What Do You Know About Debt?

The Centre for Policy Studies is keen on making infomercials to accompany their research. They’re pretty good:

A worrying poll undertaken by the CPS has found that only 10% of the British public realise the Coalition intends to raise the national debt by £600 billion this Parliament.

You thought this government was cutting debt?

£1 Million Council House MP Opposes Council House Sale Plans

Labour MP Frank Dobson has slammed proposals from the Policy Exchange think tank to sell off expensive council houses in order to pay for cheaper social housing elsewhere. Dobson ranted:

“When we look at the social impact, we are talking about the breakdown of communities and the creation of ghettos. Parts of London will be left for rich foreign bankers and nobody else. This mad idea shows this is a government not for people but for estate agents.”

Perhaps Dobson’s vehement opposition has something to do with the fact that he lives in a £1 million council flat in a London mansion block. You could probably build five new council houses from the proceeds of selling it off…

UPDATE: It has come to Guido’s attention that Dobson also owns a posh family home in a town outside York. And yet he still scrounges a council flat off the taxpayer…

Labour Wonks v Page 3 Girls

Labour wonk-shop IPPR have declared war on the Sun‘s Page 3 girls as they publish a report claiming that the government’s bleeding of motorists via high fuel taxes is just a “myth“. Earlier this week the Sun girls jumped on board the Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign to freeze fuel duty by showing their support at petrol stations up and down the country. Now IPPR has hit back, laughably arguing that the Chancellor “should make every effort to avoid further delays in fuel duty increases“. Will’s argument is unconvincing and not likely to be taken up by the Labour Party. “Vote Labour for higher petrol taxes” is a CCHQ dream slogan…

ERS Shun Hand Count PCC Elections

Back during the great AV debate of 2011 Guido brought you the news that the Electoral Reform Society owns Electoral Reform Services, the market leader in manufacturing vote counting software. Guido wondered at the time whether the £250 million worth of electronic voting machines run by ERS Ltd had anything to do with the ERS’ support for AV…

Now the ERS have published a paper criticising the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Apparently low turnout means the elections will be completely unrepresentative, with chief executive Katie Ghose asking: “what is the point of having them?

In other news, the PCC election ballot papers will be counted by hand rather than with ERS Ltd’s machines. Perhaps the ERS only supports elections when they stand to make a profit…

Unions Funding Labour’s Left-Wing Dream Team

Militant Unite boss Len McCluskey is continuing his drive to take over the Labour Party by setting up a pressure group to rival Blairite faction Progress. According to the Guardian, the subtly-named Class will aim to “remind Labour of their working roots“. The new think tank’s members read like a left-wing dream team, with Paul Kenny of the GMB and Mark Serwotka’s PCS providing the funding and Seamus Milne, Jack Dromey, Owen Jones and Polly Tonybee sitting on the advisory panel. Sounds more like a union for the 1% to Guido…

The prolier than thou ethos of “class” is to articulate “an alternative that will resonate with working people”. Which must be why they are advised by the Guardian’s Winchester educated Stalinist Seamus Milne and by the three home-owning, multi-millionairess great granddaughter of the Earl of Carlisle. Polly Toynbee was also privately educated (Badminton), went to Oxford (St Annes) and on to the BBC. Toynbee is the daughter of the literary critic Philip Toynbee and grand-daughter of the famous historian Arnold J. Toynbee, his uncle was the philanthropist and economic historian Arnold Toynbee after whom Toynbee Hall is named. She was born into three generations of metropolitan elitists…

The downtrodden workers on minimum wage should be grateful that the likes of GMB’s Paul Kenny on £114,000, the PCS’s Mark Serwotka on £113,354 and not forgetting Len McCluskey on £149,312 are leading the charge for equality. Class act indeed.

He Who Pays the IPPR Calls the Tune Leaked Email Shows Wonks For Sale

Labour wonk-shop IPPR are progressive guns for hire. In 2010 they took over €800,000 from the European Commission and their coffers are filled by unions and lefty-charitable trusts. Universities UK, the higher education trade association, are believed to have bunged them in excess of £20,000. In return they got their figures in a nice report about how immigration caps are affecting student numbers. Despite the report claiming that all “views and conclusions expressed in it are those of the authors”, Guido has now got hold of an email that would suggest otherwise.

Tony Millns is the Chief Exec of  English UK – another education trade association who encourage people to come to the UK to learn English. The sort of vested interest group who would want see immigration caps given a kicking. Millns is clearly rather chuffed with what money can buy him:

IPPR claim that Universities UK supplied some research, but didn’t tell the public or the media that the report had actually been commissioned by English UK. Sadly for them the client has let the cat out of the bag… 

FRANKIE SAYS SACKEDCivil Service Reforms Could See Sir Humphrey Sacked for Failing

Francis Maude was much maligned by right-wing Tories during the opposition years as a wet moderniser, suspiciously tie-less and the éminence grise behind the Cameroon Policy Exchange think-tank.

In office he now wears a tie and has moved from policy wonkery to policy execution; bearing down on spending, battling the civil service bureaucracy, shining sunlight on government data to drive the transparency agenda. Maude is playing  hardball with the unions on unaffordable public sector pensions and full-time taxpayer-funded pilgrims. It is enough to gladden the heart of Margaret Thatcher herself – whom he once served as a Minister – it has also led to a grudging re-evaluation of him by many on the Conservative Party’s right-wing.

Now he is taking on the enemy within, the Civil Service permanent government, or in the case of Michael Gove’s Department for Education, the permanent opposition. The ability of the mandarinate to frustrate radical policies is legendary and their talent for generating inertia defies the laws of physics. In the ideological heart of many Thatcherites and Orange Bookers is a belief that the bureaucracy could be reduced, the government re-engineered and  improved. Quietly the Coalition will by 2015 have reduced the size of the Civil Service by 23% from the bloated days of Gordon Brown. The first step on the path to a post-bureaucratic government is making bureaucrats accountable and sackable when they fail to deliver.

Big Business has used the internet to strip out costs and whole layers of management, Big Government has barely started to do the same. Sir Humphrey and the rest of the mandarins have decades of experience in fighting Civil Service reform, they will fight these reforms every step of the way with cunning and subtlety rather than head on. They even have their own privately funded think-tank, the Institute for Government, possibly the most dangerous political force in Britain since the heyday of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The long-term gain from reforming and shrinking the Civil Service is immense, it was the area where the Blairite’s self-acknowledged failure was total. The prize is worth having at any cost.

Matthew Sinclair Is New TPA Boss

Matthew Elliott has stood down as Chief Executive of the perennially sound Taxpayers’ Alliance after eight years at the helm. He will be replaced by current TPA Director Matthew Sinclair.

A worthy successor…

Shriti Gives Think Tank Award to Chums

Guido couldn’t quite work out why the zero-impact wonks over at the Social Market Foundation managed to scoop Prospect magazine’s annual “Think Tank of the Year” award. After a bit of digging the mystery has been solved. It turns out the SMF was fortunate enough to have a chum sitting on the judging panel. Former FT editor Richard Lambert agreed that the SMF deserved the award due to it’s “memorable” analysis of the budget, “Osborne’s Choice“. Perhaps it stuck in Lambert’s mind because he contributed to the report himself…

And the suspicious chumminess didn’t stop there. Guido has learnt that another judge on the panel, Shriti Vadera of Barclays/Libor fame, used to be a director of the SMF back in 2007. If only George Osborne could find a smoking gun like that…

Boles: Revoke Rich Rivieria Retiree's Reliefs

Yesterday Guido pointed to Liz Truss advocating tax hikes for the working elderly, today another Tory MP, Nic Boles, is planning to hit the pockets of OAPs. He wants to take away welfare benefits from the wealthy – Brown’s £300 winter allowance for rich retirees on the Riviera is a target. This welfare payment is symbolic of all that that was wrong with Brown’s welfare universalism.

Guido has never understood why millionaires should get welfare benefits, Brown deliberately doled out welfare bribes to the affluent who didn’t really need them to gain political buy-in for the welfare state. Welfare universalism was an ideological policy designed to create middle class support for Brown’s Big Government tax and spend dependency culture. Unravelling welfare universalism is key to cutting the deficit.

The affluent old are a key Tory voting demographic group, Boles is being brave taking them on. As with removing Child Benefit from millionaire mothers there will be resistance and much shroud waving. Unlike raising taxes on the working old, this reform is worth doing…

"Free Enterprise" Group Wants to Tax the Old Even More

Guido bumped into Liz Truss last week and complained that her pamphleting “Free Enterprise” Group of Tory MPs wasn’t very right-wing. She looked at Guido arched-eyed and knocked back her drink before stumbling off. 

As if to prove the point this morning her “Free Enterprise” Group released a pamphlet arguing for an increase in taxes for the working over-65s:

Older workers who continue to work should pay National Insurance contributions on their earned income.  Extra NIC income could be banked or used to give NIC holidays (employee and employer) to young low paid workers.

No doubt they will argue this is revenue neutral and just shifting the tax burden onto the older generation which has had it pretty good. This begs the question; what kind of free enterprise group wants tax hikes and revenue neutrality? The status quo is disastrous, we’re over-taxed to finance Gordon’s Big Government welfare state. The New Labour era saw state spending as a percentage of GDP go up from 35% under Margaret Thatcher to 45% under Gordon Brown. If even a Tory free enterprise group is unwilling to push back on Gordon Brown’s settlement  the country is stuffed…

UPDATE: 

Happy ending…

IPPR, the Staggers and the €800,000 Bung

Guido was amused to read Will Straw’s Staggers piece today asking: “Europe, what have you done for me lately?“.

