Monday, October 20, 2008

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper

Paul Myners has managed to get a press release written by him republished in full in the Guardian, (the holding company of which he used to chair). Handy.

“As City minister, my priority is to bring stability to the system. My ambition is to keep our banks among the strongest in the world. Our economy will welcome it. It deserves nothing less.”

Last month when the hedge fund of which he was a director profited from being the biggest short seller in Bradford and Bingley, was his objective to “Keep our banks among the strongest in the world”?

It really is “do as I say, not as I do” for the ruling elite isn’t it? Hypocrisy.

Mauled Mandy Shows His Claws

Can we drop the Andy Marr Show for the Sophie Raworth Show? Unlike Marr she was no patsy and even when Mandy went into full on poisonous “you’ll never work in this town again” mode. She held her ground. The petulance is well worth watching if you missed it (41 minutes in). Watch his face…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tories Call for Small Business VAT Holiday Gordon Going Ahead with Small Business Tax Hike

Guido hasn’t seen any details other than the couple of sentences in Dave’s CiF article. It is a start. Being able to put off paying the VAT for two quarters will be a little bit of much appreciated help to small businesses.

Certainly far more help than Gordon’s scheduled 2% hike on small business corporation tax. In a recession the last thing businesses need is a tax hike. How will a tax hike help small businesses create jobs?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

+++ ComRes Puts Tories on Single Digit Lead of 9% +++

Not that things look that good for Gordon. The other answers were pretty negative:

  • It is right that taxpayers’ money should be used to bail out banks.
    Agree 37% Disagree 58%
  • Gordon Brown’s decisive handling of the bank crisis means that Labour has a good chance of winning the next election.
    Agree 37% Disagree 54%
  • If David Cameron had been prime minister, he would have handled the bank crisis better than Gordon Brown.
    Agree 25% Disagree 56%

Poll was for the Indy on Sunday. Full dataset.

UPDATE : ICM gives 16 point Tory Lead in tomorrows News of the World.

Blair Knew About Abu Ghraib Torture

The torture of Iraqi detainees tshocked even supporters of the liberation of Iraq. Along with Guantanamo they did much to undermine the perceived moral legitimacy of the United States’ post 9/11 response. The photos were truly shocking.

Peter Oborne this morning reveals that despite protestations to the contrary, Blair had received reports of human rights violations seven weeks before the infamous photos became public.

Yet when the news of the atrocities came to light in the Press, Tony Blair played dumb and merely expressed surprise. He told MPs that neither he nor any member of his government had known about the barbaric scenes. ‘It is not correct that ministers or I were aware of those allegations in respect of American troops,’ the prime minister told the then Tory leader Michael Howard.

It now appears that in fact a shocked Bill Rammell, then a junior Foreign Office minister, had been briefed during a meeting in Geneva by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

This meeting took place seven weeks before the atrocities became public knowledge and Abu Ghraib became a byword for American brutality. To his credit, Rammell says he was so shocked by the revelations that he immediately convened an emergency meeting of Foreign Office officials. In his statement, he said: ‘I was assured that defence ministers were already aware of the allegations and that actions were being taken by the Ministry of Defence to deal with the allegations, which was the case.’

So his claim that ministers were not aware is untrue according to the testimony of a minister who did know. The inference is that Blair must have known as well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Blog Regulation :They’ll Have to Prise the Keyboard Out of Guido’s Cold Dead Hand

Dale has been telling Guido this was coming for some time. At a fringe meeting at Conservative Party Conference on the platform Guido insisted the government wouldn’t have a chance of suppressing him unless they went down the Iranian route of censoring the internet at the ISP level or copying the Great Firewall of China, and they wouldn’t do that.

Maybe Guido underestimated the government. Having failed to put a positive spin on Gordon, Stephen Carter is going to try and regulate blogs under the guise of “promoting content standards” – otherwise known as censorship. No doubt bloggers will first be found guilty of some kind of thoughtcrime to justify censorship, apparently calling Chinese milk a “Chinky Drinky” in a jokey headline is bigoted, co-conspirators calling Ed Balls names will no doubt be guilty of a crime against the state soon.

Andy Burnham a couple of weeks ago made a direct threat against bloggers, “It is not just about copyright or intellectual property but [things like] taste and decency in the online world. The time will come to say what are the direct interventions [needed, if any].”

Freedom of speech is messy, freedom is messy full stop, but it is of primary importance There is no way Guido is going to surrender his liberty to insult, expose and humiliate our rulers in the vilest ways he can. That wouldn’t be fun at all. If they want a fight, a fight they shall get. They will have to prise the keyboard out of Guido’s cold dead hand…

Friday Caption Contest (Brillo’s Babes)

Gordon’s Pollster Deborah Mattinson Slammed for Dodgy Polling

Guido has banged on for a long time about Deborah Mattinson’s dodgy polling. Her firm’s “free” polling for Gordon Brown’s Smith Institute seemed to correlate with their ability to win 90% of government contracts. In September 2007 the Greens accused her of distorting evidence to support the government’s position on nuclear power. She of course raked in the fees for Citizen’s Juries, (motto “verdict first, evidence later”). Her firm famously charged taxpayers an incredible £153,484.38 for a one day seminar.

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

Is That It?

is_that_itGuido has just got back from Bloomberg’s City HQ (a cross between a nightclub and an art gallery with offices above). He was there to hear what had been billed as Cameron’s speech in defence of free enterprise and the start of the counter-attack on Gordon’s handling of the crisis.

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.


Seen Elsewhere

India’s Modi Bypasses Mainstream Media | Index
Bercow on the Knife Edge | Quentin Letts
Welcome to Mississippi | Conservative Women
LibDems Select Hancock Replacement | Blue Guerilla
Carswell Resigning: “Moment Labour Won Election” | Labour Uncut
Why We Need Change | Douglas Carswell
The Howard Roark of Westminster | Guardian
Carswell, the Clacton Cassandra | James Ford
Love Bomb Carswell | ConservativeHome
Denis MacShane’s Ex is Now Hacked Off Spokesman | Speccie
How the Carswell Story Unfolded | Sky News


VOTER-RECALL
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Douglas Carswell’s side-kick Dan Hannan MEP pours water on the obvious question:

“I won’t be joining UKIP, though I wish Douglas Carswell all the best. He has been a superb MP, and it’s honourable to stand for re-election.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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