specially commissioned stuff, unless you do it right. I bought a branded, 'made specially for Argos' lawnmower which had a ridiculously short mains lead on it. OK, so it forces you to buy an extension which is not, perhaps the end of the world. Except you can't, because it has a unique connector on it that not even Argos sell anything to match. This annoys people, guys. Seriously.

But the danger with the internet led approach I think they are proposing is that they will go to war with themselves internally. I think I have a talent for systems, particularly how people interact with systems and processes. Online will try to reflect the cheaper prices available with internet-only companies and undercut their own stores. If you have expensive stores to support, don't create a competing model internally, don't incentivise staff through targets to do harm to the business by dropping prices without regard to the bigger picture.

Online is supposed to help your business, not hinder it, so look for ways it can help. Give better product descriptions online, put some effort into it, no-one else does so that is a game-changer straight away and whether someone orders online or picks up in a store, they will have made a more informed choice. They will feel more confident buying it from Argos. What about order online and pick up (or the excellent idea of rapid local delivery)? That is what I did with the lawnmower. I researched online, found Argos had what I wanted at a good price, ordered online and picked it up.

There is a very good reason for the stores and they should be worked hard to get the money out of them; the staff need to be better and more responsive. And the whole point is to get the stock out to the delivery desk ASAP, so put more people on as soon as it gets busy and that includes all the standing around chatting supervisors.

Oooh some retailers make my blood boil and Argos is one of them.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

George Entwistle

What on Earth is George Entwistle? From the bits I've seen of his appearance before the CMS Select Committee he has done the usual senior executive thing of denying his role involves knowing anything about what goes on in the organisation he runs. In this case though, it seemed like it might be true. He may be the Manager we believe the BBC to be stuffed with; someone with no actual job.

Anyway, the bit I was particularly struck by was when Entwistle emerged from his citadel and paused to speak to the waiting journalists, saying "I am pleased the MP's have found the time to see me" or words to that effect. Does he really believe he is the important bit in all this? The MP's were not grilling him, they had found a slot in their busy schedule to allow him to help them with their enquiries.

Except of course he didn't know anything. He had a remarkable lack of curiosity and he definitely had no knowledge of anything the MP's might not have thought proper.

The BBC And The Left

Was the amazing lack of interest in exposing Jimmy Saville's paedophilia down to the Left leaning nature of the BBC? Did these people, who widely support paedophilia as a way of breaking down our society, think that they were doing the ideology's work by keeping quiet? Perhaps they didn't care.

If you vote for whoever seems to have the best ideas when an election comes around, or if you feel socialism is a fair option, then you need to think again about the Left in this country. Compare the complete and utter lack of hysterical screaming by the Left about Jimmy Saville (and others) abusing children, with the reaction to Murdoch and the phone hacking scandal.

It is a terrible thing to think you are entitled to listen in to other people's personal messages, to then publish those details. But it was tittle tattle about celebrities and whilst illegal, of little import otherwise. Prosecute and punish as the law requires. Warn papers about their conduct and move on.

But here we have a national broadcaster of immense power and influence, funded through tax, that is not being particularly criticised by the Left, despite the fact that they decided to ignore children being abused. I know which I think is more important and more damaging.

Another background squeal emanating from the Left is a claim that a cabal of secretive characters run the world. Obviously they don't want a debate about it and they don't pretend to have any evidence, but then, as ever, they just claim to be right and you are not allowed to doubt it. The Left like not allowing things, like not debating climate change, not being allowed to have an opinion about homosexuality unless it is their opinion.

But there most definitely is a Left conspiracy and it is not and never really was, the Soviet Union. The EU is a replacement USSR  of course and positions like university lecturers and senior police officers, social workers and judges have all been taken by people carefully indoctrinated in the Sixties and later. So today, there is a rotten core at the heart of Britain, that we perhaps don't even realise is there.

Political Correctness is one of their major weapons, being used to shut down debates that they couldn't possibly win in a free and open society. You know what i mean; how often do you now hear 'oh, you can't say that'. Can't? When did that happen? Who decided for us?

Time to wake up and send these ne'er do well's and communist fellow travellers packing. If they want a North Korean state here they can forget it, but the land of their dreams does exist so they can pop off over there. Except they won't, because they wouldn't be in charge and that is a key aspect it their 'revolution'. They must never suffer what they inflict on others.

Harriet 'Interesting' Harman

Harriet Harman, whom most people would just see as an unpleasant human being, is now turning out to be interesting. By interesting I mean in the same way as suspects become of interest to the police, I mean in a way that most civilised people would 'take an interest'. Interestingly, it has fallen to her to deplore the allegations of sexual abuse now coming out about Jimmy Saville.

