Brexit Can Be Stopped, No Deal Brexit is Unlikely, So Take the Certain Choice

Eurosceptic MPs have had a lot of thinking to do over the weekend. Do they hold their nose and vote for May’s less-than-perfect deal, or do they roll the dice again and run the risk of losing Brexit altogether? Some Brexiteers believe if they just sit tight Britain will automatically leave the EU next week. ERG supremo Chris Howarth – a hero of the long fight for Brexit – argues that it’s a “certainty” that so long as the ERG MPs hold their nerve that the UK is “leaving the EU on 29th March without a permanent backstop.” Guido would love that to be true, it is however a triumph of optimism over reality. Before MPs make their mind up, they need to face up to the political reality of where we are…

Let’s look at Howarth’s arguments in turn, because they are at the heart of the divide among Brexiteer allies:

  • There isn’t enough time to stop us leaving on 29th March.
  • The Commons won’t back a second referendum
  • The PM’s deal will never pass
  • The PM won’t want to seek a long extension if her deal is rejected a third time

Howarth argues these are certainties, Guido disputes that:-

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“Ending Austerity” & Building Council Homes

Since the Tories came into government the national debt has risen by over 70%. By any measure that is hardly evidence of the savage austerity of left-wing rhetoric.  Britain is still running a deficit, in 2018/19, taxpayers will fund interest payments of some £53 billion. A billion-a-week to service the national debt, you can put that on the side of three red buses.

Spreadsheet Phil is getting nearer to finally closing the deficit that George Osborne promised to close by 2015. This should not be taken by spending ministers as a signal to up spending, the national debt still has to be serviced and it would be prudent to start paying down the debt. Likewise giving councils carte blanche to borrow to finance an extended council house building programme will add to the debt burden. If that is what Theresa May is signalling in her conference speech it is bad politics for the Tories.

In Asia it is not uncommon for the state to build low cost housing for sale at below market rates. If councils were encouraged to build and sell properties they would not end up on the state’s balance sheet. It would spread capital ownership more widely by allowing people to own their own homes. It is good politics because property-owning democracies don’t tend to elect socialist governments…

By all means encourage councils to actively build new developments on their land. Scrapping the government cap on how much they can borrow to fund new developments should not however be a licence to build another generation of council estates – the petri dish for municipal socialism. The government should insist that the low cost homes should be offered on construction to qualified buyers who would have to be owner occupiers.  When Phil Hammond announces the budget at the end of the month it would be good if the removal of the cap was coupled with a new “right to buy” that granted local residents the right buy any new council homes built. Councils would be obligated to offer new build homes for sale without the high profit margins often commanded by private sector developers. Politically it is a winner and the Treasury would be happy that long-term it would pay down the government debt used to fund the construction.

The Economist: Celebrates 175 Years – with Steve Bannon

The Economist is celebrating it’s 175th year of publication with a paen to liberalism in the form of an essay. It is a bit of navel gazing combined with dollops of self-justification. Editor Zanny Minton Beddoes admits in her essay that The Economist has become the in-house journal of the liberal elite, what Steve Bannon calls “the party of Davos”. No institution is immune to intellectual fashions, the newspaper has in Guido’s lifetime championed Keynesianism, then neo-liberalism, and now the ‘Washington Consensus’. It has of late become overly preoccupied with climate change and whatever else concerns the faddish Davos crowd. The irony of The Economist, which was founded in 1843 to champion free trade, free markets and limited government, being on the wrong side of the argument on Brexit, in thrall to the EU and the thousands of tariffs that protectionist bloc enforces, is striking. Never mind the ambitions of those in Brussels for a pan-European super-state rigidly regulated from the Black Sea to the Atlantic.

On immigration Zanny admits for liberals “it is not too wide of the mark to caricature their views on migration as more influenced by the ease of employing a cleaner than by a fear of losing out.” Not a single democracy has escaped pain from uncontrolled mass migration, no politician can ignore the votes of those who have to compete with newcomers, the so-called “deplorables” in America and working-class Brexit voters in Britain. Almost all Western democracies have tired of fast migration. On this Zanny recognises reluctantly that “in the short run, liberals risk undermining the cause of free movement if they push beyond the bounds of pragmatism.” She proposes reform of the rules for refugees, despite accepting that in reality most immigration is driven by economics.

