January 14th, 2014

SKETCH: The Abbott and Costello of the OBR

The two main front men of the Office of Budget Responsibility haven’t got the measure of the Treasury select committee at all.

Stephen Nickell lounges back in his chair scarcely concealing the waste of his valuable time as he explains the bleeding obvious to the MPs.

Sharp-faced front man Robert Chote smiles his various smiles (clever, indulgent, irritated, sly, patronizing) and chucks economic popcorn around the room.

You can tell they see themselves as the professionals, the experts: the MPs are the amateurs, the slaves of dead economists, the PR-people for their occult insights, predictions, forecasts and judgements.

The MPs were polite – dangerously polite – but unimpressed by the matter and the manner.

Chote and Nickell were presenting the OBR’s “sustainability report”, with a projection of the public finances over the next 50 years.

It seems to add grist to Osborne’s mill that we need to reduce the size of the state or go bust.

Whatever the merits, this is a rotten way of going about it, and the OBR’s report is an exercise in absurdity.

Nickell, for instance, said 50-year population projections change enormously from year to year as birthrates bob up and down – but that the report was based on the assumption that “if what happens today carries on for 50 years, this is what will happen”. (But it won’t, so what’s the point?)

Theresa Pearce asked towards the end of the session: “A week is a long time in politics. What’s a long time in economics?” This made the witnesses laugh comfortably. That alone showed they had no idea of the impression they’d made.

Andrew Tyrie kicked off with three questions.

How much of their £1.7m budget did this report cost to write? They were reluctant to give a firm indication (they are economists, after all). Less than 25 per cent, Chote said, when pushed. That’s no small sum for a useless, hubristic document based on indefensible assumptions.

Tyrie went on: Hadn’t they combined two data sets to get an assumption of productivity growth, and wasn’t this “a ropey statistical operation”? That got no proper reply.

And wasn’t a more interesting conclusion from their data that government policy had a dramatic effect on health productivity – the internal market in the 90s caused a rise and the Wanless spending in the 00s caused a fall?

This, Chote described as “a cyclical pattern”.

“It’s got nothing to do with cycles,” Tyrie snapped. Well, not snapped, the chair of the Treasury committee doesn’t snap, he uncoils himself gently and looks at the speaker with a cobraic eye. “There isn’t a cyclical pattern at all.”

Chote tried to extricate himself but limped off with: “You have cycles of money going in and coming out.”

“Well, let’s leave it there,” Tyrie quietly gave up, marked the respondent down a grade and passed the questioning over.


Pat Macfadden wanted to know what the impact on debt would be if the Government succeeded in its policy of restricting immigration to the tens of thousands. Two, three, four times he had to pull Chote back to the question he was asking. “We don’t have a scenario to run that assumption off,” Chote eventually said. He might have said, “We don’t go into greater granularity,” that being the way he speaks.

Andrea Leadsom asked about the claimed net benefit of immigration. The immigrants were of working age, their education had been paid for, they were assets. But what happened when the immigrants got old and needed care and pensions? Chote: “We are careful in saying if you go over the time horizon the position could be different.” What tricks they have!


Jesse Norman found parts of the document “extremely opaque” and asked for an index. That caused amusement – an index being useful for defectives and the intellectually incapable. Norman had added up three sets of figures and found the total PFI liability was £192bn. He wanted to know the extra cost of the PFI strategy over the cost of normal Treasury financing.

Nickell roused himself to explain why the question was misconstrued: “If you’re paying for cleaning a building, you’ll still have to pay for cleaning,” he said. “Or you could always not clean it.” What this had to do with the PFI cost of cleaning compared with the Treasury cost of cleaning was obviously unclear. The man can’t even obfuscate properly.

Way beyond their competence

Things started to unravel for the witnesses about now. They were asked what definition of “reasonable accuracy” they had used. Chote said it was determined “on a case by case basis”. But if “very small changes have very large consequences, how sensible is it to base the report on ad hoc definitions of reasonable accuracy?” And again, if “policies aren’t clearly defined over 50 years, how can you attach any figures to it?”

And completely useless

John Thurso asked the demolition question they’d all been flirting with: If we’d done this 50-year exercise in 1964 would it have been any use whatsoever? It couldn’t have predicted robotics, the internet, the EU, Mrs Thatcher, deregulation. “Would it have aided us in any way, shape or form to take the decisions we did?”

We all have our own answer to that.

Surely some mistake?

The witnesses maintained that the rate of productivity growth makes no difference to net public debt in 50 years’ time – I don’t know enough to know why but I bet that isn’t true.

