Quote of the Day

Unsent wire from Maggie to General Galtieri:

“In a few days the British flag will be flying over Port Stanley. In a few days also your eyes and mine will be reading the casualty lists. On my side, grief will be tempered by the knowledge that these men died for freedom, justice and the rule of law. And on your side? Only you can answer that question.”

Mad Al’s Dodgy Gamble

Alastair Campbell has spent most of the festive period going off on one about the gambling industry, which he accuses of “getting it’s tentacles into Parliament.”

Its an interesting line to take from someone who is in the pay of an organisation whose job is to do just that – push the interests of gambling in parliament. What Mad Al likes to keep quiet when he is on one of his new moral crusades is that he is a well remunerated lobbyist for Portland. And who are are on the spinmeister’s client list? The Association of British Bookmakers, of course.

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…

Review of 2012: Guido v Leveson

2012 was very much the year Brian Leveson enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame, spending £5 million of taxpayers’ money to change, well, nothing, leaving nobody’s favourite Lord Justice free to jet off into the Australian sunset. Leveson couldn’t get enough of Guido in February, though it is fair to say both he and the Information Commissioner less than appreciated this blog exclusively publishing the Operation Motorman Blue Book later on in the spring. An establishment cover-up of hundreds of crimes committed by journalists was revealed, and Brian went bonkers…

The Leveson effect meant no British media outlet would run the naked photos of Prince Harry that emerged overnight from Vegas during the summer,  fortunately for readers of this blog Guido didn’t care what Leveson thought. When Kate Middleton’s topless snaps found their way onto the internet Guido let the public decide whether or not to publish, you chose to spare the Duchess of Cambridge’s dignity. It didn’t hurt traffic though…

When it came down to it, Dave decided that Leveson’s demand for statutory regulation of the press was a step – to the seventeenth century – too far. There was a bashing for Piers though. As we enter 2013 Brian is gone yet not quite forgotten…



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Quote of the Day

The FT’s Wolfgang Munchau on the “fake maths” of economic forecasts:

“The truth is that our ability to forecast the future beyond the current quarter is limited… The curse of our time is fake maths. Think of it as fake news for numerically literate intellectuals: it is the abuse of statistics and economic models to peddle one’s own political prejudice… The fakeness of the maths lies in an exaggerated inference. Economic models have their uses, as do opinion polls. They provide information to policymakers and markets. But nobody can see through the fog of the future.”

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