Miliband Slips on Another Banana Skin

David Miliband travels the world stepping from one banana skin to another. After insulting Manmohan Singh in his own drawing room,* resulting in the worst diplomatic flap with India in living memory, the Indian PM has Guido understands, written a frank letter to Gordon Brown conveying New Delhi’s disappointment over the behaviour and comments of the “arrogant” Foreign Secretary.

Miliband gave a speech a few days ago, perhaps hoping to curry favour with the incoming administration, by dissing and disavowing the outgoing George Bush’s “War on Terror”. Miliband said the notion of the “War on Terror” is misleading and mistaken. That would be the “War on Terror” which British soldiers are dying fighting.
So what did Obama say about the subject yesterday? He said;
Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred…. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

Obama will fight on, perhaps without Miliband.

*The Militwat once publicly lectured Guido on how to blog at a New Statesman event. So Guido knows how Manmohan Singh feels.

Earned Equity

Following on from Boris’ idea ofearned citizenship, Iain Duncan Smith is pushing the idea that council tenants who seek work and “keep their families in good order… could earn a share of the equity in their homes… Social housing often acts as a block against people getting back to work, with lifetime tenure and lack of mobility” he told the Today show this morning.
Equity should be offered to: “those paying rent on time, keeping their families in good order, being part of the community… Estates have become ghettos of the most broken families and there are incentives for them to stay like that…”

70% paying rent aspired to owning their own home according to research by the Centre for Social Justice. Isn’t this something sensible that New Labour could support? Helping decent hard working low income families to become homeowners? It isn’t something for nothing, it isn’t privatisation, it is nudging with rewards. If the most difficult and troublesome households saw their neighbours being rewarded for good housekeeping it would incentivise them to literally put their own house in order. The workless underclass in public sector housing is disproportionately the source of most crime and social problems. Labour’s inability to make progress in this area despite huge expenditures is one of the biggest tragedies of the Blair years.

Report Summary download (pdf).

What Kind of Liberal Waters the Beer?

How they can describe themselves as “liberal” sometimes baffles Guido. Responding to Nick Clegg’s announcement today that the LibDems will support a minimum price on the sale of alcohol, Progressive Vision – the properly liberal think tank run by Mark Littlewood, ex-head of spin for the LibDems – has rightly called the proposals “nannying, patronising and regressive”.

In the press release, sent by Littlewood, Progressive Vision says “If Nick Clegg wants to stop supermarkets providing low-price alcohol, will he also clamp down on events at LibDem conferences providing free alcohol as an inducement for LibDem activists to attend? If he is so concerned about cheap booze causing binge-drinking, free booze must be even more of a worry.”

Quite, imagine the dangers of boozed up LibDem MPs going on violent rampages…

"The Plan"

Last night Guido infiltrated a gathering of a clique of wonks determined to take over Britain and implement what they call The Plan“. Dan Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP are the authors of The Plan“. Guido hasn’t read it yet. Supposedly it is a blend of Thatcherite quango bashing and localism on steroids. Gove said some nice words by way of introduction, Dan referred to the EU as the “mother quango”.

Not convinced that quangos are reformable or that they can be effectively democratised. Most people are just not interested in getting involved, only busy body types are so motivated. Quite sensibly the rest of us just want to get on with our lives. Most quangos could be simply abolished. Trying to reform them is not worth the effort, the bureaucratic inertia is just too great. When does a bureaucracy ever recommend cutting its own budget or reducing the scope or size of the bureaucratic organisation? The Cameronians go on about the “post-bureaucratic age”, it remains to be seen if there will be hard manifesto commitments to do something about it. Don’t hold your breath.

Exclusive : Neil O’Brien to Head Policy Exchange

Neil O’Brien is to be the new director of Policy Exchange. Currently the 29 year-old is the director of Open Europe, the leading think-tank working on liberal reforms of the European Union. Open Europe has a reputation as the best connected, least head-banging, media-savvy euro-sceptic group. They were behind the I Want a Referendum campaign.

Neil launched Open Europe in 2005 with a heavyweight board, having made his name with the successful “No to the Euro” campaign. He has good relations with the media and knows how to shape an agenda.

With a budget of £2 million Policy Exchange is aiming to be a Washington style policy powerhouse, this appointment should bring some stability after the recent churn at the top. Nic Boles left to run for London Mayor, his successor Anthony Browne’s tenure saw embarrassments (not of his making) with faked evidence used in one report exposed on Newsnight and a second clumsily spun report was seized on by Labour to paint Cameron as anti-Northerner – resulting in Dave describing the report as “insane”.

