The consensus of broadsheet pundits is that Ed has, with his cost-of-living crisis line that prices are rising faster than wages, nimbly and cleverly switched from a losing argument on the economy to a winning “retail offer”. Guido thinks this successfully plays into the British national psyche; grumbling about both the weather and the cost of things rising. However as the economy rises unemployment falls and earnings will caeteris paribus begin to outstrip inflation as sure as the sun rises. The ONS data shows this is about to happen…
Guido is beginning to worry that Miliband, like his former mentor Gordon Brown, hasn’t really got a strategy. The whole “too far, too fast” thing was bound to end in tears unless there was a permanent recession. As it happened the predictions by Ed Balls of a triple-dip turned out to be über-pessimistic, statisticians say there wasn’t even a double-dip. The only recession the UK suffered originated under Gordon Brown.
The energy cost argument still generates headlines, however international comparisons show that UK energy costs are middle of the league table for Europe – though US fracking and shale gas means their energy costs are way below ours. Fracking however is opposed by Ed Miliband.
What then? Having lost the argument on debt and the economy, followed – food banks notwithstanding – by the cost-of-living crisis evaporating, Labour will have to change tack again. Labour can’t fight on economic competence, because so contaminated is Ed Balls that he even loses to George Osborne. Labour are blamed for the economic mess and are suspected by the voters of still being untrustworthy on dealing with the deficit and debts. They would be unwise to fight on leadership; “weak and weird” Ed versus “posh and out of touch” Dave is not a great prospect for Labour.
Guido’s guess is they will try to have it both ways, partially accept the coalition’s spending envelope and pretend they can tax their way to prosperity. A policy Miliband’s socialist frère Hollande has now abandoned. All the chatter (spun by his adviser Stewart Wood) about Ed’s plans for “big changes in our economy” - a strategy based on East Coast academic theories from Harvard professors on new “Varieties of Capitalism” - will have Lynton Crosby crying with laughter into his (Australian) Chardonnay. Doesn’t mean Miliband isn’t going to try it…
UPDATE: The FT has surveyed economists and they mostly think households will start to feel better off – this is after consumer confidence surged 20% in 2013. Well spotted economists…
Another stunning scoop from Westminster’s finest political editor. Fresh from his “someone was mean to me on the internet” splash a few months back this journalist of unrivalled political acumen has revealed in the Observer that leaders of rival political parties are not welcome in the secure zones of their rival’s conferences. So Farage will not be allowed to speak at Tory conference, nor presumably will Ed Miliband. This narrative smashing revelation is surely worthy of some sort of prize? Lets all give Toby Helm a big round of applause…
Guido will have another struggling Sunday pundit getting desperate later…
Super-connected and popular sage Andrew Rawnsley told his dwindling Observer readers on Sunday that “the ministers who are resisting the chancellor most fiercely are nearly all concentrated on the bluest end of the Conservative party”. He highlighted Eric Pickles and Chris Grayling as some of the fiercest fighters refusing to give in to the Treasury. This morning the Chancellor announced that both Pickles and Grayling had “agreed to significant savings”. Cringe…
Where Grayling was concerned “quite radical reforms” will lead to further savings in in prisons and court service, sources familiar with Eric Pickles’ thinking say he always believes that more savings can be found, especially in Whitehall. They point to his pushing of the transparency agenda to highlight government overspending. A Treasury insider was scathing: “Mr Rawnsley should check his so called facts. As today’s news shows the Spending Round process is making good progress and what he wrote on Sunday was well wide of the mark.” Another must read column…
The Guardian’s Zoe Williams writes this morning:
“By its own terms, [marriage] must be lifelong. It is, in other words, beyond them. It is beyond Boris Johnson, it is beyond divorcee Nadine Dorries, just as going back to basics was beyond John Major, and being that kind of “good Christian person” was beyond Edwina Currie.”
