The briefing against Alistair got a little heated in the last week – “Why Darling is a menace to Britain” – William Rees-Mogg; “Darling’s confidence seems misplaced” – Anatole Kaletsky; Knives out as Alistair Darling loses trust of City in the Sunday Times and various other City scribblings. It had the feel of the briefing before the non-election, the authors of which were to varying degrees Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander.

Ben Brogan has been briefed on the Brownies’ hotline to throw a bucket of water on all this – the Brownies would say that wouldn’t they?

Since taking office Alistair has presided over lost data disks containing millions of mum’s bank account details, the capital gains and non-domicile U-turns plus the first run on a bank in living memory. Not good when Alistair has in truth already been dealt a very bad hand by Gordon; public and private debt is an albatross around the economy, consumer inflation is over 4% making it hard for the Bank of England to cut rates which is the orthodox solution to a credit crunch. In any event the tsunami of liquidity thrown at the markets so far has not removed the fear in them. Guido’s friends in the City all say it is bad with a capital “B” – we are seeing only the tips of the credit crunching icebergs.

Contrary to what Gordon endlessly repeats Britain is not well placed to weather the turmoil. We have a worse balance of payments situation than the U.S., we have a worse government deficit, the golden rule has been shattered, loss of confidence in sterling and the consequent fall is fueling import inflation. Stagflation is returning. The omens in the property market are very worrying.

So if Brown’s heir apparent, Ed Balls, wants to become Chancellor he would perhaps be wiser to bide his time, let Alistair take the blame for the coming 2008/9 slowdown / recession, then take the Chancellorship in early 2010. Putting him in a position to go for the leadership following a Labour general election defeat or claim glory for “rescuing the economy” if it goes well. Is Balls wise and patient enough to wait?

Labour Donor Non-Doms Up In Arms

So it looks like the Ditherer-in-Chief is going to back down on non-doms and it may well end up as a flat-rate £30,000 charge, no further questions asked. City uproar was not the reason for the change of heart. The billions that the Square Mile brings to Britain were of no consequence to our ruling clique of politicians without a drop of entrepreneurialism* in their blood.

Lord Paul, the Indian-born steel billionaire, Gordon Brown’s biggest backer, says Labour is proposing an “unfair levy” which risked undermining him the economy. Sir Gulam Noon, who gave Labour £450,000 for a peerage (undelivered) says “everybody is against” the Government proposal.

When did the Labour Party first realise this policy would jeapardise millions in donations?

UPDATE : Osborne is gloating already – the Treasury is spinning the climbdowns as a clarification of “what the Government’s intention has always been”

Osborne is giving Darling a kicking for good measure

“In times of economic uncertainty, people need a Chancellor who can demonstrate strength of leadership and consistency of judgement. With Alistair Darling, we have neither. In his time at Number 11, he has gone from one retreat to another and his economic incompetence, whether on Northern Rock, Capital Gains Tax or now non-domiciled taxation is doing real damage to the real economy. The question for our dithering Prime Minister is how long can he keep someone at the Treasury who is clearly not up to the job.”

That will please Ed Balls…

Don’t know why Osborne is laughing, his policy now looks more punitive than Darling’s new version of his own policy. Doh!

*Except when it comes to making up expense claims, then they display the most imaginative entrepreneurialism.

"Politics Home" Beta Snapshot

“Politics Home”* is the beta working title of the still-under-wraps site that aims to be the Bloomberg News of politics – it certainly looks a little familiar to the users of the financial newswire service. No original editorial as far as Guido can see, more rolling news headlines from not just the blogosphere, the entire English speaking online political universe. The rolling news feed will take headlines from mainstream media sites and video feeds as well.

It looks like it will kill off the ailing ePolitix site, which has now taken to cutting and pasting stories from Guido. Rumours of staff losses including the abrupt leaving of the finance director might explain the 80% drop in Huveaux plc shares. (Huveaux is the parent company of the House Magazine, Dods and ePolitx). “Content is king” is the view of Guido and Rupert Murdoch (originally). Convenience is cool too, could this overcome the info-overload tsunami that political junkies now suffer?


*They say that is not going to be the final name.

