ERS Shun Hand Count PCC Elections

Back during the great AV debate of 2011 Guido brought you the news that the Electoral Reform Society owns Electoral Reform Services, the market leader in manufacturing vote counting software. Guido wondered at the time whether the £250 million worth of electronic voting machines run by ERS Ltd had anything to do with the ERS’ support for AV…

Now the ERS have published a paper criticising the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Apparently low turnout means the elections will be completely unrepresentative, with chief executive Katie Ghose asking: “what is the point of having them?

In other news, the PCC election ballot papers will be counted by hand rather than with ERS Ltd’s machines. Perhaps the ERS only supports elections when they stand to make a profit…

Unions Funding Labour’s Left-Wing Dream Team

Militant Unite boss Len McCluskey is continuing his drive to take over the Labour Party by setting up a pressure group to rival Blairite faction Progress. According to the Guardian, the subtly-named Class will aim to “remind Labour of their working roots“. The new think tank’s members read like a left-wing dream team, with Paul Kenny of the GMB and Mark Serwotka’s PCS providing the funding and Seamus Milne, Jack Dromey, Owen Jones and Polly Tonybee sitting on the advisory panel. Sounds more like a union for the 1% to Guido…

The prolier than thou ethos of “class” is to articulate “an alternative that will resonate with working people”. Which must be why they are advised by the Guardian’s Winchester educated Stalinist Seamus Milne and by the three home-owning, multi-millionairess great granddaughter of the Earl of Carlisle. Polly Toynbee was also privately educated (Badminton), went to Oxford (St Annes) and on to the BBC. Toynbee is the daughter of the literary critic Philip Toynbee and grand-daughter of the famous historian Arnold J. Toynbee, his uncle was the philanthropist and economic historian Arnold Toynbee after whom Toynbee Hall is named. She was born into three generations of metropolitan elitists…

The downtrodden workers on minimum wage should be grateful that the likes of GMB’s Paul Kenny on £114,000, the PCS’s Mark Serwotka on £113,354 and not forgetting Len McCluskey on £149,312 are leading the charge for equality. Class act indeed.

He Who Pays the IPPR Calls the Tune
Leaked Email Shows Wonks For Sale

Labour wonk-shop IPPR are progressive guns for hire. In 2010 they took over €800,000 from the European Commission and their coffers are filled by unions and lefty-charitable trusts. Universities UK, the higher education trade association, are believed to have bunged them in excess of £20,000. In return they got their figures in a nice report about how immigration caps are affecting student numbers. Despite the report claiming that all “views and conclusions expressed in it are those of the authors”, Guido has now got hold of an email that would suggest otherwise.

Tony Millns is the Chief Exec of  English UK – another education trade association who encourage people to come to the UK to learn English. The sort of vested interest group who would want see immigration caps given a kicking. Millns is clearly rather chuffed with what money can buy him:

IPPR claim that Universities UK supplied some research, but didn’t tell the public or the media that the report had actually been commissioned by English UK. Sadly for them the client has let the cat out of the bag… 

FRANKIE SAYS SACKED
Civil Service Reforms Could See Sir Humphrey Sacked for Failing

Francis Maude was much maligned by right-wing Tories during the opposition years as a wet moderniser, suspiciously tie-less and the éminence grise behind the Cameroon Policy Exchange think-tank.

In office he now wears a tie and has moved from policy wonkery to policy execution; bearing down on spending, battling the civil service bureaucracy, shining sunlight on government data to drive the transparency agenda. Maude is playing  hardball with the unions on unaffordable public sector pensions and full-time taxpayer-funded pilgrims. It is enough to gladden the heart of Margaret Thatcher herself – whom he once served as a Minister – it has also led to a grudging re-evaluation of him by many on the Conservative Party’s right-wing.

Now he is taking on the enemy within, the Civil Service permanent government, or in the case of Michael Gove’s Department for Education, the permanent opposition. The ability of the mandarinate to frustrate radical policies is legendary and their talent for generating inertia defies the laws of physics. In the ideological heart of many Thatcherites and Orange Bookers is a belief that the bureaucracy could be reduced, the government re-engineered and  improved. Quietly the Coalition will by 2015 have reduced the size of the Civil Service by 23% from the bloated days of Gordon Brown. The first step on the path to a post-bureaucratic government is making bureaucrats accountable and sackable when they fail to deliver.

Big Business has used the internet to strip out costs and whole layers of management, Big Government has barely started to do the same. Sir Humphrey and the rest of the mandarins have decades of experience in fighting Civil Service reform, they will fight these reforms every step of the way with cunning and subtlety rather than head on. They even have their own privately funded think-tank, the Institute for Government, possibly the most dangerous political force in Britain since the heyday of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The long-term gain from reforming and shrinking the Civil Service is immense, it was the area where the Blairite’s self-acknowledged failure was total. The prize is worth having at any cost.

