Corbyn Threat: Alistair Darling Sells $190,000 of Morgan Stanley Shares

Jeremy Corbyn says Morgan Stanley are right to call him a “threat” – and one top Labour figure is hedging his bets. Alistair Darling, who joined Morgan Stanley’s board of directors in 2015, has just sold $189,766 of his shares in the bank. He still owns shares with a value of $700,000 so it doesn’t look like he’s yet been convinced Jezza will make it to Number 10. Corbyn says the former Labour Chancellor’s firm are “speculators and gamblers” whose “greed plunged the world into crisis”…

Osborne Drops Schrödinger’s Dead Cat

OSBORNE-DEAD-CAT

Osborne is finally dropping the Remainers’ dead cat – which was expected by many next week – the idea is it is so visceral, so extreme, the papers will talk about little else. It may well work on the broadsheets, they may well talk about little else. The Times leads on his dire warnings:

  • 2p added to the 20p basic rate of income tax
  • 3p added to the 40p higher rate of income tax
  • 5p on the rate of inheritance tax, taking it from 40p to 45p
  • A 5% jump in fuel and alcohol duties
  • £2 billion cut from the pensions bill
  • 2% cuts to the “protected” NHS, schools and defence budgets
  • 5% cuts in budgets like policing, transport and councils

This is the Remainers’ ultimate “Project Fear” gambit, a quantum politics derived nuclear bomb – the Anti-Vow – whereas the Scottish Referendum’s Solemn Vow promised milk and honey, the Brexit Anti-Vow is for hell and damnation. Alongside Alistair Darling, George Osborne will swear the political establishment’s fiscal pain vow on a scale not seen even in Greece. All because we voted to change our trading arrangements over a 2 year negotiation after implementing Article 50 of the EU Treaty. Only one gigantic logical flaw. Following a Brexit vote he won’t be Chancellor and there would never be a majority in parliament for this even if he were. This is the political equivalent of Schrödinger’s dead cat. When we open the Brexit box it won’t even be there…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

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It’s called “Project Fear” for a Reason

Splash Gordon Next?

If Darling did not do the right thing and nominate Gordon next, Guido will be very disappointed…

Alistair Darling writes in tomorrow’s Speccie diary…

“I display my knife skills, carving the meat. Who says Labour can’t cut?” 

On the Farm: David Miliband & Alistair Darling

We learn from Alistair Darling’s memoirs that immediately after James Purnell resigned Gordon Brown reluctantly gave up on replacing him with Ed Balls. The course of history would have been very different if the kamikaze economic duo had got total control of the economy in 2009. The Prime Mentalist and Banzaii Balls would have pushed us into Greek territory…

The other counter-factual piece of history concerns the subsequent secret meeting on the farm between David Miliband and Alistair Darling. If David Miliband had the courage to tell Darling that they should oust Brown, history might be very different. They could have forced Brown out, changed economic course and lured the LibDems into a post-election coalition. The Rose Garden could have been the scene of a Miliband-Clegg romance. Miliband lacked the cojones to take the gamble, unlike his younger brother.

One question remains for Guido. Who owned the Essex farm that was the scene of their meeting? Who did they both trust enough not to reveal their dangerous liason? Essex farms don’t come cheap…

UPDATE: Guido’s Essex boy reckons that the “friend’s farm” at which Darling met Miliband probably belonged to Catherine MacLeod, his spin-mistress.

Alistair Darling on the Brownies…

“It would be wrong to claim that there was a plot to get rid of Tony Blair; there was no plot. A plot is secret. This was an open campaign, and as far as the Brownite cabal were concerned, you were with them or against them. It was a fairly brutal regime, and many of us fell foul of it.”

Cuts to Labour Uncut

Siôn Simon’s Labour Uncut blog had two exclusives from Alistair Darling’s forthcoming new memoir. Both of which got a lot of follow-on from the media, and both of which appear to have been cut from the website today. Presumably this is under pressure from the publishers who have sold the exclusive extracts to the Sunday Times.

