The financial newswire Bloomberg is not known for sensationalism, it has an in-house rule that unattributable reports have to be double-sourced. So bunker watchers can be confident that this report from inside the Prime Mentalist’s bunker is more than just hearsay:
The strain shows, say current and former Brown aides: Among other things, it has inflamed a temper that has always been the subject of gallows humor among those who work with him, they say. The prime minister, 58, has hurled pens and even a stapler at aides, according to one; he says he once saw the leader of Britain’s 61 million people shove a laser printer off a desk in a rage. Another aide was warned to watch out for “flying Nokias” when he joined Brown’s team.
The ‘News Sandwich’
One staffer says a colleague developed a technique called a “news sandwich” — first telling the prime minister about a recent piece of good coverage before delivering bad news, and then moving quickly to tell him about something good coming soon.
Michael Ellam, the PM’s spokesman told Lobby copy-takers on April 14 that the news of Smeargate had made the Prime Mentalist “furious”. Guido wonders if they noticed any signs of bruising on the spokesman?
Matthew Parris yesterday called on the Conservatives to come out of the closet, and behave like conservatives, Guido would be happy if they just behaved like Blairites. The symbolic 63.8% tax rate* should be opposed. Everyone can see that for the government to take more than half your income is not social justice, it is ritually sacrificing the successful on the altar of socialist dogma. Blair would never have countenanced it, he ruled it out in every manifesto that he signed.
The Cameroons have yet to shake off their awe of Blair, who was admittedly a political genius when it came to strategy. Brown is not Blair, when it comes to strategy he is a political idiot, he may be half blind but his bigger handicap is that he is tone deaf to popular feeling. Guido will frame his argument in terms that may resonate with the Cameroons better than Tim Montgomerie’s obituary for New Labour.
Osborne should ignore the siren calls from the likes of Polly and the Fink for acquiescence, there is no need to draw close to Gordon’s dividing line. Labour in government has once again ended in national financial disaster. Think what would Blair do in this situation?
The New Statesman’s James Macintyre, who often takes his copy straight from Mandelson’s friends with whom he has had a close relationship, says that Mandelson wants to fight on a programme of “prioritisation”. Mandelson wants to change the narrative to accept cuts in spending, in this he is supported by the surviving Blairites including Purnell. The Cameroons must not cede this territory to the Blairites in government. Mandelson knows the time for tax and spend is over, buried in debt and deficits.
So accept Gordon’s dividing lines. Think strategically “what would Blair do?” Now is the time for a clear message of fiscal conservativism and sound money.
*That is what the top marginal rate really amounts to when you include the combined NI of 13.8%. Feudal serfs had to work 3 days a month for the barons.
The tabloid headline driven drug laws in Britain are a mess. The next Prime Minister of Britain spent his days at Eton smoking dope, the current Home Secretary says she only smoked “weak” dope, as if that makes a material difference. If they had been caught and convicted they would probably not have got where they are today.
It is a mad situation where you get a lighter sentence for raping someone than you would for selling them a joint. Which do you think is worse?
According to the government’s sentencing guidelines study in 2004, the average custodial sentence imposed for rape of an adult was 79.7 months and for GBH was 50.1 months. For dope dealing the average was 84.0 months.
Why does “intent to supply” a relatively harmless, though wrongly categorised class ‘A’ drug like Ecstasy, attract a stiffer sentence than “attempted rape”?
UPDATE : Just noticed that Peter Wilby in the New Statesman is saying the contemporary left is too timid to be rational on drugs. The centre-right is too, given that a fair share of the Shadow Cabinet have enjoyed recreational drug use, isn’t it time we stopped kow-towing to Dacre and had a grown up attitude to drug addiction? It is a public health problem, not a criminal / judicial problem.
Hat-tip : UK Drug Policy Commission
Here is the futures price chart for the generic Gilt. All that is stopping that chart going further south faster is that the Bank of England is printing money (though printing isn’t the way it done nowadays, the Bank just changes amounts in the electronic ledger). Some of that money is recycled into mopping up gilts. It won’t work for ever.
Gordon has convinced fellow members of the IMF to sell the fund’s gold reserves, this visibly holds down the gold price as the relative value of paper money is destroyed. There will be an awful day of reckoning.
The gilt market will revolt sooner or later. Darling’s fantasy forecasts will be rejected by those of us in the reality-based financial markets. The numbers are horrific. Bloomberg’s Andrew MacAskill has totted up the cost of the bailout as £1.4 trillion. That is over 100% of GDP.
Sir Christopher Kelly has this morning announced the terms of reference for the The Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Inquiry into MPs’ Expenses. He says:
The aim of our Inquiry is to reform the system of MPs’ expenses to create a new set of rules which are trusted by the public, and which give MPs the support they need to do their jobs.
There will be public hearings, Guido intends to attend those hearings and make a submission through the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics.*
Over the last five years of investigating MP’s fiddles it is fair to say that Guido has become something of an (unwilling) expert on the system and the abuses of the system by which MPs enrich themselves.
Broadly speaking there are some simple principles which need to underpin any new system. Firstly and most importantly transparency. We need a completely transparent system of financing. The best protection we have against shady behaviour is sunlight.
Secondly we need full accounting. Every single penny must be accounted for, it is public money and the public are entitled to know where it goes. If politicians don’t like it, maybe public life is not for them.
*Full disclosure, Guido financially supports the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics. If you want to intern for the Centre (next month) email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday, prior to PMQs, Nadine Dorries asked the Speaker to call her in order to ask the Prime Mentalist for a personal apology over Smeargate. The Speaker declined her request claiming that he could not use PMQs for personal special requests. Which is untrue because he can and does.
If you watch yesterdays PMQs you will witness a successful ambush. When Nadine stood up to ask the question her backbench colleagues mysteriously sat down. The Speaker had to call someone from the Conservative benches, he was left with no choice but to call Nadine. Gordon was thus forced humiliatingly to make a direct apology. Never, ever underestimate Nadine Dorries, she is a Tory Tigress…
Guido isn’t going to do much on the budget, the FT is probably the best place to go for coverage. As soon as the 50% tax hike was announced emails pinged into the inbox along the lines of “That’s it, I’m off to Switzerland”. What is Labour saying to those who work hard and become successful? “We will punish you” seems to be the message.
Good news for Dublin and Dubai. They will welcome entrepreneurs with lower tax rates and open arms. Guido would not be surprised if this measure ends up reducing revenues as people flee penal tax rates.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy is having a crisis meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss the continuing associate membership of Derek Draper. No one was available for comment when Guido called to contact the BACP. It is hard to […]