Long-Term Rise of Anti-Politics

This morning in Portcullis House researchers from the University of Southampton are presenting findings from a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on the rise of anti-politics, Tristram Hunt and Isabel Hardman are going to stick their tuppence in during an audience discussion. The conclusion is that those of us who want to see our lives de-politicised, and the politics-free space in our culture and society increased, are winning…

anti-politics-trend

Since 1945 and the expansion of the welfare state, the popular general dissatisfaction with government has risen 50%. Bigger government increases dissatisfaction…

Politicians are seen as more out for themselves than they were in the past. Whereas during the Second World War over a third of MPs were seen as doing the best for their country, now only 1 in ten are seen as doing so, and nearly half are seen as merely out for themselves.

pols-4-themselves

The academics see the rise of anti-politics as a problem. The inherent premise being that more politics will be good for us. Therefore the low popular opinion of politicians makes political action more difficult. Guido thinks this is a good thing, that the low esteem in which politicians are held is reasonable, people have made a more realistic appraisal of the nature of those who seek to rule over us. Politicians complain that they feel beset by the media and hostile voters because 72% of people see them as self-serving. Good. People should not be afraid of politicians, politicians should be afraid of the people…

Owen Jones’ Think Tank Helps Pay Off Deficit

The union funded CLASS think tank Owen Jones helped found has been fined £1,000 by the Electoral Commission. Unite veteran Steve Hart was stung with the bill after the Centre for Labour and Social Studies failed to deliver not one but two donation reports on time. “Any penalties that are imposed by the Commission go into the Consolidated Fund. This is managed by HM Treasury.” OJ’s band of deficit deniers are forced to help pay it off…

Brexit Debate Live Streaming

Tonight’s debate at the Institute of Economic Affairs (above) is an example of the civil war on the right – two IEA wonks Ryan Bourne and Diego Zuluaga are on opposite sides of the argument, Douglas Carswell and former Tory MEP John Stevens are bolstering the wonks. Such is the demand that they have already had to turn 200 ticket applicants away…

UPDATE: You can rewind the live stream to watch the debate.

More EU Sockpuppetry From IPPR

GDFS

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has today released a pro-European briefing outlining the minor renegotiations on Britain’s EU membership that it thinks would warrant staying in the EU. Titled “Unlocking the EU Free Movement Debate”, the document suggests small reforms in EU policy in five key areas are more than enough to stave off Brexit. Reform in our time indeed…

The IPPR however have omitted one tiny detail from their report: they are heavily funded by Europe. As Guido has previously reported, not only did they receive an €800,000 bung from EU in 2012, but their most recent accounts declare they received between £60,001 and £80,000 from the European Commission during 2014. So much for the “independent policy research” their mission statement boasts about. 

On top of this, its former associate director is none other than Will Straw, an ardent Europhile who left the IPPR recently. To work as the Executive Director of Britain Stronger in Europe. 

Given all this, Guido decided to give the report’s author a bell this afternoon to see if he could clarify the issue:

Guido: As far as I can see it doesn’t say anywhere in the report that the IPPR is funded by Europe.

Marley Morris: Yes, that’s correct, we’re not.

Guido: So you’re not funded by Europe?

Marley: Correct, we don’t receive any funding from Europe. Some people say we do, but we don’t.

Guido: But on your website it says you received between £60,001 and £80,000 from the European Commission during 2014.

Marley: Uhhh… Uhh… Oh yes… Uhh I think there was another project funded by… uhh… Europe that someone was… uhh… working on.

And people said “Marley and Me” wasn’t funny…

Glottal Mobility is Social Mobility

cut-glass

Clare Foges, “the woman who put words in David Cameron’s mouth” when she was his speechwriter, reckons if we all spoke like the Prime Minister the problem of declining social mobility would be solved. Like a modern day Professor Henry Higgins she thinks a veneer of gentility will do more for social mobility than tax credits. At first Guido was amused with Clare’s article in The Times, however on reflection, by George, I think she’s got it.  If only the common people could be more like the PM…

So if the government is serious about social mobility, it is time to revive the tweedy old concept of elocution. Schools should teach children how to speak as well as how to think. Lessons on pronunciation and projection should come as standard.

One school in Basildon has led the way. At Cherry Tree Primary the children learn to pronounce “thought” instead of “fought”, “both” instead of “bofe”. Ambitious parents have long sent their children to elocution lessons to help them get on.