How adrift the current editor of The Economist is from the founding principles can be seen with her support for Universal Basic Income – putting everyone on the dole, disincentivising work. She cites a modest proposal for America to introduce a “UBI of $10,000 a year” which she admits “would require a tax take of at least 33% of GDP”, to be paid for by more disincentivising wealth taxes. So much for limited government.

One could go on, Steve Bannon did at their recent shindig. Judge for yourself how Zanny fared:

Happy birthday to The Economist…

The Exiling of InfoWars from Social Media

Guido is instinctively uncomfortable with censorship, even of liars. In the marketplace of ideas, good ideas should best bad ideas in free debate. That is the theory. So the exiling of Alex Jones from Facebook, Apple’s iTunes, YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn and MailChimp seems to be shutting down open debate. Twitter have now put Alex Jones in a half-way house where he is unable to tweet. That cuts off Alex Jones from most of his audience.

He’s not completely exiled from public discourse, the InfoWars apps are available to download, his website is running. His freedom of speech has not been taken away, Big Tech has just exiled him from their huge social media audiences. They are it seems to Guido making an example of him because he is the highest profile “fake news” outlet associated with Trump. The tech titans are of course completely within their rights to purge InfoWars from their platforms.

Jones says “Mass censorship of conservatives and libertarians is exploding. You’ve already seen this with the demonetization and ultimate purge of Infowars and other alternative media outlets by mega-corporations working in tangent to stifle competition.” He is right in that it really does seem that it is right-of-centre voices that are being purged disproportionately, the left argues that is because the right are disproportionately “haters”. The alt-right does revel in being provocatively confrontational. Milo being kicked off Twitter was an early sign of this reaction.

If the social media platforms are going to start discriminating about what content they will host and distribute they will become like the US TV networks, seen as partisan and thus subject to partisan heckling. The left are hard-wired to “no platform” people, banning voices they don’t like, the right are not so temperamentally inclined. This means there is a continuous lobbying from the left to silence people they don’t like; the ceaseless effort to get advertiser boycotts of the popular press, to get Nigel Farage off LBC, Owen Jones’ shrill screeching about Andrew Neil (nothing to do with his humiliation at Brillo’s hands). Does all this matter much to voters? Only at the margins, those who want Alex Jones will still be able to get Alex Jones. It increases the self-filtering effect on public discourse. As our information sources become ever more filtered we live in our own increasingly polarised social media echo chambers, that is not good for democracy.

“Dangerously Left-Wing” Hayek Hatchet Job

Angela Eagle and Imran Ahmed’s new book The New Serfdom“, a 400-page hatchet job on the great liberal thinker Friedrich Hayek, is being lauded with praise in Labour circles, most effusively from Nick Cohen. Guido must come to Hayek’s defence in the face of their rewriting of history.

The New Serfdom is a reminder that, even as the relatively moderate challenger to Corbyn, Eagle is still a liberty-hating socialist who opposes free markets and fundamentally values the state over the freedom of the individual. Even Ed Miliband’s office warned that Ahmed was “dangerously left-wing” when he became a Shadow Cabinet adviser. Their book condemns the “veneration of markets”, the “infiltration of marketisation” into the public sector, capitalism’s promotion of competition, the “toxic culture” of admiring those who succeed, and calls for a Labour government to create an “empowered state… pursuing a reinvigorated democratic socialism”. It wants to sweep back Thatcher’s trade union reforms, regulate the food and drink industry to the hilt and put taxes through the roof. It offers a depressing view of Britain today, talking the country down as “divided and resentful”, dismisses capitalist liberal democracy as a “con”, calls Hayek a “liar” with “extreme views” who inspired Thatcher and her “successor” Trump, and claims Brexit is evidence of “the extreme right on the march”. According to the respected academic Chris Hanretty, Eagle’s Wallasley seat voted 53% to Leave…

The history of the last century comprehensively proved correct Hayek’s central assertion that socialism morphs into totalitarianism. He was proved right when the Keynesian post-war consensus collapsed and Thatcher used his ideas – “this is what we believe” – to turn the economy around. The New Serfdom is an unashamedly socialist critique of the last forty years of British political life, and so is as dangerous and wrong as you would expect. The key question for Eagle and Ahmed: if they truly believe in their socialist vision for Britain, why did they try to stop Corbyn becoming Prime Minister?

