Economic Recovery Needs the Audacity of Hope

The City, home of eternal optimists, has begun to seriously price in the all too real risk of national bankruptcy. It would be the first time Britain has defaulted on the national debt since the dark ages. An historic legacy for the former chancellor who, ironically, once claimed to be prudent.
Guido had lunch with a Labour MP recently, when the conversation turned to the economy it became clear that the City and finance were a foreign place, far away, not really understood. The important thing was that there were new hospitals and schools. That the lights may go out with teachers and nurses left unpaid as result of New Labour’s Peronismo policies was not contemplated.

In contrast the writers on the Telegraph have gone into apocalyptic group-think; Simon Heffer wants the IMF in immediately to deal with the insanity of Brown, horrified that £37 billion has been wasted on the banks “a sum larger than our defence budget”, Iain Martin reckons history will see Gordon Brown as the Neville Chamberlain of economics, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard warns of the perilous mismatch between Britain’s foreign reserves at £61 billion (less than Thailand’s reserves) when our foreign liabilities are $4.4 trillion.

Clearly the dire economic situation is of an historic and epic magnitude. Brown is doing the only thing he knows, throwing taxpayer’s money down the plug-hole. The opposition response has been slow to coherence, now under the slogan of sound money they tentatively advocate fiscal responsibility coupled with measures to boost business lending. When seeking to blame Brown for the perilous debt situation, they need to avoid being relentlessly negative, Labour will accuse them of “talking down the economy”. It is a long dark tunnel, yet the opposition needs to offer some optimism and hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Change Has Come

One Last Encore

Guido won’t be live blogging the inauguration (yawn), turn up the volume, play this one last time as loud as possible and annoy your office lefties before Dubya exits in the helicopter. Guido notices that Brillo’s sidekick, Anita Anand, is providing the impartial political coverage for which the BBC is famous…

Blairite Tells Brown to Drop the “Do Nothing Party” Attack Line

The 13% point Tory poll lead tells us clearly that the endlessly repeated key “Do Nothing Party” attack line from Labour just isn’t working. Blair’s former aide, Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, in what must be a first for LabourList, gives an honest assessment of Labour’s immediate prospects:

This weekend’s polls show that politics is now returning to normal. Despite defying political gravity throughout the Autumn Gordon Brown has now been brought back to earth with a widening poll gap and a sense that his new year campaigning has not quite delivered. While the second wave of British bail-outs shows that there is no quick fix to the systemic crisis in the global financial system. … The elevation of Eric Pickles to Tory Party Chair is further evidence that both parties intend to indulge in some fairly tough political combat. Having Chris Grayling as Shadow Home Secretary will certainly add some grit to Conservative policy campaigning.

Since the new year Gordon Brown had tried to get with the programme with some bolder moves… [for] the Downing Street team … to get some momentum going … stop repeating tired lines about the Conservative party being a “do nothing” party.

When even your own side think your propaganda is crap, you need to up your game.

+++ Spelman Demoted to Old Local Government Job +++

New to the Shadow Cabinet:

  • The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP
    Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
  • Mark Francois MP
    Shadow Minister for Europe

New Shadow Cabinet responsibilities:

  • Alan Duncan MP
    Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
  • Chris Grayling MP
    Shadow Home Secretary
  • The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
    Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
  • Nick Herbert MP
    Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
    Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Shadow Minister for Women
  • Eric Pickles MP
    Chairman of the Conservative Party

Jonah Brown Jinxes Spurs

The Prime Mentalist saw team manager Harry Redknapp on a visit to Tottenham Hotspur on Friday. A mere 24 hours later on Saturday, Spurs went bottom of the Premier league. Doomed…

The effects of the curse were as malign as ever. Tottenham captain Ledley King (pictured) was stretchered off the pitch on Sunday. He is set for a lengthy injury lay-off after tearing a hamstring during the 1-1 draw against Portsmouth at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Redknapp says “Ledley King has a torn hamstring and is going to be out long term”. Beware the malign hand of the accursed One Eyed Son of the Manse…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

+++ Tories Take 13 Point Lead +++

Unlucky for Gordon:

Con : 45
Lab : 32
Lib : 14

YouGov Sunday Times whisper number from reliable source.

