Thursday, November 27, 2008

Italian and German Governments Cautious on Fiscal Stimulus

Labour’s spin line repeated incessantly is that the Tories are a “do nothing” party, Mandelson’s genius with a soundbite for the frontbench to chant shows. Leaving aside whether it is better to do nothing than do the expensive wrong thing, is it really true that the rest of the world is going down the path of massive fiscal stimulus?

Labour’s benches laughed arrogantly when the Tories retorted that little Ireland and Latvia were taking a Cameroon path. However, bigger European right-of-centre governments in Germany and Italy are not, contrary to Gordon’s claims, embarking on massive fiscal stimulus programmes. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the Danish Socialist party leader in the European parliament is complaining that “Angela Merkel and other conservative leaders such as Berlusconi may well water down the plan and refuse to make the necessary national investments…”. The “plan” is the European Commission’s €200 billion fiscal splurge proposal. Another top down taxpayer funded folly.

Gordon, in full on Global Saviour delusional mode at PMQs yesterday, claimed that everyone backs fiscal stimulus except the British Tories. If you don’t read the foreign news you might believe him. The fact is that across the world left of centre politicians back that approach, right of centre politicians are more sceptical. The need to be seen to “do something” means that right of centre governments are doing token symbolic gestures. Mandelson knows that philosophically the conservatives are wary and is capitalising on this with the “do nothing” soundbite.

Confidence won’t return until the property market bottoms out first, corporate balance sheets are recapitalised and personal indebtness reduced. Governments can do nothing to force those things to happen. Politicians just can’t accept their impotence.

New Osborne Drugs Probe

George Osborne’s younger brother Adam, 32, has been suspended from practising as a doctor for 18 months over alleged prescription irregularities. The suspension by the General Medical Council was ordered in September to allow an investigation. It only became public this morning after it was discovered by the Daily Mirror.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

+++ MFI & Woolies Bust +++

Bankruptcy was not entirely unexpected in the case of these two ailing retailers. Despite Mandelson pleading with Woolies’ bankers into the early hours of this morning they pulled the plug regardless. Tuppence off prices won’t make much difference for them.

Keen readers will notice the change to the portfolio on the right hand side for the first time in a month. Guido has just shorted FTSE futures and Dow futures. Combination of bad local news and a sense that there is a mood of bailout fatigue in the U.S. There is usually a “Santa Claus rally” in the markets at year end. Not sure Santa is going to come this year…

Loans for Lordships Converted Into Donations

At first glance the just released Electoral Commission figures show that the Conservatives raised £5,315,271 (over 20% of which came from taxpayer subsidy) and Labour raised a total of £7,649,747 in donations.

Actually when you break it down it looks like Lord Sainsbury wrote off £2,511,808 in loans and interest, converting the debt into a donation, Sir David Garrard did the same for £352,278 and Sir Gulam Noon likewise for £307,576. J K Rowling put £1 million of her Potter profits into propping up Labour. The rest of the money came from the unions apart from a donation-in-kind from Saatchi and Saatchi for their crap “Not Flash, Just Gordon” campaign.

UPDATE : Contrary to the Press Association report which all the rest of the media (both broadcast and print) are using for their reports, the total figure for loans converted is not £2.25m. It totals £3,171,662 in loans and interest written off from Lord Sainsbury, Sir Gulam Noon and Sir David Gerrard – the latter in the form of a partial conversion of his loan and interest into a donation. Guido just confirmed this with the Electoral Commission. Don’t they check their sources? Guido 1, Big Media 0.

Boulton v Brillo

Have just watched (for the first time all the way through) Sky’s coverage of PMQs and have to say the post-match play-by-play format is superior to Brillo’s post-PMQs style – have a few old political war horses round to chuck in their tuppence on the issues – format. It was a bit stale and boring in comparison.

