Back in February George Bush pushed through a tax cut based growth package with bi-partisan support. Reported on this blog thus:
Guido looks at the economy and sees real trouble ahead, it needs decisive action, not hand-wringing words from politicians about tax simplification. The property market is seized up and consumer confidence is draining away. A massive pro-growth tax package is required now, the earlier the better. George Bush is pushing a bi-partisan growth package targeting $150 billion in tax relief at individuals and businesses to kick-start private sector spending. That is a stimulus equal to 1% of U.S. GDP.
Speaking at an interfaith conference at the UN General Assembly in New York this morning, Gordon Brown has just called for global tax cuts, “a temporary and affordable fiscal stimulus” was needed to tackle the downturn he said. Gordon told journalists that he intends to ask leaders at the G20 summit to produce fiscal stimulus packages of tax cuts and spending increases to “stimulate growth in our economies”.
Perhaps Gordon didn’t notice that George Bush actually got his temporary stimulus in at the beginning of the year, whilst our far-sighted financial genius has yet to even announce his growth package, which is probably why US GDP growth last quarter was not quite as bad as UK GDP growth (-0.5). How is he going to blame that on America?
Gordon also warned against protectionism, a strategy that has proved to be “the road to economic ruin in the past”. Obama ran on a protectionist ticket.
The Tories are calling it a “tax con”, because debt may rise and taxes may have to go up later, of course if we don’t cut taxes and growth is even worse, tax revenues may well still fall and government debt will rise anyway. Under the Tory plan however the economy will have been additionally weakened by the heavier tax burden. This used to be orthodox Conservative economic analysis, it seems the last supporters of Brownite fiscal rules are in the Tory treasury team…
- To present himself as the respected elder statesman of international finance – never mind Sarko’s pretensions.
- To frame Britain’s problems in an international context. Sterling’s collapse is to be spun as nothing to do with Brown’s bubble.
- To frame any domestic tax cut U-turn as a co-ordinated international action. This will give him cover for abandoning everything he has told us is important for all his front-bench political life.
Why Gordon thinks it imperative to be portrayed as some kind of respected international finance genius eludes Guido. It won’t save anyone’s job, not even his own.
There is obviously an international angle to the credit crunch, but there are also domestic disasters which happened on his watch.. Sterling’s collapse is not random. Who for instance decided to exclude house prices from the Bank of England’s inflation target which meant we had a ridiculously loose monetary policy?
If the G20 endorses a policy of tax cuts - if – Gordon will have political covering fire to return to Westminster to cut taxes and bugger the deficit. The Pre-Budget Report on Monday week will be his chance to unveil an epic tax-cutting stimulus package U-turn. The Osborne-Letwin* designed response as it stands will be “we shouldn’t be here, you shouldn’t do that”. Preaching fiscal sobriety to the fiscally hungover after the party has finished and the house is already wrecked.
The Tories have boxed themselves into holding to a Brown orthodoxy on tax cuts to which he himself no longer adheres. Time to think outside of the box…
*Letwin’s aversion to tax cuts might have something to do with the 2001 election campaign fiasco when as a junior finance spokesman, he was forced into hiding after disclosing that the Tories had longer-term plans for £20 billion of tax cuts.
He is therefore in receipt of declarable benefit in kind under Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
Part IV Control of donations to registered parties and their members etc.
Chapter I Donations to registered parties
Donations for purposes of Part IV
(1) For the purposes of this Part sponsorship is provided in relation to a registered party if—
(a) any money or other property is transferred to the party or to any person for the benefit of the party, and
(b) the purpose (or one of the purposes) of the transfer is (or must, having regard to all the circumstances, reasonably be assumed to be)—
(i) to help the party with meeting, or to meet, to any extent any defined expenses incurred or to be incurred by or on behalf of the party, or
(ii) to secure that to any extent any such expenses are not so incurred.
(2) In subsection (1) “defined expenses” means expenses in connection with—
(a) any conference, meeting or other event organised by or on behalf of the party;
(b) the preparation, production or dissemination of any publication by or on behalf of the party; or
(c) any study or research organised by or on behalf of the party.
Hain can try to argue differently until he is blue (rather than orange) in the face, here is the evidence of the conference agenda that shows that when Hain told local reporters “This is not a Labour Party event” yesterday, he was lying:
Are we now at the dead end of the New Labour era and Mugabenomics is a serious policy option? This is madness.
On Tuesday following complaints made by Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, the Bevan Foundation pulled out because it feared its charitable status could be compromised.
