Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Borgen Pjat

Borgen is the latest tv drama to hit our screens. This is the story of a Danish woman Prime Minister, who juggles career and family, attempting to hold to her values, without alienating coalition partners, funders and the electorate.

The series deals with women's rights, minority issues, relations with a Danish colony as well as African countries in conflict. Key roles are spin doctors and tabloid editors, moulding public perception of policies and individuals in the Danish Parliament. Questions are raised about expenses fiddles, politicians jumping the queue for health treatments as well as corporations buying political influence with party donations. There is a thread dealing with single parenthood and mental health issues of the Prime minister's daughter.  One prominent character is a feisty older woman television news journalist, who has trouble keeping her job.

Of course we have none of these issues in Britain.

Danes have been producing strong tv series since 2007 and Forbrydelsen (The Killing). This was followed by Broen (The Bridge), a Danish-Swedish co-production and Den som dræber (Those Who Kill), the weakest of the quartert, which was dropped after one series.

Forbrydelsen and Borgen had great cinematography showing Copenhagen in a way that must have the Danish Tourist Board rubbing their hands in delight. Dialogue and characterisation were strong. Music for Forbrydelsen was particlarly effective.

Denmark is a small country and actors have been recycled repeatedly in these tv series to good effect. Interviews by the British press have questioned the main actors on the success of their work on British tv. They have all expressed surprise at the size of the audience, particularly for Borgen. Note that Forbrydelsen was remade for US television transplanting the plot to the States thereby avoiding the use of subtitles.

Danes have 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' and don't stick their heads above the parapet to avoid the risk of decapitation. In the early 1970s and English phd student described this as part of the Danish inferiority complex. Look closely at both Borgen and Forbrydelsen and you will see how far the Danish language has become infected with English substitutes for perfectly adequate Danish vocabulary.

Danish actors and directors would never correct the appalling pronunciation of their own and their characters' names by BBC presenters and actors currently playing in a radio spin off series.

Here is an illustration of the Danish mindset transplanted to a British setting. Imagine, if you will, that the interviewer has just asked a British actress to explain why a play has been so successful on Danish tv:

Dame Maggie Mirren-Dench: I have no idea. We are such a tiny country and London is such a provincial city. Our writer, William Shakespeare, wrote this play, King Lear, and we thought that Danes wouldn't be able to relate to it. Yes Hamlet would probably work OK in Copenhagen, but we'd never have believed that King Lear would make it in a million years. We were all shocked and still are amazed that we have such a big fanclub in Denmark. Shakespeare is such a British writer. We are not worthy etc etc.

This is Borgen pjat or nonsense.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Co-op Bank pressured by Zionists

I reported in a recent post that the Co-op Bank has renewed its pledge to customers to retain its ethical stance.

I admire the Co-op for its boycott of goods from Jewish only settlements in Palestine.  Now the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council have requested a meeting with the Co-op's new leaders to persuade them to drop the policy.

These groups continally put pressure on the BBC to tone down any coverage of Palestinian views from the Middle East.  Mark Regev, an Israeli spokesman, is given regular air time, which is not matched by eqivalent coverage of Palestinian speakers.

Zionist pressure groups have had some success in Paliament, persuading all sides to adjust their policies to a more Israeli friendly view.

The propaganda portrays Palestinians as heavily armed terrorists, and Israelis as poor, weak, defenceless people.  Where is the coverage of Academy Award nominated '5 Broken Cameras', which shows peaceful resistance by farmers coping with increasing incursions into their farmland?

I hope the Co-op Group stands firm and resists pressure from Zionist groups to bury the truth about human rights abuses in Palestine.

I've said it before and will say it again:  'The only way is ethics'.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Co-op Bank renews its pledge

The Co-operative Bank took out full page ads in national newspapers to reassure investors of its ethical stance prior to the vote on the plan to deal with its debt.

Early bird thresholds have been met by the deadline, so enhanced consideration will be paid.  Early results show that retail bondholders and preference shareholders back the Co-operative Bank £1.5 billion Recapitalisation Plan.  Mark Taber has done a great job to achieve this.

The PR strategy probably helped the vote.  However, I think retail investors were persuaded by the offer rather than the ethics.  The Co-op Bank has admitted that it's losing retail customers.  I imagine they will have a long way to go to rebuild trust, but this is a good start.  Euan Sutherland contines to impress.