Sad ex-SpAd Slacker

Matthew Burchell, Hain’s former special adviser, is finding the pace outside of the public sector a little bracing. A month after becoming unemployed he has yet to get round to writing his CV if this status update on Facebook is anything to go by. If you are hoping Matthew to return by the side of a vindicated Hain, forget it. It seems that it is getting very messy for the Tango man…

Working for Peter Hain is going to be something you would rather not have on your CV, so it can’t be easy for Matthew. Let this be a warning to all uppity snotty SpAds…

Guido finds those huge 4×4 faintly ridiculous outside the school gates. The only hazardous road surfaces they navigate are the speed bumps. Clearly Ken thinks they are popular with the Boris-Voting-Classes and sees them as a chance to hike taxes and indulge in a little Bash-the-Rich populism. All par for the course with Ken.

Later this morning Ken will announce that big-engine cars in the centre of London are so grave a threat to life as we know it, that they will be charged £25 per day to exist. The new congestion-cum-enviro-cum-spite charge will be called the Emissions Related Congestion Charge – ERCC

However, it has been established that the massive jams and diesel-fired pollution seen in East and North London does not actually exist. So there will be no need for any extension of the charging zone….

Non-Dom Policy Damned By Tory Treasurer

Michael Spencer, the demi-billionaire Tory treasurer and boss of the City money broking powerhouse ICAP, had an article in The Times criticising Brown and Darling’s plans to drive foreign businessman out of London to Monaco.

Guido suspects that Spencer doesn’t think Osborne’s own plans for non-doms are so brilliant either, he implausibly says the Tory version of the policy was “broadly welcomed” when he took City soundings. Broadly welcomed by whom?

Phil Hammond is defending the plans rather meekly, whereas Michael Fallon, a Tory member of the Treasury Select Committee, tells the FT bluntly “Chasing non-doms out of London is a huge mistake … Why do we want to lose all that business to Luxembourg or Dublin or Geneva?”

The US Embassy has made their view known and is lobbying hard to persuade the Treasury to change the wording of its legislation to ensure the charge falls within the scope of the double taxation treaty. The Chancellor’s plans will actually cost the Treasury money, according to a study by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners: the £30,000 annual levy will cost £2.1 billion a year as many residents will leave the country. The 116,000 non-doms are mostly not tycoons but bank, hedge fund and private equity staff who bring investment and prosperity. The problem for the Tories with having their policy stolen by Gordon is that they can’t attack his even worse version without highlighting the problems with their own. The Treasury and Osborne should realise that the elasticity in the Laffer Curve applies even more to foreigners.

What is the "Forward Risk Horizon Scanning Unit"?

Could a Downing Street lackey leak to us what this new unit is all about? Guido is a little uncertain if the unit’s name he has been given is precisely correct, sounds like a PR man’s creation doesn’t it? Is Stephen Carter the father of the unit? Does it actually exist as more than a coffee and doughnuts meeting?

Is it part of the not-another-relaunch “Brown Phase 2″ that Riddell is waffling about this morning? Is it just a “There May Be Trouble Ahead, Lets Figure Out Our Excuses Unit”? Enquiring bloggers want to know…

Gordon Jinx Hits Manchester United

Every international football and rugby match Gordon has attended since he has become PM has led to a defeat for England or Scotland. His Jonah-like jinx now seemingly extends to club matches. On a day of high emotion at Old Trafford, in front of survivors of the Munich crash and the families of the victims, Brown turned up. The result? Manchester United lost at home for the first time against City in 34 years!

Is this a good sign for the blues?

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Due to the quantity of political sleaze being reported Guido is introducing a Pigs in Shit rating system for guidance on the misdemeanors of porcine politicians.

Politically motivated mud throwing, technical reporting error / potentially honest mistake.

Definitely

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Woolas Warns Against "Inbred Muslims"Cryer Says Pakistanis Have "Medieval Culture"

In comments that sound like BNP propaganda, the Environment Minister Phil Woolas blamed immigrants from rural Pakistan for a rise in birth defect rates due to the inter-marriage of cousins. Researchers say that the NHS is seeing 9 times the

[…]

+ READ MORE +

BBC Finally Wakes Up to Snouts in the Trough

Nick Robinson, the BBC’s chief political correspondent, blogged yesterday that

The fact that MPs can claim expenses of £250 without a receipt has already been greeted with widespread incredulity. The fact we learnt today is likely to be greeted with

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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