Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cameron : My Government Will Be “Open, Online All the Time”

Dave has just finished a speech laying out some of his big ideas for the oft-promised (by him) “Post-Bureaucratic Age”.  He is advocating local control over schools, housing and policing with the right to initiate local and national referenda. More mayors; fewer quangos and open primaries for parliamentary candidates. 

All good, but has he really got the revolutionary zeal of Margaret Thatcher needed to take on the entrenched bureaucracy?

Dave is promising something easily achievable, so long as he can change the secrecy culture in public life:

“Everything about our political process published online, all the time: the expenses, the spending, the lobbying, parliamentary proceedings, the lot.”

That is doable.  Guido also wants to see every government contract published online, it is our money, we want to see where it is going.  “Commercially sensitive” is code for sellers don’t like price competition, secrecy hinders open competition driving down costs.  Publish what we pay.

Guido is even more sceptical about his plans to curb the power of the whips in parliament and the influence  of spin doctors in government.  It is not like he is without spin doctors in opposition.

He appears to be getting ideas from reading the right stuff.  In the Guardian this morning Cameron said

“the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power: from the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from the EU to Britain; …  we must take power from the elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.”

Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell obviously influenced the writer because in theirThe Planthey said

“We need a radical shift of power …. redistribute power back, from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to town halls, from the state to the citizens. …. disperse power among communities, through localism and through referendums”.

The Planis a huge hit, an Amazon bestseller and the all-time best-selling publish-on-demand publication ever sold by Amazon.  Guido simply can’t recall a wonkish policy manifesto selling like this before.The Road to Serfdom maybe back in the forties is the only equivalent that comes to mind.  The internet is really, finally, starting to change how we do politics...

See also : Political Class Starting to Fear the Public’s Anger

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Death and Rebirth of Sound Money

Guido has had a call round the centre-right think-tanks and found that traditional support for sound money policies is now non-existent.  Even the Institute of Economic Affairs’  shadow MPC unanimously supports quantitative easing.

The IEA is London’s spiritual home of Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, and it was the IEA which in the middle of the 1976 global monetary crisis produced a pamphlet by Hayek; Denationalisation of Money.   Guido has an original edition, it was in this groundbreaking work that Hayek argued that the government monopoly of money must be abolished to stop recurring bouts of inflation and deflation.  How he must be turning in his grave to see the IEA advocate what he spent his life opposing.

Hayek MoneySound money was the traditional cry of conservatives the world over, Cameron even used the phrase in his speech to the Conservative Party conference as recently as last year.  It is clear however that Osborne and Cameron have, in the face of a wider intellectual retreat, given up on sound money and are going along with quantitative easing – a mistake as momentous as their acceptance of Gordon’s spending levels.  In all of Westminster’s Wonkland surveyed by Guido, only Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute is opposed to QE (also known as printing money).  Policy Exchange’s newly hired chief economist, Andrew Lilico, told Guido there was no other choice.  Lilico also told Guido that if QE was successful inflation and interest rates would be as low as 10% each in a couple of years – some success.

So Guido is looking forward to James Tyler’s speech tonight at Policy Exchange.  Little known outside the City’s money markets – in which he is one of the largest and most invisible players – he is going to sound the cry for sound money in terms that Hayek would approve. All is not lost – Russian and Chinese economic policy makers have read their Hayek – and are said to be preparing to propose a new, more Hayekian monetary order after this credit crisis has abated.  Sometimes it takes a crisis to precipitate a solution…

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Matthew Taylor is Ruining the RSA

A few months back Guido was invited to speak on a panel at the Royal Society of Arts. The enthusiastic American staffer on the phone was more than a little taken aback when told that Guido wasn’t interested.

Expanding further on the subject (it was after lunch), Guido told her that essentially Matthew Taylor was ruining a great institution by turning it into just another left-of-centre think-tank – sort of like Demos with a better designed Adam Brothers HQ building.

Matthew has subsequently been a bit defensive with Guido, pointing to the fact that they invited George Osborne to speak and venture capitalist Luke Johnson is the incoming new chairman. Good. Luke is good at kicking ass and Matthew Taylor needs his ass well and truly kicked.

The RSA has a fabulous history of achievements in public life, it was founded as the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce. Past members have included Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith, William Hogarth, Charles Dickens and Guglielmo Marconi. It was founded to “embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art, improve our manufactures and extend our commerce”.

Now Matthew Taylor is turning it into a Blairite third-way think tank “to remove the barriers to social progress”. Well we have enough of those think-tanks already. He spends his days indulgently expounding on the “new progressivism” like some self-appointed high-priest of the chattering classes. Taylor seems to forget he is no longer the “Downing Street Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to Tony Blair” but the CEO of the RSA off the Strand. No wonder the number of paying RSA Fellows is dropping.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

NIESR Dismisses Brown/Darling 2009 Recovery Predictions

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: The National Institute of Economic and Social Research is predicting the UK economy will shrink until the fourth quarter of this year, contradicting the Chancellor’s optimistic forecast for the economy to come out of recession in July. Gross domestic product will fall 2.7% in 2009 the NIESR propellor-heads reckon. Even when the economy stops declining, unemployment will still continue to increase into 2010. Guido predicts it will be half-way through a Cameron government before the economy returns to 2007 peaks. So that is two predictions for the price of one…

UPDATE : Nationwide’s Consumer Confidence Index figure has just come out. It shows that consumer confidence has hit a record low during January, dropping to 40 points. Which is half the level it was at before Jonah became PM.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

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).

Friday, September 26, 2008

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…

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"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.

Friday, September 12, 2008

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. +++


Seen Elsewhere

Guardian April Fools Apology | Press Gazette
Jenni Russell and Her Child’s Godfather, Ed Miliband | Breitbart
Labour’s Left and Right are Growing Restive | Staggers
Corrupt, Incompetent UN Has No Right to Lecture Us | Dan Hannan
Mirror’s Lazy Lie | Guardian
Hungary’s Heir to Thatcher | Conservative Woman
Farage and Salmond Both Want Outopia | David Aaronovitch
More Missing UKIP Money | Times
Church Should Fight Evil of Welfare Dependency | Stephen Glover
1 in 16 Pick Up Infections in Filthy NHS Hospitals | Mail
Let’s Get Evangelical | David Cameron


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Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”



orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?


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