Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blair Bodyguard Fired Gun in Israeli Airport

Haaretz reports that

Tony Blair’s body guard caused a fright on Tuesday when he accidentally fired his handgun at Ben-Gurion International Airport. No one was injured in the incident, which occurred outside the terminal building at around 3:00 P.M. Blair, a former British prime minister, was preparing leave Israel at the time.

Israel Airport Authority security guards and police rushed to the scene after the shot. An initial probe revealed that the incident was due to an error by the bodyguard, a foreign national.

In May, Israeli fighter jets scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft suspected to be hostile, only to find out that it carried none other than Blair, a top military official said.

Some might say he always brings trouble to the Middle East…

BBC Reefer Madness

Tax Credit for Breakfast

Dave’s newly announced policy is another welcome help for small businesses, it is not a business subsidy so much as a tax credit, a temporary (only for the duration of the recession) £2,500 tax credit for new created jobs. It will however be restricted to companies that are thinking of expanding, not those thinking of making redundancies. Therein is an example of the trouble with this type of Brown-style micro-tinkering, it is complicated, has loads of qualifications and caveats, requiring small businesses to call their accountant to understand.

This policy idea is, Cameron admitted, more of a think-tank style Pre-Budget Report submission. The Tories like to boast that their policy ideas get nicked by Brown and they get to implement policy by proxy. Gordon has already rejected this one.

So no income tax cut for breakfast, but the Tories were dishing out bacon sarnies as a consolation prize.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tax Cuts for Breakfast

Tomorrow both Gordon and Dave have scheduled press conferences. Dave is having his at 8.30 in the morning to make sure he gets his announcement out first. Clegg has been jumping up and down all day in broadcast studios saying “look at me, the big boys are copying me”. You wait years for a tax cut promise and then three come at once…

UPDATE : The Tory press conference was originally for 10.00 tomorrow morning. Downing Street shifted Brown’s monthly press conference to 9.30 tomorrow, instead of the usual 12.00. Dave then brought his forward to 8.30. Perhaps Gordon will try and trump himby slipping in some policy changes in his speech tonight at the Lord Mayor’s banquet.

Clegg : “I Like Being a Punk Tax Cutter”

The Fink has generously given space to Clegg on his blog to argue the LibDem case for tax cuts. Which seems fair enough given the argument we have been having has featured Clegg’s proposals quite centrally. Danny has mocked Clegg, claiming tendentiously that that the Tories would reach LibDem levels of popularity if they advocated tax cuts. Clegg has come back all guns blazing:

Danny Finklestein is wrong, and cutting taxes is right, and here are some reasons why: Danny thinks that offering people on low and middle incomes a tax cut is a ‘con’- a short term promise intended to fool voters…. Growth is what we need now. Funded tax cuts help give us that. Without growth there’s no earthly way we’ll be able to balance the books over the economic cycle. Far from being irresponsible, as Danny alleges, tax cuts at a time of recession is the responsible thing to do… Why does Danny think it’s impossible after a decade of spiralling Whitehall spending to find 3% of that money that could be put to a better use? That’s what Gordon Brown says – the Government knows best, and the rest of us are not allowed to question the way he spends our money…. this isn’t about the media. It is about being clear and bold on what is needed at a time of growing economic distress. I may have failed to persuade Danny, but I suspect time will prove me right.

Exactly. Growth is the only way out of recession. Stimulus has to be more than just about monetary policy. Danny’s focus on the politics of a tax cut has blinded him to the economic imperative.

UPDATE : Fink fisks Clegg here. Danny has just emailed to say “drawing a party leader into a bloggers debate between you and me is a signal that Hazel Blears is wrong.”

Committee on Standards in Public Life : Public Has Even Lower Opinion of Politicians

Ms Blears will no doubt somehow attempt to blame Guido, but it is clear that the trend in public opinion is negative towards politicians. Interesting how the figures break down:
Party affiliation: Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters (51% and 49% respectively) were more likely to rate standards as high than Conservative supporters (38%). Conservative supporters were more likely than those with no party affiliation (31%) to rate standards as high.

So it is those of us who don’t vote who trust politicians least. Makes sense. Democracy is about choosing between liars.

Of the politico-media class, tabloid journalists are the least trusted, they are trusted even less than estate agents. That will be down to Kevin “make-it-up” Maguire.

53% don’t trust government ministers or MPs in general. They have only themselves to blame. Stop lying to the public if you want to be trusted.

Full data set here.

Tax Cuts are the New Black

Cable and Clegg are already calling for ‘em, Brown and Darling are dumping dogma to talk about helping Britain through the recession with tax cuts, Osborne and Cameron are going to announce their tax relief plan tomorrow. Tax cuts are the new black.

Meanwhile over in Wapping, Danny Finkelstein said yesterday that Guido iseccentric in campaigning for populist tax cuts. Perhaps we have differing definitions of “eccentric”, Guido’s is: unusual or unconventional, a person who has an unusual, peculiar, or odd personality, set of beliefs, or behavior pattern. Now Guido may have been a bit ahead of the curve in advocating a tax cut based package for growth and saying it would be popular. The Fink however believes tax cuts are vote losers – yet the political leaderships of all the parties are now advocating them – why Danny? Who now really holds the eccentric view? Danny has many qualities, but his sense of timing for the political zeitgeist is not one of them. When it comes to political fashion he is what economists would describe as a “lagging indicator” .

Danny says the Tories will be “destroyed” if they advocate tax cuts, that is ridiculous, on the contrary they will be damaged if they do not. It seems to Guido that the Tories have finally realised that Fink is wrong, the old position is not right for now, the voters have moved on. One wonders if Osborne would have reached this point faster without the siren voice of his old friend. Now Nick Clegg, not the Tories, will be able to claim with some justice to have set the agenda.

[Guido also hears that the Speccie will this week be reporting Nigel Lawson claiming that he was misquoted on taxes - he is in favour of an immediate tax cut, so long as it is responsible.]

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lest We Forget

Cover by Holly, aged 17, in memory of her great, grandfather.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

+++ 2/3rds of Tory Grassroots Want Tax Cuts +++

ConservativeHome’s monthly survey is out.


Seen Elsewhere

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
Left-Wing Anti-Semitism is Nothing New | Dan Hannan


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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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