Blain’s Morning Porridge – Oct 24th 2018

Blain’s Morning Porridge – 24th October 2018

“We played to 34 people in the Hope & Anchor, and 14 in Bristol. This is better.”

A fantastic night out with Larry, Adam, The Edge and Bono last night. U2 would be the Greatest Rock’n’Roll band in the World – but Bono can’t miss the opportunity to preach his righteousness. Last night it was pictures of bombed out European cities, a gigantic European flag (one star as a Union Jack with a Love Heart crayoned around it,) and lecturing this dis-united kingdom that “Yoorp loves you” and wants nothing more than to welcome us back…

Please… “shut the ***k up ya Gobsh*te.”

The music was fantastic. I’ve never liked the dull baffled sound in the O2, but from that very first chord you know its U2, and they nailed it every time. They cheekily referenced every great British band from the Stones to the Clash, sent themselves up, amused and entertained us. The staging was incredible. The Edge looks disconcertingly young, Larry looks impossibly fit, while Adam sports a mighty white mane. Bono looks and sounds like any smug middle-aged Bono would – even when the sound and light trickery presented him as Mephisto.. A Geldorf-lite if you like.. slightly less grizzled, more paunchy, and probably eats lots of avocados and almonds..

You have to understand a U2 gig is all about Bono. And he is a surprisingly astute political economist. He gets to the fundamental problem of our age – the fracture of traditional political parties, the failure of economies to deliver, and the slide of democracy towards populism. There were the obligatory pictures of the Trump FatBaby dirigible.. So predictable. And the crowd predictably loved it.

While some perceive the real crisis of this modern age of mass communication, fake news and social networking to be the fracture of political process – ie: everyone’s political aspirations are dissolving into a slop’n’slew of competing wants and objectives without any prioritisation (basically the problem any political leader faces) – Bono believes everyone is equally entitled. He rails against inequality and injustice, and sees solutions in simplistic nonsense like embrace, salute and praise the blue flag and its circle of gold stars..

Seriously.. does he realise how embarrassing it is to watch a grown man salute the design hash-up that is the European Union flag… as if was as powerful a symbol of belonging as the Saltire is to a Scotsman, the Tricolor to an Irishman, or the Dragon to a Welshman? If everyone can have everything, nobody gets anything.

Someone told me yesterday of a serious Irish commentator giving Ireland five-years at most before it walks from Europe: “as soon as the Irish realise post-Brexit they go from Net Recipient to Net Contributor they will look to Exit” he apparently said.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Europe and Europeans. Give them all unlimited access and job access here in Blighty! I want to move to Brittany, Tuscany or Kefalonia. I love the Alps. Feed me German Sausage and Danish Pork! I love Spanish Wine.

Yet, I’m somewhat ambivalent on the idea there is an Europe.

I gave lukewarm support to Brexit because I believe a free trade common market across Europe is a wonderfully simple and brilliant idea – I would keep it, if we could – but as a history buff I know Yoorp is not a common political unity. It was a fractious polity of multiple different tribes and concepts. North, South, East and West had precious little in common to unite upon. No shared language, no shared social customs, etc..

Yet closer European unity is now the Vanity Project at the heart of the new European superstate. It is determined to make it happen and impose a new Political and Economic reality. I never signed up to that..

On one level Brussels is succeeding. Shared Economic Misery has proved a great way to get people to huddle together.. The Young People of Europe really do seem to be believe they are European First and Foremost. The first triumph of the European Superstate has been to deflect their love of tribe and country into love for the super-state – achieved by wrecking each individual state? (Check out 1984, Chapter 10 on how to Love Big Brother as an instruction manual.)

But Europe shows no sign of achieving the Economic miracle it needs to build upon its promise. The Euro was supposed to drive Europe forward, but it remains mired in low growth, unemployment and successive waves of radical populism. Why? Enemy of the People Number one is the Euro.

Nothing illustrates this better than the Italians being slapped across the chops by the European Commission and being told to redo their budget to conform with what Brussels commands. Even as Bono was rolling up his big blue flag… Brussels was telling Italy how to run itself.

That is the economic reality Bono and his ilk don’t get. Brussels can claim that telling the Italians how to run their country will improve their debt position, but it doesn’t address the reality Italian electors voted for government that promised growth and an end to Austerity.

We know where this could go:

Italian bond yields soar. Italian Banks wobble on the back of BTP holdings, Italy has to ask the ECB for support. The EC says the ECB will buy Italian debt – with conditions. Italy is forced to adopt an ultra-ultra-austerity budget, breaking the economic recovery across the country and plunging it in to Greek style financial serfdom to Brussels.


Italy dumps the Euro.. Messy…. But a better idea in the long-run.

I am sending copies of Yanis Varoufakis’ “Adults in the Room” to members of the Italian Government.

Other Stuff:


  • Trump blames Fed. No surprise.
  • Brexit. Theresa May organising a Dunkirk of vessels to bring in medicine and food when Brussels declares siege. (bothered…)
  • Netflix – great quote in FT: Netflix forecasts it will use unto $3 bin in cash this year.. “you are using the word loss and I think you mean investment”, said CEO. No.. I mean you are spending far more than you receive from subscribers which aren’t growing as fast as you are spending.


In the Headlights this morning – see for some of the stories I’m watching. (Will update this page on Website later today.)