Matthew Sinclair Is New TPA Boss

Matthew Elliott has stood down as Chief Executive of the perennially sound Taxpayers’ Alliance after eight years at the helm. He will be replaced by current TPA Director Matthew Sinclair.

A worthy successor…

Shriti Gives Think Tank Award to Chums

Guido couldn’t quite work out why the zero-impact wonks over at the Social Market Foundation managed to scoop Prospect magazine’s annual “Think Tank of the Year” award. After a bit of digging the mystery has been solved. It turns out the SMF was fortunate enough to have a chum sitting on the judging panel. Former FT editor Richard Lambert agreed that the SMF deserved the award due to it’s “memorable” analysis of the budget, “Osborne’s Choice“. Perhaps it stuck in Lambert’s mind because he contributed to the report himself…

And the suspicious chumminess didn’t stop there. Guido has learnt that another judge on the panel, Shriti Vadera of Barclays/Libor fame, used to be a director of the SMF back in 2007. If only George Osborne could find a smoking gun like that…

Boles: Revoke Rich Rivieria Retiree’s Reliefs

Yesterday Guido pointed to Liz Truss advocating tax hikes for the working elderly, today another Tory MP, Nic Boles, is planning to hit the pockets of OAPs. He wants to take away welfare benefits from the wealthy – Brown’s £300 winter allowance for rich retirees on the Riviera is a target. This welfare payment is symbolic of all that that was wrong with Brown’s welfare universalism.

Guido has never understood why millionaires should get welfare benefits, Brown deliberately doled out welfare bribes to the affluent who didn’t really need them to gain political buy-in for the welfare state. Welfare universalism was an ideological policy designed to create middle class support for Brown’s Big Government tax and spend dependency culture. Unravelling welfare universalism is key to cutting the deficit.

The affluent old are a key Tory voting demographic group, Boles is being brave taking them on. As with removing Child Benefit from millionaire mothers there will be resistance and much shroud waving. Unlike raising taxes on the working old, this reform is worth doing…

“Free Enterprise” Group Wants to Tax the Old Even More

Guido bumped into Liz Truss last week and complained that her pamphleting “Free Enterprise” Group of Tory MPs wasn’t very right-wing. She looked at Guido arched-eyed and knocked back her drink before stumbling off. 

As if to prove the point this morning her “Free Enterprise” Group released a pamphlet arguing for an increase in taxes for the working over-65s:

Older workers who continue to work should pay National Insurance contributions on their earned income.  Extra NIC income could be banked or used to give NIC holidays (employee and employer) to young low paid workers.

No doubt they will argue this is revenue neutral and just shifting the tax burden onto the older generation which has had it pretty good. This begs the question; what kind of free enterprise group wants tax hikes and revenue neutrality? The status quo is disastrous, we’re over-taxed to finance Gordon’s Big Government welfare state. The New Labour era saw state spending as a percentage of GDP go up from 35% under Margaret Thatcher to 45% under Gordon Brown. If even a Tory free enterprise group is unwilling to push back on Gordon Brown’s settlement  the country is stuffed…

UPDATE: 

Happy ending…

IPPR, the Staggers and the €800,000 Bung

Guido was amused to read Will Straw’s Staggers piece today asking: “Europe, what have you done for me lately?“.

His gushing tribute to the EU’s legislation on mobile charges was as sickly as it was suspicious – after […]

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California Dreaming

Sipping rosé with media types last night Guido bumped into an academic co-conspirator from Stanford. Conversation soon turned to Steve Hilton, their visiting professor:

“I saw him the other day in flip flops. He appears to be on vacation.”

Sic […]

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Transparent” Lefty Think Tank and their Anonymous Funding

Last week Guido brought you the report claiming that left-wing think tanks are more transparent than their right-wing counterparts. One of the think tanks awarded the top A-rating by Who Funds You was the New Economics Foundation, who state on […]

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Private Sector Wonks Under Fire from Public Sector Wonks

A new report has claimed that left-wing think tanks are more transparent than their right-wing counterparts. New left-wing pressure group Who Funds You awards an A-rating to the likes of left-of-centre campaigns IPPR, Progress and Compass, while laying into the […]

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Liz Kendall is asked by Tom Newton Dunn if she would ever ban the Sun from one of her press conferences:

“If you stripped naked and ran in front of me, Tom, I might have second thoughts about it, but apart from that, no.”

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