Guido wrote in February 2007 that “in times of need, Gordon’s pollster conducts polls with dubious methodologies which she then writes up in hagiographical pro-Gordon articles… Is Guido the only one who thinks there might, in the circumstances, be a serious conflict of interest in her not only sitting on the board of the Smith Institute but also having HM Treasury as a paying client?”
Following yet another complaint, this time from Greenpeace, the Market Research Standards Board has found that in the consultation conducted by Opinion Leader Research, “information was inaccurately or misleadingly presented, or was imbalanced, which gave rise to a material risk of respondents being led towards a particular answer.” OLR is now finished as a serious pollster.
See more on Deborah Mattinson
First the good news: the Tory diagnosis of Brown’s errors that have got us where we are is coherent. The mistaken emasculation of the Bank of England is critical to understanding what went wrong with British banking. The Brown Bust is going to be worse for Britain than the credit crunch is going to be in many other countries because the government’s finances are so weak. Dave told the City audience that, basically, they would not have got us into this situation because they would have held down public expenditure – the traditional role of centre-right governments the world over. Fine. But we are where we are.
Now the bad news: if the Tories were in government tomorrow they offer next to nothing to get us out of the mess we are in. There was no road-map out of recession. The Tories promise to be “responsible” with the economy is just an echo of New Labour’s pre-1997 promise to be “prudent”. It is political triangulation to neutralise Labour’s tried and tested attacks on “Tory Cuts”. Guido heard only two concrete policy initiatives repeated; a freeze on council taxes and the removal of the requirement for retirees to purchase pension annuities.
The freeze is worth some £50 to £100 per household per annum. The change to pension planning applies to less than 1% of the population per annum. Not exactly policies to get us out of recession are they?
There is no “responsible” route out of recession – we need radical action to rescue the economy. We need a growth package and we need it fast, the sooner it is in place the quicker we will be out of recession. On the back of an envelope Guido reckons raising tax thresholds £1000 will cost £6 billion or so per annum. It will boost household incomes accordingly, putting money into the economy the best way, not via the state, but from spending decisions by those hard pressed families politicians are always on about. Forget the PSBR and the golden rule, that has just been overshot by 100% plus, you can’t prudently get out of recession, you need to stimulate growth.
The U.S. will be out of recession faster because they have already put $500 billion into the economy with a tax rebate and because both presidential candidates are running on a platform of more tax cuts to boost growth. The Tory plan for responsibility is a plan for prudence, not a plan for growth. Wrong policy, wrong time. Is that it?
Osborne and Cameron always emphasise that they won’t be reckless with the economy, they also say we now have the highest levels of taxation ever. Isn’t it actually reckless to maintain that level of a tax burden on an already depressed economy?
UPDATE : A tax wonk tells Guido that for £20 billion we could raise tax thresholds some £3,000 per annum. Even better. That would be real help, for real people in the real economy.
UPDATE : Danny defends himself this morning. He nuances it a little, he is in favour of tax cuts, but not the promising of them and questions whether they would be responsible. Is it it really responsible to depress the economy with this high level of taxation?
The Irish ruling elite realise that they need to show leadership by example in tough times.
Will British politicians follow suit? After all their pension’s profited from short selling. Will they get their snouts out of the hard-pressed taxpayer provided gold-plated troughs? Perhaps some of the senior executives at the BBC could follow the example of their counterparts at the Irish state broadcaster? They all want the bankers to sacrifice their bonuses, but don’t the Chairman of the FSA and the Governor of the Bank of England need to make sacrifices? It is not as if they have been brilliant at bank regulation. If they were all paid on a performance-related basis they should be losing 30% or more – the same as the stock market has cost pensioners…
Elsewhere fund managers are seeking a quick resolution of Lehmans bankruptcy issues, billions remain frozen in accounts resulting in margin calls on fund managers unable to retrieve securities from the Lehmans administrator – making them forced sellers and an extra downward pressure on London’s markets. The FSA or the Bank of England needs to untangle this mess urgently. Unfortunately it is unclear who has responsibility under Gordon’s regulatory regime.
City law firms are dusting off old legal tomes from the seventies on sovereign defaults – when countries go into bankruptcy – Iceland is on the edge. What will surprise many is that Italy is the second candidate for bankruptcy. How will the Euro survive a member country’s financial collapse? Italy has cooked the books since before even joining the euro. Bond markets know it, the wide spread between Italian government bonds and German government bonds shows that many believe that European unity will not include the Bundesbank standing behind Italian Buoni del. Tesoro Pluriennali. If Italy fails what happens to the European project?
So how many shares opened up this morning? None.
Hat-tip : Alphaville
School Leaving: Qualifications
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many letters he has received from members of the public on the 14 to 19 diplomas in the last three months; and what percentage of those letters have supported the programme. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Over last three months we have received a total of 113 pieces of correspondence in regard to diplomas. Of which four (4.52%) were specifically in support of the introduction of diplomas. The remaining 109 pieces of correspondence were general inquiries.
Is Guido the only one who finds it a bit of a cheek that Will Hutton and Polly Toynbee are media millionaires who make their money out of condemning other rich people? They both have homes in the country and in London? Polly famously also has her home in sunny Tuscany, yet they endlessly tell us how they deplore inequality. They both sell books in large numbers and their columns are well rewarded beyond the dreams of the average and minimum wage workers they cry tears over.Guido is not going to plead personal poverty, risk brings rewards. What have Hutton or Toynbee ever produced besides words on paper, how many jobs have they created, how many businesses have they financed? Have they ever had to make payroll at the end of the month? Worried about how they were going to pay staff?
Why is making millions from pontificating (as they do) morally superior to making millions from investing in and running companies? It seems that out and out capitalists are the wrong kind of rich whereas out and out media pundits are the right kind of rich, akin to how the aristocracy of old always looked down on those in trade. Remember their own substantial wealth when they condemn capitalism.
Who really has unjust rewards – those who create wealth and jobs or those who condemn them?
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Sarah Vine writes of Esther McVey…
“McVey told Grazia that she hasn’t married or had children because she ‘never found anyone to wind her biological clock’ … If I remember rightly, half the current Cabinet would have cheerfully ‘wound her clock’ if she’d given them a glimmer of a chance.”