Brexit and The Economist’s Lack of Intelligence Unit

It is now pretty much established consensus that humbled pollsters are having great difficulty calling votes. The pundits – particularly those at the FT and The Economist – are still ever so keen to sound authoritative on Brexit when it is their house editorial line, rather than the objective study of all factors, that is so clearly what determines their analyses. The Economist has a research and analysis division which claims to be a world leader in global business intelligence – the grandly named Economist Intelligence Unit or the “EIU”. As well as offering subscribers research updates it also does consultancy for corporations who want to know what is going on in the world. The EIU says “our knowledge of economics, politics and socio-demographics is second to none. If you need to see into the future, we can help.” Using “bespoke modelling and scenario analysis” the EIU “can provide country, industry or market scenarios based on expert judgement, modelling” so, “if you need to understand how a country or industry will respond to an event… we can model that too.”  Corporations pay good money for the research and expect it to be reality-based rather than just journalists’ wishful thinking…

Guido has got hold of the EIU report for Britain dated June 28, 2016, five days after the referendum result. On politics it forecast:

  • Our baseline forecast is that Boris Johnson—the former mayor of London and one of the leaders of the “leave” campaign—will succeed David Cameron as the Conservative Party leader and prime minister… Theresa May won.
  • This process will commence with the triggering of Article 50 of the EU treaties to begin the exit process; we expect this to happen by the end of 2016. It was triggered in March 2017.
  • The Labour Party is mired in an acrimonious leadership crisis. We expect that the party’s hard-left leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will be ousted, and/or that there will be a formal split. Jezza’s not going anywhere. Labour isn’t splitting.
  • They also predict a second referendum will lead to a “jump in support for UKIP.” That remains to be seen.

On the economy EIU forecast:

  • They expected a contraction of 1% in 2017 (compared with 1.8% growth previously) as a slump in domestic demand pulls the economy into recession. UK GDP is on course to grow 1.9% in 2017. No contraction. No recession.
  • They forecast the number of those in work to fall by hundreds of thousands. More people are in work than ever…
  • They gloomily forecast a rapid deterioration in the fiscal position, falling tax revenues, increasing unemployment. None of which happened…
  • They predicted the US Federal Reserve would have to hold interest rates. The Fed raised rates.
  • The EIU predicted anxiety-driven declines in world stock markets, “When an event promises to strip 6% of GDP from the fifth-biggest economy in the world, it is harder for the rest of the global economy to grow as quickly.” Brexit “will ensure that the global economy continues to underperform its potential for at least another two years”World stock markets have rallied strongly post-Brexit.

The EIU predicted that by next year unemployment will rise by 380,000 and GDP will fall by 6% compared to the pre-June 23 baseline. The authors of these EIU reports are what the brilliant Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “IYIs”, “Intellectual Yet Idiot” academic no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalist-insiders. That class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy League, Oxford-Cambridge education who enjoy telling us what to do. Academico-bureaucrats who are self-described members of the “intelligentsia” who can’t find a coconut on Coconut Island. A year after the Brexit vote the Economist Intelligence Unit has proven that it doesn’t know the right end of a stick.

Corbynistas Attempting to Preempt Co-op Plan

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In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Tim Shipman revealed that some nameless Labour moderates might use their sister Co-operative Party to form a new opposition. While plans for the immediate future include establishing a factional grouping, Shippers has uncovered a scheme to get Labour moderates to sign up MPs to the Co-operative Party itself, which has a pact to work with Labour in Parliament and elections. “Double-hatted” MPs can then apply to Bercow to have themselves recognised as the official opposition in the event of mass deselections from Labour, which will grant them a healthy chunk of short money. Guido is too modest to point out where the idea was previously mooted

The advantage of Labour MPs flagging themselves as Co-op MPs is that it is a non-split, split. 24 MPs are already Labour/Co-op MPs. The parties do not stand against each other under the terms of an agreement going back to 1927. The Co-operative Party is a legally separate entity from the Labour Party, and is already registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission, thus Bercow will be able to designate them as the official opposition with very little legal difficulties. This Guido understands is only one plan being considered – Tom Watson would be reluctant to go along with it – however he will under no circumstances allow the SNP to become the official opposition.

Ideologically the ideas of the cooperative movement; egalitarianism and mutualism with co-operative commercial enterprises will be agreeable to most of the Progress-faction MPs. It has always struck Guido that Labour taking the state socialist route rather than the non-state co-operative route was, in retrospect, a fundamental mistake that put the Labour Party on the wrong side of history at the end of the twentieth century. A less statist, redistributive party that favoured social market and non-state solutions might be the future…

Corbynista’s have of course mobilised quickly, with Momentum groups on Facebook awash with calls to join the Co-op and “avoid its infiltration by the coup plotters!” Carry on comrades..

