Arrest Osborne Next

Surely the logic of the government’s position means that George Osborne should be arrested. In the PBR debate he all but confessed to being in receipt of leaks when he said “we know” about government plans to push VAT up to 20%. He has had the jump on the Treasury brief more than once, he is clearly conspiring with a mole public official. Seize him…

UPDATE : What does Robert Peston think of those who conspire with public officials to leak sensitive information? Does it only matter when it hinders rather than helps the regime?

Clunking Fists Strike Opponents

Guido can’t remember anything like this happening in his lifetime. This was not a national security issue. Counter terrorist police arresting opposition politicians?

UPDATE : David Davis on the Today show made the same point, that locking up opposition MPs for 9 hours is a tactic “reminiscent of Robert Mugabe”, Tim Montgomerie doesn’t approve of the comparison.

+++ Cameron Calls 8 a.m. Press Conference +++

Speccie says something is up, all we know from ConservativeHome is it involves a shadow minister.

CCHQ says the breakfast briefing is about the “credit crisis”

UPDATE : Paul Waugh speculates it could be that the Tory Treasury mole has been outed.

Recession Bites Into Politics

Financial Dynamics is letting go of a dozen spinmeisters – mainly on the public affairs side. FD paid £4 million for dodgy close-to-New-Labour spin operation LLM only last year, just as the usefulness of New Labour contacts became questionable.

As yet unconfirmed rumours going around that the ailing Dods-owned website ePolitix.com is to close with two thirds of Dods reporting staff being made redundant next week. An insider told Guido that they were not “immune” from the downturn.

Brown’s Whips are Paid Yobs

Quentin Letts in the Mail and Anne Treneman in the Times have identified another abuse office of by Brown. Have you wondered why it increasingly sounds like a football match during PMQs and big debates? The speaker is more than ever admonishing even frontbenchers. Letts highlights the tactics of Labour Party’s yobbish, undemocratic whips:

An astonishing 17 members of the Government Whips’ Office rushed in as Mr Osborne started speaking, to mix with Labour backbenchers and give an impression of widespread outrage.

The way they appeared from nowhere it was as though someone had just lifted a manhole cover and so many sewer mice had come scampering into the cockpit of democracy.

I have noted before the rising tendency of these state-paid Whips (they receive ministerial salaries which place them comfortably in the current top-rate tax bracket) to pack the Labour benches when a Tory is speaking. Never has it been so bad or obvious.

Whips traditionally kept silent in the Chamber. Under the leadership of Gordon Brown – the same Gordon Brown who poses as a defender of Parliament and who claims to want to hear the Tories make their case – this custom has been trashed.

The Whips are now rent-a-gob.

Today a twitchy little man called Lucas, one of the Whips’ number, stood by the double doors heckling Mr Osborne like a football hooligan. The place where Mr Lucas was standing was not officially part of the Commons playing-field.A moment later he stepped over the red line on the carpet and strode to a seat.So it can be said legitimately that a servant of the Crown entered the Commons bawling abuse, like a drunk entering a Wild West saloon.

Another Whip, Bob Blizzard (normally meek), was sitting beyond the gangway in a little knot of Labour MPs. Mr Osborne was trying to explain Conservative policy. Labour people kept trying to get him to give way so that they could make interventions – and throw him off track. “Give way!” shouted Mr Blizzard. I watched him. He said it more than five times, top of his voice, smirking as he did so. Five times!

Speaker Martin tried briefly to quell the Government side but he was no match for this wall of noise.

Another Whip, Mark Tami, chuckled as larky neighbours kept jumping up to try to disrupt Mr Osborne.

Ian Austin, yet another high-salaried tribune of Her Majesty’s Government, leaned back, played pocket billiards and drawled ruderies out of one side of his gob.

Nick Brown, Chief Whip, sat near the Chancellor and oozed satisfaction.

Why are taxes paying extra for party whips on either side of the chamber to thwart democracy? Surely whipping, even in its traditional rather than neo-Brownshirt form, is a party matter, and arguably an unhealthy method of suppressing the democratic will of the people. Why should taxpayers fork out extra for this?

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.

+++ 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

[…]

+ READ MORE +

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

[…]

+ READ MORE +

PMQs Live Chat – Now 18.5% Bigger

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

[…]

+ READ MORE +

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

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Adam Boulton says David Cameron campaigned as a neo-Thatcherite…

“The manifesto programme, with its sell-off of social housing, clampdown on public sector strikes, EU in/out referendum and benefit cuts, represents a much more traditional, neo-Thatcherite conservatism than that offered by Cameron Mk 1…”

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