Stephen Nickell said the proportion of spending to GDP over the last 50 years had been “pretty constant”. That’s untrue – the proportion has ranged from 34.5 per cent to 49.7.

Perhaps the point is . . .

The central thrust of the report, John Thurso summarized, is that “spending will grow faster than income over 50 years and therefore the public finances are unsustainable”.

That is a big political conclusion from these academics. From their answers and their attitudes they have been bent out of shape by a force far larger than themselves.

Can it be anything other than the Treasury? As that’s who pays their wages?


  1. 1

    Very soon after lunch. Is all OK there?

  2. 2
    Call for Slingo says:

    They should call the MET office before them and ask them the same about their 50 year projections for the weather climate.

  3. 3
    Dave Lee Travis says:

    Want to see my hairy cornflake kids?

  4. 4
    Ric Holden CCHQ says:

    Guido,Last week, you told us your daily costs are rising — and 99% of the 15,731 people who took our survey agree with you.

    A Labour government will make Britain’s cost of living our priority. So: are you with us?

  5. 5
    Ma­qbo­ul says:

    Making predictions, particularly of the future, is not an exact science.

  6. 6
    Rory Keelan says:

    Copyright infringement!

    It sounds like a (rejected) script for an episode of ‘Yes Minister’. It vis one thing to (secretly have) contempt for parliamentary scrutiny but something very different (and very possibly career limiting) to display it so openly.

  7. 7
    Costello says:

    Do not associate me with Fatbot please.

  8. 8
    Yes time for Slingo to sling her hook says:

    They have had the bankers, the spooks, the plod, the Murdochs, the generals, even Rusbridger but never the people who told us all the ice at the North Pole will have melted by now and it would never snow again.

  9. 9
    LibLabCon says:

    Great stuff.
    Tired hearing the Office of Budget Responsibility dragged up, time and again, as if it was the font of all knowledge……when all it is is a convenient distraction, and fucking costly to run

  10. 10
    Ed Miliband says:

    A cotht of livingth cwisis

  11. 11
    Tell Dave's gut that says:

    So why is Dave planting windmills and solar panels as if it were?

  12. 12
    Paniagua V5 says:

    Guido has found a new meal right in between breakfast and brunch, so now lunch only needs to be 90 minutes.

  13. 13
    Mr Potato Head says:

    “The immigrants were of working age, their education had been paid for, they were assets.”

    Yes we have all seen the benefits of these immigrants on Benefits Street.

    Paying income tax (assuming they did pay any) in their home land and sending most of their income home for their families benefits us how?

    Paying child benefit for these families benefits us how?

    Paying for interpreters when they cant speak English benefits us how?

    The only ones who benefit are the immigrant gang leaders who rip them off by making them sex slaves or turn them into slave labour.

  14. 14
    NUM says:




  15. 15
    Mr Potato Head says:

    The rising cost of living is a direct result of Labour policy The green energy poll tax for one example. The devaluation of the pound caused by Labour’s credit crisis, QE and 7.5% recession is another.

  16. 16
    i don't n eed no doctor says:

    The BBC’s
    Jimmy Savile
    Stuart Hall
    Dave Lee Travis
    Strange how the BBC distances itself from the above three.

  17. 17

    Not convinced about this at all.

    Was going to mention it on the previous page. Guido has returned from lunch…, it began and with a timestamp recorded at 1:43 pm.

    Unfortunately, I had to go and answer the door to one of these endless stream of strippergrams that we seem to get her, for some unknown reason.

  18. 18
    Twiddle Thumbs says:

    The OBR was invented by politicians as their excuse for getting it wrong.

    Just what does government do these days? 99% of law made in Brussels, BOE looks after sterling, OBR does the budget, Hugh grant does press regulation, the lottery funds the arts and lefty causes and Stephen Fry does depression and homosexuality. What else is left?

  19. 19
    Time 2 CTRL, ALT & DEL says:

    absolutely agree. Lets be honest economists only exist because nobody has a clue how it all works including them.

  20. 20
    Ask the BBC says:

    What happened to that £100,000,000?

  21. 21

    Will that turn out to be the case?

  22. 22
    dai economically says:

    so when do we become insolvent – on what interest rate assumptions?

    might it be better to provide the ‘experts’ with assumptions that the politicos would like to make – then say ‘what if’?

    perhaps this is the service mp’s need –
    hm treasury though helpful has its own script –
    party economists are corralled by existing policy and personal ambition

    simple questions might generate warnings worth minding

  23. 23
    The BBC causes serious mental illness says:

    And the other 30 lesser known alumni of theirs who have been sent down so far as a result of Yewtree.

