Sunday, January 11, 2009

Growing Unease About Old Lady’s Secrecy

Remember Something Odd in the Banking Bill from early December? Guido was suspicious about the removal of the requirement of the Bank of England to tell us how much money it is printing:
The 1844 Banking Bill ensured transparency in the operations of the Bank of England. It has been good enough for over 164 years.


Surely it can’t be that they don’t want us to know how fast the Bank of England’s printing presses are going to be running?

The Telegraph’s economics editor has just cottoned on to the dodge:

The Government is set to throw out the 165-year old law that obliges the Bank to publish a weekly account of its balance sheet – a move that will allow it theoretically to embark covertly on so-called quantitative easing. The Banking Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, abolishes a key section of the law laid down by Robert Peel’s Government in 1844 which originally granted the Bank the sole right to print UK money.

… Debating the issue in the House of Lords recently, Lord James of Blackheath, a Conservative peer, said: “Remove [this] control and there is nothing to stop an unreported and unmonitored flooding of the money market by the undisciplined use of the printing presses. If we went down that path we would be following a road which starts in Weimar, goes on through Harare and must not end in Westminster and London. That is the great fear that the abolition of that section will bring about – but the Bill abolishes it.”

You read it here first…

UPDATE 12 Jan : The FT is calling it Quantitative Easing Confidential. Guido is quite chuffed to have beaten the FT to the story.

Hoon Blunts Labour’s New Attack on Middle Classes

Guido’s Geoff Hoon story from earlier last week has made it to the Mail on Sunday, where it is used to illustrate the hypocrisy of the political class. Hoon bought his daughter private tutoring in interview technique to successfully give her a better chance of winning an Oxbridge place at a time when Brown is, we learn from the Observer, bringing back Alan Milburn, to “undertake a review of obstacles faced by poorer children seeking to enter careers such as law, medicine and the media” in order to promote social mobility. Chris Grayling hits Hoon on the head, “Time and time again we see double standards from Ministers. They want to change the rules to make it tougher for everyone else while enjoying all the perks for themselves and their families.” Guido understands that Hoon desperately tried to kill the story with a threat to go to the Press Complaints Commission for breach of privacy.

Guido thinks politicians (and candidates) should not be allowed to claim privacy protection, all their behaviour as public office holders and aspirants should be subject to scrutiny in the public interest. We need to know if they are hypocritically extolling one law for us and another for themselves. Which of course Hoon is guilty of here without a doubt, just as Gordon was when he got private dental treatment.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

LabourList Surfaces

As Guido exclusively revealed (and named) here last month, Draper’s LabourList has finally soft launched. The grand launch was scheduled for Monday, however that clashed with Gordon’s Downing Street Jobs Summit, which meant that it didn’t fit on Mandelson’s media grid, so it was shunted back another month. That in a nutshell is how you will have to view the operating basis of the site. It is a party controlled forum, unlike ConservativeHome, which is a party supportive site. This is going to be a much more controlled environment than Labourhome, which for all its faults, was also more grassroots orientated.

Therein will be LabourList’s major structural fault, however much they may deny this, it is a top-down tool of Labour HQ. On the right ConservativeHome scares, irritates and frustrates CCHQ, Dale is his own man with his own loyalties and Guido is on the whole contemptuous of CCHQ. LabourList will be far more on message. That is deep in New Labour’s DNA.

Guido wishes it well, Labourhome has never really found an editorial direction, LiberalConspiracy still has promise, even if it will never have broad grassroots appeal or the focus of a party structure to sustain itself. LabourList does seem to be heavy with a lot of the same old faces, with no pesky loony lefties, so it is hard to see it being that exciting. We shall see…

UPDATE : Dale has similar thoughts.

Post-Nataly Fabulous

Does the French Justice Minister Rachida Dati look like she is just returning to work this week a mere five days after giving birth to a baby girl?

In a chic black suit and killer high heels, the 40something minister was at a cabinet meeting at the Elysee the day that she walked out of a Paris maternity clinic.

Not sure this is all necessarily for the best, but all credit to her for looking post-nataly fabulous.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Don’t Fancy Your Dress

The Tory Bear blog ran a story about a Tory student, Matt Lewis, going to a “bad taste” fancy dress party as Madelaine McCann… you can you guess where this is going… the tabloids have gone into full on outrage mode.
Did he really cause any harm or hurt? Only the reporting of it could have hurt the parent’s feelings. Caroline Spelman, the party chair, says Matt’s behaviour is “totally unacceptable” and confirmed that he had been expelled. “This offensive behaviour is not only shocking but intolerable and completely unacceptable,” she said. “There is no place for this sort of person in the party.” There is however a place at the top of the party for someone who fiddles her expenses to pay for childcare at the taxpayers expense.

Friday Caption Competition (Lunchbreak edition)

The Return of Jonah Brown’s Curse

For a moment after Glenrothes it seemed Gordon’s personal reverse midas touch had been lifted, he even wished Lewis Hamilton good luck and he still managed to win the F1 Grand Prix. However the new year has shown the curse to be as strong as ever.

