Back in June when David Cameron’s helicopter was diverted in Afghanistan, officials described it as a routine precaution. News this morning has emerged though that the PM was in a lot more danger than originally thought. Military chiefs are urging a comprehensive review of the Prime Minister’s security. It is believed they are seeking this man in connection to the attempt to shoot down the chopper:
Yeah, ok, it’s the last Friday of silly season…
So it seems Balls’s campaign to be leader is officially over. Plan B, to get the Shadow Chancellorship, kicked in this morning at Bloomberg. As refreshing as it was to finally hear a leadership candidate talk about the economy, Balls’s pitch for the number two job was way off the mark. With David Miliband hinting that Labour must start to accept some home truths and not fight everything the coalition has done, and the fact that he is sticking to Labour’s “halve the deficit in four years plan” why would he appoint Balls, who is still stuck in denial, as his money man? If he does make the job, his half-baked theories are going to be ripped to shreds in and outside the Party…
The speech itself was hard-hitting, there is no denying that Balls is the man to lay punches, however inaccurate, on the Coalition. Much hay was made of the fact that he correctly predicted Osborne would raise VAT, a fact he only knew because Labour would have had to do the same had they won. As Pete Hoskin points out blatant lies were also told:
Balls says that “George Osborne … is planning to go £40 billion further and faster this year than even Alistair Darling’s plans,” I’m sure he must mean “over this Parliament,” not “this year”. Because that’s the truth.
One bit of confusion that always tickles Guido is how Balls claims that the last recession was the biggest economic crisis of the last hundred years, yet constantly warns that the Coalition plans will take us back to the 1930s depression. A mere seventy to eighty years ago – which was the worst crisis Ed?
For those wondering, a co-conspirator was able to put a crowd sourced question from readers at last night’s Q&A with Balls. Asking whether his friendship with Damian McBride revealed a lack of judgement that rendered him unsuitable for high office, and when was the last time he had any form of communication with his old pal, Balls dodged the first bit but admitted he still talks on the phone to Damian. He was quick to add in an unofficial capacity and he wasn’t taking advice from him. Probably a wise move…
Guido is off to watch the death throes of Ed Balls’s leadership campaign over at Clifford Chance where he is doing a Q&A at 18:30 with Steve Richards. Tomorrow morning he is also giving a speech at Bloomberg at 08:30. Both will have questions from the floor so you never know Guido, or an audience ally, might just get the chance to make Blinky squirm at one of the events.
What would you ask?
Questions in the comments please…
All that talk of Gordon earlier tempted Guido to check in on another old friend. Apparently old Damian McBride has been promoted from picking up litter and is now allowed to teach “Citizenship” at Finchley Catholic High School for Boys. With a straight face.
Balls may have turned him down for media advice on his leadership bid but it seems Damian just can’t let go of his old allies. A brief flick through “Giant Steps“, the school’s newsletter authored by the man himself, shows an article about Chris Bryant.
Hardly a “Giant Step” forward for someone who was once handling classified information, drafting speeches delivered to Kings and Presidents and rewriting G20 communiques. Now he gets to write headlines such “Finchley’s Chefs Turn Up The Heat”. Ah penance…
This morning’s Telegraph splash about “cash for access” is a little over-hyped. These conference 30-second-hand-shake gigs are nothing new and something both major parties have been guilty of for years. Party funding is a mess and throwing rocks in either direction is a waste of time without a comprehensive overhaul of the whole system. They sound dreadful too. You couldn’t get Guido to go if you paid him £1,000…
For what it’s worth though, paying a £1,000 to sit next to a Government Minister makes a lot more sense than paying £1,521.62 for breakfast and a drinks reception with some washed up Labour Shadow Ministers, as advertised for this year’s conference.
Guido can’t really see any point, other than being close enough to punch one of them.
UPDATE: Sky’s newish politico Rachel Younger points out that for “£40 you can dine with Business Secretary Vince Cable at the Quay Hotel in Deganwy. The fundraising dinner held by the North Wales Liberal Democrats takes place on the 30th of October and in these penny-pinching times it sounds like a bargain to me.” Shudder.
As the new parliamentary term and Gordon’s book launch approaches, Guido is hearing whispers as to his future plans. Given he has managed to turn up to work just twice since the election, it’s good news that the people of Kirkcaldy – might actually get the representation they deserve.
Apparently Gordon is taking soundings about standing in the Shadow Cabinet elections, specifically seeking the role of Shadow International Development Secretary. It would be a first if he actually won a contested party election… Andrew Mitchell must be quaking in his boots. Not.
The whole argument about whether or not the budget was progressive was a foolish one for the Coalition to engage in. The left defines a “progressive budget” as one that benefits those on lowest incomes most. Since the population decile on the lowest incomes is overwhelmingly composed of those on welfare it means that no tax cutting budget, even if it disproportionately benefits the lowest paid by raising thresholds, can ever be “progressive”.
The only way the budget could be progressive would be by raising welfare payments to those who spend their days sitting on the sofa watching daytime TV. The corollary of the argument advanced by self-described progressive wonks is that we should pay the unemployed more to be unemployed, exacerbating the welfare trap.Fairness is a better battlefield to fight on. Is it fair to expect the minimum wage office cleaners, dustbinmen, burger flippers and night security guards who work long hours getting up whilst those on welfare sleep, to pay higher taxes to support those who don’t work? Effectively transferring income from the working poor to the workless poor. What is fair about higher taxes for the lower paid?
Intergenerational fairness is going to be a big issue as our population ages. Not only will our children have to pay taxes to pay for more and more unfunded public sector pensioners, they will have to pay the interest on the debts run up by those same pensioners when they were working in the public sector. The deficit financing of Labour’s years of prolifigacy isn’t fair either, it puts the debts of the old on our children and on our children’s children. There is nothing fair about mortgaging our children’s future taxes to pay for Labour’s past mistakes.
“A fair deal for all” is a better slogan than “higher welfare payments for the unemployed”. Steve Hilton should send out one of his famous memos instructing all to replace “progressive” with “fair” in their vocabulary.