His gushing tribute to the EU’s legislation on mobile charges was as sickly as it was suspicious – after all, his organisation IPPR is hardly renowned for its tech prowess.

Perhaps the real answer to Straw’s question lies in the fact that Brussels has bunged his wonk-shop €800,000

California Dreaming

Sipping rosé with media types last night Guido bumped into an academic co-conspirator from Stanford. Conversation soon turned to Steve Hilton, their visiting professor:

“I saw him the other day in flip flops. He appears to be on vacation.”

Sic semper…

"Transparent" Lefty Think Tank and their Anonymous Funding

Last week Guido brought you the report claiming that left-wing think tanks are more transparent than their right-wing counterparts. One of the think tanks awarded the top A-rating by Who Funds You was the New Economics Foundation, who state on their website: “the NEF believes that organisations advocating political change should be open about how they are funded.”

Funny then that a £200k per annum donor to the NEF, the Network for Social Policy, says on its own website that: “the Network for Social Change is a group of individuals providing anonymous funding for progressive social change“.

Guido isn’t sure how a think tank with donors seeking to remain anonymous can be described as transparent…

Private Sector Wonks Under Fire from Public Sector Wonks

A new report has claimed that left-wing think tanks are more transparent than their right-wing counterparts. New left-wing pressure group Who Funds You awards an A-rating to the likes of left-of-centre campaigns IPPR, Progress and Compass, while laying into the right-of-centre Adam Smith Institute and the Taxpayers’ Alliance for their supposed lack of openness. Ignoring of course that right-of-centre think tanks don’t usually take public money from the taxpayers. Left-wing think tanks benefit from a lot of taxpayers’ money, IPPR for example got £800,000 of taxpayers’ money via the EU…

UPDATE: The ASI have hit back:

Touché… 

Because He's Worth It

Earlier this month Guido broke the news that No.10 SpAd Dr Sean Worth had quit his job to take up a post at Policy Exchange. Putting his head above the parapet for the first time since, the good doctor appeared on Newsnight last night. If only Worth’s former colleagues could say these things like this while still in government… 

Video via LiarPoliticians

GDP Growth Was Higher in the 1930s

On the Today programme yesterday morning Ed Balls claimed Osborne has made a giant mistake and cuts in public spending are the same mistake made by Snowden in the 1930s. Balls is wrong, as a recent pamphlet from the Centre for Policy Studies by George Trefgarne shows. After the 1929-31 Wall Street Crash the British economy recovered rapidly in the 1930s:

If only we currently had a growth rate like they averaged in the thirties…

Time to Sack the Statist "Charity" Sock Puppets

Guido has always seen state-funded charities as a constant source of annoyance. Today the Institute of Economic Affairs calls on the government to bring an end to lobbying by charities that receive taxpayers’ money. They even quote Guido’s jibe about fake charities from last year:

“A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend”.

Guido couldn’t have put it better himself…

IPPR Advocate Crime Tracking App

Guido has often taken the left-wing iPPR think-tank to task for some of its craziest policy ideas, the never ending hyper-Keynesian fallacies it pumps out and for flogging access for cash in the past. So when they come out with a good idea it is a noteworthy shock.

They are advocating the nationwide adoption of a crime-tracking app to enable victims in to follow their case through the criminal justice system.

  • The courts, CPS and police should ensure that data is shared and that victims can follow their cases all the way from first report to sentencing.
  • Crime maps should be made interactive and display real-time information to change them from being purely a tool of transparency and accountability to one that could help prevent and reduce crime.
  • The courts should become more accessible and transparent by publishing details online of the progress of cases, transcripts, judgements and sentences.

The criminal justice system at times seems to be in near chaos, cases get lost, villains escape justice, victims get lost in the confusion. Transparency would increase the pressure on the “supply chain” management of the system. When things go wrong victims will become aware of where and when it went wrong and pressure can be applied to rectify the problem.

Guido understands that real-time crime mapping is already a Downing Street priority, this data sharing idea for the wider criminal justice system will chime with government thinking. No doubt the ludicrously inefficient Courts and cops will have objections…

Exclusive: No. 10 SpAd Sean Worth QuittingMoving to Policy Exchange Think Tank

Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Sean Worth is departing government to head up an investigation into better public services at Policy Exchange. It seems to be mid-term transfer season with lots of  SpAds looking to move on and out. Worth was on secondment to fire-fight at health and Guido hears, like another recently departed member of Team Dave, he wants to be able to speak out more than he currently can about how to radically reform the public sector.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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