The Over-Rated Vince Cable

Vince Cable is much over-rated, he sounds plausible, reasonable even, but in reality he talks in populist platitudes. He was for the nationalisation of Northern Rock before he was against it. He was for tax hikes before he was for tax cuts. The LibDems now say they are looking for £20 billion in spending cuts, yet they also are telling party activists they are not going to cut the overall burden of taxes, merely shift the burden on to the rich. How are they going to simultaneously boost public sector housing by buying up empty and unsold private sector capacity?

It doesn’t add up. Ask them where the spending cuts are going to come from and they mention ID cards and getting rid of BERR. – nowhere near the amount required. LibDem activists think Cable is some kid of economic seer, “he warned about debt” – so did every orthodox economist, “he told them to nationalise Northern Rock” and the taxpayers will have to pay the high price for that.

His latest populist policy wheeze is to force every state bureaucrat on over £100,000 to re-apply for their job and/or take a pay cut. As much as Guido hates public sector profligacy this gimmick is not the way to tackle it, the legal difficulties are legion (they have contracts). The practical difficulties are so immense it is bordering on crackpot. The LibDem conference loved it…

Gisela Stuart Slams Brown “Failed to Renew… With Fresh Ideas”

Writing in the Labour conference edition of the House Magazine Gisela says

When Mr Brown came to power, Labour MPs were humming “Things Can Only Get Better”, the theme song used for the party’s triumphant election campaign in 1997… Today it’s more likely to mean ‘surely it can’t get much worse’.

Gisela also said: “It became clear that not only had we failed to renew ourselves with fresh ideas”.

Gisela was at one time close to Jack Straw (pictured with him here). She is now more her own woman…

Flashback: Gordon Opening Lehman’s HQ

lehman-brothers-opened-gordon-brown
LONDON, April 5, 2004 – The Rt Hon Gordon Brown, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, today officially opened Lehman Brothers’ new European headquarters building at 25 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London.

Commenting on the event, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the contribution you and your company make to the prosperity of Britain. During its one hundred and fifty year history, Lehman Brothers has always been an innovator, financing new ideas and inventions before many others even began to realise their potential. And it is part of the greatness not just of Lehman Brothers but of the City of London, that as the world economy has opened up, you have succeeded not by sheltering your share of a small protected national market but always by striving for a greater and greater share of the growing global market.”

Doomed from that day.

Exclusive : Gardiner – “Gordon Didn’t Sack me, I Quit”

Gardiner’s office has just contacted Guido with this statement:

Downing Street are quite wrong to state that I have been sacked by the Prime Minister as his Special Envoy for Forestry.

Unfortunately, Downing Street do not seem to have read my email of 10.24 a.m. on Saturday 13th September which clearly stated that I had tendered my resignation with immediate effect as the Prime Minister’s Envoy for Forestry and that the Prime Minister should be informed of my decision.

I can also confirm that I informed Hilary Benn of this action in a telephone conversation that took place on the afternoon of Sunday 14th September.

Barry Gardiner
Member of Parliament for Brent North

Downing Street can’t even get a sacking right…

Barry Gardiner Axed as Forestry Envoy

Barry Gardiner has been axed as the government’s special envoy for forestry after accusing Brown this weekend of “vacillation, loss of international credibility and timorous political manoeuvres that the public cannot understand”. How will the trees cope?

The former minister twisted the knife saying “The tragedy for those of us who nominated the prime minister is that since achieving power he appears to have forgotten what it was he once wanted to do with it.” Clearly the only bit of dead wood the former Forestry Envoy is interested is Gordon…

Blood on Wall Street

Lehmans bust, blue chip Merrills sold to a retail bank, AIG begging the Treasury for $40 billion. Creative destruction on a mega-scale. Lehmans deserved to go to the wall, tough on the employees, c’est la vie.

Capitalism is a system of profit and loss. Nobody should be too big to fail. Wall Street will figure out a way of making money again. Capitalism in crisis? Don’t count on it, there will be new fortunes made clearing up the mess. Meantime, gold looks due a bounce…

UPDATE : Guido’s co-conspirator in Canary Wharf reminds us that Lehman’s offices were cursed opened by Chancellor Gordon Brown only a few years ago.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

“Cameron Effect” Research : 2/3rds of LibDem MPs in England to Lose Seats

At the LibDem conference this lunchtime a fringe meeting has been organised by Liberal Vision, a new pressure group set up by Mark Littlewood, the former chief of spin for the LibDems under Kennedy and Ming.

