Friday Caption Competition (the Men in Suits)

Gordon Brown Refused to Answer Inquiry Questions

One footnote from the Charity Commission report into Gordon Brown’s Smith Institute is positively Nixonian.

You have the right to remain silent but….

Labour are spinning that the report clears Gordon of any links to the Institute. Which is complete bollocks. The Treasury Minister John Healey welcomed attendees to Number 11 in December 2004 thus:

“I am a last-minute substitute for Gordon Brown, so I would like, on his behalf, to welcome you all to Number 11 Downing Street. I know, looking around, some of you are quite regular attendees of Smith Institute seminars, and you will know you get a letter from Wilf Stevenson before each one explaining that you are invited to Number 11 by Kind permission of the Chancellor. I have to say, this series of seminars in particular is being held not so much by the kind permission of the Chancellor, but by his absolute insistence that they take place. He is unable to be with us now, but he will want to know exactly what has been said in the discussion when I see him earlier this morning. Many of you, including and perhaps especially the panel here, have known Gordon for a long time”

The Centre for Open Politics has summarised the web of close links to Gordon Brown in a single document.

click to enlarge

Smith Institute Report

Guido is digesting the lengthy Charity Commission report. The Smith Institute has been found guilty of charge after charge first highlighted on this blog.

Back with fuller comment soon.

UPDATE : There seem to be some errors of fact which Guido will be highlighting.

Treasury Denies Plans to Break Broken Golden Rule

The FT front pages the Treasury’s supposed plan to break the Golden Rule and breach Gordon’s self imposed debt limit of 40% of the UK’s gross domestic product.

The truth is the City and the Gilts market has regarded the Golden Rule as a political fiction for years. 700 or more PFI debts that build schools and hospitals owned by the state are government guaranteed debt whatever fudge the government claims. Northern Rock mortgage guarantees are not only bad debts they are also government debts, the Network Rail debt likewise, state pensions are another unfunded government debt.

The Office of National Statistics made it officially 43.1% back in May (full explanation from IFS download here). The only news is that the Treasury looks set to admit the truth. The pathetic reality is that Gordon’s psychology did not allow him to admit his failure to keep his own rule. The rule could have been kept to in the good times, it hardly needed much fiscal rectitude to sustain when he inherited falling public debts from Ken Clarke.

The Treasury is spinning this morning that it is not going to break or loosen the rules. Guido suspects it will “redefine” the economic cycle somehow.

See also Fantasy Island Economics.

+++ Charity Commission Smith Institute Report Tomorrow +++

Radically Opaque

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: The troubled Demos think tank is officially saying “no comment” this morning but there are reports that the new director of Demos, Catherine Fieschi, has already abandoned ship. It seems to be something of habit for Demos to lose leaders. She was installed following the failed and brief captaincy of Madelaine Bunting which produced a mutiny of the wonks.
Sunny over at Pickled Politics thinks it is something to do with Demos co-sponsoring an event held by the British Muslim Initiative – which some claim is Hamas allied – Guido has no idea if that is true and is a bit sceptical of Islamophobia mullahs-under-the-bed stuff. The Demos “no comment” is a bit of a laugh when you know that they advocate “radical transparency” and a new way of “doing politics… short-circuiting the damaging relationship between politicians and journalists”.

They ask citizen bloggers to get in touch because “We’re thinking about how citizen journalism and new media are having, and might have, an impact on political communication, and on traditional journalism.” Well, Guido got in touch and they said “no comment”.

UPDATE : It is official. She resigned on Monday and an article has just popped up on the New Statesman‘s website where she says

“no matter who’s in an organisation, organisations seldom love you back as much as you love them. They are strangely, in this respect, less than the sum of their parts. And so it’s time to move on…. I wish Demos nothing but the absolute best, but a sense of après moi, le déluge has a certain appeal when you’ve been slugging your guts out for a couple of years. Does harbouring a secret longing for an inept successor, possibly unpleasant, maybe even scarily unattractive, make me a terrible person?”

Unloved, belittling, negative wishes – something tells Guido the Christmas card list will be shorter this year…

Can Clegg Carry His Party?

Yesterday Clegg announced plans to “streamline” decision making in the LibDems, in reality giving him more control, today he announces that the party will reduce the overall tax burden. Effectively he is moving the party away from social democracy and back to liberalism, shifting the party from the centre left to the centre right.
Promising to slash Whitehall waste and cutting taxes, reducing the number of MPs – all good stuff. We have been here before, Ming muttered the same kind of thing – talking about deregulation and reducing the scope of the state. Yet the press releases continued to pour out from his shadow team calling for more regulations and more state spending. The modern successors to the Liberal Party seem to have lost the language of classical liberalism. They are always clamouring for “something to be done” by the state. Cameron’s personal responsibility agenda and assertion that “there is such a thing as society, it is just not the same as the state” is an authentically liberal stance.

Clegg can probably carry the parliamentary party, however the activist base is way to the left of his voters. Clegg’s party is in collective denial that it faces annihilation at the hands of the Tories in much of the South East. How will he get the legendary sandal-wearing, lentil-loving weirdy beardies to sell the new message?

Flip-Flop Punditry

It seems like only yesterday that the pundits were collectively predicting Labour would lose. Guido was sceptical.

Today, according to Andrew Rawnsley and “Britain’s most authoritative survey of inside political opinion”, they think Labour will win. The punditry, more fickle than a teenage girl…

Tory Expense List Released

Uploaded to the Tory website.

Ooooh, what a surprise, the troughing Wintertons don’t appear to have put in their return…

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Gordon Gets a Psychotherapist

Hencke in the Guardian this morning reports the Labour Party is hiring Derek Draper, a psychotherapist “experienced at treating emotional and psychological issues including: self-esteem, personal development, depression, anxiety, addictions, self-harm, personality problems and family and relationship concerns” to advise

[…]

+ READ MORE +

EXCLUSIVE : Glasgow East Labour Fakes "93 Year-Old War Hero" Endorsement

This is really stooping low and a sign of the Labour Party’s total desperation to hang on to Glasgow East. This picture is taken from Labour’s election propaganda (see also here). The by-election candidate Margaret Curran says

Some of

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Midnight Football from the Prime Mentalist

The former Brown fan The Mole occasionally brings back the odd gem from inside the bunker. This has the ring of truth:

There are even reports from the PM’s plane to Japan that a young civil servant touted

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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