Money Does Grow On Trees in Europe

  1. I  have discovered that money grows on tress in Europe.

    It is a  magic money subsidy tree  and it thrives in Brussels and some other capitals.

    Money galore exists  for industry and companies  who can’t make a profit. Loss making companies can now be fed instead by Euros  from hard working families.

    It is a paradise for them. It’s a hell for people trying to make a living by hard honest work provided products and services that customers want and need and are prepared to pay for freely.

    After all why would make a product  or provide a service that people want to buy when you can get the government  to force the public to buy it or even better get the government  to buy it?

    Today, you can just have a fishing  boat build at taxpayers expense, build a nucleur  power station,  or force fuel providers to buy your biofuel. It matters not a  bit that you don’t want to buy their products. They are smart. You get the government to step in for you and force the public to buy their more expensive product from you. Choice can be difficult and it enables customers (that term has not been banned yet) to leave you if your not giving them what they want. But, good governments can step in and force customers to buy your product.

    It have  never been better to get into a new corporate welfare business.

    If you are interested, please apply  to the European Parliament today.

Why Telepathy Does Not Work

Telepathy Does Not Work

The one thing I know is that telepathy does not work. It may work for rats.   But, it does not with Regulators, Politicians, and journalists.

If you want to persuade regulators, politicians, the press, and indeed the public, there really is only one way to do, and that is going out to talk to them.

Brussels – Worshiping a Strange Religion

Now that may sound like heresy to some. I am sure there are religions that believe in telepathy. I am very dull and I have not worked out how to persuade anyone to support my position without talking to them.  But, Brussels is full of adherents to a secret religion who believe that the channeling of thoughts, better known by their practioners as telepathy, works.


How We Take In Information

I never found that letters and position papers did the trick. It’s not that because many of the letters sent are seemingly designed to wind up the reader and are quickly put in the bin. No, it is far simpler. We as a species take in information in different ways. Some people learn well by reading text, others love excel sheets of data, others images, and others film. Many people who do well in exams take in information through written words and data.

The key is that different people look at things differently, and more importantly they take in information differently. Now, the really interesting thing is that if you combine all these ways of taking in information together, your audience really start to take in a lot of information.

When you see this in action, you’ll be amazed at why anyone sends mass produced letters out anymore.

 Start from they are, not where you want them to be

A lot of things are complex and hard to understand. But as a finer scientist than I put it “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it properly” (A.Einstein).

The excellent cartoon –book about the life of “Richard Feynman” –  I was struck that a man who had a noble prize insisted in giving an introduction physics course each year to undergraduates. He thought this was the best way to really find out if you really know your subject. Indeed, Professor Feynman took 3 years of re-writing QED to realize that he actually understood the subject.

It is not easy dealing in the currency of clarity and making your case crystal clear. If it was not easy for Professor Feynman it is unlikely going to be easy for you.  But, just because something is not easy is no reason to try it.

Now, there are plenty of others who can do it. Hans Rosling makes population statistics seem like a fast paced novel. Bjorn Lomborg has Danish university students crashing his lectures to learn a statistics. There are others.


What do these great communicators have in common?

The most obvious is they have a love of knowledge and a love of communicating it. Not talking about the issue, let alone doing a PowerPoint, no, they have a love of helping their audience take in and learn about the issue.

They don’t assume their audience has a PhD in the field. They do assume the audience is well educated and open minded enough to listen. And, then they win them over, by entertaining them, using emotions like humour and fun, they communicate to all the senses and they genuinely love what they are talking about.

If you want to see population statistics made fun watch Hans Rosling.


It is not surprising that people look at things in different ways.  I for the life of me could never understand why an advertisement about dancing cars would persuade me to part with my money and buy one. I am pining for a VW Passat estate, drawn closer to the Dark Force by ads like this.

Now, if the hard to read Maslov is too much for you, you can find more about value communication here.

It is all pretty obvious when you think about it. You’d hardly use the same talking points when you meet a Portuguese Communist politician as you would when you met a fiscally prudent Swedish conservative.  These two people have very different values and see things very differently. Something that may resonate with the Communists, would if repeated on the Swedish Conservative likely cause them to vote against you on principle

But, as I have learnt, if you appeal to each person through their set of values, rather than your own, and adjust your messaging to help it make sense to them, you will then land up with an odd rag tag bag alliance of Portuguese Communists and Swedish Conservatives and everything in between supporting your case, but all from different perspectives.

They may not support you for the reasons you believe in, but that’s not the point. Winning the vote is the point and everything else is details.