There is speculation that this leak could cost Darling a lot of money in lost serialisation fees. Guido has republished the cut bits of Labour Uncut here. Just trying to be helpful…

UPDATE: Labour Uncut confirm the cuts were made after threats from the publishers.

Darling Bangs Eds Together

Guido has a feeling that history will judge Alistair Darling far kinder than any of the other bunker dwellers. With his new book coming out, apparently we will be hearing more about the Prime Mentalist and forces of hell, and the Sons of Brown too.  Darling barely disguises his dig at his Labour successors in the Indy:

“It is not enough to say this Government is not doing well and say it is damaging important things in this country. We have to show we have a vision of what Britain can be that is better. If we don’t establish in the public mind we are more competent [on the economy] than the Tories, then we won’t make any headway.”

Looks like Darling is as unimpressed with the blank sheet of paper as David.

The Logic in Balls Denying Reality

The appointment of Ed Balls as shadow chancellor means that deficit denial becomes the central economic policy of the Labour Party. In essence both the Eds intend to argue that it was the banking crisis and only the banking crisis that caused the deficit. In taking this policy direction they repudiate the more sensible realistic policy followed by the last Labour Chancellor, Alistair Darling.

It also flies in the face of statements made by Tony Blair in his memoirs and as recently as last Friday at Davos. Since Balls isn’t an idiot we have to ask ourselves: why is he trying to deny reality? Does he think the voters can be convinced that overspending wasn’t a problem until the banking crisis? Here he is telling Andy Marr there was no structural deficit under Labour:

Clearly both the Eds think they can blame it on the bankers, popular understanding of the deficit is hazy. The huge one-off costs of bailing out the banks and the constant government-debt-bloating-deficit are confused in the popular consciousness. Even the debt and the deficit are confused in many people’s minds. Whenever Ed Miliband is cornered on spending or taxes he reaches for the banker bogeyman – tax them more and it will sort everything out. None of this adds up to anyone with any financial literacy, which unfortunately is a minority of voters, the majority of voters do blame and detest the bankers.

For this argument to make sense of course requires Ed Balls to deny that there is, or ever was, a structural deficit that had to be tackled. Which is exactly what he did on the Marr show today.

Denying the deficit and blaming the government’s debt crisis on the bankers is an attempt to absolve Brown, Balls and the Labour Party of the blame. It thus allows Balls to claim that, since there is no structural deficit, the cuts are unnecessary and ideological. Which is exactly what he does.

The problem for Balls is that the public senses innately that the government under Brown’s chancellorship and premiership was overspending. If Osborne can keep that national memory alive over the next three years the public will forgive him doing what is necessary. If they forget, or prefer to believe Ed Balls’ claim that cuts are not really necessary, they will blame the government for the coming hardships. The deficit blame game will have to be played until the next election.

Osborne and Darling's Empty Budgets

The Chancellor has followed on from Dave by buttering up the Lobby and just as when the PM did his comedy turn,  riots raged outside. Apparently his jokes weren’t as good, but he did let the cat out the bag about those photo ops outside No. 11…

We already knew that  Gladstone’s red box, bought back by Alistair Darling, was having its final outing with George Osborne’s Emergency Budget, but what we learn today is that the scarlet leather box, made in the early 1860s, is in fact empty and the key was lost years ago. There must be a metaphor there somewhere…

Shock Poll: Osborne Most Popular Tory Chancellor Ever

Here is something you probably didn’t ever expect to read: George Osborne is the most popular Tory chancellor in modern history according to pollsters Ipsos Mori.

Guido called them up to check. Yes they have asked the same question since Geoffrey Howe; “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with what X is doing?”

Osborne has a 20% net approval rating, higher than Lawson’s at the time of the boom, higher than that nice Mr Major’s rating, higher than Ken Clarke when he handed over the goldilocks economy to Labour. Incidentally, Darling had a 20% net disapproval rating immediately before him.

