Return to Rationing?

An advertisement is not an endorsement.  However in the case of the British Legion campaign for better treatment for servicemen Guido is happy to give his support.  The treatment of ex-soldiers by this government is disgraceful.  Whitehall bureaucrats have gold-plated index linked pensions, MPs vote themselves phenomenal benefits and pensions to keep them in the manner they are accustomed to when they retire (courtesy of the taxpayer).  These are the people who determine the pensions of ex-servicemen.
An estimated one third of ex-servicemen are in poverty.  Something is very wrong.

Jonah Cursed Murray Live on Sky

As many co-conspirators pointed out yesterday, Andy Murray has spent the last two weeks at Flushing Meadows playing the best tennis he’s ever played. He beat the World’s #1 to get to his first grand slam final against a man he has already beaten. Winning the US Open would make him the first Briton to win a major single title since 1936.
Then Jonah Brown sent him a good luck message live on Sky News.* Andy Murray lost in straight sets…

*Congratulations to all the co-conspirators who immediately called their bookies.

Gordon Brown’s Downfall – The Prequel

Why Don’t the Tories Propose to Cut VAT on Energy Products?

Guido doesn’t understand why the Tories don’t propose an alternative to taxing energy suppliers, since the cost of a “Windfall” tax would inevitably be passed on to consumers and the money only end up in a Treasury black hole once it got into the Whitehall bureaucracy.
Why not instead advocate the removal of VAT on energy bills and energy saving goods, insulation and devices? A green tax cut on eco-products would please the Zac Goldsmith wing of the Tories, a tax cut would please the voters.
Of course the E.U. would rule such a VAT cut out of order on tax harmonisation grounds, Cameron could take the opportunity to demonstrate his moderate euro-scepticism and argue that this is something that really should be decided by the British government and voters, not the European Commission’s tax commissars. It would demonstrate in a practical populist and easy to understand way how the E.U. costs British consumers. The government would be forced on to the back foot, defending E.U. enforced taxation levels. The LibDems are led by a fanatical europhile, so despite Clegg’s new found zeal for tax cutting, he would not support this progressive tax cut. It is a win-win.

Gordon Plays the Sympathy Card

Gordon Brown is holding a special cabinet meeting in the West Midlands. “My own response to the great challenges in my own life has been to confront them, resolute in the belief that there would always be something that could be done to overcome them,” he says in the foreword to a document being circulated ahead of the Labour Party conference. The briefing is that the Prime Mentalist will tell the cabinet that his personal experience makes him the best man to lead Britain through current economic difficulties. Gordon misunderstands; “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king” is a parable, not a qualification to determine economic strategy.

What does Gordon normally do when facing an obstacle? He bullies, undermines and sulks. None of which will stimulate growth to get us out of a recession.

UPDATE : Didn’t Gordon say that this was not a time for “cheap political gimmicks” last week? So, errm, what is this? Good governance? Getting on with the job? A gimmick?

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Is Balls Re-Launching Himself?

Blinky Balls’ interview with Marr this morning is attracting a lot of comment. Guido noticed that Balls is not content with stealing Tory policies, he is now doing the Cameroon look. A tie-less Minister of the Crown?

You don’t think Ed is getting serious about positioning himself for the inevitable leadership fight with Miliband – Son of Brown v Son of Blair? Ben Brogan is swooning, reckoning that Blinky was “lucid” – it has really come to something when political editors compliment cabinet ministers for just being lucid. He also reckons Balls was blinking less. Ben needs to get his telly fixed, it is clearly on the blink. Ed was averaging 30 BPM* Watch for yourself.

*Blinks Per Minute.

Sunday Sleaze Special

Ivan Lewis is what used to be known as “Not Safe in Taxis” (Damian Green is another one) always sniffing around young women. So it is no surprise that he was leering over a 25 year-old young girl working in his office. After all he broke up with his wife after having an affair with a local Labour Party councillor behind her back.
Why has the News of the Screws story come out now over a year later?

Ivan Lewis has been a little too outspoken about Gordon’s failings, accusing Brown of being out of touch, it was remarkable that he escaped censure at the time. If there is one thing the Brownies excel out, it is malevolence. That the girl isn’t quoted means it is not kiss and tell for cash. A few other ministers will be worried that their office darlings could be exposed by vengeful Brownies. This is a warning to other ministers and a score settled…

UPDATE : Have just noticed this story about Lewis’ former assistant was hinted at in the comments on Guido’s story hinting at his affair with Maggie Gibb on June 25, 2006. Fair amount of reading between the lines required with these type of stories. Always difficult when if they both deny it, you are scuppered, you have to read these stories carefully for the hint..

Pravda 2.0

Dale is excited that the Tories are going to launch – wait for it – a blog. Anyone will be able to leave comments, and according to Dale there will be “no Stalinist approach to moderation”.