Speak – On time and often

Now, it’s obvious that, in particular for the press, if they don’t know about you it is going to be very hard for them to contact you and write your side of the story. It’s going to be even harder for them to add your side of the story if you call them 48 hours after the story has run.

Now, showing your expertise to journalists is not too hard. You can have a blog where you write frequently and show off your expertise.

You can have coffee with them and get to know them and see how you can help them. If you can make the issue clear they’ll be very grateful.

And, you can even give them a heads up about some new development you expect will happen, and give then your take.

Now, the only side effect is that you’ll get more positive stories, and you’ll even find sometimes your own writings used extensively. Someone else can take the credit, and your story is told and written by someone else.


If Not You – Someone Else

Sometimes the best person to talk for your case is not you. Often the best voice is a customer who is more an evangelist than you.

The best is the unexpected convert; the person everyone thought is against you, who then turns up speaking for you.

Often we bring out a scientist. Having worked at WWF they loved to bring out scientists. They are great but only if what they are saying make sense. They can all too often think that sea of faces of politicians have passed a course in applied statistics.


It’s very easy to do.

The easiest way to do this is to go out and start talking. There are no successful sales people who don’t go and speak to their customers. If you don’t call or meet people, it will nearly be impossible to make the sale.

Now, it is true you’ll make mistakes, but we all know that the best way to learn and improve is to make mistakes.  Some of the mistakes will be embarrassing, this won’t be plain sailing.

I’ve found videoing yourself giving a talk is a good way to learn to improve. You can do it in the comfort of your own home and watch, grimace at your mistakes and re-do.

You can borrow a trick from politicians. The best candidates do dress rehearsals. They get cross examined by stand ins, they do this until they get it right. It’s a great technique for ironing out any creases, to make sure what you’re saying makes sense not to you, but to your audience.

The best way is to go out and do it. Get objective and tough feedback.  Practice, practice some more, and keep on practicing.

The entry price for expertise is high – it’s likely to be several thousand hours. It is not something you do once.


Key to Human Progress

Communication is the key to human progress. It is in fact essential.  If we do not speak to people, it is impossible that we‘d ever meet our partners, let alone produce children, it is so key, that the idea of not trying it is inhumane. Peace came to Northern Ireland by people who thought they hated each other talking to each other. When they sat down and spoke Peace broke out. It is a powerful tool worth trying.

Time For Labour To Detox from Unions

Meanwhile, as Unite work to destroy Land Rover, he works to destroy the UK Labour Party.

As the FT reported “Mr McCluskey beat hard-left candidate Jerry Hicks by two to one, but on a turnout of 15 per cent, meaning that he received the backing of 10 per cent of Unite’s almost 1.5m members.”

What Do Union Members Want?

Trade Unions know that their members do not join them to in the main fund the Party.

They want legal insurance, assistance in any disputes with employers and all too often, access to well negotiated private health insurance.

I suspect that out of 10 issues why workers join a trade union, funding the Labour Party is number 10.

10% Is Not A Mandate

10% does not give anyone a mandate. His opposition in the Union may come from the hard left but the real opposition is the overwhelming majority of his members who can’t even be bothered to vote.

Labour needs a genuine and modern relationship with the British workers. If the Trade Unions no longer offer that link, the Party should walk away.

Embrace Change

The tools for modern organisations to be financed by genuine donations from mass donations are here. Labour needs to embrace a broadly funded Party which will escape the restraints of being force fed by a few Trade Unions.

If we are brave enough to embrace the future, Labour can return to becoming the Party of hard working families across the UK.

Who Owns The UK Fish Quota – Her Majesty’s Government

Don’t Build A Company  On Sandy Ground

Yesterday, the UK High Court ruled on who really owns the UK’s  Fishing Quota.

If you don’t want to read any further, the UK fish Quota is owned by  the UK Government. This means fishermen (and their banks) are left holding the quota at the discretion of the UK Government. Fishermen (or the producer associations) don’t own it.

You can find the case here. The UK Government wanted to shift unused fishing quota from the large scale fleet to the small scale fleet who did not have enough quota to catch fish. The large scale fleet refused to co-operate with the transfer of 3% of the overall quota, even though the quota had never been used. They claimed they owned it, and the Government said they owned it, and can re-allocate the quota if they choose to.


