Monday, October 13, 2008

LibDem Peer Monsters LGA Man

The Today Programme gave us a great example this morning of an interview with will be used by media trainers ad nauseum over the next few months. The lessons were twofold. Never go into an interview with nothing to say and never underestimate the ability of a member of the House of Lords to go for your throat.

The two protagonists were Paul Coen from the Local Government Association and LibDem Peer Lord Oakeshott. They were talking about Icelandic bank investments by local authorities. Coen displayed astonishing complacency and said that not a single authority had acted recklessly and everything would be alright on the night. Oakeshott went for him and gave an example of a council - Winchester - which had been putting money in very recently. Coen said all the banks invested in had a Triple A rating, which was clearly rubbish, as Oakeshott quickly pointed out. Coen then complained that the Peer was getting personal, which made me laugh out loud.

Coen should never have done the interview. He had nothing to say and thought he could get away with reassuring platitudes. His performance made both himself and the LGA look idiots.


Guthrum said...

wrecklessly ?

Watching too much German TV ?

Just heard it myself- I am going after our local CFO in our Tory controlled council, who had the good grace to answer fully my questions by email on a Saturday morning. Other members of the LPUK have been just batted off with the same LGA press statement. Good for his Lordship.

Anonymous said...

Iain, the banks did have a triple-A rating.

There were warnings on the banking system, the Icelandic banking stability was rated at C/C- but the banks were AAA, so councils putting money into Iceland were speculating.

But why no warning from the FSA?

Unknown said...

Iain, they look like idiots because they have been behaving idiotically for a while now. Having bitched and whined about Local Government not having enough power, they were finally given power over the IDeA and 4Ps and now they're struggling to organise even the basic elements of control, issues like roles and responsibilities still aren't clear.

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart is sadly missed.

Anonymous said...


Come to think of it, maybe that's an appropriate new way of spelling it LOL!

Guthrum said...

Iain, the banks did have a triple-A rating.

Utter rubbish- warnings have been around since at least 2006 on Iceland's dependence on the carry trade. Most Councils did nothing more than look at the most optimistic rating given by Fitch. All the others
were advising LA's in January 2008 to get out.

Fitch downgraded on April 1st, my Tory Council invested £3M on 27th May !

Considering the salaries these Financial Genius' get at the LA, they were negligent and did scant due diligence with our cash, and just followed the herd.

Anonymous said...

I don't excuse the Councils, but weren't they being advised financially by a subsidiary of Crapita, Labour's darling?

Anonymous said...

Anyone with serious money to invest should have done research. Anyone who thinks a punk country like Iceland could afford to buy half of London is a moron. Any rating agency that didn't raise the alarm must be crooks or criminally stupid.

Anonymous said...

This, mark my words, is the last nail in the coffin for this pathetic, anarcho-syndicalist Labour so-called "government".

Now the people of England have heard Labour lickspittle Paul Coen show what a shambles his party have made of our nation's economy - an economy they inherited in such rude health in 1997 - they will thirst even more for a party which will once more mend it. A party whose stewardship of the economy is unquestioned, in comparison with the chaotic, amateurish behaviour of the bunch of student Trots masquerading as Her Majesty's Government.

A party called the Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is this....

Myself and my wife have an amount of money ear-marked to do up our home and we sought somewhere to put it.

Feeling a little hazy first thing Sunday morning over a cup of coffee and laptop poised. I looked at Icesave.

And checked out their rating and something didn't look right...

Particularly the part that deposits were not guaranteed by the British regulatory bodies you would expect.

So we went somewhere else.

And the LA's didn't check?

Fools and money spring to mind and not even their money.

Perhaps if they treated it as it was their money, this might not have happened.

Sack the lot of them, they aren't fit for office.

Anonymous said...

