Saturday, November 15, 2008

How the Tories Could Lose in 2009

Robert Winnett in the Daily Labourgraph maps out the Brownies fantasy scenario for power. It has some elements of truth in it. ConservativeHome summarises the map succintly:
Brown cuts taxes… Osborne doesn’t find room for serious tax cuts… Infighting breaks out inside Tory Party… Lots of interest rate cuts… Caroline Spelman forced to resign over nannygate… Barack meets Brown… Then narrow Labour election win early next year…

Feasible? Gordon is clearly going to throw some bribes the electorate’s way next year. In that context the Osborne-Letwin “no punk tax cuts” hair-shirt is political masochism.

If Labour does a Bush-style tax rebate, and Guido will not be in the least surprised if Gordon performs the mother of all U-turns, Osborne could talk about budget deficits, Gilt-yields and sound money until he is blue in the face. The electorate will see tax rebate cheques and the shadow chancellor saying they shouldn’t have ‘em…

The Tories need to follow the LibDem lead (not a phrase often seen). Point to the £20 billion in savings identified. £20 billion is 3% of government expenditure, expenditure which has nearly doubled under New Labour. Dropping ID cards alone could save nearly half that amount. It costs some £6 billion to raise thresholds £1,000 for everbody, it will defuse the Tory Tax Bomb blowing up in their face.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crash Gordon : Saviour of the Universe

Friday Caption Competition (Corfu Edition)

Gordon Endorses Bush Policies Warns Obama Against Protectionism

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…

Gordon’s G20 Plan

Gordon is going to Washington with a few key spin objectives:

  • 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.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is the Labourgraph on a Crusade Against Osborne?

Today’s coverage:

Iain Martin has been becoming noticeably increasingly incensed with the Tory’s incoherency on the economy. Today it looks like the whole editorial collective over in Victoria has decided they have had enough of George.

Hain : Foreign Funded Electoral Strategy Conference "This is Not a Labour Party Event"

Hain is trying to spin his way out of trouble claiming that the conference he has organised is not an official Labour Party event. It is quite clear that it is a Labour Party supporting event and attended by party members and their German allies.

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

51 Sponsorship

(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.

Clearly if only the Labour Party is benefiting from this conference it is a declarable donation. The Bevan Foundation took the view that it was a party political event and withdrew – quite rightly.

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:

Winning Economically

Get your own at Scribd or explore others:
It is clear that the purpose of the event is to assist the Labour Party, it is designed to help the Labour Party win and concerned only with helping Labour secure power in Wales. Hain is breaking the terms of the Act in organising this by accepting a donation from an inpermissable donor.

Gavyn Davies Advocates Mugabenomics

Some of the more excitable co-conspirators have been warning in the comments on this blog for that Britain is heading the way of Zimbabwe. Guido has until now discounted them as being over the top (yes the comments here do occasionally go ever so over the top).The government’s economic policies do sometimes seem to be a form of voodoo economics involving uncounted debt, faked statistics and ever changing “rules”. Gavyn Davies, a former Goldman Sachs managing director and MPC wise man is close to the Brownies – his wife Sue Nye was Gordon’s diary secretary and is now the Director of Government Relations in Downing Street. So when he advocates, as he does this morning, turning on the printing presses at the Bank of England and just printing more money to solve our woes, you can believe this is being discussed in Downing Street.

Are we now at the dead end of the New Labour era and Mugabenomics is a serious policy option? This is madness.

Welsh Charitable Think Tank Pulls Out of Hain Organised Event Electoral Commission to Examine Foreign Funding

Peter Hain has organised a conference today in his Neath constituency on “Winning Economically, Winning Politically”. Labour politicians and German SPD politicians will be discussing strategy and tactics in a session titled “What was done, what went wrong and how to win back voter support”. The event is financially supported by the SPD’s Friedrich Ebert Stiftung think tank. The Welsh Bevan Foundation, an educational charity, was co-sponsoring it.

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.

Gordon Brown Worst PM of All Time for Pension Funds

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.

It sure does. It doesn’t even take into account his plundering of pension funds during his Chancellorship. He robbed pensioners by taxing pension funds and he robs children by running up the national debt…

*Historic data taken from 2008 Barclays Equity Gilt study.


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Tony Blair threatens Ed:

“If you had a strong political lead that was combining the politics of aspiration with the politics of compassion, I still think that’s where you could get a substantial majority…  If I ever do an interview on [the state of the Labour Party], it will have to be at length…”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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