Sky’s coverage was more like sports reporting, which is how it should be. PMQs is a bloodsport…

PMQs Live Chat – Now 18.5% Bigger

Will be flicking between coverage on Daily Politics and on Sky:

VAT Charade Shows Politicians in a True Light

Gordon’s dithering now appears to be the official government macro-policy stance. We all remember the introduction of the 10p tax rate, the disastrously implemented abolition of it, then Gordon being forced to compensate losers he denied existed. We can see with this inadvertent release of the Treasury document on the implementation of the immediate VAT cut and the planned subsequent VAT hike, how Gordon’s government really operates:
  1. He isn’t able to tell the voters the truth.
  2. He dithers: clearly the intention is to hike VAT later to recoup the revenue lost from the VAT cut now. They were planning to announce that. Cowardice got hold of them and they backed away from admitting it at the last moment.
  3. Incompetence: they hastily re-jig the Pre-Budget-Report to hide this intention, but neglect to delete the truth from all the documents released and fail to fully recalculate the figures. The numbers now don’t add up and there is a £100 billion black hole unexplained. The suspicion is that other tax hikes are being hidden.
These are indeed serious times, so this kind of low political maneuvering is not just politically dishonest, it further damages confidence. It also shows politicians in the worst light, Guido would argue it actually shows them in a truthful light. World weary columnists like Michael White and Polly Toynbee say that Guido’s political analysis is flawed by his hostility to politicians. Guido argues that the public interest is ill-served by pundits who are too sympathetic and close to politicians.

Well here is a chance for them to demonstrate their superior powers of political analysis of this fundamental dishonesty with the voters. Go on Michael/Polly, stop sneering in the margins, explain how this is in the public interest and not narrow party electoral interest. Go on, for once: justify this behaviour.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

+++ Labour’s 18.5% VAT for 2011 Tax Bomb +++ +++ Document Signed by Treasury Minister Stephen Timms +++

click to enlarge

Full document below

Labour’s VAT Bomb

Totty Watch : Possibly the Best Tax Cut Photo Op Ever

Guido will be in the Westminster Arms tomorrow Thursday morning. Bit early even for Guido you might think, this however is for a good and noble cause: the launch of the Save the Pub campaign to to promote a Great British tradition and oppose plans to increase beer tax.

Coronation Street barmaid Michelle Connor (real name Kym Marsh formerly of Hear’Say) will join publicans and CAMRA to lend her support by pulling pints for “special guests” including Guido.

As pleasurable a prospect as this is, Guido would rather it was not necessary, however the British beer and pub industry is under severe and sustained pressure from Alistair Darling:

Tax is a third of the price of a pint of beer.

Sales of beer in pubs are now at their lowest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

36 pubs are closing every week.

More than 44,000 jobs have been lost from the industry between 2000 and 2005.

Economic slowdown and Darling’s announcement of yet another increase in duty yesterday – on top of plans to increase the tax on beer above inflation next year and for the next three years is piling on the pressure on pubs. Guido is single-handedly doing everything he can to help…

Nigel Griffiths Makes An Idiot of Himself

The Tories just packed the Commons debating chamber to win a vote to force the speaker to allow an emergency debate on the PBR tomorrow – something that Labour were resigned to, but keen to avoid since it has gone down like a plate of cold vomit with the public.

Nigel Griffiths jumped up after the vote on a point of order to the Speaker; “Is it in order for MPs to pile into chamber…” he began before being drowned out with laughter from all sides.

Yes, a Labour MP thought it might be out of order for MPs to do their job. Desperate.


Seen Elsewhere

Small State Keynesians, Anti-Corporate Hayekians? | Chris Dillow
Ruffley Shows Why We Need a Proper Recall Bill Now | Alex Wickham
How is Miliband’s ‘New Politics’ Working Out? | Speccie
State Should Send More Poor Children Private | Sam Bowman
£1 Million Cost of Ed Balls’ Ego | Laura Perrins
William Hague’s Sausage Fest | Rochdale Online
Public Doesn’t Prioritise Housing | Mark Pack
Mysterious Case of Ruffley’s Missing Letter | Speccie
All the Single Ladies (And Lords) | Bloomberg
How Ruffley’s Resignation Became Inevitable | ConservativeHome
We Need a Recall Bill Now | Speccie


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Damian McBride writes in the epilogue to his memoir…

“At the time of writing, nine months from the election, I’ve concluded that Labour currently has no positive messages to communicate to anyone about why they should vote for the party, no policies which will persuade them, and is being run in a totally dysfunctional way.”



Rob Wilson says:

Without Predujice

Darling

What time will dinner be ready this evening?

Yours

Rob Wilson MP

In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.


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