Osborne and Darling Jointly Attacking "Deficit Deniers"

Alistair Darling is launching an attack on the Brown-Balls “spend, spend, spend” dividing line election strategy and the continued deficit denial of Ed Balls. Remember that at one point before the election Gordon Brown tried to replace Alistair Darling with Ed Balls because of his resistance to total fiscal insanity.

Darling is giving the Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Book Festival today and will say that

“Labour lost because we failed to persuade the country that we had a plan for the future. What is important now for our party is we take stock and be honest about what went wrong.

“We rather lost our way. Rather than recognising that the public were rightly concerned about the level of borrowing, we got sidetracked into a debate about investment over cuts.

“By failing to talk openly about the deficit, and our tough plans to halve it within four years, we vacated the crucial space to make the case for the positive role government can play.

“You will only convince people you’ve got the answers if they believe you know what the question is in the first place. You can’t have political credibility without economic credibility.”

At almost the same time Darling’s successor George Osborne will be delivering a very similar message, he will attack Brown’s claim to have ended boom and bust, calling it “the greatest failure of economic policy-making for more than 30 years, since the IMF crisis of 1974. He will tell analysts at Bloomberg’s City HQ that the “deficit deniers” are “taking the British people for fools”. Balls may be the worst and most explicit deficit denier, but none of the Labour leadership candidates has much to say about the fiscal crisis they created.

Those Massive Tory Cuts in Full

We haven’t had a bit of evidence-based blogging for a while so Guido has fired up the chart to to bring you this comparison of the Tory and Labour spending plans.

Alistair Darling said in the budget he was taking action to cut the deficit by £57 billion, the Tories say they will go £6 billion further, faster. This £6 billion is what they are boring on about when Gordon disingenuously claims Tories will cut core services and undermine the recovery. £6 billion is less than 1% of government spending and is equal to a mere two weeks of this government’s unfunded over-spending.

Spot the difference? £6 billion is a mere rounding error that still leaves both parties with plans for unfunded over-spending of more than £150 billion. Not much difference is there really?

Spin Room Verdict

Dull with no big thrills or spills. Maybe it won’t be the TV debates that decide. The consensus tomorrow will be that Cable benefitted the most…

Quote of the Day

Alistair Darling told the BBC that compared with Thatcher’s cuts…

“They will be deeper and tougher – where we make the precise comparison I think is secondary to an acknowledgement that these reductions will be tough.”

The Last Days of Hell

Well it is certain to be a lively PMQs today. Gordon told GMTV this morning “I would never engage in divisive or partisan politics.” The spinning is out of control. What would he describe his entire budgets designed to attack the opposition as? What would he describe his maneuvers over many years that finally saw Blair ousted? What would he call what McBride was up to?

Guido has long suspected Darling might be the one to emerge out of the mud and poison surrounding Brown’s government with any semblance of dignity and reputation intact. From his icy put down of McBride with the cutting “I’m still here“, to his description of the Brown/Balls/Wheelan/McBride combo as the “forces of hell”, the ill-treated Chancellor knew exactly what he was doing in keeping the story alive. The Brown’s a Bully story has taken a new turn and it’s not just Darling who has been on the receiving end of it. Most of Westminster’s finest correspondents know just how this mob have worked for the last decade. Brown can talk of working “in an open plan office; we are a big happy family at No 10,” but frankly it’s too late.

No one believes the lies anymore.

GMTV (Guido Morning TV) : Who Got It Wrong?

Chancellor Visiting RBS

Guido got a tip last night that Alistair Darling was visiting RBS  HQ on the quiet today.   It isn’t in his constituency so  it is a mystery why he would visit today.  Guido called his Special Adviser’s office and they were unable to confirm or deny the truth.  Why the secrecy?

Perhaps he is quietly lining up a post-election job…

Mandelson and Darling Outflanking Balls, Brown, Cameron and Osborne

Darling has to be given some credit for stating what should be axiomatic “Many departments will have less money in the next few years.. [The cuts] are utterly totally non-negotiable.’ £57 billion in cuts is going to mean that “the next spending review will be the toughest we have had for 20 years”.[…] Read the rest

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