As I said in a previous post, the only way is ethics.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Co-op Bank & the Dog in the Manger

I have new found respect for Co-op Group Chief Executive, Euan Sutherland.

Late in the day he involved retail investment campaigner, Mark Taber, in negotiations over recapitalisation of the bank.  Mr Sutherland listened.  He co-operated.  The offer now on the table is far better than most people had expected.  Euan Sutherland is working hard to ensure that frail elderly investors have clear messages about the offer and the early bird bonus available for those who take prompt action.

Stockbrokers are still dragging their feet about communicating with retail investors and reminding those who have not taken action.  Hargreaves Lansdown are still setting the standard for proactive, clear communication.

I don't have any Co-op Bank bonds or preference shares.  I am not directly affected by the offer or the decision of customers.  I realise that Co-op Bank needs a substantial majority of retail investors to close the deal.  It seems clear that the bank may go into resolution if the offer is rejected.  Those frail elderly investors will lose everything in that case.

One other serious barrier to agreement seems to be a different class of retail investors.  These are opportunists who have bought bonds and preference shares recently at very low prices.  Some of them have said that they reject the offer and think they can get much more if they hold out and cause the deal to fail.  These investors don't depend on the income to live or pay for a roof over their head or care in later life.  This is part of a portfolio based largely on speculation and squeezing the most out of investments bought at bargain prices.

I wish Euan Sutherland the best of luck with the deal and the messy future of the Co-op Bank.  I sincerely hope that a small group of jackals don't trash the hard work done by Sutherland and Mark Taber.

What a Balls Up & Co-op Bank 2

I have written before about the resounding silence from senior Labour Party figures in relation to the recent history of the Co-op Bank.  As many people have pointed out, the Co-op Bank has extended generous loans to the Labour Party at preferential rates of interest, despite the dire financial state of our major opposition party.  I have also commented on Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, and his tendency to make poor decisions in government.

Today various reports have surfaced about the Labour Party and the Co-op Bank.  Ed Balls received a donation to his office last year of £50,000 arranged by the disgraced former Co-op Bank Chair, Paul Flowers.  Mr Flowers found a route into the Co-op Bank via the Labour Party, despite his lack of qualification for the post.

Ed Miliband made a speech at the Co-op Bank HQ on 9 July 2012, declaring his intention to campaign for the big banks to be broken up.  He praised the Co-op Bank as a model of integrity.  Sadly he is now getting some flak for this from financial journalists.  Ed Balls writes fulsomely about co-operative enterprise on his blog.

Ed Balls was in post as Economic Secretary to the Treasury when Paul Flowers was appointed.  Mr Balls does not seem to have scrutinised appointment procedures or regulatory oversight in the following years.  Some allege that political pressure was put on the FSA to approve of Mr Flowers' appointment.  Neither Balls nor Miliband commented on Andrew Bailey's revelations about financial problems at the Co-op Bank as early as 2011.

BBC News business editor, Robert Peston, is doing his best to shield Eds Milliband and Balls by fudging the dates and asserting that no one knew of the crisis at the Co-op Bank until the end of 2012.  It is well documented that Andrew Bailey expressed his concerns as early as mid 2011.

Other questions remain unanswered.  How did the FSA and Bank of England exercise such poor regulation of the Co-op Bank and approve key people to roles, for which they were not at all suited?

Len Wardle has resigned as Chair of the Co-op Group and Board.  There are allegations about his relationship with Ed Balls and the one off donation.  Hector Sants, who was Chief Executive of the FSA from 2007-2012, has recently resigned from Barclays Banks due to 'exhaustion and stress'.  Both of these people were involved in dealings at the Co-op Group, decisions at the Bank and poor oversight.

The Labour Party and its 2 main figures have remained silent over the Co-op Bank crisis.  They have stripped Paul Flowers of Labour Party membership.  Ed Balls was criticised by Co-op Bank savers for his part in bringing the bank to the brink of destruction.  There are calls for a return of the £50,000 donation to his office.

Ed Balls where is this One Nation Labour of which you speak?  What is your response to the prospect of pensioners losing their savings, main income and means to pay care home fees?    When will you come clean on your part in the Co-op Bank's downfall?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Working with insomnia 4

I don't eat late in the day.  However I've found that sluggish digestion negatively affects my sleep.  I sometimes include ground flaxseed in my diet.  This cleanses the colon and has many health benefits.  Flaxseed absorbs a lot of liquid and moves slowly through the gut, interrupting and preventing sleep.  I restrict consumption to the early part of my day.