  24. 24
    This Ole House of Commons says:

  25. 25
    David Cameron's gut says:

    OBR warning ? Must be global warming.

  26. 26

    The case comes up next week.

  27. 27
    BBC Department of Human Resources says:

    We have no recollection of anyone by those names working at the BBC.

  28. 28
    Warren Peace says:

    RT the only reliable source of news left, talks to Galloway about Blair, Syria and drone strikes against innocent people.

  29. 29
    Igas Fracking corp Whitney Oxfordshire says:

    “It seems to add grist to Osborne’s mill that we need to reduce the size of the state or go bust.
    The reason we can no longer afford to fund the state , is because we give all the funding money away to the E U
    And not one of them has the balls to stop it!

  30. 30

    The partner of President Francois Hollande has let it be known she will forgive him his affair with a younger actress so long as she remains the first lady of France. She is said to be devastated at the prospect of not accompanying him on a state visit to the US next month. – The Australian

    If true, it tells you all you need to know about priorities of life in these self-centred circles.

  31. 31
    Mother Nature says:

    I am not being a bitch, but that will be their next line.

  32. 32
    Toxic Labour for Spongers, Parasites, Immigrants, Criminals & other Wasters. says:

    These committees must cost an absolute fortune. The question is, what value add is there? Very little from what I’ve seen.

  33. 33
    FFS says:

    “The immigrants were of working age, their education had been paid for, they were assets.”

    Ah, so true. And yet the first thing they do when they get here is have two kids in quick succession allowing them to claim all manner of benefits, stuff our schools to the gills and fill out our maternity wards.

    The working people of this great nation are almost stupid enough to believe this crap, but unlike our politicians they are actually using the same schools and hospitals as the immigrants, so they have been forced to wise up.

    It really is time the politicians stopped patronising us with these fantasy stories of the benefits of mass immigration.

  34. 34
    Jimmy says:

    Quite right. Here is an example of Savile on the BBC

  35. 35
    Paniagua V5 says:

    The posh word for a guess is forecast.

  36. 36
    The Late Baroness Thatcher of Pestilence says:

    Don’t know about you chaps but I could murder an Indian

  37. 37

    From La Mort ‏@LaMortLaVraie:


    -Vous couchez avec Julie Gayet?
    -No comment. Autre question?
    -Où en est l’inversion de la courbe du chômage?
    -Oui, je me tape Julie Gayet.

    Wonderful! GF has just retweeted an English version.

  38. 38
    81lly Kebæb says:


  39. 39
    bergen says:

    True and he’s managed to make an international laughing stock of France and the office of its presidency.

  40. 40
    Ed (Heisenberg Compensator) Milliband says:

    The hole in the space time continuum is a 2015 tory created disaster.

  41. 41
    Madasafish says:

    50 year forecasts?

    In business, we looked at five year forecasts. The trouble was, the one year forecasts were often wildly wrong so a five year forecast was a complete waste of time.

    If the OBR is doing 50 year forecasts they can save a lot of time, money and people by looking at what they said for last year, the actual result and the variance. If the difference is greater than 1%, then by 50 years they could be out by 50% if the errors continued!

    A complete waste of time and money. As anyone who has ever done the exercise knows, you achieve whatever answer you want by tweaking the assumptions. A little change per year goes a long way in 50 years.

    How to save some time and money./ Forecast 15 years .. tops.

  42. 42
    Sir William Wayde says:

    It’s important to remember that economics, like astrology, is a rigorous, difficult and impressive method of generating stupendously unreliable predictions.

    This is because (a) its theories cannot be verified or falsified by experiment; (b) it makes simplifying assumptions about discontinuous variables; (c) trying to be scientific, it assumes that the future will be essentially the same as the present and (d) economists lack humility.

  43. 43
    FFS says:

    Ah the cost of living “crisis” as Millibland puts it.

    Hmmm, and what is Milliband actually going to do about this “crisis”? Oh, he told us. He’s going to freeze energy prices for 20 months.

    Hmmm. So this “crisis”is presumably less of a crisis and more of a minor inconvenience, requiringthe equivalent of a 1% saving in household costs for less than 2 years?

    It seems the public have seen through that one, which is why Millibland’s lead has declined from 12% to 3% in a matter of months.

  44. 44
  45. 45

    Don’t I get one?