The “Pitiless Empiricism” of Elections

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Guido has said this before and he will say it again: if the Tories lose this election a large part of the blame belongs to the former Downing Street pollster Andrew Cooper, who claimed that UKIP were a “flash in the pan”. Here is the evidence in hard data form from YouGov; 5 percentage points of the 2010 Tory vote has gone to UKIP, in exchange for 3 percentage points of the LibDem vote. Pollsters and statisticians can argue about what might have been, the data suggests that the Cameroon positioning which claimed the Conservatives could win from the centre has cost at least 2 percentage points. The number of former LibDems wooed is fewer than the number of former Tories spurned and now voting UKIP.

Cooper’s “peak UKIP” theory does not appear to have been anything more than a theory. This YouGov data, based on re-interviewing 31,210 voters polled in 2010, shows Cooper’s hunch that UKIP were a “flash in the pan” which would fade away and return to the blue column was just a hunch, motivated by an ideological preference for centrist modernisation rather than any campaigning logic. Cooper was once lionised by the metropolitan commentariat – in 2011 Matthew D’Ancona claimed that his “great gift to the Conservative Party has not been liberal ideology, but a pitiless empiricism”. A real judgement based on pitiless empiricism is about to be delivered by the voters. Guido suspects that Cooper’s years as Downing Street’s Director of Strategy will be seen as wasted years when the modernisers’ distaste for conservative instincts was over indulged at the expense of a strategy to both secure the base and gain new voters. An arrogant and recklessly rushed modernisation has fatally split the right-of-centre vote.

Relative Values: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

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The spat between George Osborne and Fraser Nelson over whether or not the deficit has been halved is very much a Westminster bubble affair of little consequence to anyone outside SW1. Interested voters who even understand the difference between the deficit and the debt know that the government’s target to balance the budget in 2015 has been missed by £100 billion or so. As Jonathan Portes over at the Keynesian redoubt of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research gleefully points out, George Osborne has succeeded in implementing the Darling plan, which his own Financial Secretary to the Treasury condemned, for being endorsed only by The Guardian. The Chancellor deserves a degree of Fraser’s ridicule for only managing to execute the very Plan B that Osborne himself once ridiculed as ruinous.

The Tories are arguing, whilst simultaneously carrying the goalposts, that they have managed to halve the deficit in relative terms, relative to GDP. Professional economists seem to think that is a fair method of measuring the deficit. So how are they doing, in relative terms, on other key indicators?

The national debt relative to GDP is up, from 78.4% under Gordon Brown in 2010 to 90.6% last year. It is still rising, which is in the government’s own self-defined terms a big economic failure.

The Tories like to boast that employment is higher now than ever before, as indeed it was every year under the last Labour government, because the population grows. The unemployment rate is relative to the population. That is down impressively from 8% to 6% thanks to IDS, better still the youth unemployment and long term unemployment rates are also down. A trump card in the economic argument.

Per capita GDP was, as Danny Blanchflower and Ed Balls kept pointing out sombrely with smirks on their faces, falling. We were getting, on average, poorer. According to World Bank figures, the answer to Reagan’s famous question for voters “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is a “yes”, just about. After inflation voters are on average 1.8% better off now than they were in 2010.*

Quantitative Easing on a scary scale has rigged other economic indicators like inflation and interest rates whilst pumping up asset prices. Great if you already owned financial assets or prime London property…

It seems a long-time since The Spectator was eulogising George Osborne as “the true Tory leader“, the enmity towards the Treasury from the Speccie is near constant nowadays. Guido notes that in a Tory leadership election it is almost certain that the magazine will back Boris, a former editor, against Osborne…

*Although for higher income earners – the income bracket usually well disposed towards voting Conservative – Osborne’s Guardianista pleasing fetishising of the Gini coefficient will mean they are probably worse off. Only a genius political strategist like Osborne would bash his core vote hardest.

Balls Speech Positions Himself

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In the 2010 Labour leadership campaign Ed Balls positioned himself on the tough-love Brownite left and Ed Miliband outflanked via the in-the-comfort zone soft-left. Today Ed Balls in his speech to the London Business School distanced himself from the Labour leader’s anti-business positions and sounded almost Blairite at times. All these things are nuanced, this sounded like a positioning speech for the post-election, post-Miliband Labour Party. We shall see…

Speech highlights:

  • Balls, despite saying “the third way did not deliver”, explicitly identifies himself with the Clinton-Blair agenda

    “I do not believe that the progressives were wrong in their central belief that a path could be taken between free-market economics and protectionism and isolationism.”