One element that disturbed me when I went to bed was intrusive light sources.  I was bothered by a new security light which stayed on until 2 am and over which I had no control.   My landline telephone also emitted light that affected my ability to fall asleep.  I've overcome this problem in various ways, including resting a sock over the phone.

Seth Roberts has written much about insomnia, mood and his experiments in promoting better sleep.  He likes to stand when working.  He also recognises the importance of 'morning faces', which doesn't mean looking at static pictures on the net, but having some sort of contact that replicates a conversation early in the day to promote better mood.

I've followed his recent posts on eyewear that blocks blue light.  The theory is that excessive blue light from light bulbs, computers and electronic devices messes up our light sensors and disrupts the circadian rhythms and melatonin production.  The result is poor sleep.

Comments on a recent post revealed experiments by readers with yellow/orange safety goggles and other means of replicating the experiment (such as computer software to replicate natural light phases).

I was impatient to experiment and thought about lampshades we used to make with coloured tissue paper and an inflated balloon as a base.  Then I thought about red and yellow lightbulbs, but had none in the house.

My experiment involved a flexible table lamp.  I angled the light so that it was horizontal to the wall.  I then draped a thick golden yellow serviette over it, avoiding the ventilation holes and the low energy light bulb to prevent fire risk.

The effect was dramatic.  The bedroom was filled with a deep yellow light (despite some white light being visible at either end of the lamp).  I felt surprisingly relaxed and sleepy.  Most interventions to improve sleep have a decreasing effect on me with time.  I notice the same level of relaxation and sleepiness each night.  I'll continue with the experiment before I try blue blocking spectacles.

This is a very cheap and easy way of improving sleep, with none of the side effects of brain wave sounds or melatonin supplements.


I've experimented with expensive blue light blocking glasses and found them annoying and of limited use.

I've also used cheap yellow and orange safety goggles.  Both pairs fit nicely over ordinary reading glasses and worked well when reading and working on computer.

I found the yellow goggles didn't make much difference.  The orange goggles relaxed the eyes and me.  I found myself yawning and feeling sleepy after using them for a while.  I highly recommend cheap orange safety goggles.

Sadly, like everything else, they don't work for me all the time.

Working with insomnia 3

Typical advice for treating insomnia includes eliminating caffeine and other stimulants, refraining from eating shortly before bedtime and avoiding alcohol.

I haven't drunk tea or coffee for many years and avoid green tea, because it can contain more caffeine than ordinary tea.  I don't eat late and avoid excessive alcohol.

Any beverage drunk after 6pm may stimulate the bladder and lead to visits to the bathroom throughout the night, particularly for older people.

We are also advised to take exercise, so that we are physically tired before bed.  I've found that going to the gym and swimming later in the day may prevent sleep completely.  I suspect that it may be swimming, spa, steam room and sauna that contributes to insomnia.  It may be the effect of chlorine or the big heat variations in the body.  I now avoid gym and swim the day before a very early start.

I don't experience the same problem when I've been digging weeds for a whole day.  I wonder if there are several beneficial components of exercise, not just physical exertion.  Several people have explained why they enjoy golf by demonstrating how it unhooks the brain from the treadwheel of continual thoughts.  This in itself relaxes the body.  I suspect digging out weeds does the same for me.

One invaluable tool I've found for relaxation is a bed of nails.  This compact mat with circles of plastic spikes helps the body release tension by stimulating muscles and pressure points. I wear thin cotton clothes.  After a while I'm no longer aware of the spikes and find it very comfortable.  Sometimes I feel sleepy, but when I put the mat away, I'm less relaxed.  I have slept on it, but prefer not to because of the risk of scratches to elbows and wrists when moving around.

As with everything else I've tried, sometimes it helps me sleep and sometimes it doesn't.

Working with Insomnia 2

I moved on from just listening to music and experimented with a range of spoken word and sound tracks.

Brain wave induction tapes, such as the Silva Method, helped but the effect tended to wear off.  I found the metranome beat intrusive.

Sometimes music for brain wave training was more helpful.

I have experimented with various gizmos using barely audible sounds for sleep induction.  These tend to work when I'm tired, but may increase insomnia at other times, preventing deep sleep.

