Friday, March 29, 2013

Borrowing to Pay Public Sector Pensions is £1 in £7

cpsThe budget has yet to entirely unravel this year though there are some nasty figures buried in the small print. The Centre for Policy Studies has spotted that deep within the Budget Red Book is the admission that the cashflow shortfall between public sector pensions’ contributions and pensions in payment is now forecast to double within 5 years. The pensions gap is growing to such an extent that it will soon represent a significant driver of the deficit. The 2013 Budget now forecasts a Public Sector New Borrowing Requirement of £96 billion for 2015 – the year the Coalition optimistically intended to close the deficit. At £13.6 billion, the pension cashflow shortfall will then be equivalent to 14% of the deficit. Unaffordable.

To put it plainly the government will by 2015 be borrowing £1 in every £7 it borrows to cover the gap in public sector pensions, at a cost of £1,500 to every household every year. So much for the post-bureaucratic age…

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tory Brain Drain as Labour Beef Up Attack

The cynics amongst you might think it’s an interesting time for CCHQ stalwart Nick Park to jump to the private sector.

The Tory head of research and attack crafter is off to energy giants Centrica.

The loss of the best part of decade’s experience is a blow for the Tories.

Meanwhile Labour are beefing up their attack team for the coming digital battle. Obama’s rapid rebuttal unit “backroom Brit” Matt McGregor:

“McGregor was responsible for the digital rapid response unit that attacked Mitt Romney relentlessly, ensuring that any statement by the Republican was picked over and rebutted, often within minutes or hours.”

Could get bloody…

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Policy Wonk Burns Misleading Plain Packaging Consultation

Setting up a policy consultation that doesn’t actually do any proper consulting seems to be a growing theme under Dave. A report by Rupert Darwall, the policy wonk who helped expose the Civil Service foul up over the Virgin West Coast train franchise, has laid into the Department of Health’s consultation on plain packaging. Darwall’s report finds:

  • The consultation was deliberately framed to garner support for plain packaging, presenting policy-makers with a loaded question.
  • Questionable evidence: no causal link between packaging and smoking.
  • Department of Health admitted the consultation was biased but has done nothing about it.
  • Consultation does not consider negative impacts such as reducing barriers to illegal tobacco.
  • Overall the consultation creates a misleading impression that plain packaging will cut smoking.

That went well then. You can read Darwall’s report in full here

Friday, March 8, 2013

WATCH: US Obama Critics Attack Falklands Policy

The US hasn’t always been staunch in standing with Britain over the Falklands. Even Reagan had to be handbagged by Thatcher to do the right thing.

Our friends in Washington have produced this history lesson for Obama…

Via Heritage Foundation.

Wonk Watch: Adonis to Chair IPPR

With James Purnell off to the Beeb, Labour wonkshop IPPR have signed up another party thinker as his replacement. Andrew Adonis is their new chair of trustees.

A big name…

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wonk Watch: LibDem Think Tank Backs Business Tax Breaks

LibDem wonk shop CentreForum is a breeding ground for SpAds and bag-carriers. It’s not all mansion taxes and jewellery duty for these yellow sages, believe it or not they are now actually calling for tax breaks for small and medium sized enterprises.

Proposals include ditching stamp duty on all share transactions, allowing ISAs to include shares traded on SME equity markets and reducing capital gains tax on shares. Cable dryly describes the report as “interesting”. What’s the betting we never hear of it again…

Friday, February 15, 2013

Two Left Feet Hires Blunder Blogger

A big welcome to Left Foot Forward’s new associate editor James Bloodworth. Rather awkwardly for the new boy at the bankrupt blogging slave workhouse, just a few days in, he’s already had a nightmare. Here is what Bloodworth wrote earlier:

Just the two problems. Gordon abolished it. And Ed didn’t promise to scrap it, he said he would bring it back. It’s been updated since. Pretty basic stuff, you would have thought, for Britain’s self-proclaimed leading wonk website…

H/T @IainChapman

UPDATE: Talking of left wing people saying ridiculous things. Here is Laurie Penny on the “Nato” invasion of Iraq. And here is Tim Stanley beautifully skewering her piece.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Labour Policy Wars

jon

When Ed fell into Dave’s trap and refused to back the PM’s EU referendum pledge, one senior party bigwig will have been particularly disheartened. Judging by his speech at the Resolution Foundation last night it isn’t just Europe that has policy guru Jon Cruddas at odds with the Labour leadership:

“So, here’s the nuts of this. Simply opposing the cuts without an alternative is no good.”

Who could he possibly be referring to?

Coincidentally, over the last few days Labour have put up adverts for three new wonk positions, all with fixed-term contracts.

A love of colouring in blank pages is a must…

Thursday, January 31, 2013

BBC Forget Wonk-Shop Vested Interests…Again

Just what is it with the BBC and forgetting to mention lefty vested interests? They’ve gone big this morning on a report claiming that millions of low-income households face a council tax rise. Just a few things they forgot to mention: The report is written by one Matthew Pennycock, funnily enough a Labour councillor in Greenwich. Not only that, Pennycock was formerly a parliamentary assistant to Labour foghorn Karen Buck. His past life is there for all to see on the pinko wonkshop’s website. For some reason the BBC omitted to mention that to their viewers…

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paul Kirby’s Permanent Secretary Promotion Tantrum

Ben Brogan, who has an excellent civil service source, broke the news this morning that Paul Kirby, the apparently “respected” civil servant head of the No.10 policy unit, was leaving his post. Downing Street has now confirmed it: “The Prime minister thinks Paul did an excellent job recruiting and leading an excellent team.” Interestingly, Kirby won’t be replaced by another Civil Servant, instead this crucial role will revert back to a political appointment. As Guido recommended months ago (See: Downing Street Needs Ideological Wonks)

Paul Waugh has some more detail: “I am told it was Kirby’s decision to leave as he felt his main work had been done and the mid-term review was a natural point to leave.” That’s not what Guido is hearing though. 

A government source whispers that there was actually multiple reasons for the departure. Including that he was “completely useless”  had “no political nous” and a “totally bureaucratic mindset.” More embarrassingly, details are emerging of a tantrum resulting in Kirby returning to KPMG:

“He completely humiliated himself by demanding a promotion to permanent secretary. When he was told he had no chance, he opted to flounce out of government altogether rather than take a job in another department.”

“A natural time to leave”, indeed.


Seen Elsewhere

What Will Happen if Scots Leave? | David Aaronovitch
Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester


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George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:

“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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