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.

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…

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.

 

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? 

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…

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.

UKIP Polling Up to 30% in Key Swing Seats
Donor Buys Page Ad in Telegraph to Rebut Ashcroft

Four more constituency polls from Survation out this morning, bankrolled by UKIP’s millionaire bookie donor Alan Bown. UKIP are up to 28% in Folkestone and Hythe, 30% in Great Yarmouth and 27% in Bognor Regis & Littlehampton. In Crewe and Nantwich they are only on 11%, but the Tories fall behind Labour into second. Indeed the Tories are down by an average of 14 points on their 2010 results across the four seats. You can use the drop down box on the interactive graph above to see the results in full.

Bown has taken out a full page ad in today’s Telegraph to answer Lord Ashcroft’s claim that voting UKIP puts Miliband into Number 10. UKIP have two lines on this. First, that today’s polls show the net gain to the Tories if UKIP were not to field a candidate would be only 2% nationally. Only 26% of voters polled said they would vote Tory if UKIP did not run so, put simply, not enough are not going to ‘come home’ in 2015 as the Tories hope. Second, that UKIP voters do not really care if Miliband becomes PM. 53% said they would rather vote UKIP than Tory even if that meant Ed won, just 33% said they would vote Tory instead of UKIP to stop him. That is the number that will cost the Tories in 2015…

Blanchflower Wrong Again

Poor Danny Blanchflower is at it again. The man that predicted three of this year’s triple dip recessions and said in May “I nearly fell over laughing when I heard Mervyn King say there’s a recovery in sight”, has turned […]

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GRAPHS: Labour 20 Points Clear in Key Marginals

Two more Survation polls on key marginals out this morning. If the trends in the three constituencies polled so far turn out to be representative, it is pretty clear what the consequences are for the Tories. In Great Grimsby Labour […]

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Wonk Allegiances

Interesting to note the political influence and orientation of some of the lefty wonk shops most willing to take money from the taxpayer compared to their counterparts to the soft right. Economist Andrew Whitby has calculated that the supposedly “non-political”[…]

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Flaws in the Ed Balls “Cost of Living Crisis” Attack Line

Labour’s developing retail offer to the voters centres on the cost of living, in essence they will ask the voters on election day “Are you better off now than you were 5 years ago?” Which is why this week – […]

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