    One imagines that you are not attempting to cast Margaret Thatcher as an accessory before the crime?

  46. 46
    Psyche the Dog says:

    50 years, you have to be joking, any government figures are always wrong from week to week unless they of course slip in the economists proviso, “all things being equal” what a complete waste of money, world could have a return of the plague, so virulent in the middleages with the ease of travel all over the world, WW3, once the banksters get back to normal, they will be back to their old ways with “I’ve got a cunning plan to make pots of cash)” anything can happen from a major drought due to a big heat wave, to a mini ice age. Why don’t they just stick to trying to 1 to 5 years accurately and they cannot even do that yet.

  47. 47

    ‘Tis neither science nor art.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Jimmy says:

    I’m just underlining how poor the Beeb’s child protection policies were back in the day.

  50. 50
    Psyche the Dog says:

    Even Global Warming predictions are more predictable than this load of bilge

  51. 51
    Maximus says:

    I think I could have made one prediction in 1964 that would have stood the test of time: that the usurers would in 2014 still have their suckers attached to the public finances.

    What with the dont-look-at-us-over-here, just-look-at-those-chavs-there! narrative all the rage, it seems rage against the usurers is soon forgotten.


  52. 52
    Jimmy says:

    Indeed. France’s reputation for monogamy is going to take a severe beating from this.

  53. 53
    nigels parachute says:

    The romanians on benefits street last night said they had everthing they wanted back home in Romania

    If that was the case I would love to have asked them why they felt the need to come here then

  54. 54
    FFS says:

    Stll are it seems, still are……

  55. 55
    Psyche the Dog says:

    B’Liar managed to create more laws than any government, boy he was a lawyers delight

  56. 56
    Nocturnal Emissions says:

    When people say “I’m just…”, it sounds like an excuse for their shortcoming.

    You are trying to hide from us that the real Jimmy has left you lot and joined UKIP. That’s right, isn’t it?

  57. 57
    Nonces Я Us says:

    Is it coincidence or a coordinated schedule to have all three appear in court on the same day?

    First up this morning, William Roache.

    Then Dave Lee Travis.


    Veteran TV presenter Rolf Harris has pleaded not guilty to 12 indecent assault charges.

    The 83-year-old of Bray, Berkshire, was remanded on bail at Southwark Crown Court ahead of his trial on 30 April.

    He is accused of assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986.

  58. 58
    Anon says:

    Because here, they have everything they want, and more?

  59. 59
    altruism in industry says:

    I wonder if he will feel comfortable sleeping with the first Lady after this ? Perhaps he will wake up with his balls in a vice ?

  60. 60
    14/01/14 is Celebrity Court Day says:

    DLT, Ken Barlow and Rolf Harris all in court today.

  61. 61

    Note use of the formulation severe beating.


  62. 62
    Mornington Crescent says:

    I suspect the last bit could be made up – although it wouldn’t surprise me – but the rest has already appe’ared in the French media.

  63. 63
    FFS says:

    You won’t get any reliable news out of George “Best friend of Saddam and his psycho sons” Galloway.

    The mans a ranting demagogue. I you want to know how H!tler started off, just look at Galloway. There is a reason why he’s an admirer of men that have a habit of exercising total power you know……

  64. 64
    Mornington Crescent says:

    Tr@vis, H@rris and Ro@che all beginning their tri@ls the same day? Shurely no coincidence…

  65. 65
    Gordon Brown says:

    I like Waybuloo but I don’t know which I prefer the most out of Upsy Daisy and Balamory. I’m not keen on Shaun the Sheep though. He seems a bigot.

  66. 66
    altruism in industry says:

    in 50 years the country will be unrecognizable one way or the other.

  67. 67
    FFS says:

    The reason we cannot fund the state is because the middle-classes are now funding the bottom end of the working class and the unemployed to have the same standard of living as they have. The middle classes haven’t caught on yet because they are still clinging to their homes in posh areas, but they will.

  68. 68
    FFS says:

    Will there be an official role for France’s second lady? And will they extend this to cover the possibility of a third or further ladies?

  69. 69
    Fatty Pang says:

    Is that me?

  70. 70
    Writing from the year 2064, the Arch-Imam of Canterburyabad says:


  71. 71
    jk says:

    Well that was the open question wasn’t it? They were moaning away on Brummy Benefits Street about how everything was so much better in Romania than here.

    Tell you something, that was filmed before they could get benefits, you’ll never shift them now.

    By the way. The Romanians can’t get shot of the Roma quick enough and any lefty who will tell you different has never been to Romania. But to gire the Romanians their due, they don’t give the Roma one penny in benefits.