Price wrote to the Bevan Foundation’s director Victoria Winckler:
“You will no doubt be aware that the Charity Commission began a formal inquiry into the Smith Institute last year occasioned by not dissimilar circumstances, after the Democratic political consultant Robert Shrum was shown to have given electoral advice to Labour Party members based on US experience.
Commenting on the publication of its report into the institute’s political activity, Andrew Hind, the chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: ‘Trustees of charitable think tanks have a responsibility to ensure the political neutrality of the work they do. When a charity operates close to the political environment, it must safeguard its independence and ensure that any involvement it has with political parties is balanced.’
Clearly the event was political, Price was entirely right to cite the Smith Institute precedent. The Bevan Foundation secretary Mick Antoniw now says:
“Our reputation is everything and because of the concerns raised and the advice the trustees have received, the foundation will be withdrawing from the event….”
Price is not letting the matter rest: “I will be writing to the Electoral Commission as to whether the funding of what in the afternoon is effectively a Labour election strategy seminar amounts to an impermissible donation. I will also be asking the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to investigate whether the involvement of Peter Hain’s political researcher in organising the conference in any way constitutes a misuse of parliamentary resources.”
Hain is a creature of habit, once again another think tank’s funds are being used to further his political ambitions. Just as with the Progressive Policies Forum there appears to be a case to answer for breaches of electoral law – a foreign foundation funding electoral strategy advice is illegal. You would have thought given he is currently under police investigation for funding irregularities Hain would be more cautious, he already has one criminal conviction, he is asking for another…
Full story in the Western Mail.
Alan Layng, a co-conspirator, sent Guido this neat piece of research* :-
I took UK stock market performance since 1902 assuming reinvested income and adjusting down for cost of living to give real terms equity market growth for each of the last 106 years.
I matched this up to the dates of each of the twenty prime ministers who have run this country since 1902 (interpolating to the right dates as required). This gave me a proxy for how much the equity markets had risen (or not) under their stewardship.
From there, it is a small hop to a comparable figure – compound annual growth rates – and, hey presto, we can compare the financial performance of each of prime ministers, and also of the parties, to see if one party has a better long term track record.
It makes interesting reading.
*Historic data taken from 2008
The Tory MEP is being expelled from the party after the EU Parliament’s fraud investigators told him to repay £500,000 in expenses paid to his family for office work. The former chief whip says he will repay all the money and has denied breaking any parliamentary rules.
Below Guido reproduces his June 5 story about Den Dover:
Guido treads warily with this one since Den Dover MEP got The Sun (at the hands of Carter-Ruck) to apologise for accusing him of expense fiddling. Clearly Den Dover is very sensitive to suggestions that he is an expense fiddler.
He is the chief-whip of the Tory MEPs led by Giles Chichester, who has himself been caught “whoops-a-daisy“ paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. So what of his colleague Den Dover? Here is an extract from his recently updated declaration of interest (full document here)click to enlargeIt was updated shortly after Open Europe’s Transparency Initiative started asking him questions about his expenses. Den Dover said repeatedly he had nothing to declare in the past, but mentioned this time for no apparent reason, in passing, that his wife and daughter work for the company that he pays out of his expenses. Fancy that!
He didn’t mention that as well as paying his wife and daughter some £376,916 in salary, the company in question is based athis home address. The company has spent £32,462 on “repairs”. Presumably repairs to a property. Guido wonders which property could that be getting repaired at the taxpayers expense?
Did Guido mention that the family firm has had £56,411 in motoring expenses off the taxpayer as well? Finally, and this takes the euro-biscuit, the family firm makes five figure profits.Whoops-a-Bloody-Daisy….
Why ishis wife’s family firm profiteering out of his expense claims? Shouldn’t the claims and payments be made on a costs basis, rather than a profiteering basis? The family is troughing enough at the taxpayers expense already without rubbing our noses into it and profiteering.
The profiteering factor from bills from his wife, authorised by him, to a business based in the family home is worse than Derek Conway.In total he has authorised payments of £758,143 to his family’s firm since he joined the Euro-gravy train…
It takes time, but in the end…
Redwood Exposes Constitutional Vandalism | Nick Wood
No Campaign Has Been Inept | Mail
PM Faces Friday Bloodbath | Mail
Will Miliband Bottle English Devolution? | Mary Riddell
Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT
Cameron Faces Revolt Over ‘Vow’ | Sun
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:
“Sunday, May 10, 1998
Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.
After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.
I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.
They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].
I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”