Note to Editors : Oil Price is $126 not $135 Doh!

Why are some of the papers this morning reporting oil is $135 a barrel? Could it be because Downing Street is briefing on that basis ahead of Gordon’s meeting with the oil companies and they are too lazy to check? Crude oil for July delivery touched a record $135.09 a barrel last week – last Guido looked at it and wished he was short the market – it was trading at $126.35.

Gordon isn’t going to talk down the market, it will come down when the market believes recession will hit demand…

UPDATE : Larry Elliot, Guardian Economics editor reckons oil “has increased from $10 a barrel a decade ago to $135 today.” If he turns a few pages in his own paper he will see he is wrong.

Bash a Politician – Get a T-Shirt!

Peter Hain’s demise began with the leak of one document – his leadership campaign’s budget. That tip set in train a process that led directly to him being investigated by the police for undeclared donations.

You make this blog happen. Sources are anonymous (unless you want credit*). Who is on the fiddle? Who is lying? If you know “the line” is a lie, ask yourself why you got into politics; was it to cover up the truth or tell it?

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Fantasy Island Economics

The 40% Golden Rule was officially smashed last week. The Office of National Statistics says even the fiddled government debt level now stands at 43.1%. The Treasury’s Code for Fiscal Stability allows the Government to break the Golden Rule temporarily if it specifies:
  1. the reasons for departing from the previous fiscal policy objectives and operating rules;
  2. the approach and period of time that the Government intends to take to return to the previous fiscal policy objectives and operating rules; and
  3. the fiscal policy objectives and operating rules that shall apply over this period

Well the government could honestly specify:

  1. We recklessly overspent in the good times and when things went wrong and we nationalised Northern Rock, we bust even the fiddled limits.
  2. We will probably carry on spending like a drunk sailor in port and leave the mess to George Osborne to sort out, just as Geoffrey Howe had to sort out our mess last time.
  3. We will just throw money at any electoral problem even though we seem to have run out of people and things to tax.

The penny has dropped for Denis MacShane of all people:

“the prime minister can announce that he will leave more money in the pockets of the British people by reducing their taxes. This can be targeted at the indigenous working class, furious at the incessant year-on-year council-tax increases above the rate of inflation… I do not know of a single minister who privately does not despair at the waste of money on pointless projects, publications, or legions of press officers that add no value.”

Welcome to economic reality Denis. When even former Labour Ministers are calling for tax and waste reductions the tax argument is won (without any help from the Cameroons).

Meanwhile, fresh from telling the banks to lend more mortgages at lower rates in defiance of LIBOR, Gordon is today going to tell the oil companies to drop prices in defiance of supply and demand. What is the point of Gordon’s market bucking fantasy rants? To get a photo op and show he is “doing something”, he will subsquently in interviews say that he told the oil companies to drop prices, just like he told OPEC to stop laughing at him. There is only one thing in his pwoer which will reduce petrol pump prices.

Given that some three quarters of the petrol price is tax, perhaps reducing the tax take on petrol would be the best way to help hard pressed voters. The Golden Rule is bust, we need economic growth. We can only boost the faltering economy if, as Dennis MacShane says, we “leave more money in the pockets of the British people by reducing their taxes”. You can’t buck the market Gordon, but you can borrow from the bond market…

+++ Source : Hillary SpeechwritersPreparing Concession Speech +++

.. and no – the source is not Drudge – a mid-level Hillary campaign source.

Johann Hari : Not Bananas, Just Drugged

Johann Hari has an article today in the Indy arguing that since Gordon Brown is going to lose the election anyway, he might as well go down with all guns blazing. Liberated from the need or indeed possibility of winning an election, he can swing madly to the left. Hari reckons Gordon should apologise for Iraq to the Iraqis and in doing so shame the Americans. Then Gordon should put up tax rates to 60%, price big family cars off the road, and as a finale, fly in Iraqi refugees from Syrian and Jordanian camps. Hari advocates all this political Hari kari for Gordon with the cheerful words “If you are going to lose, Gordon, lose with style”.

Gordon will no doubt be chuffed to bits with the, errrm, sensible advice Johann offers. This follows on from Hari’s article last Thursday; Why bananas are a parable for our times, in which we learnt about the CIA’s use of the banana to fight communism. On Sunday Hari wrote an article entitled;Are GM bananas the answer? Apparently if genetically modified they will overcome “the current bananapocalypse” caused by mega-corporations because “we have to muddle through now as best we can, trying to keep six billion people alive.”

Guido is a teensy weensy bit concerned and called Hari to ask – “Are you on drugs?” It turns out that he was but he is alright now. He was necking Modafinil earlier this month, a stimulant cognitive enhancer that is a “wakefulness promoting agent” used to treat narcolepsy, depression, schizophrenia and fatigue related conditions.

