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

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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

IPPR Still Doesn’t Get It

ipprLeft-wing think tanks the IPPR and the Resolution Foundation have a joint report out advocating higher “living wages” forced on employers by regulatory diktat. Guido doesn’t dispute their claim that low pay increases the welfare bill by billions. Brown’s blizzard of redistributive bureaucracy and welfare transfers effectively left taxpayers subsidising low paying employers. Low paid workers pay taxes which they then get back in benefits…

Apart from the obviously wasteful tax-to-pay-benefits merry-go-round their policy has another fundamental flaw completely ignored by the wonks; it will increase wage costs and reduce corporate competitiveness, further undermining economic growth. Wouldn’t it be better instead to just raise the personal income tax threshold to £12,500 – as advocated by the LibDem’s Danny Alexander – effectively taking minimum wage earners out of income tax. It will have the same outcome – raising take home pay – without undermining competitiveness.

Raising the tax threshold is simple, has popular appeal and will benefit those on low earnings proportionately more than those on higher earnings. It will take some pressure off the “squeezed middle” and won’t increase the welfare trap. It isn’t a perfect policy, prominent Orange-booker Mark Littlewood, a wonk at the rival Institute for Economic Affairs, is wary that it will result in millions of voters being unaffected by the basic rate of income tax who therefore won’t be incentivised to vote for parties and policies that favour lower taxes. He fears that low-earners will have no reason to buy-in to tax cuts if they are taken out of the income tax bracket entirely.

IPPR’s wonkish sophistry may well appeal to Ed Miliband, IPPR’s Will Straw is likely to become a Labour MP at the next election. If in 2015 the coalition parties are both standing on a platform of reducing taxes on the working poor with the Labour Party standing on a platform of taxing the poor and increasing welfare benefits, Miliband will be on the wrong side of the dividing line. “Vote Labour and tax the poor” is a winning campaign slogan – for the coalition parties…

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Name Is Blond… Phillip Blond

On the back of Ed’s “One Nation” schtick expect to see Red Toryism spouted on the fringe at Tory Conference, pushed out invariably by Phillip Blond. He is speaking at 5 fringe meetings. Such is his ubiquity songsters Sly and Reggie have done a ditty about “the intellectual curio of the Conservative Party”.

Not sure that Guido has ever heard a song about a policy wonk before, the lyrics are spot on, enjoy:

“My Name Is Blond… Phillip Blond”

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ed’s Zero Base

Labour have spent the last week fretting about economic credibility, the cause is the realisation that the economy has probably bottomed and growth is returning. In fact yesterday saw an upwards revision of previous GDP figures which effectively halved the supposed depth of recession. The unemployment figures are going in the right direction, private sector growth is still anaemic though getting healthier, the re-balancing of the public sector is proceeding. The much awaited expansionary fiscal contraction is, whisper it quietly, almost upon us. This will fatally undermine the Balls mantra of “too far, too fast”. When Shadow Minister Ian Murray endorsed the idea of reviewing every single piece of public spending, he sent Balls into a spasm. Nobody came out to defend the policy or Murray, especially not Chuka Umunna, who despite numerous opportunities, ran to the hills. Now Ed Balls has stolen the policy in an interview with the Guardian.

In what looks like a a pre-conference policy side-step, Ed Balls has jumped on the “Zero Base Policy” bandwagon this morning. This state-slashing policy was outlined by Labour’s Miss Goody-Two-Shoes Stella Creasy earlier this summer. First advanced by the Adam Smith Institute this sensible policy is one that every government should embrace. Incoming governments should assess every single line item and every penny of taxpayers’ money spent. That should not be controversial.

Guido is glad that Balls has come round to this idea, though he does find it odd that just 48 hours ago Labour were trying to distance themselves from the very same policy when we asked. The problem Guido has with this Damascene conversion from Labour is that they have had years to review their spending. Instead of tackling waste they borrowed to spend and spend and spend – like a drunken sailor in a knocking shop. Balls has consistently denied debt fuelled overspending was ever a problem, repeatedly claiming (as recently as last month) that it was all going tickety-boo until the 2008 bank crisis hit. The metamorphosis of Balls into a supposedly frugal fiscal hawk willing to cut spending is something to behold.

Guido will only believe Balls if he announces – before the election – plans for line item spending cuts, in detail, in every government department and agency to balance the budget. Ed Balls won’t because he is only shifting his position because he knows an expanding economy with healthy growth will leave him looking foolish come election day. The only thing that is “zero based” is Ed’s fiscal credibility.


Seen Elsewhere

Comply or Die at Grauniad | MediaGuido
Labour Beats UKIP in South Yorkshire | LabourList
Mock the Week’s Weak Comedy | Nigel Farage
Can Jim Murphy Save Scottish Labour? | Guardian
There is Still Appetite for the Westminster Lunch | Jon Craig
Labour Turn Their Backs on Jewish Community | Dan Hodges
Chivalry is Not Dead | Laura Perrins
Jonathan Jones is a Tw*t | Iain Dale
Second Scotland Poll Suggests Labour Wipeout | Times
Paedo Probe Boss Urged to Quit | Sun
Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie


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