Monday, February 24, 2014

Government of the Etonians, by the Etonians for the Etonians

tory-etonian-manifesto

The FT has a great spot this morning:

“There are six people writing the manifesto and five of them went to Eton; the other went to St Paul’s,” one Conservative MP in a marginal constituency told the Financial Times. A senior minister said the make-up of the prime minister’s team was a bad advertisement for social mobility.

The authors of the next Tory manifesto are, according to the FT; Cameron himself, Jo Johnson, Ed Llewellyn, Dave’s old school friend and chief of staff; Oliver Letwin, minister for government policy and Rupert Harrison. The male-only team are all former Etonians, except in a nod to social mobility George Osborne, who was educated at St Paul’s in London, has been allowed to join the Eton Fives team. Floreat Etona!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Labour’s Women Problem

Miliband has been up in Leeds today talking about his favourite subject of late: the Tories’ apparent ‘women problem’. Yet as Hazel Blears announces that she too is standing down, how true is it that the Tories are proportionally losing more women than Labour? A Guido FactCheck investigates.

There were 48 female Tory MPs in 2010.

Lorraine Fulbrook, Jessica Lee and Laura Sandys are not seeking re-election, Louise Mensch stepped down in 2012, and Anne Mcintosh has been deselected.

That means in this parliament female Tory MPs have a casualty rate of 10.4%.

Labour meanwhile had 81 female MPs in 2010.

Nine have said they will be off in 2015: Ann Clwyd, Dawn Primarolo, Tessa Jowell, Glenda Jackson, Joan Ruddock, Anne McGuire, Joan Walley, Meg Munn and Hazel Blears.

That means in this parliament female Labour MPs have a casualty rate of 11.1%.

Filling your front bench with women in a stage-managed attack is all well and good, but the truth is Labour are losing more women than the Tories…

UPDATE: Following some complaints on Twitter about the graph above, Guido is happy to issue the following clarification:

UPDATE II: 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Are Food Markets Really Failing?

One of the key demands in today’s divine intervention is that the government “act to investigate food markets that are failing.” Well, if you look at inflation-adjusted prices of corn, wheat and soybean over the last hundred years…

…it has actually been a hundred years of declining prices…

Via @csdrake

UPDATE: And food prices in real terms are still lower than they were in the 80s:

Hallelujah! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Misery Index: Get Happy

You might be reading this with the ground floor of your house underwater but it doesn’t matter: you are officially the happiest you have been this parliament. Today’s unemployment figures provide a statistical anomaly of seeing the rate rise 0.1% even though the actual number has fallen by 125,000. Choose which stat you want to use as per partisan preference. 

There has been a small increase in Retail Price Index inflation, though the small fall in the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement provides some cheer. As you can see from the chart to the right, seasonally adjusted public sector debt aside, there is a clear trend of a decline in misery since February 2011…

N.B. stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

EXC: Gordon Brown Office Has £10,000-a-Week “Expenses” Raises Over £3 Million, Gives Less Than £1 Million to Charity

  • Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown has £10,000-a-week expenses
  • Not a registered charity, two thirds of funds raised spent on expenses
  • Less than  £1 million given to charity out of over £3 million raised
  • Vanity project lets  Gordon and Sarah enjoy jet-set premier life-style of first class flights and five star hotels

Gordon Brown has since leaving Downing Street raised over £3 million to support charitable projects yet has given less than a £1 million to charity. Nearly three-quarters of the money raised has gone on his office and globe-trotting travel expenses that run at over £10,000-a-week – allowing Brown to vainly swan around in Davos like old times. Gordon Brown always insists that he does not profit from the arrangement and that all the income goes either directly to charities or to support other charitable public service projects.

The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown is not a registered charity, it is a private limited company. Guido’s investigation reveals – by piecing together some 133 declarations made in Gordon Brown’s parliamentary register of interests – a picture of the until now private accounts since the company was set up by Sarah. Brown has declared to parliament that the total amount paid to the company since 2010 is £3,605,197. According to a recent announcement on the company’s website, only £912,702 has so far been given to charity after three years. Leaving over £2 million to be accounted for when according to the latest available records the company had only £160,978 in cash at the bank. You can see an itemised spreadsheet compiled from Guido’s investigations here.