I heard it and Coen was utterly useless and displayed to everyone the fact that he did not know what he was talking about. Coen has been CE at a few local authorities going back to 1995 so he clearly has an inadequate grasp of finance no wonder our council bills are so high. The TPA should go after his neck. LD Oakshott of course used it for political purposes frequently citing the now Tory run Winchester which has a £1m at risk, a figure that is actually substantially lower than most. Winchester's Finance head still should be fired for being unaware of the Iceland risks. Coen also needs to be fired as well.

Man in a Shed said...

Perhaps also local councils should take more care of our money.

There is a problem with authority in our government system as it has been reduced to implementing government guidance with minimal risk to your career.

Letters From A Tory said...

Quote from Lord Oakeshott last Friday, on the BBC website:

"Alarm bells were ringing all over about the Icelandic banks and the Treasury must have been blind and deaf not to hear them."

He clearly doesn't understand the basic human senses, let alone financial management.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it the Lib Dems are now the only ones giving the government sh*t these days.

I've given up wth Cameron, he clearly has no idea how to take on the government at the moment.

Anonymous said...

"Now the people of England have heard Labour lickspittle Paul Coen"

Erm. I'm thinking you haven't looked at the political balance of the LGA recently?

Hint - their last Chairman quit after being given a new job by Boris Johnson.

Anonymous said...

Well done Gordon, Darling and all our European counterparts. EU Cooperation not EU scepticism has won the day.

The Brown basher’s are so irritated. They are clearly annoyed that today is a momentous one; as today marks the death of the laissez-faire attitudes of Thatcherism and the Right in The City.

Anonymous said...

Paul Coen's performance is not unusual - he is just displaying the arrogance and incompetence which is common amongst today's overpaid Local Government Chief Executives, many of whom are completely out of their depth.

Anonymous said...

I knew Lord Oakeshott when he was Matthew Oakeshott, and one of the most astute and mercilessly analytical of fund managers when I was but a baby investment analyst. He was an immensely rewarding and appreciative client if you were in control of your brief, but made clear his absolute contempt for sloppy forecasts. I had colleagues who were shriven by his disdain, and was lucky to escape it myself.

When this morning’s Today interviewees were announced, I told Mrs Bankment (whose name, of course, is Victoria M.), to listen carefully, as this would undoubtedly be a star turn by Lord O; he wouldn’t make the mistake of being deployed unless he was utterly certain of his facts. Yes, it was indeed a five-star, ocean-going trouncing of a puffed-up buffoon. Paul Coen’s pompous and ridiculous bluster, when Lord Oakeshott had dismantled his false and drivelling arguments, made it all the more delicious. It’s so lovely hearing people stripped naked on radio; “the pictures are better”.

A further material point to bear in mind is that every deposit plonked with the Icelandic banks of Toytown served to reduce the capital ratios of our domestic institutions, where the money would have been safe, thus exacerbating the crisis.

Local authorities and (more especially) charities have no business placing their funds in the banks of Toytown for an extra few miserable pips of interest. They have a fiduciary duty to their ‘shareholders’ (tax-payers and benefactors). If charities, for example, have millions to deposit, they have a duty to recruit at least one trustee who knows roughly how many beans make five, and how the world works. Their recent miserable chorus of “Ooooooh, we didn’t realise” as they turn their empty pockets inside-out makes me boil. These worthy but worthless, criminally idiotic people should be dragged through the streets in tumbrils and humiliated. How many times does it have to be said: “If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”

If they can be so reckless as to squander their revenues in this way, they have no business being allowed to survive. Let’s see a parallel roll of honour of the authorities and charities who had the rock-solid commonsense NOT to ‘invest’ their funds in the Reykjavik casinos. They should be encouraged to take over the irresponsible ones.

Anonymous said...

"Erm. I'm thinking you haven't looked at the political balance of the LGA recently?

Hint - their last Chairman quit after being given a new job by Boris Johnson."

Oh, the Labour trolls are out in force today, aren't they? The LGA is now little more than a front organisation for the Labour Party. It is made up of Labour members, espouses Labour policies and promotes Labour activities. It is politically balanced - balanced between those who think Labour is "fantastic" and those who think it "wonderful".