Don’t Worry – We Are the Government And You Can Trust Us

 I always remember that there are certain things you need to be cautious about trusting. One is the “cheque is in the post” and the other is “you can trust us, we are the government”. Having worked for  Politicians and in Government it always made sense to me. Why would you go ahead unless you had a cast iron guarantee rather than on a nod and a wink that everything will be all right.

It is a brave business decision to invest or take out loans when it is not clear who owns the most valuable part of your business operation – the quota and the ability to fish.

The case is interesting. It is clear reading it that the UK Government have always been more a less clear that they own the quota. It also appears reading the case that industry representatives having been giving the impression to fishermen that they own it. Now, that is a big discrepancy in who owns the vital asset in your business.

I hope no-one in the industry ever told a fishermen everything was crystal clear and there was nothing to worry about the ownership of the quota!

Unsurprisingly, the UK Government won.

You can find the case here.

I personally think that the Government should get out of the game of ownership of natural resources and for that reason, amongst others,  supported ITQs.  But, the UK fishing industry amongst others  did not support  ITQs during the reform of the CFP.

 Secretive Ownership Schemes

 If you want to get an idea about the strange nature of UK Quota allocation you should read the case in full.

I have been following the issue for a few years. Details of the ownership of the UK quota are secret. The Government won’t say who is using it. The truth seems more likely that they don’t know who is using it and are too embarrassed to admit that they have no idea who is using their fishing quota. By the way, the producer organisations know full well who owns it the quota.

 Who owns it

There is a miss used statement that possession is 9/10’s of the law. It is not true.

The Judge deals shortly with the idea that industry had a legitimate expectation that the existing schemes would continue.

“In my view the claimant’s legitimate expectation ground falls at the first hurdle.  There has been no clear, unambiguous and without qualification undertaking that the  fixed quota allocation system would continue in its existing form. On a fair reading that would not be the reasonable understanding of what the Secretary of State has said. In many ways the representations which the claimant invokes amount to no more than an explanation how the system operates. Moreover, the representations identified by the claimant were not devoid of relevant qualification”. (para 99)

In considering the challenge to the Government’s re-allocation of unused quota from one part of the fleet to the small scale fleet was clear

“Not only is the decision under challenge justified, but in my view the means chosen  are proportionate. (para 106)

Fishing Quota – Government Owned

Again, here the ownership of the quota is again very clearing put:

“For better or worse the concept of possessions has been given an expansive interpretation. The claimant’s analogy with the English law notion of profit a prendre  does not hold up since no one can own the fish of the sea

Moreover, the term  possessions had an autonomous meaning in European law so reference to English law concepts is not helpful. However,  Rule 3.3 recognises, albeit in limited circumstances, that fixed quota allocation units can be transferred separately from a  fishing licence entitlement. The reconciliation exercises have given recognition to the  trade in fixed quota allocation units occurring outside the ambit of the Rules.” (para 112)

However, the allocation units do provide a possession which if removed would give rise to compensation.

“And the reality of the situation is that, albeit built very much of sand, there is a trade in fixed quota allocation units. As seen earlier in the judgment this has attracted official recognition time and again. Units are not only traded but also used as security for bank finance. Valuers place a figure on them even if the methodology is relatively  opaque. The tax authorities have seized upon the economic reality to treat them as a capital asset where disposal is capable of generating a capital gain. To use the language in  Nicholds, fixed quota allocation units have a monetary value and can be marketed for consideration. In my view fixed allocation quota  units are possessions falling within Article 1, Protocol 1 of the Convention and article 17 of the Charter.” (para 113)

This will give the right of compensation, but of course, the value for an asset that is being confiscated by the State, is usually a lot lower than the you’d hope to get.  The UK Government could, if it choose to, alter the whole regime, re-allocate the quota to other players, and this would entitle current owners the right to compensation.


Don’t Take on the Government

 The judgment is critical of the actions of producers associations who choose not to co-operate with the UK Government (see para 65).

Belligerence in the face of government when you have a sound legal case or supplicant officials is one thing, but when the law is uncertain and a Minister decides to challenge vested interests, it is another.

The sums of money at stake in the proposed UK government scheme were around . The producer organisation must have spent a considerable amount of money in their case. The irony that the quota was not even be used is another.

What Will the UK Banks Be Thinking

The UK Banks (many of who are State owned) will surely now be calling fishermen asking them who owns the quota that they have used as collateral for bank loans.  If the Government owns the quota, and fishermen hold it on the basis of the fast changing sands of government policy, the valuations are likely to be substantively lower.

Going to Court on principle is always a brave decision. Yesterday, the Producer Organisations paid a heavy price.