  72. 72
    Psyche the Dog says:

    They first of all want to get their figures correct, then try to get weekly and monthly figures correct, finally get 1 year and then the 5 year figures correct. They can always say how they want things to to be like, not delude themselves that they are genuine projections as seems to be the case.

  73. 73
    FFS says:

    Why do we need a forecast of how much shit we will be in 50 years from now when we already know we are in the shit?

  74. 74

    I think I’m a pretty straight sort of guy…

  75. 75
    A Good question says:

    The Hackney Citizen has asked Ms Abbott whether she likes the portrait and thinks the acquisition of it by Parliament was a good use of public funds. We are awaiting a response from her office


  76. 76
    Daine Abbottomasbigasthemoon says:


  77. 77
    Psyche the Dog says:

    Economists in my day always liked to think of it as a science, it seems based on a system of maths known as probabilities, you know the way the bookies work out the odds at the start of betting, when you have a multiple of factors to amalgamate it needs very few to be false and the whole calculation is way out

  78. 78
    hahahahahahaha says:

    the real problem is the middle class

    lawyers, teachers, civil servants are all parasites of the state

    your education don’t count for shit

    take a look at fiverr.com

  79. 79
    This is what we've come to says:

    Are some jurors really this thick?

    A judge has told a panel of potential jurors that the “real person” William Roache is on trial, not his fictional Coronation Street character. Mr Justice Tim Holroyde QC said any views of Ken Barlow must be “put out of your mind” to ensure a “fair and independent judgement” can be reached.

  80. 80
    Anon says:

    Surely people who watch Coronation Street shouldn’t be allowed to sit on juries, anyway?

    Come to think of it, they shouldn’t be allowed to vote or operate complex machinery, either.

  81. 81
  82. 82
    This is what we've come to says:

    Coronation Street star William Roache indecently assaulted a 14-year-old-girl in the men’s toilet at the Granada TV studios in Manchester and then sent her a signed photo, a court has heard.

    Sending the letter “was a sort of grooming as we nowadays know it,” prosecutor Anne Whyte QC said.

  83. 83
    Spot the dick says:

    When is Cameron going to do one those monthly press conferences he promised us? In fact when did he last do one?

  84. 84
    This is what we've come to says:

    Jimbo, yes, he’s a Tory. But don’t pretend Labour don’t have their own pedaloes.

  85. 85
    This is what we've come to says:

  86. 86
    President Owen Jones says:

    I’ll drink to that!

  87. 87
    Village Idiot says:

    ….The scale of recent immigration and the impact on society,has been damaging in many ways’,and,is in no way whatsoever,beneficial in creating a peaceful,harmonious country,quite the reverse,so,please stop the mantra and lies that we have benefitted!….The quality of life has been eroded,and,as it is irreversible,will continue to erode!

  88. 88
    10 Lefties make Benefits Street top Monday Night Entertainment says:

  89. 89
    Dimmy Dave is the worst Prime Minister ever ! says:

    You want to see and hear more of him??

  90. 90
    Who's the scarecrow in blue? Are they looking for Ali's DK body says:

    Why has Jimmy got the horn?

  91. 91
    Wendi and Carole says:

    Ours too

  92. 92
    FFS says:

    I wouldn’t put it passed the dirty fecker, I really wouldn’t. Bastard has screwed everybody else…..

  93. 93
    Someone with an odd sense of humour says:

    Everytime he opens his mouth he dies a lot, politically.

    In fact, the entire LibLabCon shambles does.

    For that reason, more Dave is a good thing.

  94. 94

    If only economists were as good as bookies!

    You don’t see this in the bookmaking world do you? One lot give odds for this and the other lot give completely different odds which would make you think you were talking of a different horse at first.

    They are much too canny. But, Tote aside (before), they are not run or owned by government.

  95. 95
    P-a-u-l Smugman, Nobel Laureate says:

    “…[E]conomists lack humility.”

    “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble
    When you’re perfect in every way!
    I can’t wait to look in the mirror
    I get better looking each day!
    To know me is to love me
    I must be a helluva man
    Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble
    But I do the best that I can!”

  96. 96
    Elebos NEVER forget even the smallest details says:

    Put most of that down to his pushy slag of a wife. Partners in crime – the creme de la creme.

  97. 97
    Hang Diane? says:

    It looks like a bad, a very bad, a very, very, very bad Beryl Cook picture.
    Mind you, Beryl’s pictures always give you a warm smile inside, unlike this gorgon.

