Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Granite Hits the Fan

The FTs Alphaville blog draws our attention to bad news on the wires this morning, as the Dow closes below 8,000 and the FTSE trades below 4,000, we get the news that Granite Master Issue PLC, the trust that is 28% of the UK mortgage securitisation market, is reporting a “non-asset trigger event”. It is telling lenders that Northern Rock‘s collaterallisation, and hence credit worthiness, has declined significantly.Granite is the single biggest funder of the UK mortgage market. If it goes tits up, £38 billion of Northern Rock mortgage assets could be liquidated…

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mandelson’s Big Chance

Obviously the big political news today is the withdrawal of John Sergeant from Strictly Come Dancing. He says he feared he would win.

Hmmm. Guido is suspicious, you don’t think he has been got at? It was after all only a few days ago that Mandelson said he wanted to be on the show….

UPDATE : Mandy has, this really is genuine, released a statement “John Sergeant should not bow out… He has become the people’s John Travolta and he should be a fighter, not a quitter… . The Guidoisation of politics continues.

PMQs Live Chat

Having a Few Image Hosting Problems

Normal service will resume after lunch.

Paul Flynn Loses Allowance Over Rude Blog

Paul Flynn’s blog has occasional gems, such as describing Peter Hain as a “shape shifter”. The parliamentary authorities have withdrawn his allowance because it is partisan. Given that if blogs are boring and non-partisan no one reads them, isn’t it a given that they should not be funded by the taxpayers? John Redwood pays for his out of his own pocket. So should the rest of the troughing politicians.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cameron’s Press Conference – Live

Cameron opened up with a preamble mentioning free enterprise, an open economy, sound money, micro-economic supply side reform and the importance of competitive markets. Ticking some of the Thatcherite boxes in his introduction.
He said he was pragmatic not ideological before turning to monetary policy, for an awful second Guido thought he was going to advocate some kind of Nixonian interest rate controls.

Then we got to the meat, the two decade long Japanese fiscal stimulus did not work, Gordon Brown has himself argued that fiscal loosening was wrong, weak currencies flow from weakening economies, the pound is weaker because the government is weak. Dave pointed out that the markets now see British Gilts as twice as risky as German Bunds. Gordon is abandoning every policy he has held to because he has no choice, so he is making a virtue of necessity.

He advocated “less of an increase” rather than cuts in government spending, saying Labour will lie that this is a cut. “Same old Labour, same old spin” with Mandelson and Campbell back to deliver the spin.

It was a reasonable diagnosis and he has set reasonable objectives. Not a lot of excitement, but a reasonable attempt to take control of the news agenda. He has, at last, formalised the Conservative Party’s intention to not keep to Labour’s spending plans in government.

UPDATE : Full speech here.

Government Has Already Lost £8 Billion in the Banks

If you thought your pension portfolio was doing badly you should see the government’s share portfolio. When it decided to nationalise banks HM Treasury said:
The Government’s investments will be managed on a commercial basis by a new arm’s-length company, ‘UK Financial Investments Limited’ (UKFI), which is wholly owned by the Government. Its overarching objectives will be to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder…

UKFI of course differs from other funds “managed on a commercial basis” in one important respect, it is unable to sell underperforming assets, and underperform they have, destroying value for the taxpayers as shareholders.

Barclays took petro-dollars to recapitalise, so could and should have these banks. Northern Rock should have been put into receivership and whatever was of value sold to other banks. Instead, somewhat pointlessly, taxpayers have been lumbered with an £8 billion loss to date. The government is no better at investing in banks than it was at investing in British Leyland.

Instead of being lost in the stock market, £8 billion could have been used to raise tax thresholds by £1000 per income taxpayer for a year with plenty leftover. Helping those on lower incomes the most.

"A Vampire Feeding On Our Misery"

Is Paul Dacre away from the office? This morning’s Mail has two scorching attacks on the Prime Mentalist. Quentin Letts captures the essence of Brown, Peter Mackay unloads both barrels:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s political stocks continue to rise even though Britain is facing an economic crisis.

Deceit and hypocrisy are as common in politics as in everyday life, but for Labour to suggest Shadow Chancellor George Osborne might undermine the pound by criticising Gordon Brown suggests new depths of political depravity.

There is already a run on the pound, which has lost 25 per cent of its value against the dollar and the euro. Trying to pin it on Osborne seems cowardly as well as disgusting.