Why shouldn’t we extend those same opportunities to all children? Having polled a smattering of the chattering classes there is clearly profound squeamishness about elocution lessons. One likened them to “verbal social cleansing”. Others saw it as a capitulation to prejudice: the world needs to change its view, not the children their voices. All very right on but it won’t break this invisible sound barrier.

Guido, as someone who has glottal issues, suspects she’s on to something…

Osborne Jokes About Leadership Coup

The Chancellor has been caught joking about bringing down the PM.

Steady on Gideon…

IFS: Osborne Has Deviated From His Long Term Plan

OSBORNE-TODAY-PORKIE

This morning Guido highlighted several of the Chancellor’s Budget porkies, this afternoon the IFS twists the knife. Osborne told the House that “we shouldn’t go faster, we shouldn’t go slower” on the rate of deficit reduction. Yet Paul Johnson from the IFS confirms we are indeed now going slower:

“the long term plan did change again. In the March Budget, and indeed in the Conservative manifesto, we were promised budget balance by 2018-19. That magic moment has now been shifted back to 2019- 20. In part that reflects a gentler than planned path for spending cuts, including welfare spending cuts”

They explain:

“Relative to the March Budget, borrowing forecasts rose for each of 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018- 19 despite increases in tax receipts resulting both from forecast changes and policy announcements. One result is that budget balance is now expected in 2019-20 not in 2018-19. The increase in borrowing and delay in reaching budget balance is largely down to an easing in the planned public service spending cuts through to 2018–19.”

So cuts are easied and borrowing is increased – all while taxes rise. What was that David Cameron said in the TV debates?

“More debt and more taxes, more debt and more taxes…”

Digital Government Boss Regrets Lack of Women

mike bracken

The biggest mistake Government Digital Service has made in recent years is failing to hire more women according to Mike Bracken, the head of GDS. Speaking to an audience at Policy Exchange yesterday, Bracken repeatedly refused to say what GDS should have done differently during his four year tenure other than to have diversified its workforce more.

“I regret not putting forward more stridently a generation of women in GDS at the start, and then in the technology profession. I regret not starting actively on that sooner, because while you’ve got a few great emerging leaders there’s not enough.”

Techno is a fan of the GDS and, of course, an ardent supporter of women in tech, up to a point. It seems Mike Bracken has forgotten about GDS’s failure to meet even half of its targets for online services, or how they borked the Home Office Visa and Immigration site, or how they fell way short of the mark with the Verify program and failed to turn around the disastrous rural payments system. Yet the biggest problem is that ‘only’ about 40% of GDS employees are women? What is the primary mission of the GDS? Gender equality or getting things to work?

Gordon’s Tax and Benefits Mess

tax+benefits

According to an ONS release today the mythical average household is £31 better off after taxes and benefits are taken into account. Think about all the complexities of tax collection collection and benefit calculation, the bureaucracy and time wasted. It really is time for a lower, flatter, simpler, single income tax…

The statistics also confirm that after 5 years of “we’re all in it together” that Osborne has raised taxes on the richest 20% and reduced the burden on the poorest 20%.  The bottom quintile are net recipients of just over £10,000 in welfare transfers from those who actually pay taxes. Will no one stand up for the wealth creators?

Danny Blanchflower Does it Again

Guido has in the past reflected with some scepticism on Danny Blanchflower’s economic forecasting.

There’s been an election and we have a new government, so it’s only fair to offer him fresh start and a chance to prove us wrong.

Last month derpy Danny wrote in the Indy that, despite wage rises in the previous two months, “Chances are next month we will see a big drop again. I will keep you posted”.

Well?

This month’s figures out today show that “Comparing February to April 2015 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 2.7% both including and excluding bonuses”. Here is the continuing rise in wages in graph form from the ONS:

Keep us posted, Danny…

IPPR: Tax the Poor

ippr-tax-the-poor2

Labour wonkshop IPPR have published a list of policy proposals today that aim to tackle the adverse affects of the government’s low-carbon programme on low-income groups. That would be the same IPPR who have spend years pushing for the decorbonisation policies that have disproportionately screwed over Britain’s poor…

The IPPR’s solutions to the problem include public ownership of new nuclear capacity and lifting the moratorium on onshore wind farms. Gaia would expect nothing less from the place that let a wind energy company write their report on wind power…

