Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quote of the Day


1994 Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown
1995 Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown
1996 Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown
1997 Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown
1998 Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown
1999 Chief Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown’s Treasury
2000 Chief Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown’s Treasury
2001 Chief Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown’s Treasury
2002 Chief Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown’s Treasury
2003 Chief Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown’s Treasury
2004 Chief Economic Advisor to Gordon Brown’s Treasury
2005 Smith Institute Wonk
2006 Economic Secretary to Gordon Brown’s Treasury
2007 Member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet
2008 Member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet
2009 Member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet
2010 Member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet
2011 Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Given the hugely enjoyable level of lunacy, profanity and insight in the comments section of the blog, Guido is always rather pleased to come across a real gem. Today 13eastie’s take on why Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is the best man for the job met the criteria. The blog will be introducing a regular reader’s “Comment of the Day” with a bottle of whisky for the readers blog comment chosen to be the best of the month sponsored by Bruichladdich, the “Progressive Hebridean Distillers”. Bruichladdich are the only Scottish progressives Guido likes. This is good stuff…

N.B. Billy Bowden, it is about quality not quantity…

Government Official Loses Bet on the Economy

This time last year an economist wonk at the liberal-leaning CentreForum took a dislike to Guido’s economic foresight. Deficit denying Liberal Conspiracy made a predictably over the top attempt at playing up the difference of opinion calling Guido innumerate, an allegation later quietly withdrawn.

Subsequently a wager was drawn up with the Freethinking Economist Giles Wilkes: a book of the loser’s choice would be sent to the winner. After a year of month-after-month of above target inflation announcements by the Bank of England, Giles, a good sport and former bookie, has decided to admit early that deflation just isn’t going to happen. In fact the realisation is becoming mainstream that the danger is quite the opposite, as Guido has long pointed out, of runaway inflation resulting from QE. Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. Guido doesn’t want to worry anyone, but Mr Wilkes is now Vince Cable’s Special Advisor…

Ashcroft Threatens Baldwin

Guido understands that tomorrow’s Spectator diary won’t make for comfortable reading for Tom Baldwin. Lord Ashcroft has his claws out:

“Westminster is exhilarated by the appointment of Tom Baldwin, Ed Miliband’s exciting new media adviser. As deputy political editor of the Times, Mr Baldwin wrote some quite spectacular untruths as part of a campaign to discredit me in general and, in particular, to implicate me in a drug-running scandal. This was somewhat ironic, given what he was later witnessed snorting in his paper’s hotel suite at the 2001 Conservative conference. The whole business (including the retraction I received from the paper) is detailed in my 2005 book Dirty Politics Dirty Times. But now that Mr Baldwin is back in the news, perhaps it is time to dust off some of the morsels I didn’t publish at the time. Meanwhile, let us hope for the sake of civilised political discourse that he has found an alternative way to deal with the pressures of his job.

Morsels eh…

Miliband Unsubtly Distances Himself from Brown

Given the level of denial about Gordon’s little problems, mainly concerning anger and throwing things, it was good to see Ed Miliband finally acknowledge there was a problem after all. He put down an off-balance and angry Dave with “don’t let your anger cloud your judgement… You’re not the first PM I have said that to.” Ouch…

A well scripted line that bashes one with the other, but why did Ed turn a blind eye in the bunker? The clear ploy to whack his predecessor came at an interesting time. Why, when on the front foot already, did he choose that moment to drag up the past? Almost as if he was distancing himself from Gordon Brown…

UPDATE: For those wondering what Dave’s prop was in the chamber today it seems someone in Ed’s office had the not so brilliant idea of giving out notebooks to get members to contribute ideas called New Politics, Fresh Ideas. It was blank, and quietly dropped.

PMQs Live: More Banker Bashing Edition

No2Evidence Based Blogging

Since Will Straw exited stage left, his old “Evidence Based Blog” seems to have exited the confines of reality. This morning they signalled the petty gloves were very much off in the AV war. Apparently a Yes2AV campaigner deliberately signing up to make his Facebook picture appear on the No2AV site is a major “gaffe”. Not really when you see the Yes2AV portraying No supporters in a similar way. Guido isn’t sure either side are going to get much cut-through if this is the extent of the air-war.