  • Attending Bilderberg Conferences has paid off, Balls explicitly accepts the success of neo-liberal globalisation

    “… this is my starting point: over the last twenty years, the global economy has fundamentally changed – and changed for the better. As communism collapsed and countries have liberalised their economies, there have been significant reductions in poverty and increases in living standards across Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and now Africa.”

  • Straining credibility the former deficit denier now promises spending cuts and a balanced budget

    “I have made a binding fiscal commitment that a Labour government will balance the books and deliver a surplus on the current budget and falling national debt as soon as possible in the next Parliament. It will require tough decisions to cut public spending and social security spending, as well as a fairer tax system.”

The rest of the speech dwells on traditional Labour solutions, more training and education, a mea culpa over (the lack of) EU immigration transitional controls in government, plus some sleight of hand over corporation tax.  To back up the new endlessly repeated Balls “pro-business, just not business as usual” soundbite he also advanced the idea of an industrial policy incentivising long term investment, this time with tax breaks for long term equity investors. Can’t wait to see how the Owen Jones left welcomes the idea of more expensive corporate welfare for stock market investors…

SKETCH: Professor Krugman, Where’s the Shark?

Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize-winning economist is in Oxford until mid-June as the Sanjaya Lall Visiting Professor in Development and Business.

The liberal Princeton/NY Times professor just delivered his inaugural lecture asking the question (the almost-rhetorical question) Do We Face Secular Stagnation?

It follows on from his books The Age of Diminished Expectation, the Return of Depression Economics and articles like Is Capitalism Too Productive? The Myth of Asia’s Miracle and – suggested title – What Are You Laughing At, Can’t You See the State We’re In?

His proposition is that the glory days are behind us, that each recession has been harder to get out of than the last, that we will have extended periods of low-to-no growth, and that under-employment will create “dreary lives” for large numbers of people – because politicians will not listen to him and his $300bn job-creation schemes.

If Labour can get him onto a stage with Ed Miliband, the election will be in the bag. For the Tories.

He talked about the impulses to “austerity” saying that it’s as though governments want to engineer a gratuitous recession in order to have a pre-election year boom, “like the Government has done here” (cosy laughter from the full-to-overflow hall).

Small, bearded, charming, Prof Krugman looks like the oceanographer in Jaws. Remember, that clever fellow, expert in his field, ran up and down the beach warning the pleasure-seekers there was a giant shark out there waiting to devour them.

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Foodbanks, Christianity and Socialism

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Today is Holy Thursday, when the Queen traditionally offers alms known as Maundy money to deserving senior citizens. Scholars say “Maundy” comes from Jesus; “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos”, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”. Monarchs by tradition also washed the feet of the poor as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus also said that You will always have the poor with you and can help them whenever you want.” Which brings Guido to foodbanks and socialism.

Socialists believe in the perfectibility of man, a doctrine going back to Rousseau, that people are capable of achieving perfection on earth through social means, without the grace of God. Unlike Jesus they don’t believe that the poor will always necessarily be with us. Foodbanks are mostly run by charities, many Christian inspired. The genuine anger from the left at the expansion of foodbanks is matched only by their incomprehension that some think their growth is a good thing and a sign that Christianity survives in an increasingly secular Britain. Christian help for the poor is an imperative given to them by their faith… 

If like many socialists you believe society can be perfected, foodbanks are a sign of society’s failure. If like most Christians you believe the poor will always be with us, then foodbanks are the successful application of the teachings of Jesus. Guido doesn’t believe in socialism or the perfectibility of man, so sees the expansion of foodbanks as a good thing for the poor. Politically Labour are trying to capitalise on foodbanks, whereas in America Obama rolls up his sleeves and has photo ops helping out at foodbanks. It seems to Guido that Labour either should come out and say openly that they want to see higher welfare transfer payments to the poor or do some real community organising and help out at foodbanks rather than just moan about them. Happy Easter…

Osborne to IMF: I Told You So Third Year of Expansionary Fiscal Contraction

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Chancellor Zero is no more. Growth is back, even the neo-Keynesians at the FT and the wonks at the IMF can’t deny that the UK expanded faster than the rest of the G7 last year and will probably do the same this year. George Osborne is in Washington today to gloat that