Platform 10 was the last dire CCHQ encouraged Cameroon attempt to take on the more grassroots and independent ConservativeHome. Platform 10 is a flop, whereas ConservativeHome is an influential success. Now they are going to try again and launch a Conservative Party blog. It will probably flop as well. People don’t want to read anodyne, antiseptic, party-line stuff, turgid and insulting to the intelligence.
The Tories don’t need a party blog, in fact arguably the party has been strengthened by the open and honest critical discussion on the ConservativeHome pages over the last few years.
An official and lightly moderated blog just won’t happen – it is guaranteed to not happen because it is impossible. The comments will be over-run by agent provocateurs, nutters and political opponents. The contents scanned by hostile journalists for anything that can be used against the party. The LibDems use private discussion forums behind password-protected walls for members. (Passwords are not that hard to obtain, nothing interesting to report.)
Speaking to Tim Montgomerie in the U.S. last night, he pointed out that if the Tories are, as some suggest, trying to undercut the influence of ConservativeHome, it won’t work. Blogs are not the same as newspapers – a new blog does not take away traffic from a rival, it just grows the blogosphere.
Guido has oft said that group blogs are difficult to make work. Readers like to know what they are getting, multiple contributors of different hues and quality just take too much time to sift. A blog needs a strong personality – witness the dozens of good contributors to the Telegraph’s political blogs – with a combined traffic less than Guido.
They are asking you to email suggestions for a name for the blog. Well there was a famous party information source last seen around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Click here to ask CCHQ to call the new blog “Pravda”.

Naughtie Wishes Democrats “Good Luck”

Jim Naughtie has been accused of being partial before – in May 2005 the Today programme presenter caused a row when he asked Labour’s Ed Balls: “If we win the election, does Gordon Brown want to remain Chancellor?” He is perceived by many listeners to be ferociously anti-Bush over Iraq.

Listen to the end of this segment where he asks a leading Democrat what they will do to change the country. The Democrat politician lays out their agenda. Naughtie wishes him “good luck”! Some Americans think that the BBC is institutionally against the Republican Party – fancy that.

Friday Caption Contest

McCain Party Speech Was So-So What Will Gordon Say?

McCain’s speech last night to his party convention was a bit so-so, even with the helpful acclamation in the hall. The last minute or so was combative, sprinkled with some good lines. He is no Reagan.

Brown has the same problem. This year he needs to up his game badly. He is searching (we are told) for speechwriters, his delivery is Brezhnevian. Gordon’s speech has to save his career, enthuse the party activists, an increasingly cynical and unsettled PLP, deflect a coup attempt and mollify the public.

The last is possibly unachievable. The public has decided that Gordon is a disaster. He can veer to the left to enthuse the party but that will be a renouncement of everything New Labour stood for and will be seen as the last roll of the dice for survival by the media and voters. If he sticks to the course he is on the party activists will despair.

So what themes should his speech contain? Rabble rousing, Tory bashing or apologising and promising to do better? Begging? Tough call, not a speech Guido would like to have to write… what would you put in the speech?

Brown : “Economy is Better Placed to Weather the Global Storm”

Gordon is simply not in touch with reality. He has just told a business crowd that this is the “first financial crisis of the new global age”.

So the technology stock crash in 2000/1 was not worldwide? Didn’t the 1997/8 Asian economic crisis and LTCM collapse have global repercussions, the ERM crisis in 1992 had currency volatility everywhere, Black Monday in 1987 was scary, the Latin American debt crisis in 80s… we have had them all the way back to 1929. All were global financial crises.

Gordon says the economy has “underlying strength”, which must be why August saw the lowest new car sales since Bobby Charlton lifted the World Cup. Oh, almost forgot: the Prime Mentalist is getting on with the job and making long term decisions as well.

Some Numbers for Gordon

Gordon is off to read out tractor statistics to the Scottish CBI, here are some taken from that OECD report. This speech is rumoured to have an element of mea culpa…

Falling worse than most in Britain…

Lately we haven’t heard Gordon spin that Britain is “best placed economically” to weather the next 12 months or that he is making “the long term decisions” needed. He seems to be making decisions determined by his need for short term survival….

UPDATE : Based on Halifax figures the last 12 months have seen the biggest house price falls ever – the previous biggest 12 month fall was 8.5% in October 1992. House prices have fallen 12.7% year to date. It took four years from May 1989 to February 1993 for house prices to fall 12.97% that far last time.

Wilf Helping With the Re-Launch

Bill Jamieson reports that the former head of the Smith Institute, Wilf Stevonson, is working in the Downing Street bunker on the “economic recovery plan“.  With Ed Balls and Shriti Vadera completing the dream team of wonks.  That would explain why it is going so well…
The worst wonk in Westminster, plus Balls (famous for his endogenous growth theory) and Shriti – the financial genius who designed the tube’s disastrous financing package – are just the brains to get us out of the no growth, over-taxed, rising stagflation hole the economy is in.  The Treasury is we are told cut out of the loop.