The company admits it budgets £550,000-a-year for expenses to meet salaries, accommodation costs and staff expenses. Gordon can be paid as much as $100,000 for a single speech in America to investors at finance conferences. By funnelling his speaker fees through the company he does not have to pay tax on the income, even though it covers the £10,000-a-week expenses for Gordon and Sarah to maintain the jet-set premier lifestyle they were accustomed to when in Downing Street, travelling first class around the world and staying in top five star hotels attended to by flunkies. Something Gordon would not be able to do on his backbench MP’s salary…

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Misery Index: January Blues

The good news, as someone once said, keeps on coming with unemployment falling from 7.4% to 7.1% today. That hasn’t stopped the January blues leaving us all a little bit sadder than we were before Christmas however. There has been a small increase in Retail Price Index inflation, though the real downer has been the rise in the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement. There is not yet a measure available to determine how party poopers doing dry January have affected results.

N.B. stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here.

Everything is ‘Better Than You Expected’, Blanchflower

David Blanchflower, Gordon Brown’s favourite former appointee to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, has come as close as his arrogance allows him to admitting he was totally wrong about everything. Back in 2009 the out-of-luck economist gazed into his faulty crystal ball and predicted that unemployment would top 5 million if the Tories came into power. In 2010 he forecast that unemployment would surge past 3 million to 3.4 million and in 2012 he predicted unemployment would go up the day before it dipped below 8%. So today’s painful admission that UK unemployment is ‘falling surprisingly fast’, which ‘is welcome good news and better than I had expected’, is a bit of an understatement. Better than expected… to the tune of millions of jobs.

 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

9 Out of 10 Top Dole Claiming Constituencies are Labour

Some top number-crunching by the calculator-bashers over at the Backbencher this morning. They have worked out that, taking away Northern Irish seats where Labour do not stand, 90% of the top 100 constituencies that claim Jobseekers’ Allowance have Labour MPs. Just 28 of the highest 200 JSA claiming seats have MPs other than Labour. You can see all the data and the full list of constituencies here. Worth taking a look at the majorities as well. Time for Labour to change their name? 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

End of Ed’s “Cost of Living Crisis”

At the beginning of the year Guido predicted that the data would soon show that Ed’s “Cost-of-Living Crisis” was at an end. Today inflation fell to 2%, hitting the Bank of England’s target for the first time in four years and last month saw reported UK wage growth hit a six year high. Wage growth is set to outstrip inflation and with that the end of the rationale for Ed Miliband’s “Cost-of-Living Crisis”. The public are increasingly confident:

icm-confidence

All Ed’s slogans turn to dust “too far, too fast” was demonstrated to be wrong and Labour MPs think “One Nation Labour” is vacuous. Back to the drawing board…

Friday, January 3, 2014

Labour’s Gym Spin Machine Needs to Row Back

Top Labour thinker Luciana Berger has already been widely derided for her spandex-clad election winner that she unveiled last night:

“Millions of people across the country will want to kick-start 2014 by getting fitter and more active. There is a real risk however that many people will be put off from keeping to their New Year’s resolutions by soaring gym charges and David Cameron’s failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”

Berger went on to claim: “A yearly pass now costs £368 on average, an increase of £15 since 2010″. Before this intervention is allowed to shift the entire political narrative, it should also be pointed out that it’s complete nonsense.

An increase of £15 since 2010 constitutes a 4.1% rise. However, if subsidised costs had risen in line with CPI over the same period (10.5%) a pass would cost an average of £390. So in fact that is a real terms cut of £22 in gym membership costs since 2010. Not only was Berger’s intervention completely vacuous, it was just plain wrong. Roll on 2014.


Seen Elsewhere

No.10 Ambushed by EU Prosperity Tax | Times
Tory MP Tells Leftie Jon Snow to Retire | Guardian
Russell Brand’s New Book “Sub-Undergraduate Dross” | Telegraph
Tory MP Barrister Represents Monaco Billionaire | Scrapbook
MOBO Singers Slam UKIP | ITV
Could UKIP Keep Britain in the EU? | Iain Martin
Why Piketty is Wrong | ConHome
Guido Whips Politicians Into Shape | Guardian
Milburn Levelling Down | Kathy Gyngell
Crosby and Carswell Make Friends at Guido’s Dinner | Mail
Mrs Danczuk Beats Mensch to Win Guido | Telegaph


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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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