You see, Harriet would seem to be a little conflicted here. In the past she has worked for and openly stated that children having sexual relations with adults should only be of concern where it can be proven that the child was harmed. So I guess at best she feels that Saville probably hasn't done anything wrong, herself, personally.

What the Labour Party thinks is another thing; it does seem to attract a lot of paedophiles to its ranks. Perhaps overall they don;t agree with paedophilia, but then, perhaps their definition isn't the same as yours. The Left generally has been pushing for the age of 'consent' to be lowered to 14, though of course they don't believe in consent anyway, just an absence of 'harm'.

Personally, I doubt even that. The Left sees abused children as a price they are willing to pay to help undermine Western, capitalist civilisation. The destruction of the family unit has been key and it was why they supported and cajoled homosexuals to 'demand their rights'. Really, the Left just saw them as useful idiots who could be manipulated to help pervert the structure of our society.

It was the least worst, most acceptable 'adjustment' they could push. The Left have also spoken out that bestiality is just a lifestyle choice too, alongside paedophilia.

I hope the Coalition don't try to soft pedal on this issue. It must expose Harman for what she is, talk openly about her views and see if the Labour party decide to defend her or run and hide its true character.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

If I Ruled The World - Merkel

Merkel, echoing her Finance Minister, thinks that member states in the EU should have control of their national budgets taken away from them and given to Brussels. This suits the Germans of course and will mean that they can more effectively prune the nations budgets they currently don't like.

The reason for handing power to Brussels, to make it one of its 'competences' is because of the competent way it allowed countries into the EU and Euro that were basket cases and lied about their finances. Also, for introducing the Euro at all, a construct that had no ability whatsoever of working, it was always going to lead to a financial crisis.

But, we should not forget, for also not being able to get its own accounts signed off, ever. Giving control to Brussels would be the same as asking the BBC to form a policy for dealing with paedophiles. On that subject, what did the BBC report as being the problem in Europe at the moment? People in countries like Greece turning increasing it seems, to 'Right wing' parties. Honestly, this is what they hit on as being the issue, not the fact that an attempt to Sovietise Europe through EU power grabs was actually the cause of all the problems.

They didn't highlight the way that Merkel was demanding that power be taken without consent. German leaders have form regarding such statements of course.

Energy Prices

Just after having increased their prices, the energy companies say they are surprised that the government wants them to always give customers the lowest tariff as a default, rather than offer a bewildering array of tariffs for some strange reason (surely not designed to deliberately confuse?). Here is my take on their 'surprise';

'I didn't see it coming. no can't say I did. Surprised me it did. See, I'm a professional burglar. I've taken the time to learn my trade, perfect it so to speak. When I breaks into a house I do it with minimum fuss or damage. I take what delights my eye and will make a quid and I leaves. I don't turn the place over or smash things up unnecessarily, that's just vandalism that, ain't no need for it.

I break in when no-one is at home; poor dears don't need to find someone rummaging, do they? Tell you the truth I could do without the fright too. Anyways, I think I do a good job, I'm local and responsive to the needs of my customers. As I say, I'm a professional.

Now I find that the police are interested in arresting me, like some common criminal. Didn't see that coming.'

Now I'm not suggesting that energy companies are burglars, because you invite them into your home, though the theft element is clearly there. I think their surprise is genuine in that they have been able to ignore government, good practice and the fact that there is, apparently, a regulator, because they have been given carte blanche previously to operate pretty much as a monopoly and where this runs into hints of competition, as a cartel, without so much as a tweet from government.

Now the Conservatives are suggesting they should behave responsibly. Shocking. Such consideration for the public suggests Cameron might actually offer a referendum on the EU. But then, both are just talk at present.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


County folk would talk of the turning year, knowing what happens around them with wildlife, trees and plants. What to eat and what to store. I know the horse-chestnuts (conkers) are falling right now and that you can’t eat them. After that, not much. We don’t need to know these things any more, don’t need to be connected to the land, the country around us. Most people have enough trouble coping with driving in the changed conditions, dark when you leave for work and wet quite often.

The girls (and increasingly the boys) shop for winter coats en vogue, representing the latest season to avoid embarrassment with those ‘in the know’, the cognoscenti. The scarf, the draft excluder of the neck comes into its own as an item of utility, rather than just a fashion accessory.

Do you, can you remember twenty five years ago, when Mr. Fish singled out a lady correspondent, to reassure her through a television broadcast that a hurricane was not on its way. Unfortunately a great storm sprang shortly after on the night of 15-16 th  October 1987, causing all kinds of mayhem. I lived and worked on the East coast at the time and it was quite some wild night.

