Thursday, March 20, 2014

WATCH: Clueless Chris Leslie’s Bedroom ‘Tax’ Bungle

Poor little Chris Leslie always gets given the gigs no one else wants. Yesterday Guido noted that Labour did not include the bedroom ‘tax’ on their list of Tory tax rises, well on the Daily Politics today Andrew Neil asked him why:

As Brillo said, this was an implicit admission that it is not a tax…

Via @liarpoliticians.

Robot Miliband

Ed Miliband has form for robot-like repetition of the same phrases over and over again, just remember his infamous “these strikes are wrong” interview. Well a compare and contrast of yesterday’s Budget response with his responses from previous years suggests someone should turn him off and on again:

Yesterday: The Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour. But he did not mention one central fact. The working people of Britain are worse off under the Tories”.
2012: The Chancellor spoke for an hour. But there was one phrase that did not pass his lips. One claim he has abandoned. ‘We’re all in this together’”.
2011:
 The Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour. But one fact says it all. Growth down last year, this year and next year”.

Yesterday: “It’s a classic Tory con. Give with one hand and take far more away with another.”
2013: “The Chancellor is giving with one hand, and taking far more away with the other.
2012: “All he is doing for ordinary families is giving with one hand and taking far more away with the other”.

Yesterday: “Will he rule out a further tax cut for millionaires to 40p? Just nod your head if you’re ruling it out!”.
2013: “come on. Nod your head if you are getting the 50p tax rate”
2012:Just nod if you’re going to benefit from it. Come on, we’ve got plenty of time.”

Yesterday: “It’s Tory values. It’s Tory choices. It’s the same old Tories
2012: “Wrong choices.  Wrong priorities.  Wrong values. Out of touch. Same old Tories
2011:Every Tory tax cut ends up costing them more. Same old Tories. Same old deceit.”

Yesterday: “2011 – living standards down. 2012 – living standards down. 2013 – living standards down
2013: “Growth last year, down. Growth this year, down. Growth next year, down
2012: “Growth down last year. Growth down this year. Growth down next year”.

Yesterday: “Under them it’s a recovery for the few not the many
2013: “they don’t understand, you need a recovery made by the many not just a few at the top”
2012: “Unfair. Out of touch. For the few, not the many.”

Some of these weren’t terrible the first time round, but please Ed, come up with something new for next time…

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ed Miliband: Prime Minister in Waiting

Responding to the penultimate budget before the election, one phrase that you can not apply to Ed Miliband today was “Prime Minister in waiting”. He was all over the shop, tearing through his list of tired slogans before limping back to his class war comfort zone. It wasn’t as bad as Ed Balls’ terrible Autumn Statement meltdown, but it was not far off.

Of course responding to a Budget you have not seen is tricky – especially one with lots of unknown detail – but Miliband could have at least mentioned it once or twice rather than just yelling. One very loyal government member chortles “Miliband was just a complete car crash… Every Labour MP must be asking the question why they have him as leader”. And it’s not just Tories who think this…

Instead of spending money they do not have on expensive focus groups and polling, the Labour Party should just watch Channel Four’s GoggleBox. The show has people from all walks of society watching TV at home and it captures their reactions. Miliband and his pie-in-the-sky Jobs Guarantee Scheme popped up on the news, and the response will not make for comfortable viewing if you’re a Labour strategist or supporter.

Some of the family friendly comments include:

“F**king hilarious!”

“Ridiculous!”

“He is a bit of a joke isn’t he?”

“I don’t even understand politics, but I understand that is s**t idea.”

“The Labour Party… they must think we are donkeys.”

The people have spoken.

Labour Finally Admit Bedroom ‘Tax’ is Not a Tax

Very helpful of Labour to provide us on Budget Day with a comprehensive list of tax rises that have taken place under this government:

The 24 Tory Tax Rises

1. VAT increased – to 20 per cent from 2011
2. Income Tax age-related allowances frozen and eligibility restricted (“Granny Tax”) from 2013-14
3. Income Tax higher rate threshold cut to £42,475 in 2011-12
4. Higher Income Child Benefit Charge introduced 2013
5. National Insurance Contributions rates, limits and thresholds increased in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2012-13
6. Income Tax higher rate threshold frozen at £42,475 in 2012-13
7. Insurance premium tax increased – from 2011
8. Capital Gains Tax increased – to 28 per cent for higher rate taxpayers from June 2010
9. New Beer Duty introduced on high strength beers from 2011
10. Duty on hand-rolling tobacco increased by an additional 10 per cent from 2011-12
11. ISA subscription limit uprated in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2012-13
12. National Insurance Contributions changes to contracting-out rebates from 2012-13
13. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount frozen, 2012-13
14. Stamp Duty Land Tax increase to 7 per cent on properties over £2 million from 2012-13
15. VAT increases on a range of items, including caravans, sports drinks, and listed buildings from 2012
16. Duty on tobacco increased by RPI + 5 per cent in 2012
17. Income Tax higher rate threshold cut to £41,450 in 2013-14
18. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount increased in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2013-14
19. Income Tax cap on reliefs introduced from 2013-14
20. Pension tax relief restricted from 2014-15 21.
21. Income Tax higher rate threshold Increase capped at 1 per cent in 2014-15 and 2015-16
22. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount increase capped at 1 per cent, 2014-15 and 2015-16
23. Inheritance Tax threshold frozen in 2015-16
24. National Insurance Contributions ending of contracting-out rebates from 2016-17

Eagle eyed readers will spot that one thing is missing: the “hated bedroom tax” is not on the list. Which means Labour must have at last decided that it is not a tax after all. Better late than never…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Labour Demand Answers Over Conflicted No. 10 Trade Envoy

Following Guido’s story about the PM’s trade envoy to Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan Charles Hendry taking a job with an oil company working in those two countries, Labour MP Sheila Gilmore has tabled two written questions to the Prime Minister demanding answers:

To ask the Prime Minister, whether the appointments of the hon. Member for Wealden as a) a consultant to Vitol Group and b) a Senior Adviser to Atlantic Supergrid Corporation Ltd were considered by the Advisory Committee on Business appointments, and whether any conditions were imposed by the Advisory Committee on either appointment.

To ask the Prime Minister, whether he considers there is any conflict of interest between the hon. Member for Wealden’s position as the Trade Envoy to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and his paid employment as a consultant to Vitol Group.

Guido predicts Hendry will say his work with Vitol has nothing to do with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Though given two of its main oil production interests are in two of the countries Hendry is trade envoy to, there are serious doubts about whether he can continue to do his government job without a conflict of interest arising. Is Hendry asking us to believe his role as trade envoy was not considered at all by Vitol when they decided to part with £60,000 for him to do 18 days’ work?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stella Faces Parliamentary Standards Investigation
#BiscuitGate Leads to Funding Complaint from Local Opponents 

Following Guido’s story about Stella Creasy’s £31 junk food bill on expenses, the posh Labour MP suggested that the Jammie Dodgers, chocolate fingers and Starburst sweeties were for non-partisan community volunteers in her Walthamstow constituency. It turns out St. Ella wasn’t being entirely truthful…

stella-movement-for-change

Creasy’s #7Days4Stow campaign is advertised on her party website with Labour Party branding, uses Labour Party slogans and is backed by her local Labour Party, the campaign group Movement for Change set up originally by David Miliband – which describes itself as “the home of community organising in the Labour Movement” – is at the centre of Stella’s community volunteering. As if that didn’t make it clear enough that this is a party political operation it is backed by the General Secretary of the Labour Party. After seeing Guido’s report about #Biscuitgate the chairman of the Walthamstow Conservative Association has today written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards asking her to determine whether taxpayers’ money is being used to support community campaigning at the behest of the Labour Party:

To those who say it isn’t much money, this is just the tip of the iceberg in how political parties abuse taxpayer funding and an important principle is at stake – partisan political campaigning should be paid for out of party funds – not out of funds earmarked for the benefit of all constituents. If only Stella had just ‘fessed up at the beginning and said, “yeah, that probably isn’t a proper use of taxpayers’ money” and straight away paid the money back when it was drawn to her attention she would have avoided a full investigation from the authorities…

Free Coffee for Labour’s Mr Bean

Goofy shadow communities minister Andy Sawford became a laughing stock after demanding Waitrose stop handing out free coffees to their loyal customers. You have to wonder about the motives of an MP backed by a rival supermarket group, though Sawford might just want the public to pay for their brew. That has not stopped him from getting his own free fill though – charging the taxpayer £22 in expenses for – you guessed it – a tin of coffee. No Costa living crisis for Andy…