However it’s Left Foot Forward’s editorial judgement that really made Guido laugh. Given that the Yes campaign has in the last few months been caught pushing Nazi smears, accusing Labour MPs of being BNP supporters, seen their budget splashed in Sunday newspapers, lost a staffer for an “anti-Islamic diatribe” and can only find Nick Clegg to support them, perhaps Shamik Das should be a little more careful throwing the word “gaffe” about. But it’s hardly the first time Left Foot Forward have let the truth get in the way of a good story…

Illsley’s Golden Goodbye

Eric Illsley finally thought fit to quit the House of Commons last night, displacing that naughty Mrs Robinson as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds. The disgraced member for Barnsley is getting sent down on Thursday after being found guilty of a £14,000 fiddle. Some might think he should have been thrown out of the House immediately, indeed 2,000 signed a petition demanding just that, but by staying on for these last 29 days the convicted thief has managed to trouser an extra £5,223 from the victims of his crimes.

Nearly half of what he had to pay back after his artistic accounting…

Bureau of Investigative Journalism Like Inspector Clouseau

This morning the grandly named “Bureau of Investigative Journalism” provides the Guardian with a splash claiming that the Tories are more dependent on the City than ever. However Guido can reveal that so inept is the investigation that it is more Inspector Clouseau than Sherlock Holmes.

According to the BIJ “The biggest individual City backer of the Tories is David Rowland, who has contributed £4.013m in just two years.” Anyone who has read even only the business pages of the Guardian will tell you that David Rowland is a property developer, not a City financier. His firm is not even listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Subtract Rowland from the BIJ’s own dubious numbers and all of a sudden the reality behind the headline City Bankrolled Tory Election Campaign becomes less exciting, with their own self-selected top ten of remaining City donors giving the Tories a mere 9% of their funds. Even then it is the case that the individuals gave their money out of their own pockets – and not one single one of them works for a bailed out bank. The BIJ was supposed to herald a new kind of journalism, yet this sloppy piece of work is as slapdash as anything Kevin Maguire could knock up in a half-an-hour after a good lunch. Guido was a supporter of the BIJ when it launched, this is very disappointing.

Sensationalist, misleading and wrong on the single most significant piece of data. Yuba Bessaoud is one of the hacks behind the piece, Guido can vouch that he is a great guy for a night out, but he isn’t a financial journalist, he is a Labour Party loyalist, who by his own admission doesn’t know the difference between inflation and interest rates.

The BIJ received a £2 million grant from the Potter Foundation last year to explore new ways of conducting and funding investigative journalism. David Potter made his fortune when he floated his firm on the London Stock Exchange…

UPDATE : Under the heading “Individual Donors with links to Global Banking Crisis” the BIJ press release argues that because property developer Robert Tchenguiz borrowed from an Icelandic bank, Kaupthing, his £53,620, donation was somehow linked to the banking crisis, Derek Quinlan another property developer donated £46,500 to the Tories and borrowed from Irish and Scottish banks. So despite them not being City figures they are linked to banks that went bust – therefore the Tories are involved in the financial crisis. By that logic everyone with a mortgage borrowed from Halifax, Northern Rock, LLoyds, Bank of Scotland and RBS is linked to the banking crisis. Very tenuous.

Seen Elsewhere

Users of Gay Hook-Up App Grindr Infected | TechnoGuido
ISIS Raising Funds Online Using Bitcoin | TechnoGuido
UKIP’s Youth Challenge | BBC
ISIS Operative: This Is How We Send Jihadis To Europe | BuzzFeed
Shapps Defends Bashir Defection | Seb Payne
Tory Leadership Contenders Jostle Over Europe | Alex Wickham
Cutting Taxes is Good For You | Art Laffer
Suspects Will Now Have to Prove Innocence | Laura Perrins
Labour Cllr: Cops Shouldn’t Stop Petrol Thieves | HandF Forum
Creeping Cultural Acceptance of Anti-Semitism | Eric Pickles
Time For Greece to Leave Eurozone | Allister Heath

Rising Stars
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Boris on British Jihadis. Apparently based on MI5 intel:

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally w***ers. Severe onanists. They are tortured. They will be very badly adjusted in their relations with women, and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failures and that the world is against them. They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”

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