But October is a great month for history too. Many, many celebrities have birthday’s this month , look them up at Some are shocking though. Well, to me.

Then there are the battles. Naturally everyone remembers the Battle of Hastings but few know that it was the 14th October , beginning at 9.15 on Senlac Hill. OK that was a bit obsessive, but the Victorians actually referred to it as the Battle of Senlac Hill. Although the home team lost, Britain would have been a very different place if William had not carried the field.

On the 21st October 1805 Nelson ruined Napoleon’s day by experimenting with a new naval tactic that absolutely decimated the French fleet. I’m sure the opposition took solace from the fact that they managed to kill their tormentor , but he had rather made himself an obvious target with a range of sparkling baubles across his coat.

The 25th October has two remarkable battles; Balaclava and Agincourt. The former was fought in 1854 during the Crimean war and is more popularly known for the Charge of the Light Brigade, of which Tennyson said ‘Into the valley of Death rode the 600’. Agincourt was fought after appalling overnight rain in 1415. Shakespeare was inspired by the achievements of the English of Henry V cutting down as they did, the flower of French knighthood, falling due to mud, poor tactics and hubris.
‘This note doth tell me of ten thousand French
That in the field lie slain: of princes, in this number,
And nobles bearing banners, there lie dead
One hundred twenty six’

October is a mellow month.

Fit And Proper BBC

Oh dear, oh dear it is all unravelling for the BBC. What is a Left wing biased, haughty (naturally) and arrogant organisation supposed to do? When a journalist reported a story truthfully about lies told by one of the Prime Minister's closest aides, so the Prime Minister could start a war by further lying himself, not only did the BBC make sure it didn't investigate the government, it even got rid of senior people.

No-one can say it didn't do its best to help and support fellow travellers. I mean they showed all the level of unconcern about the most serious corruption in places of power, they bent over backwards to align with all the nonsense of the Blair and Brown mania.

And they were just as in thrall to money and celebrity as any other good leftie, hence the lack of interest in the 'personal' life of Jimmy Saville. If you are tempted to think that this is an outrageous claim by a right winger it isn't and I'll explain why. (First though, 'right wing' itself is incorrect, that is just another form of socialism, one of the two extremes. I believe in moderation).

When Peter Mandelson (for whom the character Kaa in Disney's version of Jungle Book is sooo fitting) said that he was comfortable with the filthy rich it was taken that he was explaining how different New Labour was from the old. He hoped you would think that what he meant was he and the government of which he intermittently formed a part, supported those who were or became wealthy.

His actions however betrayed what he really intended. Mandelson meant he was comfortable with the wealthy, that he would allow them to enrich him in return for a co-operative government. He and all the other creeps around Tony Blair. The rich had nothing to fear from New Labour as long as they played ball with the key players, the elite surrounding the Cromwellian monarch, Blair.

Today we learn that an MP, Philip Davies (strangely, not a Labour MP) has written asking the regulator Ofcom, whether the BBC is fit and proper to hold a broadcasting licence. The answer to that currently of course is clearly 'no' and will remain so until it stops treating left liberal propaganda as its reason for existing.

If Hillsborough and Jimmy Saville don't tell you that we have to remove, root and branch the left based corruption that has become endemic in this country under the Blair regime, then I cannot imagine what would convince you.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Scottish Independence

Scotland could be a successful, independent country I'm sure. But a large number of things would have to change. At present, it requires subsidies from the rest of the UK (OK, to be honest, England) to run its affairs. It doesn't have any oil. It is where the pipelines for the import of UK oil comes ashore, but not being a net contributor to the UK economy, none of the investment can be said to have come from Scotland, so none of it is 'theirs'.

They could of course charge a tariff to use their facilities, which would then throw up the quandary for the companies involved, to stay and pay, move the lines further South or stop production. Scotland could develop shale gas and sell it to the prats in England who are frightening themselves about using this abundant resource under our sea. But Salmond is I believe one of those too.

Beyond that it is difficult of course, because the EU (and Salmond will immediately hand the keys to an independent Scotland to Brussels) will not allow them much room to manoeuvre; no state subsidies for industry, no flotation of the new currency, the Euro (which will also cause asset problems converting from Sterling) and lots of new rules. But, there might at least initially be something that Scotland is very comfortable with and Salmond absolutely relies on, subsidies.

But most of all, a strong, successful independent Scotland would require one massive change that I just cannot imagine them achieving. They would have to become an optimistic nation.

But such is the belief of Alex Salmond, that he has to bring schoolchildren into the voting and you can  be sure he will spend the interval between now and the referendum, in a propaganda campaign to inculcate the correct views into these impressionable minds. But then it is important to remember, this is not about the Union, or even Scotland, it is about Alex Salmond and his ego. Now that is a big place.