“despite warnings from some that our determined pursuit of our economic plan made that impossible. All of this demonstrates that fiscal consolidation and economic recovery go together, and undermines the pessimistic prognosis that only further fiscal stimulus can drive sustainable growth. Indeed that is precisely the wrong prescription for our economies…”

Ed Balls got it wrong is the core message. Labour will point to per capita GDP which is still 10% lower than it was in 2007 – that will be a second term objective for the Chancellor. Balls will less convincingly say George has missed his deficit target, less convincing because Labour would have missed it by more and opposed almost every measure needed to reduce the deficit. The neo-Keynesian argument that higher unemployment would increase the welfare bill and thus the deficit has been proven to be wrong. Unemployment is down from what it was under Gordon Brown, with the warnings from the likes of David Blanchflower of 4 to 5 million unemployed having turned out to be political hyperbole that has fatally damaged his career as a sage. That “expansionary fiscal contraction” that left-wing wonks and economists said would never come is entering a third year…

Leading left-wing wonk and wannabe Labour MP Will Straw argued in 2011 that Britain’s economy faced the risk of a Japanese-style “lost decade” and that “expansionary fiscal contraction” was a “voodoo theory”, and even that there was no such thing as an expansionary fiscal contraction. In 2011 Guido argued the point at length with Will on the BBC’s Daily Politics:


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Having failed at the time to get an on-air apology from Will for his role in Gordon Brown’s Treasury, three years later he must now accept that he was wrong about a lost decade and wrong that there was no such thing as an expansionary fiscal contraction. Over to you Will – as growth is expected to hit 3% you have a second chance to offer an apology…

Pardon Snowden, He Blew Whistle on NSA Crimes

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Ed Snowden has been demonised by some on the right as a traitor. Those on the right don’t as a rule put their trust in governments and Snowden is a patriotic, freedom loving libertarian, not a Russian or Chinese dupe, as some conservatives seem to believe.[…] Read the rest

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Data Shows Cost-of-Living Crisis About to End

The consensus of broadsheet pundits is that Ed has, with his cost-of-living crisis line that prices are rising faster than wages, nimbly and cleverly switched from a losing argument on the economy to a winning “retail offer”. Guido thinks this successfully plays into the British national psyche; grumbling about both the weather and the cost of things rising.[…] Read the rest

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Flaws in the Ed Balls "Cost of Living Crisis" Attack Line

Labour’s developing retail offer to the voters centres on the cost of living, in essence they will ask the voters on election day “Are you better off now than you were 5 years ago?” Which is why this week – with good economic news abounding – Labour’s twitterati were ignoring jobs and growth and instead chorusing in North Korean style synchronised tweeting this infographic:

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The infographic shows that real wages have fallen behind inflation.[…] Read the rest

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What Owen Jones and Len McCluskey Don't Tell You:Unite Don't Represent Majority of their Members Politically

Unite’s leaked May 2013 internal political report to the union’s powerful Executive Council written by the union’s political director emphasises that Unite’s priority is to get a majority of its membership in marginal constituencies to vote Labour. Unite’s own research (see page 5) reveals that only a minority of around 37.5% of the membership vote Labour.[…] Read the rest

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Does this Government Care About Middle Class Families?

Guido knew that the structure of marginal tax rates following a decade of Brown’s insidiously stealthy taxation and redistribution was malformed. How malformed was only driven home after reading a note from the Centre for Policy Studies. It is obscene how this government has punitively taxed the middle classes…

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The CPS use a simple not atypical example of a married man with two children, who has no savings or investment income, and no student loans.[…] Read the rest

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Hacked Off's Blackmail Letter to Miliband

hughThe papers are reporting this morning that Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameorn were on the verge of agreement until Hugh Grant’s Hacked Off campaign lobbied Labour aggressively. This is the draft press release brandished by Hacked Off to put the wind up Ed Miliband if he went ahead with the deal:

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hughThe language is ridiculous, Hugh Grant is a victim of his own making, calling on the Queen not to carry out her constitutional duty because he doesn’t want his picture in the papers any more is frankly comical.[…] Read the rest

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Ed's Zero Base

Labour have spent the last week fretting about economic credibility, the cause is the realisation that the economy has probably bottomed and growth is returning. In fact yesterday saw an upwards revision of previous GDP figures which effectively halved the supposed depth of recession.[…] Read the rest

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Seen Elsewhere