Lord Madsen

One person who will have a closer than usual eye on the budget tomorrow is the Adam Smith Institute’s Madsen Pirie. Tobacco duty rising again is the last thing a blossoming cigar company needs. Putting his money where his mouth is, Pirie backed and remains a shareholder in Regius Cigars, who seem to have returned the favour with a nominally optimistic tribute:


 
Baron Fawkes or a cigar named after Guido. Tough call…

Teaching Standards Are Slipping

When he’s not running a football club or advising Bank of America, part-time MP David Miliband teaches politics to the students of Haverstock School in Chalk Farm. He apparently “taught the theory/practice of ministerial accountability this morning.” No doubt without a trace of irony.

As a minister Miliband was hardly the most loyal of servants to his Primus Inter Pares. Triggering various leadership crises and letting his disdain be well-known. Presumably that’s the practice part of the lesson.

Miliband’s less than exemplary record in government has even come under attack from William Hague. Finding his recently lacking quick wit, Hague quips about being Foreign Secretary to this month’s Total Politics“this isn’t a launch pad to one day be leader again, which, I think must be a great distraction, and has been for some of my predecessors.” Miaow.

Blinky Ball’s Mystery £7,000

Blinky BallsLabour’s response to the budget tomorrow will no doubt include how out of touch Osborne is, and how only Labour understand the squeezed middle. Guido wonders how many of that squeezed middle have seven grand to pay into the bank on an idle Tuesday. No such worry for Ed Balls, who Guido sees was doing exactly that in NatWest on Victoria Street at around 10 o’clock this morning.

Legal fees Shadow Chancellor?

Quote of the Day

General Richards has learnt his lesson:

“I’m not talking today.”

Gaddafi More Savvy Economist than Ed Balls

RPI rose to 5.5% year-on-year in February – even higher than consensus economists expected – again. The FT reports this morning that Gaddafi is sitting on $6.5 billion of gold in his war chest.  Gold of course is the great inflation hedge throughout history. Britain on the other hand sold off her gold reserves at the behest of Ed Balls when he was at the Treasury. Who is more mad?

Despite What You Hear, Osborne is Not On Course

Norman Lamont has been wheeled out as one eye is turned to tomorrow’s budget. He claims.

“In many ways, the best Budget the Chancellor could introduce would be one that did nothing.  The Chancellor has courageously set out his strategy over five years, moving Britain back towards budget balance, largely through expenditure cuts but also with some tax increases.  The overwhelming important task is to stick to that strategy.”

That’s the Christmas card list sorted, but John Redwood has pointed out a few inconvenient truths in the last few days. Take a glance at the numbers for the next few years compared to the last year of Labour:

“Total spending plus £71 billion a year, Total tax revenue plus £176 billion a year, 5 years additional state borrowing £440 billion.”

Osborne is hardly the axeman. And nor are his Cabinet colleagues it seems. Redwood has put together a database of how the departments are getting on, specifically the promise to cut staff overheads by 30%:

“So far, they have lost around 4% of their staff numbers in an eight month period. This suggests the overall annual rate of  leavers is 6%. What is surprising is they have replaced half of these, meaning that the overall numbers are only down around 2%.”

Chris Huhne’s Department of Climate Change has seen its numbers increase, Pickles has managed to hire 263 new staff to replace 266 who left. Only Defence and the Home Office have made any real headway in the last few months:

Some three thousand people left the MOD and yet 1,700 of the posts have been re-filled. And that’s in the department making the most headway… The 30% target is still miles off.



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Quote of the Day

William Hague on Tony Blair…

“To the political law that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time he added Blair’s law – that you can make a very serious attempt at it.”

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