Fortunately, the people of England are only too aware of the role and make-up of the LGA. And they thirst for a party who will depoliticise it and transform it into a body devoted to promoting good governance and basic economic good sense to England's local authorities.

The Conservative Party.

Colin said...

anonymous said...
"Well done Gordon, Darling and all our European counterparts. EU Cooperation not EU scepticism has won the day.

The Brown basher’s are so irritated. They are clearly annoyed that today is a momentous one; as today marks the death of the laissez-faire attitudes of Thatcherism and the Right in The City".

October 13, 2008 10:19 AM

Yes, the Brown bashers are irritated, but not for the reasons you state. We're irritated that the JACKASS who played a large part in getting us into this mess is behaving like the arrogant, boasting, cynical, complacent JACKASS that we've all come to know and hate. Listening to his statements this morning was vomit inducing.

The bankers have had their comeuppance, when is it the turn of the people (brown) who created the conditions for this nonsense?

When will Dave and his chums start holding them (brown) to account?

Tony said...

Iain, you only have to read some of the nonsense that the LGA advocates to councillors to see that its leadership are indeed idiots. The LGA is part of the problem in local government, not part of the solution.

Tony said...

Anonymous said...

"Well done Gordon, Darling and all our European counterparts. EU Cooperation not EU scepticism has won the day."

Are you Paul Coen in disguise? The nonsense above is on the same level as what we heard on Today. The EU's regulation has been found not only wanting, but complicit in this.

If you think everything will be fine now and that all in the garden is now rosy and believe the EU has made it so, you would be well advised to take note that in this 'meltdown' we are not even close to half time. The dead hand of the EU has not even reached the autopsy table yet. Wait until everything comes out, as it will.

I dread to think what the butcher's bill will be when this battle is over.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, the Labour trolls are out in force today, aren't they? The LGA is now little more than a front organisation for the Labour Party. It is made up of Labour members, espouses Labour policies and promotes Labour activities."

I just did a google for "LGA Political Balance" and discovered that their executive is made up of 7 Tories, 5 Labour, 4 Lib Dems, and an Independent.

Anonymous said...

Make no mistake, Lord Oakeshott's appearance on Today was pure anti-Tory politics. His only intent was to smear the Conservative-run Winchester Council. Poor Mr Coen just happened to be in the line of fire.

Anonymous said...

It says so much when the IDeA and 4Ps (usually seen as proud flagwaving hard-left Labour quangos) are considered to be more reliably conservative than the supposedly Conservative controlled LGA. Margaret Eaton really needs to clean up that wretched body and fast.

Anonymous said...

"I just did a google for "LGA Political Balance" and discovered that their executive is made up of 7 Tories, 5 Labour, 4 Lib Dems, and an Independent."

Dolly Draper is really earning his masters' money today, isn't he?

The LGA is a Labour front organisation. You know it, I know it, and most importantly the British public knows it. And they won't stand for it much longer.

Anonymous said...

anonymous - the vast majority of the councils Coen was defending, like the vast majority of councils in general at the moment, are Tory.

You might not like local government, but this isn't the 1980s, "standing up for councils" isn't the same as "standing up for Labour" any more...

Anonymous said...

"The LGA is a Labour front organisation."

So how come none of the 12 non-Labour Councillors on its executive notice this? Do they just vote through policy written by the 5 Labour Councillors, or what?

Why was Coen on the radio asking for something in the interests of Tory Councils, which Labour don't want to give, if he's a Labour spokesman. I don't understand.

Anonymous said...

Look, this isn't about indigent Arkansas rednecks and blacks, unable to make the payents on their tar-paper shacks. Sub-prime is a glib, catch-phrase sideshow.

