Friday, September 5, 2008

McCain Party Speech Was So-So What Will Gordon Say?

McCain’s speech last night to his party convention was a bit so-so, even with the helpful acclamation in the hall. The last minute or so was combative, sprinkled with some good lines. He is no Reagan.

Brown has the same problem. This year he needs to up his game badly. He is searching (we are told) for speechwriters, his delivery is Brezhnevian. Gordon’s speech has to save his career, enthuse the party activists, an increasingly cynical and unsettled PLP, deflect a coup attempt and mollify the public.

The last is possibly unachievable. The public has decided that Gordon is a disaster. He can veer to the left to enthuse the party but that will be a renouncement of everything New Labour stood for and will be seen as the last roll of the dice for survival by the media and voters. If he sticks to the course he is on the party activists will despair.

So what themes should his speech contain? Rabble rousing, Tory bashing or apologising and promising to do better? Begging? Tough call, not a speech Guido would like to have to write… what would you put in the speech?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Brown : "Economy is Better Placed to Weather the Global Storm"

Gordon is simply not in touch with reality. He has just told a business crowd that this is the “first financial crisis of the new global age”.

So the technology stock crash in 2000/1 was not worldwide? Didn’t the 1997/8 Asian economic crisis and LTCM collapse have global repercussions, the ERM crisis in 1992 had currency volatility everywhere, Black Monday in 1987 was scary, the Latin American debt crisis in 80s… we have had them all the way back to 1929. All were global financial crises.

Gordon says the economy has “underlying strength”, which must be why August saw the lowest new car sales since Bobby Charlton lifted the World Cup. Oh, almost forgot: the Prime Mentalist is getting on with the job and making long term decisions as well.

Harsh Headline

So he has written a few bonkers articles recently, lost the TV job and missed out on the editorship of the New Statesman. Still think the headline this morning was a little unjustified.

Some Numbers for Gordon

Gordon is off to read out tractor statistics to the Scottish CBI, here are some taken from that OECD report. This speech is rumoured to have an element of mea culpa…

Falling worse than most in Britain…

Lately we haven’t heard Gordon spin that Britain is “best placed economically” to weather the next 12 months or that he is making “the long term decisions” needed. He seems to be making decisions determined by his need for short term survival….

UPDATE : Based on Halifax figures the last 12 months have seen the biggest house price falls ever – the previous biggest 12 month fall was 8.5% in October 1992. House prices have fallen 12.7% year to date. It took four years from May 1989 to February 1993 for house prices to fall 12.97% that far last time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wilf Helping With the Re-Launch

Bill Jamieson reports that the former head of the Smith Institute, Wilf Stevonson, is working in the Downing Street bunker on the “economic recovery plan“.  With Ed Balls and Shriti Vadera completing the dream team of wonks.  That would explain why it is going so well…
The worst wonk in Westminster, plus Balls (famous for his endogenous growth theory) and Shriti – the financial genius who designed the tube’s disastrous financing package – are just the brains to get us out of the no growth, over-taxed, rising stagflation hole the economy is in.  The Treasury is we are told cut out of the loop.

Clarke Loses the Plot

In the New Statesman tomorrow Charles Clarke is superficially writing about the use and abuse of the term “Blairism”. The word is insulting, lazy and misleading he says, calling for an end to “deceitful nonsense”
As various commentators consider Labour’s prospects, the term “Blairite” is being deployed to characterise the policies and personalities of some who question the party’s current direction and urge Labour to face the future. Like “Thatcherite”, the word is not used kindly. “Blairite” (even “über-Blairite”) is a lazy and inaccurate shorthand. It is intended not to illuminate but to diminish, marginalise and insult. It was, for example, the stock phrase used by the Brown political briefing team to traduce David Miliband’s Guardian article in early August.

Moreover, this misleading language damages the vital need for Labour to move on to new, post-Blair ground. Those journalists and politicians who use it are fighting the last political struggle, the War of the Tony Blair Succession, in a way that owes rather more to Just William and the Hubert Laneites than to the challenges of modern British politics.

In the newspapers this summer, I have read about “eye-wateringly ‘Blairite’ gospels”; about “Blairites” “thumbing their noses” at progressive politics; about “Blair privatisers” and how “Blairites” are the “business wing” who “play the markets against the ‘progressive wing’ of the party”. Some argue David Cameron is now more progressive than new Labour and that Labour under Blair became a party of the centre-right.