  98. 98
    bergen says:

    I suspect that the judge remembered that Roache sued a paper for libelling the character of Ken Barlow (“boring” or similar).

    Naturally he lost (and lost his fortune) .Why he was advised to bring that case we’ll never know.

  99. 99
    FFS says:

    It’s a bit like saying “5 years ago we were not under water. Now we are 6 feet under water. In 50 years, if we carry on like this we expect to be 60 feet under water. We need to aim to be less under water to avoid drowning”.

  100. 100

    Your moniker could become self-fulfilling, come to think about it…

    Can an Englishman become French president? I might consider throwing my chapeau into the ring, or thereabouts…

  101. 101
    Hayek says:

    See Austrian economics

  102. 102
    Elebos NEVER forget even the smallest details says:

    A truly worthy successor that one eyed Scotch cvnt then…

  103. 103
    Dimmy Dave is the worst Prime Minister ever ! says:

    Hmm. Good point!

  104. 104
    The consensus says:

  105. 105
    Casual Observer 5 says:

    Jimmy, I think the attempt to politicize child abuse, and its practitioners is perhaps the worst excess of the Labour smear machine which emerged in the early 90’s after Al Campbell figured that John Majors underpants were fair game for a laugh.

    Would you not deny that there appears to be a cross party problem with CSA over which partisan p!ssing competitions should perhaps be put to one side and justice sought and executed cleanly ?

    Saying that, Tom Watson does appear to have abandoned the victims to which he perhaps gave hope.

  106. 106
    My Daughter says:

    Unrest in Europe? Have the Americans gone home? Who will protect us from the Germans?

  107. 107
    Owen Jones watches this show, and laughs says:

    It is like a reality version of spitting image.

  108. 108
    Rhubarb says:

    Another useless Qango all nice and ready for the bonfire.

  109. 109
    Santa's little helpers says:

    Uncle Trident and Little Miss Hellfire.

  110. 110
    Rhubarb says:

    So what does an airy-fairy, head in the clouds QC Judge know about Coronation Street? I bet he has never seen more than 2 episodes throughout his life.

    (A bit like me really!)

  111. 111
    Jimmy says:

    Not entirely. One of the first steps this government took on taking office was to tear up the vetting and barring scheme. You can’t demand less red tape for kiddyfiddlers and then complain if someone mentions it.

  112. 112
    Rhubarb says:

    Dimbo! It is because lawyers get paid win or lose – they don’t give a stuff about the results. Just more easy money wrung out of thickheads with too big egos.

  113. 113
    Santa's little helpers says:

    That effort should be hanged in a very public place.

  114. 114
    Happy days says:

    The highlight of this week was how the street fared in the Britain in Bloom Competition…….8th…”White Dee” promised to put up flower baskets next year(absolute clincher)whilst “Black Dee” just wanted the judges to just “Fuck Off !” Classic comedy gold !!

  115. 115
    sizzler says:

    hit any part of the body that is red.

  116. 116
    Penfold says:

    Scrap the Treasury, open a small shop attached to the Bank of England and call it The Public Debt Office.
    As for economic forecasts, grab the nearest old dear clutching a crystal ball and ask for a prediction, or get a seance going and ask for Doris…..
    Fuckwits, on both sides.

  117. 117
    Herman van Rompuy says:

    No, no, NO! It’s the European Union that keeps peace in Europe! Without it, the Germans would surely have done their stuff again and we’d be in the middle of World War Three.

    Now celebrate European harmony, and don’t give me any of your “Nuclear Weapons are acting as a deterrent” nonsense again.

  118. 118
    Casual Observer 5 says:

    You would be very surprised at just how much science these days is essentially probability.

    The learned cat is a very good case in point, for a theorist, but for the experimentalist,direct observations these days are impossible and fact is inferred from statistical outcomes of a result.

    In abstract, a tolerance (such as the range of pressure to which a car tyre can be inflated) is just a probability of what your measurement is.

    Scientists are honest about this.

    The disconnect is that most people are educated to believe in fact and those beliefs are then manipulated by others who present what are really only reasonable results that in most cases should be discussed, as definite unquestionable proof.

    Economics is the least honest of the supposed sciences in this respect, as well as many others. And it is usually wrong.

  119. 119
    Mystic Meg's chip pan says:

    I predict a diet.

  120. 120

    It is now clear that lunch must have begun after 2, the previous page being a mere hiatus.