Working with Insomnia 1

Lack of sleep can contribute to major health problems.  Cortisol production may be affected by insomnia and contribute to stress, inflammation and poor weight regulation.

I am not one of those people who go to sleep the moment their head hits the pillow.  I have experiences more problems getting to sleep and having enough deep sleep in the last few decades.

During a very stressful period of my life, I found my iPod helpful at night.  Certain music at low volume eased me into sleep.  Andreas Scholl's English folk music and Nikolaus Harnoncourt's version of Handel's Messiah are 2 notable examples.  Background noise and white noise are well known for helping soothe people and help young children off to sleep.

I found this helpful, but sometimes it didn't work.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Blasphemy & Church of the Latter Day Statinators

I am grateful to Dr Malcolm Kendrick for covering this issue.

An award winning Australian television journalist, specialising in medical research, put together 2 excellent programmes.  

Heart of the Matter Part 1 - Dietary Villains is here:

Heart of the Matter Part 2 - The Cholesterol Myth is here: 

There are many scientific papers to substantiate the research findings which overturn current dogma on dietary fat and heart disease.

Critics of these 2 tv programmes do not challenge the data with facts.  Dr Maryanne Demasai and her invited contributors are villified personally and their reputations attacked.

Our distant ancestors rooted out blasphemers and those who challenged orthodoxy (including midwives) using trial by ordeal. A woman would be dropped in water. If she drowned, she was not a witch, if she lived, she was a witch.  This was the 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' school of justice and scientific research.

I was reminded of this analogy when reading the current Wikipedia page (today it's a stub) on Dr Maryannne Demasai.  The wording is restrained, but its effect is a hatchet job on the journalist and her contributors.

One of the contributors claims that challengers to the Cholesterol orthodoxy have not proven their case.  He says he finds the idea interesting but not usable.  'A diet that substitutes polyunsaturated fats for saturated fat is healthier for the human heart'.  I have previously reported on Lipidologist Chris Masterjohn's excellent job of roundly demolishing this contention by examining the original research projects used to justify it.  He finds ample evidence of bad science, poor/changed control groups, conclusions that run counter to the data produced and other serious errors.

What constitutes blasphemy in the Church of the Latter Day Statinators?

Typically anything that frees people's minds from the orthodox dogma and poses a threat to the multi billion dollar earning power of statins and associated drugs.  If people, without heart disease, learn that they can reduce health challenges and heart disease by making changes in diet and lifestyle, then drug companies will lose their cash cows.

Dr William Davis, a heart doctor, has developed a systematic approach to diet and lifestyle that helps his patients reduce coronary arterial plaque (calcium scores) from life threatening to normal levels (and sometimes zero.)

Another conventional expert, in the second tv programme on the Cholesterol Myth,  states that publicising side effects of statins may cause people to develop them psychosomatically. Dr Duane Graveline, former NASA doctor, was a pioneering advocate of statins and took them himself.  His health declined dramatically and he slowly realised the cause, after he became unable to walk.  Many years later he still has health challenges and is one of the growing groups of medical doctors who challenge the widespread use of statins and the Cholesterol Hypothesis on heart disease.  He believes that statins attack mitochondria, the power house of each cells in the body.  Psychosomatic symptoms?  I don't think so.

I have commented before in the increasing reach of pharmaceutical companies in influencing opinion and silencing criticism.  Money in the form of funding and threat of litigation (or being stuck off) keeps many individuals and organisations 'on message'.

I chose the analogy of religious orthodoxy today when a friend sent me an email criticising Mormons.  I've yet to find a religion followed by human beings that does not have its share of embarrassing history.  I've met charming Mormons, some of whom were excellent scientists. This post is not directed at religions, but the current trend of turning any conventional dogma into a medieval faith.  

Doctor eats the Bogus Diet

I am grateful once again to Dr Malcolm Kendrick for alerting me to this video.

What is the Bogus Diet?

The SkinnyNews-Tim Noakes

A diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrate.  This is the diet that doctors are trained to dismiss, which infuriates dieticians, who stick rigidly to the 'prudent diet' with lots of cereal grains.

Tim Noakes, UCT Professor of Sports Science, wanted to lose 6 kilos before travelling to speak to elite athletes in Sweden.  He followed the Bogus Diet and........ thrived on it.

It's not for everyone, but Professor Noakes explains the benefits of increasing fat and eliminating cereals and the side effects and risks of the 'prudent diet'.