This deceitful nonsense has to end. Everyone in Labour needs to stop obsessing about the past and to start obsessing about the future…. Similarly, there is no Blairite plot, despite rumours and persistent newspaper reports. There is, however, a deep and widely shared concern – which does not derive from ideology – that Labour is destined to disaster if we go on as we are, combined with a determination that we will not permit that to happen.

So why no plot? If you are “destined for disaster” with Gordon you really need to plot a new course. This is really not the time to be losing the plot…

See also Clarke’s September 2006 article on Brown: He Lacks Courage and Vision, He’s Delusional and a Control Freak. That turned out to be completely on the money.

Don’t Tell Mrs Fawkes

So last night Guido gingerly broached with Mrs Fawkes the subject of going missing in Birmingham at the end of the month:

Mrs Fawkes Do you really need to go?

Guido Well you know, important to keep in touch with the base, gain intelligence, schmooze contacts, gossip doesn’t just write itself…
Mrs Fawkes For 4 days and nights?
Guido Well, have been invited to speak at a few events on issues that are important, seems rude not to give back something.
Mrs Fawkes Try not to get arrested this time.

Bizarrely tickets are going well…

Crash Gordon Now Copying Failed Old Tory Ideas

Lamont told Sky News last night “Far be it from me to criticise myself, but I do not think that the Stamp duty holiday we introduced made any difference at all”. Quite, why would anyone hurry to save 1% on Stamp Duty when they can wait and save even more.

Property is down 10%, falling at 1% a month, it could easily be down another 10% next year – why catch a falling knife? The graph below (via Stumbling and Mumbling) shows the negligible effect of the Lamont Stamp Duty holiday.The left-of-centre Chris Dillow has a surprisingly laissez faire conclusion – let prices fall. The market will find equilibrium.


“I will not allow house prices to get out of control and put at risk the sustainability of the recovery.”
Gordon Brown, 1997 Budget Statement.

Unfortunately Gordon has to do something, he promised an end to the economic cycle, he promised endless growth, low unemployment, low inflation and a new Britain.

The economic cycle is back, the benevolent economic circumstances not of his making have gone and we are, according to the OECD, the worst positioned Western industrialised nation to weather the tough times. Inflation is rising and unemployment is hitting Thatcherite levels, your economic plans have crashed, Gordon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Trot Along to Socialist Unity’s Session with Newsnight’s Economics Editor Tonight

Newsnight’s Paul Mason managed, as some noted last night, to analyse previous economic downturns by going from Barber (Tory) to Howe (Tory) but skipping Callaghan (Labour) when Britain had to get an emergency bailout from the IMF.

It does seem odd to have a Trotskyite sympathiser as the business reporter on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs show. It is all very well him briefing his comrades tonight on “The Recession – What does it mean for us?” (Suspect it will mean that capitalism is in terminal crisis since it has always been according to the Trots who sell newspapers).

Guido just wishes Comrade Mason would concentrate less on supporting the workers revolution and more on making sure that Newsnight manages to reliably report whether the FTSE is up or down on the day. How hard can that be?

Not Much of a Stimulus Package

Guido has never met a tax cut he hasn’t liked, so the stamp duty holiday is welcome, but why not make it permanent? The £175,000 limit means it is not going to apply to anyone in the South East or for that matter anyone wanting a family home up north. So not really going to help many hard working families is it? Why not raise the threshold up to £250,000 or even £500,000 for a year?

The sale-and-rent-back scheme will apply to only 6,000 home owners in danger of being repossessed. That is fewer than the government-owned bank Northern Rock will probably repossess this year…


Seen Elsewhere

Comply or Die at Grauniad | MediaGuido
Labour Beats UKIP in South Yorkshire | LabourList
Mock the Week’s Weak Comedy | Nigel Farage
Can Jim Murphy Save Scottish Labour? | Guardian
There is Still Appetite for the Westminster Lunch | Jon Craig
Labour Turn Their Backs on Jewish Community | Dan Hodges
Chivalry is Not Dead | Laura Perrins
Jonathan Jones is a Tw*t | Iain Dale
Second Scotland Poll Suggests Labour Wipeout | Times
Paedo Probe Boss Urged to Quit | Sun
Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie


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