As Tony Sharp says, we haven't reached half time yet. The credit derivatives market alone is 'worth' over $60 trillion, comfortably (or uncomfortably) more than the entire global economy. It is supposed to be a zero-sum game, but it isn't! Just look at the unwinding of the CDS fallout from Lehmans. Its debt was valued at just under 9 cents on the dollar. It only takes a fractional percentage of $60 trillion to go wrong for this to start costing real money.

On a happier note, it will soon get so huge that the only way out is for everything to be torn up and rebased so we can all start again. Then we can enjoy the leisurely executions of the financial not-so-smartarses, by feeding them slowly, one by one, through a blunt and rusty bacon-slicer.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the LibDem went after Winchester, in the heart of an area they seek to defend seats? Pure co-incidence?

I do have some sympathy with councils though. I was the past finance portfolioholder on my council and oversaw this. Having not seen our name on the 'list of shame', I emailed the CFO to congratulate him. His response was that he had not had any taxpayers money in Iceland for some time; but would like to know who the f*** it is safe to invest in!

At a time when he wants to be grinding out costs from next years budget, he is spending almost every minute watching the markets.

Anonymous said...

Well Lord Oakeshott obviously did not speak to his Lib Dem colleagues at Sutton Council who are £5.5 million out of pocket to an Icelandic bank.
Sutton is the longest running LD council in the land and still has 2 LD MPs.
Why then did they invest £3million to Heritable Bank on the 30th September.
Perhaps as Lord Oakeshott describes they were "Deaf and blind"

They are looking as Vince Cable said on the politics show yesterday"Unbelievably silly".

People in glass houses shouldnt throw stones.

Guthrum said...

Ha- All pointing fingers at each other, but missing the fundamental point.

We have system of local Government, that is in hock to central Government, that can raise funds from the populace and coerce people to pay through the Courts, with very little accountability, 20% of income goes to LA pensions, and the CFO's feel that they are empowered to speculate with citizens money without any downside in terms of loss of job,loss of pension rights etc etc as you would if you were the CFO of a private enterprise.

Anonymous said...

The simple fact is that councils of all political persuasions have invested in Icelandic Banks. In Wales we had a similar confrontation on Friday morning's radio with someone from CIPFA being completely mauled by a guy who used to be a Council leader until 2004 and had a reputation for telling the truth. By sticking to the spin that councils have done nothing wrong the LGA has made the situation worse for local government. The government can't give local government a blank cheque. It has to look at the circumstances of each authority. Any council who has placed money after February this year frankly shouldn't receive a penny. The fact that Braintree is arguing that it could effect its abilty to pay staff wages is astonishing. Officers should be sacked and councillors should resign from the council. If they didn't know what their offciers were doing they should have known. After all in Wales we have council leaders who are supposed to be full time politicians and now have salaries closer to £50,000 than £10,000.

Anonymous said...

Ian (not Iain), the LGA is taking over IDeA and 4Ps? When?

I have done some peer work for IDeA and spoke to them in Birmingham and they have been very good to councils. The people they had at conference were always very helpful, very busy and strong Tories, some of whom used to work for the Party. Besides the Chairman Margaret Eaton and the head of the Tory office Will Brooks, I did not see any LGA officers at all.

I did not hear the Today interview but if this account is accurate, Coen trying to take control of IDeA and muscle in on the Tory group office is very bad news for Tory councillors.

Come on Margaret, show them who's boss.

Anonymous said...

could you post a link to this interview iain? thanks.

Guthrum said... at 7.35am

Anonymous said...

That was not a monstering, that was a damm good kicking with malice aforethought and then as an afterthought. Coen resign you fool, you appear to be woefully informed and complaisant with it.

Nearly, crashed the car on the M56 laughing and shouting support for the Noble Lord.

Unknown said...


The Lead Councillor for Finance at LibDem run Sutton Council told a cabinet meeting tonight that he spoke to Lord Oakeshott this afternoon and told him that his comments were unhelpful!

You're right. It's aimed at the Tories, especially in LibDem/ Conservative marginal areas like Winchester.

Anonymous said...

Seems like it has provoked a response