By Telegraph cartoonist Matt.
By Telegraph cartoonist Matt.
There’s a Computable General Equilibrium Model at the Treasury. If it were made of string and resin it wouldn’t be any less reliable, but its predictions about the cut in corporation tax are likable, so let’s quote them.
The Treasury select committee told us the computer is forecasting corporation tax going from 28 pence to 20 pence will increase GDP between 0.6 and 0.8 per cent, and will increase business investment from 2.5 per cent of some damn thing or other to 4.5 per cent.
It’s “a quiet revolution” George Osborne says, of this example of the Laffer Curve in action.
This curve is still mocked by the left. But it has an interesting pedigree.
Don’t let’s forget the way Ed Miliband was looking up at his bellowing shadow chancellor.
The look started out supportive and attentive, then went objective and cool, and then passed into dreaminess. Procedural analysts agree he was choosing the exact spot, between which two hairs, the ice pick would sink most easily into.
Balls is a phenomenon. Everything he has predicted has turned out to be wrong. He is like the 364 economists who wrote to the Times in 1981 warning that austerity would cripple the economy. They were wrong. He followed their lead. And now he’s wrong.
He stood up into the famous wall of noise that 200 Tories can produce, and he roared that the chancellor was “in denial”.
That was the beginning. But in another sense it was also the end.
Good unemployment and growth news from those always reliable soothsayers, the Office for Budget Responsibility. They reckon unemployment will fall from 7.6% to 7% in 2015, then again to 5.6% by 2018. Which means that Mark Carney’s “threshold” for changing interest rate policy will not be crossed this side of an election.
Growth for this year is more than doubled to 1.4% from 0.6%, also up next year to 2.4% from 1.8%. (Worth noting that in 2010 the OBR thought 2013 growth would hit nearly 3%, in March this year dropped it to 0.6%, and they have now put it back up again). Do keep up.
So Osborne claims his government is fixing the roof while the sun is shining and the numbers sort of back him up. But they might be wrong, or maybe not. Ask them again in a year’s time.
Regardless of the tinkering, the Government will borrow £111 billion this year, just shy of £10 billion less than predicted in March. We will still be borrowing £96 billion next year; then £79 billion, £51 billion and £23 billion in the subsequent years. Osborne claims we will be in the black by 2018/19, in the latter half of the next parliament. An OBR provided election slogan right there: don’t let Labour ruin it etcetera. Convenient!
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 – with good economic news abounding – Labour’s twitterati were ignoring jobs and growth and instead chorusing in North Korean style synchronised tweeting this infographic:
The infographic shows that real wages have fallen behind inflation. A factually correct statistic.
Guido fails to understand why the government parties are not aggressively countering the Ed Balls cost-of-living crisis attack line with the truth that the average mortgage is £1,000 cheaper because of lower interest rates. Mortgage affordability is clearly illustrated by the fact that, according to data released yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, mortgage arrears are dramatically lower now compared to where they were when Ed Balls was last in government:
Throw in the income tax threshold hike (£493), the savings from holding down council taxes (£210) and you have already countered the Balls attack in cash terms – and some – at £1,703. Meaning that in terms of disposable income the “average working person” is better off. So why is this point not being made by Tory and LibDem attack dogs more forcefully?
If in the Autumn Statement the Chancellor rolls back some green taxes, brings back the 10p income tax rate or raises the tax threshold again, in terms of disposable income the voters will be even more better off in 2015 than they were in 2010. To the question “Are you better off now than you were 5 years ago?” the answer has to be “yes”. If it isn’t, the Coalition parties will deserve to lose in 2015.
