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…

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…

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.

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…

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…

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.

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…

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”

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 […]

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Stella’s Sound State Slashing Becomes Labour Policy
BIS Team Endorse Zero-Base Pledge

Guido is impressed. Stella Creasy’s endorsement of the ASI’s “Zero-Base Policy” that would see every single item of public spending reassessed is gaining traction in Labour.  After Guido gave her interview a push last week, the idea has now […]

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Stella’s State Slashing Summer Reading

In a low-key interview over the summer, Labour’s Stella Creasy declared herself a member of the reality based community. She told Patrick Wintour of the Guardian that the main focus of an incoming Labour government must be value for money. […]

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Labour Wonks Awarded £50,000 Coalition Contract

In rare moment of unsoundness Mad Frankie Maude has announced that Labour wonk-shop IPPR is to be given a “groundbreaking” policy formation role at the heart of the Coalition government. Guido supposes Frankie could hardly have chosen IPPR’s reality-based rivals […]

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