Youtube won't let me embed the video, so find it here.

The Bogus Diet he followed was researched and further developed by 3 medical authors.  One of them is Dr Eric C Westman (President elect of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians).  Dr Westman is interviewed here:

The same criticisms are levelled at this approach as before.  This view of health and major diseases in the human population are part of a well honed dogma, which must not be challenged.  I wrote about this before using the analogy of Flat Earth, here and here.  It took a long time for our ancestors to recognise that our planet is round and orbits the sun.  We're still waiting for medical orthodoxy to catch up with the science.


Professor Noakes is my hero.  Finally someone has written a rigorous book about hydration.  It's called 'Waterlogged' and mentions my hobby horse, the health risks of dilution of electrolytes by the advice:  'the more water you drink, the better'.

'The science of hydration is utterly bogus;  it was dreamed up by marketers.'

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Mark Taber makes progress with Co-op Bank

If you, your family or friends hold retail investments with Co-op Bank (such as bonds and preference shares), then you need to get information about the offer made to customers this week.  Here is the announcement made by Co-op Group Chief Executive, Euan Sutherland, on 4 November 2013.

Why does this matter?

If you vote to accept the offer and submit your forms promptly, you will receive a higher reward than those who leave it to the last moment.  If you're late, you'll miss the early bird bonus.

My broking firm will sort it for me, so  why do I need to worry?

Many broking firms have been slow on the uptake, not organised the paperwork and have given out erroneous information.  They need a firm push from customers to spur them into action.***

Here is Mark Taber's potted summary of the offer.

Mark Taber has a track record of supporting distressed retail investors.  In particular he has worked hard for pensioners who rely on income from bonds and preference shares to pay for their care home fees.  The Co-op Bank did not include this group in their original discussions.  Mark Taber has changed their minds by mounting an effective campaign to publicise the injustices and poor business practices of the bank and lax oversight by the regulators.

The Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and their Opposition Counterparts did not take action.  Other politicians, such as Jesse Norman, worked hard to interrogate the bankers and regulators, which helped move us to the current offer.

Mark has run campaigns to help customers of other banks including the Bank of Ireland.  He holds no retail investments in Co-op Bank and has worked voluntarily to achieve an astonishingly positive outcome.  His website accepts donations to help him survive whilst working so hard for others.

Thank you Mark Taber.

*** Update on stockbrokers:  I understand that Hargreaves Lansdown are the star performers with regards to the Co-op Bank offer (on 12/11/2013).   'They have produced a clear and easy to understand corporate action notice and agreed to chase up clients who have not acted' (Mark Taber).  They have set the benchmark by which other stockbrokers will be judged (currently performing much less well).

Stephen Fitzpatrick understands the power of working with integrity, when all around you others are not.  It's good for sustainable business.  If you treat people fairly, more customers will find you.  If you don't, like the Co-op Bank when they first announced the need to bridge the funding gap, customers will leave you.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

What a Balls Up!

Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, today reacted with disgust to the news that Sharon Shoesmith has been awarded compensation for her summary dismissal in the wake of the Baby P case.

Sharon Shoesmith was head of social services for Haringey Council.  She was dismissed because of pressure exerted by Ed Balls, then Children's Secretary.

Baby P was a child who was abused by his parent and step parent until he died.  No one remembers the names of the adults involved.  Blame was placed on Sharon Shoesmith, although she did no harm to the child.  The parent and step parent did everything in their power to keep authorities away from Baby P, with lies and clever ploys to conceal bruises and injuries (including smearing him with chocolate).

Ed Balls was a senior Labour government minister.  Employment law in the UK, that protects people from arbitrary decisions by management, was developed over many years, partly because of the pressure exerted by trade unions in support of their members.  The Labour Party is largely funded by trade unions and is, historically, the party of working people.  However Ed Balls behaved like a Roman emperor condemning Christians to the lions with an autocratic judgement.

The only reason Sharon Shoesmith received a payout is because Ed Balls did not follow due process and effectively deprived the woman of the means to earn her living, without any opportunity to give her side of the story.

I wish to complain to the Universities of Oxford and Harvard.  They both conferred higher education degrees on Ed Balls, implying that the man can think.  I disagree.