Everything you need to know:
Fixing the roof while the sun is shining for hard-working people in the global race, etc, etc…
Eventually Osborne’s friendship with Natalie Rowe comes to an end, with her claiming she met his then fiancée:
My pregnancy also changed the dynamics between me and my three musketeers. George became quite caring towards me. It was a particularly cold winter and sometimes George sat with me, cosy on the sofa in Redcliffe Square and rubbed my pregnant tummy – even when other people were there. George was self-conscious of his figure – he would wear loose clothes to try and hide his belly, which was a bit flabby and spongy. Every now and then I’d comment: “Why are you wearing this? To hide your jelly-belly?” and would reach over and rub it playfully. I really appreciated George’s friendship because the pregnancy wasn’t smooth. At five months, I started to dilate and have contractions – and there was some bleeding. I rushed to the hospital and doctors put a stitch at the neck of my womb to stop labour. It was a risky move but if the baby had arrived then he wouldn’t have lived. The procedure worked and so I still held out hopes of giving birth to a healthy child. Then George got engaged to Frances, his future wife. I found out when I was at Chris’s place in Pembridge Villas, Notting Hill. William was on a bender at the time and Chris and George were there with a woman whom I didn’t know. I had no idea she was George’s fiancée. We did not get on at all. Thanks to George she knew what I did and asked about my escort services. She was hostile, full of disdain for me and jealous of how friendly George and I were. Afterwards George asked: “What do you think of her?” “What do you mean?” My face told the story. He didn’t ask anything more. George was obviously making plans for his future, to become respectable. He’d certainly been privy to some wild times in his youth; not least of which would have been the infamous Bullingdon Club parties.
Osborne has not commented about the book, though his lawyers told the Mirror that Rowe was an unreliable witness. In the past he has claimed:
“A friend of mine went out with a woman called Natalie and they had a child together. I met them occasionally in the autumn of 1993 and it soon became clear my friend had started to use drugs. He became more and more addicted and I saw his life fall apart. With his other friends I tried to persuade him to seek treatment. After rehabilitation he has now recovered and put his life back together.”
So he’s not “Joe”. Got that?
More from Natalie Rowe’s book. Here is what she alleges the Chancellor’s set were up to in the early 90s:
“All the boys had the hots for coke fiend Peggy, she was so much fun and up for anything, even if she spent most of her time on another planet. They all knew how much she loved coke and so one night William, who was an out-and-out drug and drink fiend, cut a wide line that was a foot long. “Snort that and I’ll give you £ 100!” William said. “I’ll do it!” Cheers went up from the crowd. I was the only one to sound a note of caution. “For god’s sake Peggy, don’t do it, you’ll do yourself an injury.” She ignored me, bent down and started snorting as the men chanted “Pegg-y! Pegg-y! Pegg-y!” as if it were a drinking game. She finished the line but her triumph left her near-comatose, speechless and cross-eyed for the rest of the night.”
And then they found out what Rowe did for a living:
“I let them in and told them to wait., forgetting about the domination gear. When I got back William was pretending to whip George, while Chris was sword fighting with the cane. “What’s all this Nat?” Chris asked. I smiled. Confession time. “I’m a dominatrix.” They were impressed. “Tell us what you get up to!” So I told them some stories about clients. They bombarded me with questions. “So how much do you charge?” George asked me. “It depends on a few things, on their pain threshold, how much work is involved, and so on but there’s a basic rate to start.” They loved to hear what was going on and I enjoyed telling them. They certainly hadn’t met anyone like me before. The trio started to hang around in the flat while I was working and would sometimes even meet clients after they’d been through a session. They’d chat together with them about domination over a drink. George really enjoyed this; it was as if he was sharing in their experience with me.”
Still no news on the identity of “Joe”…
According to Natalie Rowe’s memoirs, George Osborne used to be quite the dancer:
“The three musketeers were proper little ravers and loved to go clubbing. When George got tipsy, he lost his reserve and wanted to dance (I have a photo of him dancing at a party at my flat). He was a terrible dancer but wasn’t alone. I used to cringe when we went clubbing with the three musketeers and their friends. I couldn’t bring myself to share the dancefloor with them – just imagine tipsy public schoolboys at a disco doing robot impressions. The higher they got, the better they thought they were. George loved We Could Be Heroes by David Bowie and the three musketeers would sing it together top of their voices on the dance floor. George also adored Gold by Spandau Ballet. George didn’t have much of dress sense, neither did he make an effort to dress up – he just wore jeans and T-shirt.”