We touched on Xanax use – which he pops before hopping on a flight – Guido suggested that based on his own experience some drugs seem positively subtle at first but manifest themselves in ways not immediately recognisable by the user, but easily identified by others. No, no, no says Hari, with Modafinil he “was just able to glide into a state of deep, cool, effortless concentration.”

“It was as if I had opened a window in my brain and all the stuffy air had seeped out, to be replaced by a calm breeze… The next morning I woke up and felt immediately alert. Normally it takes a coffee and an hour to kick-start my brain; today I’m ready to go from the second I rise. And it continues like this for five days: I inhale books and exhale articles effortlessly…”

Not at all bananas…

MPs to Voters : "We Are Worth More Than You"

The recommendation that MPs get a tax-free £23,000 lump sum payment is a piss-take. This is equivalent to an extra £40,000 on their salary, which together with the pay rise they want will bring their package up to £115,000 plus gold-plated non-contributory index-linked pensions. Their reasoning is that the expense fiddles have become too embarrassing and they realise they will no longer be able to get away with them now they are out in the open.

Effectively they want the housing allowance fiddle to continue without the hassle of having to justify the expenses. No doubt some will say we have to pay them six-figure salaries if we want to attract candidates. Guido has never bought into that line of argument. The fact is that the supply of wannabee MPs is massive, hundreds apply for selection for safe seats when they become available. If there was a lack of wannabee greasy-pole climbers this would be plausible, there is however an abundant over-supply of those willing to join the parasitical political class. The reason? It is a cushy desirable, overly prestigious, over-paid job. Plenty of people do much harder, no prestige, lower paid jobs. MPs have a sense of self entitlement way out of line with their real worth.Average earnings at £23,244 are less than a quarter what MPs propose to pay themselves. Most people can apparently run a household on a quarter of what MPs claim to need to run two households – which suggests they are overpaid for what need compared to the rest of us. They are supposed to be public servants, yet too many of them are like the husband and wife expense fiddling team Mr & Mrs Keen-on-expenses. In it to maximise their profit at the public’s expense…

We have serving soldiers in war zones on the poverty line, their starting rate of tax just doubled. MPs award themselves £400 a month for groceries when they are in their cosy Westminster homes, those same MPs voted for soldiers to have to pay for their own rations. Children in state schools are fed on 50p per diem, MPs claim £20 per diem. MPs get their snouts deep into the public trough way ahead of more deserving children and soldiers. So much for politicians putting the public interest first…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Milibandwagon : Scared to Roll?

The malevolence of the Brownies deterred Miliband from running for the leadership last year – to the disappointment of the now vindicated Blairites. Miliband is, we are told reliably, preparing himself in readiness to save the party from catastrophe. Guido was told – by someone who claimed to have spoken to him directly – that he is worried that if Gordon leads the party to disaster, New Labour will be buried forever and the party will fall into the hands of the left-wing once again. Miliband realistically hopes to diminish the likely margin of defeat and put up a stronger fight against Cameron than Brown can manage.

Miliband is clearly too afraid to wield the knife himself so is having to make over-the-top pledges of loyalty while pundits, backbenchers, donors, activists and supporters grow restless. Miliband needs either a credible stalking horse to come out or for Charles Clarke to organise a round-robin letter (along the lines of the Tom Watson letter to Blair) sent to No. 10 . Jack Straw putting on the grey suit and going to see Brown looks unlikely today, maybe the offer of a deputy premiership for him will be required. Maybe Miliband, like Portillo, just doesn’t have the balls…

What Have Tory MEPs Got to Hide?

“You lie and you spin, you fiddle your expenses and you break your promises…. To describe this disengagement and cynicism as a ‘mood’ is to underestimate both the depth and the intensity of the breakdown in relations between the government

[…]

+ READ MORE +

The Labour Left Looms

The lumpen left of the Labour Party reckons the answer to voter disenchantment is to abandon the centre and turn back to the old ways. A fish rots from the head, the weakness of the party leader makes it more

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Poor Quentin, Not One of Us or One of Them

A claret enhanced co-conspirator emails:

I am sure you will be delighted to learn that one of the highlights of the Crewe campaign was seeing Quentin Davies canvassing the streets of Crewe on Tuesday. In his immaculate Saville Row suit

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Friday Caption Contest (24 Months to Save the Party Edition)

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Chuka has been trying to spin the Siemens row:

Chuka Umunna: It’s no different from Sky News quoting a business leader.

Adam Boulton: Except yours says ‘VOTE LABOUR’ at the bottom.

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