The Liberal Vision wonks have dug into the local election results, where traditionally LibDems do better, and extrapolated the results nationally taking into account boundary changes. Their data suggests that two-thirds of LibDem MPs in England could lose their seats. Devastating.

Guido has never seen a research paper with more bar-charts and the message is, “LibDems losing here”. The paper argues that in order to counter the Cameron effect the LibDems should promise to reduce the overall tax burden, not just reducing taxes for those on lower incomes. They need to reduce taxes on the middle classes with household incomes in the £60,000 to £70,000 range. The paper argues the LibDems won’t hold onto seats without appealing to the middle class “soft Tories” who have returned to Cameron’s now decontaminated liberal Conservatives. Not a message the sandalistas will like to hear.

DownloadHow to Combat Cameron paper (pdf).

23 Requests in Total Rumoured

Tips, rumours, gossip and tittle tattle are coming in from all directions. Some are more plausible than others, here are five:

  1. Iain Martin took Guido to task for making speculative conjectures yesterday, today he speculates that John Reid could be the next Labour Party leader. Iain cites as “evidence” that Siobhain McDonagh was formerly Reid’s PPS. Conclusive? Just what the Labour Party needs as leader, another old Scot.

  2. Jack Straw has been in Vietnam over the weekend, apparently sorting out some stuff to do with judicial cooperation. A source tells Guido that this is a completely non-essential visit that could easily have been sorted out through the embassy in Hanoi. The fact that the “Lancashire Mafia” of MPs allied to Straw have broken cover when he is thousands of miles away from the “scene of the crime” can’t be a coincidence says Guido’s informant. Or perhaps it can.
  3. The number of non-awkward squad woman coming forward is evidence of the manicured hand of the sisterhood in action say some. Harman is to be the beneficiary and her husband Jack Dromey encouraged or allowed the names to come out from Labout HQ.
  4. Which leads Guido to something that had been bugging him. Dale and others say Downing Street leaked the “handful” of names. Why? That would only make sense if this was to be a spin firebreak. It isn’t, it is dangerously close to snowballing, which is why Brown is sacking anyone who is exposed as disloyal pour encourager les autres.

The tip that Guido finds the most credible is the fifth: the original leak was from within Labour HQ and there are, says the source, in total 23 requests from MPs for nomination papers. The same source says that they believe Roy Kennedy leaked the story or caused the story to be leaked. The source paints a picture of Labour HQ as thoroughly demoralised and points out that unlike the Downing Street apparatchiks, the Labour HQ apparatchiks will still keep their jobs if Brown goes. Labour HQ staff have a vital interest in the survival of the Labour Party, not the survival of Gordon.

The Brownies Sunday Prayer

Our Gordon, who art in Number 10
Hallowed be thy mental illness
Thy party conference come
Thy will be done, in Manchester as it is Westminster
Give us this day our daily policy
And forgive us our requests for nomination papers, as we forgive them that nominated you previously
And lead us not into Toryland
But deliver us from election wipe out

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

Amen

Via a co-conspirator

Did the Chief Whip Leak McDonagh’s Nomination’s Paper Letter?

Having just read Sir Michael White’s article the implication is that Geoff Hoon leaked Siobhain McDonagh’s letter. Yesterday it was put to Guido that since Siobhain didn’t leak the letter the recipient must have, Guido presumed the recipient to be Jack Dromey – which had an interesting dimension considering his wife is Harriet Harman, a potential candidate successor to the Prime Mentalist.

White however tells us, and he got it directly from McDonagh, “she acted on her own in writing privately to her boss, chief whip Hoon, 10 days ago. When Sky News got to hear about it, her choice was to confirm or deny it. She took the honest course.” The startling inference could be made that it is possible that Hoon, the Chief Whip, was responsible for the leak.

The Worst BBC Forecast Since Michael Fish

Spare a thought for Nick Robinson who yesterday morning confidently told us that “Gordon Brown no longer appears to be under threat. The cool political climate of the Autumn has replaced the heated frenzy of the Summer.”

Gordon “has been saved for now at least not by anything he’s done but by an atmosphere of weary resignation that has taken over much of his party.”

This putsch is not random synchronicity, Guido has a hunch that the plan is not a mere grassroots move to push Gordon out, it is a determined effort to use backbench proxies to shame cabinet ministers into telling Gordon his time is up. Miliband can stay out of the limelight and let Progress’ president, Alan Milburn, stir up the trouble.