Friday, March 14, 2014

Newsnight Hire Pro-Labour TUC Wonk as Economics Editor

newsnightStephanie “Two Eds” Flanders used to annoy Tory MPs when she was the economics pundit on Newsnight, before her the quasi-Marxist Paul Mason had them shouting at the telly. Well imagine how they are going to react to the news that the TUC’s senior economist Duncan Weldon has been hired as her replacement. Weldon is a former Labour Party staffer who has blogged for the Fabian Society, Left Foot Forward and written a series of posts praising Labour politicians and attacking the Tories on LabourList. If that were not enough he also writes regularly for the Owen Jones launched and Unite-funded CLASS think tank. Guido looks forward to his fair and balanced reporting…

BBC sources say that it would be unfair to blame the former Guardian deputy-editor Ian Katz who is now Newsnight’s editor for the hire as James Harding (ex-Times editor) signs off the hires. Katz seems sensitive to complaints about the politics of Newsnight:

It is clearly provocative in a pre-election year to hire a well known Labour Party advocate for the position when the economy is going to be the central election issue. The BBC’s Charter is up for review in 2017. Conservative HQ will be as suspicious as ever of the BBC…

UPDATE: Livid Tory spokesman: “Highly questionable appointment. Arthur Scargill would be a more objective appointment.”

UPDATE II: Duncan Weldon ran as a candidate for the Labour Party in Crouch End, Haringey in the 2010 elections.

UPDATE III: Duncan Weldon was the economic adviser to Harriet Harman when she was acting leader of the Labour Party. This might just lead some to question his objectivity in reporting on Labour’s forthcoming 2015 manifesto.

UPDATE IV:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Labour Claim Dirty Tricks at All-Party Russia Group Election

It’s all kicking off at the election of the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia this afternoon. Tory John Randall has beaten Labour’s Chris Bryant after a huge scrum at the ballot box. Now Bryant’s backers are claiming the Tories tried to stitch up the vote. Labour MP Stephen Doughty tells Guido:

“It was chaotic. The room was absolutely packed with a line out of the door when Claire Perry starting saying “I’m shutting the door, I’m locking the door.” She was standing in front of the door and blocking people from going in. There were a lot of Tory whips there. I asked her on what authority she was doing it – the door was bulging. Eventually she gave up.”

Defeated Bryant described it as a “positively Russian style election” and shadow foreign affairs minister Ian Lucas claims “Tory Cabinet Ministers [were] trying to stop Chris Bryant from being Chair of APPG on Russia”A coup worthy of Khrushchev’s fall from the Politburo?

UPDATE: A Randall supporter insists it was “just a major whipping organisation by some Tory backbenchers.”

Chuka Umunna Economics 101

Chuka Umunna seemed to have had some difficulty with the basic facts during his interview on the World at One this lunchtime. Somewhat worryingly for a shadow business secretary, Chuka reckons:

“Most of our thirteen years in office we didn’t have a debt, er, a deficit, because we hadn’t had the financial crash.”

Allow Guido to explain slowly. As this handy graph from the Spectator shows, the last government spent more than it was bringing in from 2002 onwards.

defici

Chuka’s claim that Labour did not run a deficit for most of its time in power is patently untrue…

H/T @roxley

Seen Elsewhere

Left-Wing Anti-Semitism is Nothing New | Dan Hannan
Coe Pulls Out of BBC Trust Race | Mail
It’s Not How You Look, Ed. It’s How You Think | Hugo Rifkind
Mehdi Hasan’s Israel Spin Debunked | Breitbart
Labour’s Muddled Cam Attacks | Janan Ganesh
Ed’s Policies are a Pile of Fudge | Damian McBride
What Ruffley Standing Down Tells Us About Gove | James Forsyth
Tories Say They Could Sack Ruffley | Buzzfeed
Ruffley Supporter Provokes Outcry | HuffPo
Mirror Readies Pennies for Hacking Payouts | Media Guido
How to Win a Twitter Argument | Hopi Sen


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Damian McBride writes in the epilogue to his memoir…

“At the time of writing, nine months from the election, I’ve concluded that Labour currently has no positive messages to communicate to anyone about why they should vote for the party, no policies which will persuade them, and is being run in a totally dysfunctional way.”



Christie Malry @fcablog

Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops


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