The signs are the curse is back, big time, here are two examples. At a news conference last month with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Brown spoke before the opening in London of a two-day Palestine trade and investment forum, saying there were “considerable opportunities” for economic partnership between Palestinians and the UK, “The UK enjoys a close relationship with the Palestinian people and I hope today’s conference will cement this. I hope in the coming days we can move further and faster towards the peace settlement that everyone wants to see happen,” he said. Whoops.

This Sunday the Observer reported “Brown is studying a scheme pioneered by Nissan to avoid redundancies in manufacturing, which would see ailing firms given government funding to move staff on to part-time working and use the remaining time for training.” Last year Jonah Brown met Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn to discuss job creation.

Inevitably yesterday “Car manufacturer Nissan has announced it is to axe about a quarter of the workforce at its Sunderland plant. The company, which sent workers at the site home early before Christmas to cope with the economic downturn, said it will cut 1,200 jobs.” The curse of the One Eyed Son of the Manse is back. Email Guido any more examples.

UPDATE : A bean-counting Brummie co-conspirator emails to tell of the consequences of a visit from Jonah and Yvette Cooper.

The Dear Leader visited our Birmingham offices in October to discuss the Credit Crunch. Two floors in the same building were destroyed by arsonists yesterday morning. So instead of rebuilding confidence in the financial system, we’re rebuilding our office. Thanks Gordon.

Jonah opened the Lehmans HQ in London and look what happened to them. KPMG got off lucky.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

+++ LibDem Reshuffle Highlights +++

  • Simon Hughes Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change – sideways since he had nothing to do as no longer party president.
  • Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – sideways.
  • David Heath Shadow Leader of the House – return of euro-rebel
  • Jenny Willott Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – pad out the female count
  • David Howarth Shadow Secretary of State for Justice – promoted
  • Lynne Featherstone “to oversee the party’s online campaigning”.
  • Susan Kramer “has chosen to leave the shadow cabinet to take up a new role leading the party’s campaign against the expansion of Heathrow Airport.” Hmmm.
The most interesting move is John Sharkey, Clegg’s communications director, he has been appointed Deputy Chair of the General Election campaign. “He will work closely with Lord Rennard, Chair of the General Election campaign”. He will try, with Chris Fox, to shift Rennard into the 21st century and focus more on broadcasters than Focus leaflets.

+++ BoE Cuts Half Point Off Rates +++

Bank of England cuts rates half point to 1.5%, the lowest rate in over 300 years. Is it because we have the economy best placed in the world to weather the recession?

UPDATE : Am particularly impressed with the insight of Edmund Conway, the Telegraph’s economics editor, with the base rate now at 1.5% he sagely tells us Interest rates are now nearing their bottom”. Well spotted Ed.

Wheel Barrow Based Monetary Policy

Anatole Kaletsky, who incidentally has been telling his readers to buy shares for two years, has flipped. This morning he is calling on policy makers to Punish savers and make them spend money. He wants to tax savings.

He is not the only one, Rachel Reeves, former Bank of England economist turned Labour candidate for Leeds West, writes in the latest Fabian Review:

Print More Money
Quantitative easing, a radical policy option which was used in Japan in 2005 to end their 15 year recession, could be used now in the UK. Quantitative easing is a policy tool used when conventional monetary policy no longer works – as they nominal interest rate approaches zero. The Bank of England can either print more money or buy government and corporate debt so that long term interest rates fall. Quantitative easing is not without risks (it can push up inflation) but the potential benefits now outweigh these risks. Such a strategy is increasingly seen as a way to kick-start the economy and should be adopted.

Guido warned about the coming of Mugabinomics in November, when Gavyn Davies advocated a wheel barrow based monetary policy. What should you do in this situation? If you don’t have productive assets (such as being a business owner) exchange cash for hard assets, gold is the traditional refuge.

Sir Michael White sneered at Guido last year for telling co-conspirators to buy gold. In a period when stocks fell some 30%, sterling denominated investors who bought at the beginning of the year have seen it rise 41% from £424 to £599 an ounce today. If this year we see “quantitative easing” (printing money), holding gold will be insurance as much as an investment. The economic prospect is frightening, this isn’t about making a profit, it about holding on to what you have got…


Seen Elsewhere

Tories Choose Anti-Israel Candidate in Rochester | JC
Osborne’s Daycare Obsession is a Time Bomb | Kathy Gyngell
BBC Marr Pinko Trying to Ban the Queen | Speccie
Eric Hobsbawm: Companion of Dishonour | Standpoint
Guido Party Gossip | Iain Dale
Russell Brand Comes Out as 9/11 Truther | Guardian
Health Revolution is Underway | Fraser Nelson
UKIP Gets Professional | Red Box
Kelly Tolhurst Wins Rochester Open Primary | BBC
No.10 Ambushed by EU Prosperity Tax | Times
10 Years of Guido | Iain Dale


VOTER-RECALL
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Rob Colvile reviews Russell Brand’s new book:

“Oddly, the person I feel sorriest for isn’t Brand himself – although he certainly comes across as a rather pitiable figure, projecting his own brokenness on to the world around him – but Johann Hari. Drummed out of Fleet Street for plagiarism, the former Independent columnist has washed up as “my mate Johann, who’s been doing research for this book”. For a genuinely talented polemicist, it would have been a humbling experience to have to treat this sub-undergraduate dross as the scintillating wisdom of a philosopher-king.”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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