  121. 121
    All socialists are hypocrites says:

    The problem is that whilst “James Turner Street”” community are in the minority there are lots of them dotted all around the country. Another indictment of Labour policy over the 13 years they were in government and fucking up the economy and society

  122. 122
    The Wrong Miliband says:

    Quite. All partieth involved thould be thacked with forth.

  123. 123
    The Maginot Line says:

    The French will stop them !!!

  124. 124
    Ma­qbo­ul says:

    Our pikeys will sort them out.

  125. 125
    A bird says:

    Will this link to the Larousse page finally work?

  126. 126
    BOGOF says:

    But as they have no shortage of money for Booze, fags and mobile phones down benefits street, why does 50p man have to reduce his 50p washing powder to 30p?

  127. 127
    A bird says:

    Hooray. That was the fourth try by various means.
    Your most humble & obdt svt

  128. 128
    The tit who claims he's in charge of the greenest government the world has ever seen says:

    When is the best time of year to collect the seeds from windmills ?

  129. 129
    rogerhicks says:

    Interesting that he lives in “Yew Tree Lane”

  130. 130
    rogerhicks says:


  131. 131
    Casual Observer 5 says:

    It would appear that red tape is not the solution but part of the problem.

    Jack Straw was quite instrumental in trying to criminalize the act of reporting abuse by children in state care.

    There should be minimal red (and pink) tape for this issue:

    i) A report is made, it is investigated, if enough evidence for trial – do it.

    ii) If there is a suspicion – report it. Go to i) – If it is discovered there is knowledge and not reported, prosecute that third party.

    iii) Cease with compensation culture propaganda, and all the other b/s which leads to cover ups and excuses being made, up to and including the human rights / civil liberties arguments which some were trying to make back in the 70s.

    It was clear that Watson was looking for a smear angle rather than justice. There are legitimate questions over the likes of Brittan, Heath, Hodge, Blair, and you can take your pick of the Lib Dems.

    The problem with large state is that it provides very easy cover for p’edophile and other criminal activity. Just on basis of probability a larger state will contain larger criminal elements.

    Good argument there for reducing the size of state, and it was Labour who increased it massively during their last term.

    But on the issue of CSA it is perhaps not helping that the issue is being kept alive for purely partisan reasons.

  132. 132
    Priorities says:

    Because they’ve spent all their money for Booze, fags and mobile phones?

  133. 133
    Due to uncleared gullies we're all in the pool together says:


  134. 134
    Mr Potato Head says:

    Hollande has just been asked if his wife is still the First Lady. No answer.

    Maybe they should have asked him if she is in the first three.

  135. 135
    Matrix Churchill / Gerald Bull says:

    Berlin and Brussels would be well within range of a properly designed super gun, and very easy to shell.

    Could do with some jobs in Sheffield.

    Just sayin’

  136. 136

    grab the nearest old dear…? Sounds dangerously like that Ed Balls electioneering video in 2010 (which I can’t find right now.)

  137. 137
    Choices Choices says:

  138. 138
    Immigrants UK says:

    We won’t stop them.

  139. 139
    Marine Le Pen says:

    I’m free !

  140. 140
    Jack Ketch says:

    No gibbet has yet been built that could take the weight.

  141. 141
    Mr Potato Head says:

    In his U-turn he has just said that to create jobs for young people in companies you need those companies to exist. Maybe that lesson should be taught at all schools throughout Europe – to the teachers.

  142. 142
    Once again the BBC demonstrates poor editorial judgeent in its news coverage says:

    Why is the BBC News Channel covering Hollande’s Press Conference in Paris in Full and”Live” and in french ?

  143. 143
    A very happy wife says:

    “spot the dick”

    Cyclist, 22, had an erection lasting for FIVE WEEKS


  144. 144
    Mr Potato Head says:

    No Closer then.

  145. 145
    Hammer and Tongue says:

    Wonder what the Hammer wielding bloke who came out after the judges had gone was all about? He seemed to want to smash in the skull of the nice lady from the church for some reason and probably would have done if the film crew had not been there. Perhaps his idea of Britain in Bloom was growing cannabis in all the spare bedrooms freed up by IDS.

  146. 146
    Le Matchmaker, dot fr says:

    Bon soir. Je suis un homme dynamique et chaud. Je desire un femme pour accompaniment a moi a voyage a d’Etats Unis. Bisous, François Hollande (Presidente).

  147. 147
    Could be says:

    Err perhaps because it was held in Paris and they speak French there?

  148. 148
    D'amian M'cBride says:


  149. 149
    Fuck the EU says:

    That is another point which works against the In campaign for the referendum.

