More to follow…
The coordinated attacks this week on George Osborne were pre-planned to coincide with the end of the recession as predicted by consensus economists. Except that the economy did not oblige. On Friday the ONS reported numbers that shocked Gordon Brown, who has long clung to the belief that a rising economy will save him. His curse prevailed.
Unlike in the rest of the recovering industrialised world, UK GDP fell by a shock 0.4 % last quarter, meaning the economy had now contracted for six successive quarters, the longest recession in British recorded history. Labour’s strategic plan, into which Guido understands Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson had input, was to use the reported official end of recession to claim victory in the battle against the crisis. On the back of that they would launch a ferocious attack on George Osborne’s response to the crisis.
There was no recovery reported. Op-eds had already been lined up in friendly papers, “lines to take” established, Bad Al Campbell himself lined up a letter in the FT focusing on Osborne’s shadow chancellor / campaign manager roles. Labour produced publicity material (above) and digital animations to be used in online campaigns. Mark Hanson, a backroom adviser on Labour’s online strategy, had placed a pre-written article on LabourList that he failed to revise to reflect the terrible Q3 GDP figures; “The campaign looks at what the real consequences would have been if George Osborne’s misjudgments had been enacted and led to a deeper, longer and more painful recession.”
That quote looks revealingly silly in the light of the figures showing Britain is suffering the deepest, longest and most painful recession ever recorded. Attack dogs Liam Byrne and Alastair Campbell nimbly recalibrated their attack lines. Instead of attacking Osborne as wrong on the recession, he was they claimed wrong on bailing out the banks (Byrne), wrong on political strategy (Campbell). With Gordon proved wrong on the recession by the numbers, with Britain shown to be worst placed of all the G7 nations, with our economy now smaller than Italy’s economy, the whole “Gordon was right on the recession” line is in tatters. Maybe they will try to resurrect it when the economy does finally bottom. Too late for Gordon, who by some accounts took the released figures very badly. At PMQs he stuck to the “I’m right, you are wrong, wrong, wrong” line even when the numbers showed differently.
With the new German government announcing a massive multi-billion growth package of tax cuts to boost the economy it will no longer be credible to paint the Tories as out of touch and isolated. The Tories have a surprise for Gordon, which Guido will spoil, footage of President Obama time and time again saying in recent months that you have to cut taxes to help people in a recession. With two of the industrialised world’s biggest economies – Germany and the United States – now implementing growth orientated policies, Gordon’s big government tax, borrow and spend will look out of kilter and isolated. His last hope of a political recovery strategy is now past its sell by date…
Sort of jealous that Guido’s old sparring partner Tom Watson has reputedly trousered circa £50,000 from the combined damages he received from the Mail on Sunday and the Sun. Tax free as well, that will more than make up for his loss of £400-a-month cash he claimed (no receipts necessary) in expenses for groceries. Guido put it to him earlier today and he did not deny it. Guido, alas, did Smeargate for pleasure…
The Financial Times has just announced a year-on-year circulation fall of more than 14% in the UK. The paper now sells more copies overseas than in the UK – which may explain its fanatically europhile stance. Whereas the core UK readership is from the eurosceptic City and business community, the overseas readership is euo-establishment. Increasingly commuters to the Square Mile are turning to City AM if they are casual consumers of financial news or, if they are need-to-know types, the revamped and strengthened Wall Street Journal.
Allister Heath, the editor of City AM, is a free-marketeer and the paper reflects the values of the readership which toils in the capitalist heart of the economy. The paper is prospering.
Two refugees from the Labourgraph, Patience Wheatcroft and Iain Martin,* have been drafted into the Wall Street Journal in London to strengthen the European edition. They don’t insult their readers, decry their investment banking and hedge fund employers or call for socialist solutions to our economic problems. Murdoch has consequently propelled the WSJ into becoming what is now the single biggest selling newspaper in America and also the only growing newspaper in America. As the FT’s circulation shrinks further perhaps it will decide not to support the Labour Party for a fifth general election in a row. Yes, the Pink ‘Un even backed Neil Kinnock to the huge annoyance of the readership.
*Iain Martin has started mocking the lefties at the FT.
The piggies are squealing now they can see the glint of Sir Christopher Kelly’s knife coming to cut off their perks. Sir Stuart Bell, the ridiculous trougher-in-chief, says somewhat disingenuously that “The House would want to look at these resolutions, to debate them… and have the opportunity to amend them.”
This is the problem, pigs don’t normally choose the manner of their own butchering. Our porcine political class determines their own fate which is why even when they are caughting cheating the public purse of hundreds of thousands (the Wintertons, Jacqui Smith) nothing happens.
Guido predicts that MPs will fight tooth and nail to keep sinecures for their spouses and children – for example we pay £40,000 a year for Jacqui Smith’s husband to knock out expense claim forms when not knocking one out on the porn channel. Sir George Young, the Tory Shadow Leader of the House, who is supposed be leading the charge for the clean up now Alan Duncan is too tainted, at one time employed both his wife and daughter. The pigs will put up a fearsome fight to keep these perks…
Gordon Brown will be spinning at PMQs later today that the reversal of a planned £20 million cut to the Territorial Army training budget is a result of him personally intervening with the Chancellor. In reality it is more likely he just could not face another onslaught at PMQs on the issue.
Cameron raised the issue during a previous PMQs. Former Defence Secretary John Reid – no fan of Gordon’s – also raised the issue this week. Reid was gloating last night about forcing the U-turn by a visibly weakened PM: “Gordon Brown and Bob Ainsworth have always said that those who are taking the risks and making sacrifices would receive the back-up that they needed and I am delighted that they have confirmed that by their willingness to intervene in this.” Somewhat belatedly.
Stories are circulating that Mandelson has given up on Brown and is mulling his Miliband options…
Downing Street is now insisting that Gordon never saw the dozen Biscuitgate questions during the Mumsnet livechat. Being unable to see anything that isn’t in headline size letters, the questions were instead put to him verbally by Mumsnet staff who also typed the answers as well. They allegedly didn’t want to waste the Prime Mentalist’s time on chocolate finger issues.
On Saturday they said on the Downing Street website that Gordon isn’t depressed:
Why the hell shouldn’t he be depressed? Unemployment is nearly 3 million, the public finances are a disaster, the economy is bust and the Labour Party is facing electoral annihilation. He would have to be a madman to be happy. Next they will be claiming he didn’t say he liked to jump out of bed to the sound of the Artic Monkeys in the mornings…
The 38 Seats in England Yet to Select a Tory Candidate | ConHome
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Why Online Voting is a Crap Idea | Ballot Box
Time We Showed Super Rich Some Love | Alice Thomson
We Need True Popular Capitalism | Maurice Saatchi
Labour’s Winning Hand | Sebastian Shakespeare
We Defend Labour’s Record | John Hutton and Alan Milburn
100 Tories to Rebel on Plain Packs | Telegraph
May 2015 and the Art of Political Betting | MAY2015
Fate of Eurozone Rests in Hands of Videogame Expert | TechnoGuido
Alan Milburn says Labour’s scaremongering campaign for an unreformed NHS will not win election…
“It would be a fatal mistake, in my view, for Labour to go into this election looking as though it is the party that would better resource the National Health Service but not necessarily put its foot to the floor when it comes to reforming. Look, reforms are not easy, but the Labour Party is not a conservative party. It should be about moving things forward not preserving them in aspic. You have got a pale imitation actually of the 1992 general election campaign, and maybe it will have the same outcome. I don’t know.”