Blairite Plotters Attack Brown’s “One-Off Taxes and Pay-Outs” Giveaways Do Not Amount to a Strategy

Progress, backed by the billionaire Lord Sainsbury, is the Blairite factional organising group in the Labour Party.

This is a statement they are releasing tomorrow* signed by a dozen Blairites – Janet Anderson, Karen Buck, Patricia Hewitt, George Howarth, Eric Joyce, Sally Keeble, Stephen Ladyman, Martin Linton, Shona McIsaac, Margaret Moran, Tom Levitt, and Paddy Tipping.

LABOUR BACKBENCHERS DEMAND BOLD NEW NARRATIVE

In a joint article for Progress Magazine, 12 Labour backbench MPs, including six former ministers, urge the leadership to develop a convincing new narrative which has to be more than a series of policy initiatives in order to restore Labour’s fortunes.

Writing in the Labour Conference edition of the magazine, they say that Labour has no explanation yet as to how it will steer the economy through the troubled waters ahead claiming that one-off taxes and pay-outs, no matter how justified in their own terms, do not amount to a strategy. There is a yawning chasm which the Labour party needs to fill, or the government will suffer a hammer blow.

They suggest the government needs to be better at communicating what it’s going to do about the things that affect people day to day, noting that Harold Wilson’s pound in your pocket and Thatcher’s likening of the economy to a household budget may have been derided by the pundits but understood by the public.

The MPs label recent policies to deal with the crises of 10p tax and the housing market defensive and suggest instead Labour needs to be championing change, leading the debate about new ideas and renewing confidence in our economic competence.

They note the government’s strong investment in public services, but suggest there is a malaise. They write: “We have spent money, diversified, provided choice. But Labour needs to do more to give the public a sense of ownership of public services and a say in how we design and deliver services. This does not mean, they caution a return to a top-down command economy in the public sector but instead urge the government to shift power away from centralised institutions to the individual.”

The backbenchers criticise the failure to create a wholly democratic legislature as unfinished business and argue there is a lack of coherence in the devolution of powers to subsidiary tiers of government, and what should be the final settlement for Scotland. They suggest that fixed term parliaments could provide some certainty to voters and redress the balance of power between the executive and citizen.

They don’t actually say “Brown must go”, but you get the drift… particularly since many of the signatories are the MPs who have requested nomination papers.

*Full article in its entirety here. Guido called Progress for a copy of the statement, they said rather churlishly that they wouldn’t give him a copy of the embargoed press statement. So Progress – you can stuff your embargo – this was obtained through investigative reporting comrades.

Is it a Blairite Plot?

The assistant Labour whip Siobhain McDonagh has told Sky News she believes there should be a Labour leadership election “to clear the air”.
She has requested leadership nomination papers ahead of the party’s conference. This has sent shock-waves down Downing Street – the spin is that this is all normal – “happens every year”. Eh? When was the last time a government whip tried to get rid of the head of government? Tom Watson did it in 2006, (that is why Tories toast Watson’s name).

Is it just a coincidence that her constituency website has only this one picture prominently displayed on the front page? Blair is smiling…

UPDATE : According to Guido’s usually reliable Labour insider, Siobhain McDonagh wrote on the nomination papers for Gordon Brown in 2007 “Gordon Brown will be a disaster” – not knowing that the papers were numbered and she could be identified.

UPDATE II : Some in the comments seem to have misunderstood the last update – she didn’t vote for Gordon, she effectively spoilt her paper – and was identified as doing so.

Threat is Real

This morning Nick Robinson told listeners to Today “Gordon Brown no longer appears to be under threat. The cool political climate of the Autumn has replaced the heated frenzy of the Summer… The PM, it seems, has been saved for now at least not by anything he’s done but by an atmosphere of weary resignation that has taken over much of his party.”

Later this morning we learnt from Sky that some backbenchers had requested nomination papers. Clearly not everyone is resigned to going down with the Prime Mentalist…

Exclusive : Neil O’Brien to Head Policy Exchange

Neil O’Brien is to be the new director of Policy Exchange. Currently the 29 year-old is the director of Open Europe, the leading think-tank working on liberal reforms of the European Union. Open Europe has a reputation as the best connected, least head-banging, media-savvy euro-sceptic group.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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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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