Clarke Loses the Plot

In the New Statesman tomorrow Charles Clarke is superficially writing about the use and abuse of the term “Blairism”. The word is insulting, lazy and misleading he says, calling for an end to “deceitful nonsense”
As various commentators consider Labour’s prospects, the term “Blairite” is being deployed to characterise the policies and personalities of some who question the party’s current direction and urge Labour to face the future. Like “Thatcherite”, the word is not used kindly. “Blairite” (even “über-Blairite”) is a lazy and inaccurate shorthand. It is intended not to illuminate but to diminish, marginalise and insult. It was, for example, the stock phrase used by the Brown political briefing team to traduce David Miliband’s Guardian article in early August.

Moreover, this misleading language damages the vital need for Labour to move on to new, post-Blair ground. Those journalists and politicians who use it are fighting the last political struggle, the War of the Tony Blair Succession, in a way that owes rather more to Just William and the Hubert Laneites than to the challenges of modern British politics.

In the newspapers this summer, I have read about “eye-wateringly ‘Blairite’ gospels”; about “Blairites” “thumbing their noses” at progressive politics; about “Blair privatisers” and how “Blairites” are the “business wing” who “play the markets against the ‘progressive wing’ of the party”. Some argue David Cameron is now more progressive than new Labour and that Labour under Blair became a party of the centre-right.

This deceitful nonsense has to end. Everyone in Labour needs to stop obsessing about the past and to start obsessing about the future…. Similarly, there is no Blairite plot, despite rumours and persistent newspaper reports. There is, however, a deep and widely shared concern – which does not derive from ideology – that Labour is destined to disaster if we go on as we are, combined with a determination that we will not permit that to happen.

So why no plot? If you are “destined for disaster” with Gordon you really need to plot a new course. This is really not the time to be losing the plot…

See also Clarke’s September 2006 article on Brown: He Lacks Courage and Vision, He’s Delusional and a Control Freak. That turned out to be completely on the money.

Don’t Tell Mrs Fawkes

So last night Guido gingerly broached with Mrs Fawkes the subject of going missing in Birmingham at the end of the month:

Mrs Fawkes Do you really need to go?

Guido Well you know, important to keep in touch with the base, gain intelligence, schmooze contacts, gossip doesn’t just write itself…
Mrs Fawkes For 4 days and nights?
Guido Well, have been invited to speak at a few events on issues that are important, seems rude not to give back something.
Mrs Fawkes Try not to get arrested this time.

Bizarrely tickets are going well…

Crash Gordon Now Copying Failed Old Tory Ideas

Lamont told Sky News last night “Far be it from me to criticise myself, but I do not think that the Stamp duty holiday we introduced made any difference at all”. Quite, why would anyone hurry to save 1% on Stamp Duty when they can wait and save even more.

Property is down 10%, falling at 1% a month, it could easily be down another 10% next year – why catch a falling knife? The graph below (via Stumbling and Mumbling) shows the negligible effect of the Lamont Stamp Duty holiday.The left-of-centre Chris Dillow has a surprisingly laissez faire conclusion – let prices fall. The market will find equilibrium.

“I will not allow house prices to get out of control and put at risk the sustainability of the recovery.”
Gordon Brown, 1997 Budget Statement.

Unfortunately Gordon has to do something, he promised an end to the economic cycle, he promised endless growth, low unemployment, low inflation and a new Britain.

The economic cycle is back, the benevolent economic circumstances not of his making have gone and we are, according to the OECD, the worst positioned Western industrialised nation to weather the tough times. Inflation is rising and unemployment is hitting Thatcherite levels, your economic plans have crashed, Gordon.

Trot Along to Socialist Unity’s Session with Newsnight’s Economics Editor Tonight

Newsnight’s Paul Mason managed, as some noted last night, to analyse previous economic downturns by going from Barber (Tory) to Howe (Tory) but skipping Callaghan (Labour) when Britain had to get an emergency bailout from the IMF.

It does seem odd to have a Trotskyite sympathiser as the business reporter on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs show. It is all very well him briefing his comrades tonight on “The Recession – What does it mean for us?” (Suspect it will mean that capitalism is in terminal crisis since it has always been according to the Trots who sell newspapers).

Guido just wishes Comrade Mason would concentrate less on supporting the workers revolution and more on making sure that Newsnight manages to reliably report whether the FTSE is up or down on the day. How hard can that be?

Not Much of a Stimulus Package

Guido has never met a tax cut he hasn’t liked, so the stamp duty holiday is welcome, but why not make it permanent? The £175,000 limit means it is not going to apply to anyone in the South East or for that matter anyone wanting a family home up north.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Davis is asked by Die Welt if his “training in the British commandos” has helped with the negotiations:

“Well, I never killed anyone.”

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