Williams singles Currie out for not being a ‘good Christian person’ in her rant about Tories and gay marriage. Quite apart from the fact that Currie is a long-standing supporter of gay rights, who was behind attempts to equalise the age of consent, she is also Jewish. Awkward…
On Sky just now was a talking head “expert” who claimed “I was like every other analyst and everyone in the Westminster village”. Lorna Dunkley saw straight through him:
Whereas Guido will be enjoying a glass or two this evening after comfortably winning his bet – as tipped to blog readers – on UKIP to win more than 50 seats. Political academic and amateur clairvoyant Matthew Goodwin’s crystal ball was clearly faulty, despite the fact that he markets himself as an expert on UKIP. Inside UKIP circles he is widely detested, possibly because he writes punditry for the Guardian where he seeks to bracket UKIP with the BNP. Armed with his wealth of scholarly insight, Goodwin piped up and rubbished Guido’s tip yesterday:
Three days later and UKIP are set to win more than 100 seats. Goodwin is off doing the rounds of studios this afternoon talking about “UKIP, predictions and what happens next in British politics”. With pundits like him…
Polly Toynbee was on particularly dramatic form yesterday as she attacked council tax benefit reforms in the Guardian. However those revisiting her scaremongering online today might notice one glaring correction:
“This article was amended on 24 July 2012. The original said households in Haringey would lose £38 per week. That has been corrected to £38 per year”
There is a very big difference between people losing £1,976 a year, as Polly tried to spin, and losing £38 per year, as is actually happening. The percentage increase between the two numbers is 5100%*. Aside from reckless scaremongering and horrendous Guardian subbing, Toynbee’s article dismisses that these reforms will save the taxpayer £480m a year. So it is official - Polly is 5100% wrong.
Of course I meant to say cut in 50p rate of tax applies from April 6 this year (not April 1) for self-assessment—
Robert Peston (@Peston) March 20, 2012
Oh gawd, I am no longer sure about start state for cut in top rate of tax. Apparently its complicated. Pls call me blithering idiot—
Robert Peston (@Peston) March 20, 2012
I meant "start date" of course MT Oh gawd, no longer sure about start state for cut in top rate of tax…Pls call me blithering idiot—
Robert Peston (@Peston) March 20, 2012
The Reithian qualities of Robert Peston have been much remarked upon here. Yesterday evening he gave us the benefit of his contacts and insight into the budget. As you can see above over a two hour period last night on the Twitter he invited us to call him a “blithering idiot”. Peston, you are a blithering idiot.
We, along with many people in the City and business, just wish he’d shut up. Today is a good day to try CNBC’s coverage or Jeff Randall on Sky…
There has been an extraordinary amount of pre-briefing of this budget, allegedly because of the necessity of the coalition’s components lobbying for their policies out in the open. The pundit class has been confidently staking out their “informed” takes on the budget. Guido can’t help noticing that different papers are saying different things will happen on the 50p top rate. For example The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour splashed on the front page that the rate will be cut to 40p and The Telegraph is reporting it will be cut to 45p. Do the pundits really know or are they just, y’know, bluffing?
If Osborne really wanted to wrong-foot the two Ed’s response, he could just leave it at 50p for now…
Since last summer, self-proclaimed Murdoch expert and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Woolf has been telling anyone that would listen that this was the end for his nemesis. For some reason he’s gone very quiet. Guido was gently teasing him over the weekend about his prediction that James Murdoch would have been forced out by the end of July 2011, but it was Friday’s performance on Sky News that has shattered his already tarnished reputation:
The media pundit’s money quote was:
“No I do not think we will see a Sun on Sunday, not now, not ever.”
Oops. Time to let it go Michael…
By the way, has anyone else notice he’s slowly morphing into his muse?
Cameron Alienating Core Voters Without Attracting New | City AM
Andy Burnham Villain of the Week | Sun
London’s Laundry Business | NY Times
The End of HS2? | Seb Payne
Elvis Speaks | Nottingham Post
Dave Mocked | Sun
MPs Want to Decriminalise Dodging Licence Fee | Sun
US Should E-Bomb Russia | Fraser Nelson
You Can’t Trust the Police | Times
Dave’s Cromwell Moment at Wolf Hall | Kevin Maguire
Leveson Gave No.10 Free Pass to Cover Up Rock | Mail
The court hears Max Clifford told a 19 year old model at a film audition in his office:
“Look at my penis. Isn’t it tiny? What can I do with this?”