We have form in this regard.  Victoria Climbie was a little girl who was placed with relatives in the UK so that she could have an education in England.  The parents lived in the Ivory Coast and did not go through a formal adoption or fostering procedure.  Victoria was abused and killed by her carers.  No one remembers the names of the aunt and her partner who killed her.  A junior social worker was blamed and can never work with children again.  None of her senior managers were held to account, nor the Minister responsible for children or social services.

I believed that public services should function well and be held accountable.  However I realise that they can only achieve so much, given the duplicitous nature of abusers.  We also had a notorious case where social workers were condemned for being over zealous (damned if you do and damned if you don't).

The worst aspect of these cases is the behaviour of hypocrital politicians like Ed Balls, who appeal to tabloid headlines, but fail to admit to their mistakes.  I think this is known as dog whistle politics.

Ed Balls, you screwed up.  If Ms Shoesmith received a payout, it's because of your mistake.

The Talking Egg

The Parliamentary committee for Energy and Climate Change met today to grill the Big Six energy retailers on prices charged to the consumer.  They were of one voice complaining about costs and recommending the scrapping of environmental taxes as a way of reducing prices.  Simon Carr gives a good account of the light coddling provided by MPs of E.ON, British Gas, NPower, EDF, Scottish Power and SSE.

One voice offered a different story.  Ovo is a small energy company.  Stephen Fitzpatrick, the Managing Director, said he was confused by the large price rises demanded by the Big Six, given that wholesale energy prices had dropped since a high in 2011 (and were lower than in 2009).  He seemed to suggest that they're running a cartel.

Great marketing for Ovo Energy.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Co-op Bank and the long grass

'If an issue or problem is kicked into the long grass, it is pushed aside and hidden in the hope that it will be forgotten or ignored'.

Origin:  'kick it into the long grass' is golf-derived, essentially describing a form of cheating:  a player whose ball lands in the rough so as to be unplayable without adding multiple strokes to the hole can cheat by kicking the ball out-of-bounds into the really long grass and take a one-stroke penalty for a lost ball.

This is the story of elderly people, who worked hard, built up savings and then invested with a traditional institution they trusted, the Co-operative Bank.  They shop with the co-op, buy insurance with them, travel with them and have probably bought a funeral plan with the same company, ie the Co-operative Group.

The bank built up a £1.5bn debt through maladministration.  Part of this occurred when the Co-op Bank merged with Britannia Building Society, relying on 'due diligence' by accountancy firm KPMG, and found they'd bought a turkey.  Another loss was incurred in a failed attempt to buy branches of Lloyds bank, (an enforced sale by the government).  This was Project Verde.  TSB has now come back from the dead to run the branches as an independent bank.

Both the Co-op Group and Co-op Bank concealed the level of debt from retail investors until June 2013, after the AGM.  The regulator also concealed the problem.  This created a false market in retail investments.

I could have told the government, regulators and the Co-op Bank that it would end in tears.  If the idea was to create an enlarged bank on a par with the big boys, then something was missing.  If you visit a branch of the Co-op Bank today, you'll find they are still inputting data from cheques manually, rather than swiping the digital codes as their competitors do.  That's a non starter for a grown up bank.  One former executive reports that the Co-op Bank consistently refused to agree investment in major IT renewal.

The Co-operative Group claims to be independent of the bank and have no responsibility to bail it out, as it is not a financial holding company.  Strangely the Co-op Group Chief Executive, Euan Sutherland, seemed to be steering the bank through capital appraisal, recapitalisation plan and negotiations with the regulator culminating in similar announcements from both on 14 June 2013.  Mr Sutherland was hastily co-opted onto the bank's board as a non-executive director some time later.  The regulator told Co-op retail customers 'You're on your own'.

The big plan was outlined as a way to take a load of money off retail investors, who seemed to be a bunch of casino gambling customers in the eyes of the Co-op senior management.   Co-op bank executives seemed happy to lend money at low rates to a near bankrupt organisation, the Labour Party, while planning to fleece loyal retail customers of their hard earned life savings.  Representations were made to the bank, the regulator and the Co-op Group but fell on deaf ears until commercial investors (hedge fund managers) moved in for the kill.

Retail investors are still not invited to any of the talks on recapitalisation.  Mark Taber, of the action group, called for a Hardship Fund to be set up.  It seems as if this may happen without involving retail customers.  The idea is to split retail investors into hardship/non-hardship cases, with someone acting as God and making life changing decisions.