Yet he was sensitive:
“Although George never once said anything like: “I really hate what they’re saying,” at the time (I suppose he thought he’d be better off saving his energy – there was no chance of him making them stop), he was the most upset of the three and this made me feel close to him. Perhaps George was more upset because some of his acquaintances were racist towards Jews (George, who is Jewish, was christened Gideon and changed his name when he was a teenager to ‘fit in’). They’d say, “Shut up you f**king Jew,” to describe anyone they thought was being stingy. When we were alone George told me he couldn’t understand why I was with William; he said we just weren’t compatible.”
A fighter, not a quitter:
“I went and sat with George on the sofa. George couldn’t hold his own in conversation with his peers, which is why we ended up talking a lot together – we would share the fact that we didn’t have a clue, nor were we interested in what the others were going on about – arts, politics and the social shenanigans of the landed gentry. We were passing comment on somebody at the party when I leant over to whisper something to him and playfully licked his ear. William appeared. He’d seen what was going on and was pissed off. “What are you guys talking about?” he asked angrily. “Calm down William,” George said. “You’re letting your paranoia get the better of you.” The argument escalated quickly. When George tried to stand up William pushed him back down into the sofa. George then made a grab for William and they started tussling with one another. As I leapt out of the way the sofa tipped over and they rolled out onto the floor, still fighting – although it was the hugging-and-rolling type rather than the punching-and-kicking kind of fight. I thought it was hilarious. “Come on, stop it, this is ridiculous!” By the time they’d calmed down and made up, nobody had thrown a punch.”
More to come…
The Chancellor is only commenting through his lawyers – who dismiss Natalie Rowe as a dodgy witness – but the former hooker from that photo has her book out today. Guido will bring you some key extracts today, suitable for a family blog.
Their first meeting:
“Chris met George Osborne while at Oxford; they were both members of the infamous Bullingdon Club. By the time I started seeing William, the three of them were close friends and often turned up at my place together. I called them my ‘Three Musketeers’. Individually, William was ‘Willie Wonka’, George was ‘Georgie Porgie’ and Chris was ‘Christopher Robin’. George first arrived at my place with Chris, along with his friend Philip Delves Broughton, a writer for the New York Times. George was an attractive 22-year-old and it was immediately clear that girls considered him to be highly eligible – they were always vying for his attention. I thought he was quite good-looking but much preferred William. At this time George didn’t show any signs of the defiant character he went on to display as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Chris and William teased him about his background, that he was the “son of a curtain salesman” (his father is the co-founder of Osborne & Little, the fabric and wallpaper designers) and because he didn’t go to Eton. George took it without complaint; he had this ‘look’ he would give me that said ‘How pathetic are they?’”
Osborne gets naked:
“On one particularly drunken evening at my flat in Prince of Wales Terrace, I made a bet with George, Chris and William that they would strip off naked, run out the door, down the street to a building that was fifty metres away and back again. The first one back would get a ‘prize’. Eventually, after a bit of cajoling, the three of them agreed, stripped off and waited by the front door. “Ready?” I said, my hand on the door handle. “Set… Go!” I threw open the door and off they ran down the front steps, bottoms wobbling as they pounded down the street. And, of course, I locked the door and went back inside. I watched as they came running back, cheering them on. They all arrived more or less at the same time and couldn’t believe what I’d done to them. “Please let me back in!” the future Chancellor of the Exchequer pleaded. They all begged, hands over their willies, and I just watched, laughing. I laughed so much that I collapsed and thought I might even wee myself. Luckily for them, my building was in a quiet cul-de-sac. I gave them a good few minutes, which must have seemed like hours, god knows what any passer-by would have made of three naked men standing in the street. Finally, when I’d decided they’d had enough, I let them back in. They loved it and were all laughing afterwards – they’d enjoyed the joke.”
Rowe is very clear that the character of “Joe”, a young politician with the safe word “Mary” is not Osborne.
Though regular readers will remember the word “Louise” from a while back…
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Before Miliband spoke, a school choir sang ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay. The first verse of which goes like this:
“When you try your best, but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse”