Wonk Allegiances

Interesting to note the political influence and orientation of some of the lefty wonk shops most willing to take money from the taxpayer compared to their counterparts to the soft right. Economist Andrew Whitby has calculated that the supposedly “non-political” IFS is more biased to Labour than almost any right-wing think tank is to the Tories. IPPR, Compass and the Fabian Society are almost off the chart. No surprise there.

Via @EconAndrew and @GoodwinMJ.

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:

lab-cost-of-living

The infographic shows that real wages have fallen behind inflation. A factually correct statistic.

Guido fails to understand why the government parties are not  aggressively countering the Ed Balls cost-of-living crisis attack line with the truth that the average mortgage is £1,000 cheaper because of lower interest rates. Mortgage affordability is clearly illustrated by the fact that, according to data released yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, mortgage arrears are dramatically lower now compared to where they were when Ed Balls was last in government:

cml-arears

Throw in the income tax threshold hike (£493), the savings from holding down council taxes (£210) and you have already countered the Balls attack in cash terms – and some – at £1,703. Meaning that in terms of disposable income the “average working person” is better off. So why is this point not being made by Tory and LibDem attack dogs more forcefully?

If in the Autumn Statement the Chancellor rolls back some green taxes, brings back the 10p income tax rate or raises the tax threshold again, in terms of disposable income the voters will be even more better off in 2015 than they were in 2010. To the question “Are you better off now than you were 5 years ago?” the answer has to be “yes”. If it isn’t, the Coalition parties will deserve to lose in 2015.

Misery Index: Least Miserable We've Been Since Election

Chipper Mark Carney’s good news day seems a good time to check in on our Misery Index. Unemployment is down, inflation is down and growth is up, so across the land there are warm smiles and happy faces everywhere. Maybe. The seasonal drop in public sector borrowing has had a big impact too. We are the least miserable we’ve been since 2010.

N.B. stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here.

UPDATE:

misery-breakdown

Co-conspirator Tom Cook says breaking it down into components “still shows the overall picture clearly but shows which factors lead to changes – especially helpful given some of the wild swings in the total.  This presentation shows that most of the volatility is from public sector borrowing, while the longer term trend is from falling inflation and unemployment.”

GRAPH: Majority Support Removal of Spare Room Subsidy

More evidence to show that Labour are consistently losing the debate on welfare. Even on the spare room subsidy – Labour’s “hated bedroom tax” – the public support the government. 54% say it is fair that people living in social housing who have more bedrooms than they need should receive less housing benefit. Just 27% disagree. The bedroom ‘tax’ is Labour’s favourite means of painting the Tories as callous and out of touch, the only problem is the public supports the policy…

"The Personal is Political"Gender Inequality at the Patriarchal CLASS Think Tank

class-gender-inequality

The union funded Class think-tank Owen Jones helped found is, despite being very left-wing, not very right-on it seems when it comes to ‘fair’ representation of woman. Their insanely large ‘advisory panel‘ has 48 members, only a third of whom are women. Inexplicable for an organisation devoted to furthering equal rights…

All three of their ‘officers’ are men and only 2 out of 11 of their management committee are women. Of course, their two junior staff are both women – typical the men have all the power and the women do all the work. Disgraceful. Surely Owen Jones, Unite’s Len McCluskey and the Guardian’s Seumas Milne will resign in protest from this blatantly unfair patriarchal organisation…

Big Government: Clegg’s Key Message

government

The key message of Nick Clegg’s speech is not very subtle.

Where Does “Most of the Money” for Labour Come From?

Yesterday the Labour press team were very insistent that Guido got his a story wrong when he claimed that Rachel Reeves was being less than honest when she said: “most of the money that the Labour Party receives comes from small donations and members”. When Guido pointed them to the last quarter’s donation figures, they split hairs:

They have subsequently refused to give any breakdown of the percentage of their income that comes from  donations and membership contributions, so Guido has crunched the numbers from their 2012 accounts. Last year Labour’s income was £33,024,000. That includes £8.8 million from the Trade Unions and £7.2 million from the taxpayer through opposition Short Money. When you add to that company donations above £7,000, plus the income from LLPs, trusts and Friendly Societies you get £17,023,243.79. This leaves, at most, £16,000,756.21 to come from individual donations, CLP contributions and membership fees – 48% of Labour’s income. This is likely a generous figure as it includes smaller donations from companies below the threshold for Electoral Commission registration.

As a self-proclaimed economist, Reeves will know 48% does not equal “most of the money that the Labour Party receives.”

UPDATE: Labour General Secretary has admitted “28% of party income is from membership subscriptions and small donations, 30% from commercial and fund-raising activities, 18% from grants and 23% from affiliated unions” according to Minutes of an NEC meeting.

Crisis? What Media Crisis

While there is no doubt the papers are in trouble, this chart from Business Insider smashes the narrative that all the media suffering. As print declines, the number of journalists increases:

We are all bloggers now.

Lazy Male MPs Want Longer Lie-Ins

Lazy male MPs are demanding longer lie-ins before they start work in the morning. Leaked internal polling commissioned by the House of Commons Procedure Committee, in charge of sitting hours, reveals that 56% of male MPs say early starts are having a “negative impact” on the House’s effectiveness. 58% of men oppose rules stopping them from bunking off Tuesday mornings, while many are unhappy at having to be in for 9:30am on Thursdays. 116 MPs polled had the cheek to argue early starts have a negative impact on their personal effectiveness. It turns out the girls are far harder-working, 54% of women MPs are happy with the current family-friendly arrangement. Since Parliament isn’t sitting again until September 2nd they can snooze all day for the rest of the summer…

In response to the poll of MPs who want longer lie-ins, Guido thought we should poll voters to find out what they think:

Three Graphs That Skewer Europhile Myths

At the beginning of the last decade over 60% of Britain’s goods exports was to EU countries. Over the last twelve years that percentage has fallen to 50%, as our goods exports to the rest of the world has increased from under 40% to 50%.

What’s more, Britain’s trade deficit with the EU is far greater than its deficit with the rest of the world. The idea they wouldn’t trade with us if we leave is farcical.

Thirdly, Europe is becoming less important in world trade. In 1990 the EU was 27 per cent of world output. By 2016 it will be just 18 per cent of world output, a pretty significant fall.

Food for thought come Friday.

Via notourbiggestmarket.org

UKIP Voters Back Boris

The public don’t yet trust Boris to be PM, so says some pretty comprehensive polling released by Lord Ashcroft this morning. Only just over a third said he was capable of the running the country, while Tory voters overwhelmingly backed Dave. The UKIP results are arguably the most interesting. 35% of UKIP voters saying they would consider voting Tory if Boris were leader. Tory backbenchers must be wondering just how many would come home…

Graph of Everything That’s Wrong with BBC Question Time

bbcqtby[1]

Appearances on BBC Question Time since the General Election.

Via Martin Robbins

This is What Austerity Looks Like

The Chancellor has revealed how much the UK will spend in 2015/16: £745 billion. For the first time we have an accurate picture of the widespread devastation that Osborne’s austerity agenda has wrought:

At the next election, the Coalition will be spending £76 billion more than Labour were five years ago.

Osborne Borrowed More Last Year

Turns out government borrowing actually rose last year. Revised ONS figures show public sector borrowing for 2012-13 was £118.8 billion, up from £118.5 billion the year before. This week’s Speccie cover article gets to the point:

“When the Chancellor stands up to present his spending review next Wednesday it will be with the reputation of a crazed axeman. Much of the country, whether it thinks it a good thing or not, subscribes to the belief that George Osborne is shrinking the state year-on-year, slicing here, chopping there. In a recent poll 58 per cent of respondents agreed with the proposition that Osborne’s ‘austerity drive’ is ‘harming the economy’… Osborne is no mad axeman but a bodger blundering around with a blunt chisel.”