This reminds me of the case of Equitable Life.  People were encouraged to manage their own investments and pensions.  Rumours developed that Equitable Life was in big financial trouble.  A statement was made in Parliament that all was well.  Insiders allege that politicians extracted their investments from the company.  Ordinary investors waited in vain for years for compensations, many dying without redress in the interim.  They were characterised as wealthy people who didn't need the money.  I still meet Equitable Life investors who are in hardship as a result of the failure of the company and financial oversight by government and the regulator.

One member of the regulatory staff, Andrew Bailey, raised concerns as early as mid 2011, but was ignored.  The Bank of England redacted paragraphs from its report, that would reveal the state of the banks finances, leaving retail investors in the dark.  There is some indication that government pressure led to regulatory failure to protect customers.

Lord Myners, Jess Norman MP and colleagues have worked hard to interrogate regulators and senior figures in the Co-op Bank and Co-operative Group in the House of Commons Treasury Committee.

Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Labour MPs have been silent about the Co-op Bank and not responded to queries from constituents.  The preferential Co-op Bank loan to them at a time of fragile party finances seems to have caused them to forget core party principles.  Labour are focusing on press regulation and utility bills and ignoring elderly people about to lose their life savings.

What's the long grass?

Mark Taber has outlined this, with supporting evidence, in his open letter to Sajid Javid.

HM Treasury states that this is a private matter between Co-op bank and its bondholders.  It does not intend to use its powers to investigate the actions of the regulator.

The Bank of England concealed information from the public.  The regulator colluded with the bank in concealing the capital shortfall for 2 years.  The regulator authorities ignored the warnings of one of its own senior staff.

Is this a private matter between the bank and its bondholders?

The FCA (regulator) has taken no action to investigate the Co-op Group or Co-op Bank.

Mr Wardle misled a shareholder's meeting in May 2013.  Mr Sutherland exercised powers to which he was not legally entitled, determing policy for a bank in which he had no position.  Bank and Co-op Group executives overreached themselves, ignoring the warnings of peers, plunging the bank into huge financial losses.

Is this not a matter to be investigated by the current regulator?

HM Treasury is referring bondholders to the Co-op Group's own 'independent inquiry.'

Commentators allege that Project Verde was instigated by senior people in government, who put pressure on the bank and the regulator to carry on despite warnings about the state of Co-op Bank finances and capacity.

Is pressure being put on HM Treasury to deflect attention away from government?

The Co-operative Group has commissioned an 'independent inquiry'.  This has no status or powers and does not include retail investors as stakeholders.  The remit does not include investigations into the Co-op's dealing with the regulators, nor the false market established by concealing information from the public.

In the UK we are familiar with inquiries as a great way of showing that something is being done.  Questions can be batted away with 'Let's wait for the results of the inquiry', which may take years.  The heat is off and those involved in dodgy dealing can escape scrutiny.

MP Sajid Javid is a new appointment to the Treasury.  He is an able young man, who is grappling with the issues surrounding the Co-op Bank.  Much rests on his ability to go beyond strict compliance.  Many hope for great things from him.  I reserve judgement.

Update:  Many thanks to Mark Taber for an interesting piece of news.

Euan Sutherland, Group Chief Executive, has made an announcement that includes the words 'small investors'.  Now we don't know exactly what he means by this term, but it is a tiny step forward in a hard fight to accept liability for maladministration and avoid fleecing the unwary.

Further update:  US Hedge Funds have driven a hard bargain in the re-financing deal.  The Co-operative Group say they will still be the largest overall shareholder with a 30% stake.  They won't control the bank.  In my experience of other US mergers/take-overs/re-financing deals, the original owners find it tough to deal with the US incomers.  In my experience as a retail customer of such organisations, the US parent companies tend to run the organisation into the ground and extract as much profit as possible for little beneficial input.  There are probably exceptions, but I am not optimistic about the future of the Co-op Bank for customers.

Nor is another blogger, who has written about the interesting history of the 2 Hedge Funds now controlling Co-op Bank:

'But make no mistake, Sutherland and his fellow Board members will be on a very short leash. They must return the Co-Op Bank to profitability within a very short time - otherwise the hedge funds are likely to turn nasty. They will not hesitate to asset-strip the Co-Op Bank if the management fails to meet the profitability targets that they expect. And as between them they DO have a controlling stake, they can unquestionably do this. Sutherland's statement was made with a gun to his head.'