24 Hour Drinking: In Numbers

Today’s new Institute of Economic Affairs report by Christopher Snowdon looks at the impact of 24 hour drinking. Guido has crunched the numbers into a handy infographic:

As the report finds: “Facilitating longer opening hours may have been the best thing the Labour Party ever did…”

Ben Harris-Quinney OUT of Bow Group

Following a successful round of media interviews during the election campaign, Guido understands that Bow Group chairman Been Harris-Quinney has decided to step down to spend more time with his numerous other made up jobs. Every single patron of the group blasted BHQ for his Blue-kip endorsement plan so the writing was on the wall.

Tory Wars: Bow Group Split Over UKIP Endorsement

Ben-Harris-Quinney

The oldest Tory think tank has descended into open warfare after its chairman said Conservative supporters should vote UKIP where the Tories can’t win. Earlier today Ben Harris-Quinney told the Telegraph:

“Our preference at this election is a Conservative majority, but few in the Conservative Party will acknowledge the reality that this is now very unlikely to happen… We recognise the need to keep Ed Miliband out of Number 10, and the best way to do this is for Conservative voters to lend their votes to Ukip, who are best placed to beat Labour in many areas.”

He has a point…

This evening at CCHQ’s behest four patrons of the Bow Group have kicked back at Harris-Quinney. Michael Heseltine, Michael Howard, Norman Lamont and Nirj Deva MEP said in a punchy statement:

“As Patrons of the Bow Group we believe that this country’s best interests are served by voting Conservative in all situations. Ben Harris-Quinney does not speak for us or represent our views.”

Blue on Blukip!

Labour Manifesto Author Backs Tory Right-To-Buy Policy

MARC-STEARS-ED-MILIBAND

Marc Stears, Professor of Political Theory and Fellow of University College, Oxford, is not merely an old university friend of the Labour leader, he is one of Ed’s closest advisers and his chief speech-writer. More importantly he is the co-author of the Labour manifesto.

In 2012 Stears wrote approvingly in the New Statesman about an IPPR report calling on the left to favour letting housing association tenants have a right-to-buy:

The stable patterns of social interaction that are associated with communities of ownership are preconditions for the kind of social reciprocity that the left champions, as well as the more conservative disposition that is more usually commented upon. There is, in other words, a social argument for ownership…

 An argument being made by the author of the Labour Party manifesto, for a policy appearing in Conservative Party Manifesto… 

Last night however the knee-jerk Labour twitterati collectively lost it when they heard of the Conservative manifesto commitment to introduce a right-to-buy for housing association tenants. Atul Hatwal, editor of Labour Uncut, was a lone Labour voice of sanity:

It could have been so different, the policy could have been a Labour manifesto commitment if only they had taken up the recommendation from the Labour aligned IPPR think-tank:ippr-sell-homes

The report recommended:

Extending the rights to buy, acquire and manage to all housing association homes, levelling the playing field in terms of opportunities for ownership and control in social housing… 

… there are currently over a million housing association properties which cannot be bought by their tenants through the right to buy or right to acquire (Davis and Field 2012), and the right to manage does not apply to housing association homes. Notwithstanding the legal, logistical and administrative challenges entailed, the rights to buy and acquire (with the discount rate sensibly capped) and the right to manage should be extended to all housing association homes

The authors were not wild-eyed wonks, they were Andy Hull and Graeme Cooke. Hull is a councillor in Islington and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance and since leaving IPPR now works for Owen Jones’ left-wing Class think tank. Cooke used to be a SpAd when Labour were in government and still works for IPPR (helping to write the Condition of Britain report which inspired a lot of the Labour manifesto).

Labour tweeters attacking the Tories for putting this policy in their manifesto should know that comrades Hull and Cooke recommended this policy as a way to improve housing. Alan Milburn and Frank Field also called for the right-to-buy years ago. No doubt the Labour twitterati will say these are all irredeemable Blairites (they’re not), therefore apostate. Marc Stears however is Ed Miliband’s left-hand man and he too supports the right-to-buy for housing association tenants. 

First They Came for the Upper Decile…

top-decile

Yesterday was another orgy of “bash the rich” political populism. Once again, as the above chart from the Treasury shows, the most productive people were punished the most by the Chancellor. This is because he thinks it is good politics. It isn’t.