The Nobel Peace Prize

It has been apparent for some time now that the Nobel Peace Prize is a joke and not worth considering. The pathetic nonsense continues though, as it has now been handed to the institution of the EU. This has been met with howls of derision from every living thing more advanced than an amoeba.

But, should we try to find something positive about the EU and peace? Is there something positive about the EU? Well, you have to admit that, from the very outset the countries who have caused war in Europe for centuries, France and Germany have dome things differently recently.

Having, at last, realised that wars cost them an awful lot of money and even then they generally lost them, these two empire builders decided to stop with all the weapons stuff. In future they decided, they would take over Europe by more subtle means. They would convince us all that we wanted to join a nefarious club, that no-one could quite pin down what it stood for, nor what use it was. If we were not in their gang, we would be laughed at, our clothes would not be trendy and no-one would talk to us.

So as populations, bored of politics allowed complete idiots become politicians, a breed of never-worked-a-day career bureaucrats came to dominate and they loved the idea of a superstate run by them, for them. An endlessly rich talking shop of considerable substance.

And so the Franco-German empire was built. But who was in charge, the French or the Germans? Both considered the question laughable as each considered the other a junior partner at best. But Germany had the money that supported the empire building, they said. Money is of secondary importance, insisted the French. We breed and train bureaucrats, we have universities for them, we are the natural leaders of such an empire,they aver.

Which is why, both have threatened war with the other if their hegemony is not recognised. And we think the Euro is a crisis!

So has the EU kept the peace in Europe? No. If anyone has, it is NATO underwritten by the US. But by constructing the EU, the French and Germans have at least delayed the war they desire so much. Ultimately, the EU bureaucrats think Hitler and Napoleon were essentially right; Europe should be a single superstate, run without democracy by the Germans, or er, the French. C'est le guerre.

The BBC And Science

A little while ago, after spending some time pointing out that neither the theory of evolution or climate change could be wrong, the BBC overtly stated that it was giving up on science. 'It would be wrong', they declared, 'to support views that oppose our own'.

Had people as intellectually conflicted as those running the BBC today, existed and wielded the same influence throughout history, imagine how backward we would be today. Imagine the damage they would have done.

Climate change is right, because lots of 'scientists' say so, is the BBC line. So, when the lone nutcase Galileo popped up, the BBC would have had him ridiculed for disagreeing with 'everyone' else. You may say that the Catholic church served the role of the BBC, but that wasn't quite the case. The opposition to Galileo was not because they thought his proof irrelevant, as would the BBC, as they understood and knew he was right. What the Church wanted, was to control the release of the information so their position of authority was not undermined.

It comes across that generally, throughout history people have striven to find answers and accept new ideas that made sense and carried proof. Now, we have an 'Establishment' remarkable for its obsessive closed mind stance.

We know Man Made Global Warming is a crock, because it stopped well over a decade ago and the inputs from Man are too small. But mainly we know that the people claiming with such certainty to know the future of climate don't, because they do not even understand how it works, so couldn't possibly create an accurate computer model. It is like claiming to know every word spoken by Julius Caesar throughout his life.

The BBC is formed of the same people behind the global warming scam; Left wing activists seeking to destroy democratic capitalism. It is politics, not science or journalism that drives both.

How Thick Are 'Journalists'?

If you are like me, then you often find yourself dissatisfied by the level of reporting in the press. After reading a story, or watching a TV news item, you have a vague feeling that you need to know more. Then, when you think about it, you realise that the report didn't really tell you anything. It is why the British public have absolutely no idea what is going on in Afghanistan, yet our soldiers are being killed and maimed there.

But, you might say that is a complicated subject and would require risk taking to get the real details out. Yes, I would reply and that is what journalism was once about. The war reporting during the Crimean campaign is said to have had a devastating effect on the British public, who demanded change. In today's world of instant communication and 24 hour 'news' we are lucky I suppose, to even know we have troops in Afghanistan.

But on more local, straightforward ground, the press still insist on guessing their way through a story. Santander pulling out of buying 316 RBS branches was not because they didn't like what they saw, no it was 'probably' something to do with the problems in the Spanish economy. The BBC in particular, confused issues with their made up reports before with Santander, asking as Spain sought bailouts, if your money was safe here.

Well, Santander UK is a stand alone entity, owned ultimately by the Spanish parent, but operating independently and doing quite nicely. Possibly because they had greater reserves and didn't get involved with stupid, get rich quick schemes that so easily beguiled the monumentally ignorant, but highly paid, bank CEO's at other, more 'established' firms.

So no, unless Britney buys a new handbag, there will be no news from the 9 to 9.30 'journalists.