UPDATE 19.19 : Press Association has just caught up.

The Labour favouring ComRes pollsters also reflect the shift in the Indy:

Conservatives – 41% (+2)
Labour – 32% (-2)
Lib Dems – 15% (-1)

Barclays Shares Down 25%

Most of the losses occurred in the last hour of trading. The City is awash with rumours as to why. With the Treasury looking at a second round of bank bail-outs it looks like the taxpayer is going to need a lot of lube for another big shafting. Admittedly it could just be an old-fashioned bear ambush now shorting financial stocks is permitted again…

*Guido covered his gilt short anyway, when fear grips the markets government bonds tend to rally. Will short gilts again later…

Friday Caption Competition

If They Have Nothing to Hide, They Have Nothing to Fear

Whatever your views as to the rights and wrongs of another runway at Heathrow, Guido can see no reason why it should not be discussed in parliament. John McDonnell’s constituency will be blighted by the project, schools will be closed, green acres will be lost, homes will be demolished.

These pictures of McDonnell picking up the mace were not originally* broadcast and have come out from the raw video feed – much to the annoyance of the parliamentary authorities. Why the parliamentary authorities think it is up to them to censor what the people see going on in their parliament is beyond Guido. They work for you, the workings of parliament are not for them to reveal when they choose, it is the right of the people in a democracy to see into the democratic forum. An open democracy does not hide its workings from the voters.

Elsewhere the parliamentary authorities are suppressing full disclosure of MPs expenses. Jacqui Smith has (without reference to parliament) given herself the right to read Guido’s email without a warrant, yet MPs in contrast are changing the Freedom of Information laws to allow them to obscure our view of their petty fiddles. There is no other credible explanation. They claim that it would be too expensive to account for all expenditure – try putting that on your tax return. Some MPs are taking it upon themselves to voluntarily publish ALL their expenses, some will not, draw your own conclusions. If they have done nothing wrong, they have nothing to hide…

*Guido stands corrected. It appears that the BBC has (online at least) put the video up. There was a row yersterday because under the terms of the contract drawn up by MPs the BBC is not supposed to broadcast this type of disruption.

Lebedev Won’t Be the First KGB Agent to Own a British Newspaper

Guido is not referring to the Soviet-backed Communist paper the Morning Star, but to the former Daily Mirror owner, Labour MP, socialist plutocrat, pension Labour Party donor, thief and long term Soviet asset: Robert Maxwell.

That incidentally is not a crazy internet conspiracy theory, it was the judgement of the intelligence services and the Foreign Office’s counter-subversion department according to documents released to the National Archive in 2003. Maxwell was the recipient of many honours from Soviet Bloc regimes for his work for “peace” and business dealings in Eastern Europe. Alistair Campbell loved him.

Same Old Draper, Spinning Lines

In the beginning of New Labour there was spin and young Derek Draper was a child of that, in fact he spun so much that he toppled himself in a sleaze defining moment for New Labour. When you speak to Draper nowadays he is, more than most ever so sensitive politicians, keen to set the terms of the discussion, what is on the record, what is off the record, whether he is going to be quoted or whether it is for background.

So it is in this context that Guido reports that when he was tipped that the new site was going to be called “LabourList” and there had been discussions about a “DailyDraper” blog he called Draper who denied the truth of those names. Point blank denial. Which turned out to be totally untrue.

After LabourList launched Derek posted this comment on this blog

you did get the name right guido, so well done!but what became of the daily draper you rwote so confidently about? mole got his whisker’s twisted?

You know, Derek is a compulsive spinner in the, errm, Jeffrey Archer mould. You would think from that comment Guido had got it wrong, alas a co-conspirator draws attention to this website registered last month:
Domain name:
dailydraper.com

Registrant :
Derek Draper
One Lower John St.
London
W1F 9DT

There is only one twisted spinner in this tale Derek…

Both Gordon and Vadera Quoted Lamont Yesterday

Guido never really bought into the decrying of Norman Lamont. He said a few things that were ill-judged but his judgement wasn’t that bad. He was put into the ERM debacle by Major and was happy to escape it, even if it was a messy exit.