Going forward the Policy Exchange board wants to be a critical friend rather than “Cameron’s favourite think tank”. Although Neil’s politics are liberal conservative, he is not a Cameroon or active within the Conservative Party and this was apparently a factor in his appointment.

New Policy Exchange Director Announced Today

Who has arguably the most sought after job in Westminster’s wonk-land will be known today. Policy Exchange staff will be told who the new director is at 1pm.

Guido has talked to people who were in the running. The selection of the new director has been conducted by Charles Moore like the search for the next pope. The interviews were conducted off site. The board was consciously seeking a non-Cameroon. Speculation on CentreRight that George Bridges or Danny Finkelstein were in the running was wide of the mark. Bridges, the expectant father of twins, couldn’t take the pay-cut and Danny did not apply.

+++ Come back at 1pm for the result. +++

"We Are All In Relative Poverty" According to Osborne

Guido popped down this morning to the Demos Ikea showroom / think tank to hear what the 18th (to be) Baronet of Ballintaylor in the County of Tipperary and heir to a fortune had to say on “fairness”. George Osborne’s pamphlet is here and the speech echoed the charges that inequality has increased under New Labour. Strangely Guido thinks that New Labour is too afraid to defend itself on this issue.

Relative poverty has increased only because we have generally got richer. Absolute poverty has not increased. The problem for those who put equality before liberty is that they are too embarrassed to say that whilst we have all in aggregate got richer, some have got even richer, even faster. So What? Essentially if you believe in the conceptual value of the idea of “relative poverty” you believe that if Warren Buffet moved to London poverty would increase. Britons would after all now be relatively poorer compared to the average. If George when he becomes Chancellor succeeds in driving rich, non-domiciles away from British shores he will be able to claim he has reduced relative poverty. Not one single poor person’s absolute circumstances will have changed (apart perhaps from a few more unemployed domestic staff ). Splendid, Polly Toynbee will be pleased.

There was a moment of comedy when an extremely bedraggled looking Derek Draper piped up with a question from the back. Osborne congratulated him “on his new role as psychological consultant to the PM. Good luck with that.” Osborne was also quizzed about the ideological incoherency of all this cross-party triangulation on poverty and social justice. He said something wonkish about there being a continuum of political thinking from himself through Alan Milburn to Brown with the same long term goal.

Osborne took the opportunity to praise Alan Milburn. Mischievously saying, to much laughter, that he also shared with Milburn “his short term goals”

Herr Doktor Hartwich Says "Auf Wiedersehen"

Oliver Marc Hartwich is moving to Australia after humbly suggesting people move South (though not that far South) in his parting Cities Unlimited pamphlet for Policy Exchange.
Labour and John Prescott in particular enjoyed painting it as Cameron’s favourite think tank “slagging off the North”. Iain Dale pointed out that Oliver’s collaborator on the report, Dr Tim Leunig, is a LibDem insider and adviser. Oliver himself once worked for the LibDem’s Lord Oakeshott, however he is actually a libertarian. He mistakenly thought the LibDems would be like the German FDP – who are a right of centre liberal party – though that seems to be the direction Clegg has in mind.

Oliver writes for Die Achse des Guten (“The Axis of the Good”) the leading libertarian leaning political commentary blog in Germany. If people thought his griping about London and antipathy to the North was irritating, wait till they find out what his new book is about. The title is “England – Nachruf auf ein großartiges Land”, translated: “England – an obituary for a great country”…

+++ Wilf Stevenson Resigns From Smith Institute ++++++ Lord Haskel Resigns Chairmanship of Trustees +++

Guido has learnt that following the condemnation by the Charity Commission of the trustees of the Smith Institute, Lord Haskel has resigned as chairman of the trustees, Wilf Stevenson has also resigned as director after the unprecedented criticism of the

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Policy Exchange Hires Katy

Katy Taylor-Richards is leaving the Daily Express bunker to take over media relations for Policy Exchange under James Bethell. Both will be joining the growing think tank at the end of the month.

No news as yet as to who

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Right’s Think Tanks Enjoying Revival

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: James Purnell’s “workfare” proposals are being warmly welcomed by Chris Grayling his Tory welfare shadow. “Much of today’s package is a straight lift from our Green Paper in January… Because these are Conservative proposals we will support

[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ Policy Exchange Boss Joins Team Boris +++

So what is arguably currently the top job in wonkland is now up for grabs…

Via CoffeeHouse

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Sajid Javid on when he first met Maggie:

‘I was standing in a group of five or six when she was brought over and introduced to us all. And, no kidding, she just ignored everyone and looked at me and held my hand in both hers, and stared me in the face.

And then she said: “Sajid!” And I said: “Yes.” And she said: “Sajid, you will protect our great island. You will protect our great island!” And I said: “Yes I will.”

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