  150. 150
    The Bar Council - Integrity, Excellence, Justice says:

    3 for 1 offer ?

    Never on your Nelly !

  151. 151
    Owen Jones is a mong says:

    White Dee has a point. Hanging baskets might have helped bump them up a few places. 8th isn’t all bad.

  152. 152
    Will the French really block her passage ? says:

    So what Monsieur le President’s floozie is saying is that she thinks she should come with the job.

  153. 153

    In your example of a car tyre, more than one experiment can be conducted to test different inputs. The results can be collated. Statistical error may be approximated and is always stated.

    The world of economics just cannot be modelled in the same way for different solutions, the more particularly in a specific circumstance. You cannot go back and do it the other way.

    So it is not a science, as I believe you are saying.

    The definition of art is not one which attracts universal agreement but many people would probably accept that creativity plays a significant part.

    For the man on the Clapham Omnibus, the idea of economics being subject to its practitioners’ creativity sounds somewhat dubious, if not outright fraudulent. I would agree with him.

    So what does the study of economics validly compare with? I am not sure myself but would offer voodoo, witch doctory, reading tea leaves, psychology as good starting points for consideration.

  154. 154
    My Daughter says:

    Politicians smell. Who will you vote for in the EU elections? No Who? Really who? Got it?

  155. 155
    WTF says:

    Do you plan to fuck a lot of other blokes when you become president Marine? Because you do look a bit slutty if I’m honest.

  156. 156
    non taxable pikey says:

    Take away the pain but leave the swelling?

  157. 157
    non taxable pikey says:

    They might still have the moulds.

  158. 158
    Scamming the public says:

    Bearing in mind that it is the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation and their audience speaks English(in the main)why do they need to cover it in full,live and with a translator though ?

  159. 159
    WTF says:

    Not to mention a certain Labour organisation that provided cover to such people to form networks and pass around information back in the late 1970s.

  160. 160
    My Daughter says:

    Marie and Nigel kissing, saw you! Marie and Cambo YUK, Who is miliduck ?

  161. 161

    Fantastic, Pody! I have saved the page in my permanent archive.

    One never knows when these things are going to come in handy, as the Bishop said to the Actress.

  162. 162
    JimmyWatch says:

    Do you realise that every time you attempt to make a point or try and be smart you get proved wrong?

    I don’t want to sound insulting but do you enjoy being made to look foolish? Are you related to IkonikonJack?

  163. 163
    altruism in industry says:

    you can get quite a good likeness with a digital camera for, I dunno, 20 quid a print ?

  164. 164
    Pick litter for bennies says:

    Because the BBC see the UK,s future(and beyond)in the beloved EU.

  165. 165
    Psyche the Dog says:

    Only half of them were jiving the others were pretending, it’s a bit like the HoC less than half actually appear in the chamber some virtually never.

  166. 166
    Psyche the Dog says:

    No one seems to complain when Boris is up to his old tricks, they ha,ha, it’s just Boris being Boris, what a lad.

  167. 167
    Bonar Law says:

    Tyrie is not the “chair” of the committee, as you well know, Simon. He is the “chairman”. Cut out the PC crap.

  168. 168
    Tom Catesby. says:

    Does Hollande have a licence for the scooter?

  169. 169
    John Bellingham says:

    Remember “Uncle” Mac OBE?
    Paedophilia, sexual perversion and abuse has been endemic at the BBC for generations.


  170. 170
    John Bellingham says:

    More like the Jeremy Kyle show without the pompous bloke.

  171. 171
    Graham says:

    Arsehole politicians who understand fuck all about common sense economics. Simple to understand that you spend what you can afford. They should also realise that the welfare state wants drastic pruning. IDS has the right idea in allowing child benefit for two children only , and eventually scrapping it altogether.

  172. 172
    NE Frontiersman says:

    I dread that one day soon they will discover something revolting about Noggin the Nog, and the last of my battered innocence will crumble.

  173. 173
    IMHO says:

    “Select Committees” on whatever subject they fancy is probably the biggest scam going in the HoC. Certainly more lucrative than (and additional to) the odd expense fiddle. Some of the Chairpersons are totally corrupt and should be in jail rather than the HoC. They are totally useless at extracting any useful/relevant information from those brought before them for a pretend grilling, but they do ensure that they themselves get all that extra cash in hand just for being on a Committee and wasting everybody else’s time and money. The whole system should binned – and added to that infamous and still awaited Bonfire of all the Bullshit we are having thrust upon us.

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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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