Osborne wants to portray himself as a responsible, sound money Chancellor making tough choices, streamlining an overbearing state and making government more efficient. The truth is borrowing, and as the graph below shows, spending is still going up:

The Treasury is pushing the fact that borrowing fell last month year-on-year, which is encouraging. But to say they are not doing enough is an understatement…

See also: Tale of Two Austerities

Cyber Wars: UKIP Trumping Tories

UKIP’s efforts to do battle online are clearly paying off. According to analysis done by UK General Election 2015, the party is gaining Twitter followers and Facebook likes at a considerably greater rate than its opponents, with the Tories in particular falling way short. By way of comparison, over the same period @GuidoFawkes gained some 7,000 followers and now has 109,745 followers – more than any UK political party. Social media campaigning will have a big part to play over the next two years, so these stats make interesting reading…

UPDATE: Just noticed that LetBritainDecide.org seems to redirect UKIP.org. Not to be confused with CCHQ’s LetBritainDecide.com, or rather it is…

GRAPH: Tories Will Lose If They Ditch Dave

Two weeks ago Dave’s key defence against Tory plotters, his relative popularity compared to the party, was wobbling. Today Peter Kellner has some figures that will have Downing Street breathing a collective sigh of relief. Ed is less popular than Labour, somehow Clegg is less popular than the LibDems, though Cameron is again preferred to his party. Kellner says this is the graph that shows the Tories will lose in 2015 if they ditch Dave…

Another Guardian “Deleted Voicemail” Moment

As Putin winds up Obama by offering whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in Russia, the wheels are beginning to come off of the Glenn Greenwald global gloating tour. Yesterday, in his usual tetchy style, he let slip that he had been working with Snowden in February, before he started working for private NSA contractors Booz Allen in March. As Guy Walters notes it could look like Greenwald and Snowden planned to look for abuses, quite plausibly to serve their own agenda.

David Allen Green notes that no evidence has yet been produced that anyone working for the NSA or GCHQ breached any law whatsoever, or that any information was obtained without a court order. Anyone except Snowden; who likes to type under a hood so satellites cannot see his screen.

Bob Cesca raises real questions over the veracity of Greenwald’s journalism. First, his assertion – repeated four times in his original article – that the NSA has “direct access” to the Google, Apple, Microsoft etc servers, is contested by the companies themselves. They insist the NSA had to pass the safeguard of agreeing consent. Unless they are not telling the truth, the phrase “direct access” is an exaggeration. Guido is still sceptical of their denials, but the Guardian accused them of “direct access” without evidence.

Secondly, the Washington Post has amended its own original story, now saying that PRISM was used to “track foreign targets” and not US citizens. Greenwald has not changed his own story that US citizens were targeted. Why the change from WaPo; why the sudden, unexplained discrepancy?

Once again the Guardian have lit the touch-paper only for it to emerge that the most damning part of the story is evidence free. Maybe it was the NSA that deleted those Milly Dowler text messages? Guido understands that Alan Rusbridger is in New York at the moment. He should be mopping up not boasting…

See also: More Questions for Glenn Greenwald.

UPDATE: This, according to the Mail, is the girlfriend Snowden left in Hawaii:

Even Labour Supporters are Hardening on Hand Outs

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have actually put out something interesting for a change. Over the last thirty years, Labour supporters’ attitudes to welfare have hardened considerably. In the late eighties 41% believed social injustice was the main cause of poverty, now that figure is just 27%. This can be explained in part by the number that blame laziness amongst those on benefits, up from 13% to 22%. 31% of Labour backers see welfare recipients as undeserving, compared to just 21% thirty years ago. The biggest jump: 46% now believe the welfare state encourages dependency, up from just 16% in 1987. You can see how attitudes have changed among Labour supporters by clicking on the interactive chart above. Ed may want to lead the party of welfare, but his voters are not with him.

UKIP’s Highest Ever Poll Rating

Talking of headaches for Dave, last night’s ICM/Guardian poll has UKIP on 18%, their highest ever rating and double their ICM rating for a month ago. Labour, the Tories and the LibDems all lost four points each, with Labour falling below Ed’s fabled 35% target. UKIP are up nine points. What was that about a referendum?

Town Hall Rich List

The annual Taxpayers’ Alliance town hall rich list is out this morning. An 11% fall in council staff earning over £100,000, but thousands still on the gravy train in our rotten boroughs…[…] Read the rest

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