So it was good to see his double rehabilitation yesterday, not just with Shriti welcoming “green shoots” but the Prime Mentalist himself quoting the former Chancellor’s views. Cameron was attacking the VAT reduction, Brown defended it bya citing Lord Lamont support for it. Prudent Gordon who spent a decades denouncing Lamont as an uncaring, incompetent, economic buffoon responsible for the destruction of the British economy, is now cited by Brown as evidence of the rectitude of Labour economic strategy.

In the same vein yesterday Phil Woolas chided Norman Tebbit on the Daily Politics for his wooly liberalism on immigration issues. Who is nasty now?

Patrick McGoohan, “the Prisoner”, R.I.P.

Most Libertarians, of whatever flavour, identify with the rebellious individualism of McGoohan’s most famous character. Secretly, we want to fight the heroic fight. Most of us just settle for not paying the TV licence.

Gordon’s Big Porkie

At PMQs Gordon told Dave that around the world “no one except him is proposing we cut public spending at this time”. Not true Gordon, the Irish Times reported yesterday that the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, has told senior trade union officials that the state’s borrowing figures are unsustainable, billions will be cut from exchequer spending this year. Guido will bet a lot of Guinness that as a result Ireland will be out of the recession before Britain.

Merrill Lynch has just issued a warning that “In our view, the UK faces a unique set of challenges making the sovereign and the banks especially vulnerable… We believe the issue for the UK is that asset quality deterioration across all lending types is pretty much certain.” Credit markets are roughly assigning a 10% probability that the UK will default on government debt within the next five years. If government spending is not controlled, Gordon really could bankrupt us…

UPDATE 15 January : Simon Carr’s sketch this morning makes a good point:

Cameron was wading into the VAT reduction (at a national cost of £12bn it’s giving two packets of crisps to the average family a day). Brown defended it and cited Conservative support for the policy. Chief supporter: Lord Lamont. Gordon has spent 10 years denouncing Lamont as an incompetent, malevolent, economic illiterate who was responsible for the destruction of British economy. And Cameron isn’t suitable to be in public life because he was once standing beside him in a photograph. He really is shameless, our PM.

Jonah Jinx Hits Wales

The dangers of shaking hands with Jonah Brown cannot be overestimated. Keith Dye was proud to welcome Brown on a visit to his offices, it was the pinnacle of his 24 year news career:

Gordon Brown Visits Media Wales
WalesOnline 9 January, 2009
After arriving under a heavy police escort just before 3pm, Mr Brown was given a tour of our multimedia newsroom by Media Wales’ managing director Keith Dye …

Trinity Mirror Redundancies
Press Gazette – 13 January 2009
Keith Dye, managing director of Media Wales has been made redundant and leaves today, following 24 years at the group. Media Wales’ finance director…

Tragedy struck a mere four days later. Beware the dead hand of the accursed One-Eyed Son of the Manse…

Cabinet of No Business Talent

Iain Dale, James Forsyth and Peter Oborne are all ruminating over the complete lack of business experience in the Cabinet. Being a lawyer or a journalist or a PR man doesn’t count (unless you were a business owner). The Shadow Cabinet has people with real business experience (that is why they are millionaires), however neither Cameron or Osborne can really claim to have had to worry about the P & L, covering the monthly wage bill or making the quarterly VAT payment. All Gordon knows about business is how to tax it.

No doubt the fact that not a single member of the Cabinet has run anything like as risky as a whelk stall is the reason Gordon has brought in Mervyn Davies from Standard Chartered (one of the few bankers who has had a good Credit Crunch).

Perhaps the Tories can now bring Digby into their tent since his Lordship is available…

PMQs 2009 Round I

Business Lending Package, Too Late and Too Little

Guido’s main concern about the Tory plan to insure bank-to-business lending was that it would encourage risky lending in a failing economy. The lenders would not really have to worry too much about the risk because the taxpayer would pick up the tab.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Embattled Henry Bolton on his battles…

“I’m going nowhere. I have seen people die, I have seen people blown up, I have seen people shot. Even the Taliban doesn’t quite prepare you for UKIP, though.”

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