Osborne boasts that he is putting the biggest burdens on the broadest shoulders because “the rich can afford it”, a view widely held across the political spectrum, even some Tory MPs agree. They might have a rethink when they understand that the upper income decile getting clobbered year after year is not the mansion and yacht owning super rich, it includes them. The median gross income that puts an individual in the top decile is £60,500, that is less than what an MP earns. The same MPs whom so often claim they can’t live in London on their salaries….

Since 2010 Osborne has gone out of his way to make sure that the gini coefficient is better than it was under Gordon Brown, the measure of income inequality shows that inequality is declining under the coalition, the rich are not getting richer relative to the rest of the population. We are all relatively poorer is Osborne’s pathetic boast.

quintiles-since-2010

By the next election the upper quintile since 2010 will have suffered the most under this government – upper income voters are usually well disposed towards voting Conservative,  yet the Chancellor clobbers his core vote. Why do members of the commentariat glibly repeat that Osborne is a strategic genius? The Conservative voter’s answer to Reagan’s famous question “Are you better off now than you were four years?” is most likely “no”. For an individual to be in the upper income quintile they have to earn the princely sum of £39,800. Not exactly people who spend their weekdays in mansions and weekends on yachts… 

Why does the son of a baronet do it? It is because he is the son of a baronet that he feels he has to do it, the toxicity of the posh, rich charge is what they fear most. The polls persistently show that people think they – Cameron and Osborne – don’t understand “ordinary people like us”. So to neutralise the charge they punish their own supporters most, and it still doesn’t do any good…

Now Even the Nerds Turn On Ed Top Prof Warns Miliband Has “Failed to Perform”

If there was one voting block Ed Miliband thought he could rely on, it would be his fellow nerds, yet a four-year academic study granted access to Ed Miliband’s inner circle today concludes he has “failed to perform as a leader”.

Professor John Gaffney’s research project carried out interviews with “well-known and high profile” Labour figures including advisers, speechwriters and spinners, finding “Miliband as a leader has simply not been inspiring enough to attract supporters”.

The study claims Miliband “fails to inspire his followers because he is not getting the narrative of leadership right,” that “many are unclear as to Miliband’s identity,” and warns “Labour’s chance is slipping away”.

Prof. Gaffney says “Ed Miliband must make peace with New Labour to win in 2015”, arguing that if he fails to “reconcile” and “unify”“the Labour Party is… in serious trouble”. Also known as “stating the bleedin’ obvious” from the University of Aston.

Ending the Migrant Worker Subsidy

immigrant-subsidy

Youth unemployment in the Eurozone’s southern victims is catastrophic, half their young have no jobs. The young are mobile, usually without children and it is entirely natural that they will seek work where it is, in fact it is admirable. The above chart highlights the lure of the UK, unskilled minimum wage workers from the EU can double or triple their wages and the British taxpayer will top up their income with a benefits/tax credit subsidy as well. This is counter-productive, the subsidy is not required, the competition undercuts already difficult to employ unskilled British youth.

Open Europe’s research out this morning charts a legal and political path that is achievable within the EU. Open Europe is seen as having the ear of the Chancellor on EU matters, though these proposals should appeal across the political spectrum. Even to europhiles – if they have any sense…

Debating Sound Money

steve

Hayek MoneyIn the commons chamber right now Steve Baker MP is proposing the denationalisation of money. Together with colleagues spanning four parties – Michael Meacher (Lab), Caroline Lucas (Green), Douglas Carswell (UKIP) and David Davis (Con) – he has secured a debate on Money Creation and Society. It is a complicated and important subject.

The Cobden Centre, which campaigns for sound money, explains: we have a system of paper or “fiat” money: it exists due to legal mandate as opposed to being a physical commodity like gold. Reserves, notes and coins are created by the state but claims on money are created by the banks when they lend. Most of the money we have was created by banks lending.

This video from Dominic Frisby is a good primer on the issue:

As things are now, recurrent financial crises are systemically built into the global monetary order… 

See also: The Death and Rebirth of Sound Money

Defusing the Debt Timebomb

Sponsored post.

Government borrowing is currently running 10% higher than last year – exacerbating the already parlous state of the UK’s public finances.

This week, as part of its 2020 Vision initiative, the Institute of Economic Affairs launched its new report, Defusing the Debt Timebomb.   […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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