Brown wants complete freedom to do as he pleases during the current economic crisis, even though it’s likely that it was his let-it-rip fiscal recklessness which to a large extent caused our worst-of-all-nations fix.

He demands silence from his political opponents, calculating that if his schemes go wrong he can avoid responsibility by saying he had cross-party support.

Brown practised the same dirty politics when pressed by David Cameron on the Baby P tragedy. He said Cameron’s questions were politically motivated – in other words, they wouldn’t have been asked if the case hadn’t happened in a Labour borough, Haringey.

He must know this isn’t true. He can’t possibly be so cut off from what’s going on that he didn’t know the whole country was talking about the case. But he refused to withdraw his snide remark. His reaction was: ‘This is harmful to me.’ So it was OK to accuse Cameron of playing party politics.

Nothing is allowed to mar Brown’s new lease of life in which – bafflingly – his poll ratings rise while the country goes down the tubes. He feeds on our distress like a vampire, bursting with energy while others wonder how they and their families will survive.

His trip to Washington for President George W. Bush’s G20 economic summit was all for show. Bush wants credit for helping clean up the mess he caused. So does Brown, who also needs to win a general election.

But President-elect Barack Obama wisely kept clear of them – and, we must hope, their attempts to write his new policies.

Brown now hopes Obama will agree to a new G20 summit in London in April. A world-famous new political star with whom he can be photographed again. Thereby fulfilling his greatest dream: that he can demonstrate to the world – not just Britain – that he, and he alone, has the answer to its problems.

All who aspire to public office need to have faith in themselves, but Brown is in a class of his own. And he’ll literally say anything to advance himself or keep back others. He pulls more stunts than Gerry Cottle’s Circus.

As for his colleagues, aren’t they a dismal crew? They were threatening to dump him in order to save their seats. Now the polls have improved, they’re in the grip of collective dementia.

They can’t understand why they’re being rewarded for their mistakes but the new prospect of electoral victory drives them mad with excitement.

No one may threaten their fragile dream by questioning the Government’s competence. Hence their insane jeering during the Commons questions on Baby P and the pathetic attempts to blame Osborne for the collapsing pound.

Brown is now poised to bribe us with tax cuts and other goodies (‘fiscal stimulus’, he calls it) before springing a 2009 general election, saying he needs a new mandate to steer us through the troubled waters ahead.

He doesn’t care how much he spends – or how much debt he piles up for our children and grandchildren – because its a heads-he-wins, tails-you-lose game.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ask the PM : Gordon’s G20 Statement

Have just been watching Gordon’s G20 Summit statement live. He gave a comprehensive account, Cameron gave a comprehensive rebuttal. So far so good.

After that every single question from the opposition was responded to without an answer being given. Instead the responses were just attacks on Tory / LibDem policies real or imagined. Gordon even mis-quoted Thatcher and claimed it was unpatriotic to question policy with regard to sterling.

An exasperated Michael Spicer asked him one simple straight forward question. Why is the pound falling? He just ignored the question and started on about the Tories.

Via the Downing Street online engagement initiative Guido has asked the PM a question about adding up the true national debt, a few others asked some tough questions via Downing Street’s YouTube channel. This is supposedly all about Gordon engaging with people. Do you think he will answer the questions?

Voting appears to be still open if you want Gordon to answer Guido’s question on the real level of government debt. Also worth voting for the questions from stevex1969, jonhoops1982 and the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Tough questions all – will there be any direct answers or is it all a sham?

Pound Trading Higher

Must be really disappointing for Mandy, Brown and Darling that the pound is up this morning. They were all ready to enjoy themselves blaming Osborne breaking some unheard of convention and trashing the economy.

Ahh well, back to painting Gordon as the Saviour of the World.


Seen Elsewhere

Treatment of Ashya King’s Family Authoritarian | Brendan O'Neill
Stop the War Should Disband | Rob Marchant
State Should Not Act as Parent | Kathy Gyngell
Guido’s Column | Sun
Don’t Bottle Schools Revolution | Dom Cummings
Sack Bercow | Melanie Phillips
Tories Should Have Open Primary in Clacton | Mark Wallace
Osborne Tricked Into Haircut | Janan Ganesh
100 Tory Eurosceptics Defy Cameron | Indy
ConHome Manifesto Launched | ConHome
Play the Great Clacton By-Election Game! | ConservativeHome


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Douglas Carswell…

“I stab people in the front, not the back.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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