My Name Is Blond… Phillip Blond

On the back of Ed’s “One Nation” schtick expect to see Red Toryism spouted on the fringe at Tory Conference, pushed out invariably by Phillip Blond. He is speaking at 5 fringe meetings. Such is his ubiquity songsters Sly and Reggie have done a ditty about “the intellectual curio of the Conservative Party”.

Not sure that Guido has ever heard a song about a policy wonk before, the lyrics are spot on, enjoy:

“My Name Is Blond… Phillip Blond”

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. The unemployment figures are going in the right direction, private sector growth is still anaemic though getting healthier, the re-balancing of the public sector is proceeding. The much awaited expansionary fiscal contraction is, whisper it quietly, almost upon us. This will fatally undermine the Balls mantra of “too far, too fast”. When Shadow Minister Ian Murray endorsed the idea of reviewing every single piece of public spending, he sent Balls into a spasm. Nobody came out to defend the policy or Murray, especially not Chuka Umunna, who despite numerous opportunities, ran to the hills. Now Ed Balls has stolen the policy in an interview with the Guardian.

In what looks like a a pre-conference policy side-step, Ed Balls has jumped on the “Zero Base Policy” bandwagon this morning. This state-slashing policy was outlined by Labour’s Miss Goody-Two-Shoes Stella Creasy earlier this summer. First advanced by the Adam Smith Institute this sensible policy is one that every government should embrace. Incoming governments should assess every single line item and every penny of taxpayers’ money spent. That should not be controversial.

Guido is glad that Balls has come round to this idea, though he does find it odd that just 48 hours ago Labour were trying to distance themselves from the very same policy when we asked. The problem Guido has with this Damascene conversion from Labour is that they have had years to review their spending. Instead of tackling waste they borrowed to spend and spend and spend – like a drunken sailor in a knocking shop. Balls has consistently denied debt fuelled overspending was ever a problem, repeatedly claiming (as recently as last month) that it was all going tickety-boo until the 2008 bank crisis hit. The metamorphosis of Balls into a supposedly frugal fiscal hawk willing to cut spending is something to behold.

Guido will only believe Balls if he announces – before the election – plans for line item spending cuts, in detail, in every government department and agency to balance the budget. Ed Balls won’t because he is only shifting his position because he knows an expanding economy with healthy growth will leave him looking foolish come election day. The only thing that is “zero based” is Ed’s fiscal credibility.

Stella's Sound State Slashing Becomes Labour Policy BIS Team Endorse Zero-Base Pledge

Guido is impressed. Stella Creasy’s endorsement of the ASI’s “Zero-Base Policy” that would see every single item of public spending reassessed is gaining traction in Labour.  After Guido gave her interview a push last week, the idea has now been adopted by her colleagues over at shadow Business Innovation and Skills. Asked if he agreed with Stella’s reality-based thinking, Chuka understudy Ian Murray told an interview with London Loves Business:

“Absolutely. If you start from a zero budget spending review, you can always work forward if you have money available. It’s a bit about priorities isn’t it? I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying that you have to look at where your money is best spent. 

Finally a policy on the blank sheet of paper! A win for Stella and the ASI.

Stella's State Slashing Summer Reading

In a low-key interview over the summer, Labour’s Stella Creasy declared herself a member of the reality based community. She told Patrick Wintour of the Guardian that the main focus of an incoming Labour government must be value for money. Therefore they would have to “reassess every single item of departmental public spending in response to mounting government debt and the pressure on public resources.” The interview won her plaudits from the likes of ConservativeHome and the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The Zero Base Policy is an idea advocated by the Adam Smith Institute and they’re delighted that it’s gaining traction in Parliament:

“It’s great to see that Stella Creasy has been reading some Adam Smith Institute publications. Now that she’s read Zero Base Policy, she should try Madsen Pirie’s “Economics Made Simple” and Eamonn Butler’s “The Alternative Manifesto” to learn that you can’t spend your way out of a recession.”

While you might think all this praise from sensible types will blot Stella’s copy book in the eyes of her deluded Labour colleagues, quite the opposite has happened. Instead, LabourList readers have named her as their MP of the Month–  not only for her campaign against Wonga, but as the site notes, her Zero Base work too. There is a lesson for Labour there…

Labour Wonks Awarded £50,000 Coalition Contract

In rare moment of unsoundness Mad Frankie Maude has announced that Labour wonk-shop IPPR is to be given a “groundbreaking” policy formation role at the heart of the Coalition government. Guido supposes Frankie could hardly have chosen IPPR’s reality-based rivals Policy Exchange given he founded them with Minister Nick Boles and that Michael Gove is a former chairman. Instead the EU and union-funded IPPR will be given £50,000 of taxpayers’ money to research civil service reforms around the world.

UPDATE: PX get in touch to point out that they do not take public money and therefore would not have entered this government commissioning project.

IPPR Taking G4S Cash For Shadow Policing Minister

Back during the Olympi-shambles (remember them?) Ed blustered:

People want bobbies on the beat, not G4S… Before they are awarded any new policing contracts, we need a review of G4S’s ability to deliver.”

Not only are G4S providing the security for the Labour party conference, but it turns out they are also sponsoring a fringe event hosted by lefty wonk-shop IPPR. Their Director Will Straw’s own website calls the company “controversial”, yet he’s happy to take their money. The invite-only discussion on police commissioners will feature Labour Shadow Minister David Hanson, who must have changed his mind about that review into “G4S’s ability to deliver.”

Guido knows what his first question will be…

UPDATE: Will gets in touch in to point out that he is not IPPR’s Director, rather their Associate Director.

Amnesty Unions Go On Strike

About half of Amnesty International UK’s workforce went on strike yesterday. Militants from the Unite union object to a pay freeze and overseas expansion at the expense of the Islington HQ. Amnesty globally think the work can be done better and more cheaply in other countries…

Pearson’s Fake Think Tank is Commercial Front

Pearson plc, the owners of the FT, have caused a minor ripple today through their imaginatively named Pearson Think Tank. They’ve published a prophecy of doom about the state of primary education and teacher training:

“A perfect storm of falling teacher training applications, low staff morale and rapidly rising pupil numbers could easily create a future teacher workforce crisis in primary schools if left unchallenged.”

The Department for Education claim that the report “could not be further from the truth”. Crucially Pearson Think Tank recommends the way to solve the problem is for the government to spend more money on teacher training. So what was it that first attracted one of the world’s largest providers of education services to create their own in-house wonk-shop and produce knocking copy about teachers?

Nothing to do with their commercial interests, of course. Who could sweep in and fix the terrible mess that Pearson claim is blighting  the teaching world? Well these guys look like experts in the area:

Predictably Labour’s sub par education team have got all hot and heavy and are press-releasing quotes about the fake think-tank’s report. Without realising, of course, that they are mere pawns in a corporation’s commercial scheme…

IPPR Credibility Gone With the Wind

Earlier this month Guido showed how he who pays the IPPR calls the tune, and now it seems the Labour wonk-shop have been at it once again. Today they have published a report making the case for wind power. Apparently wind is an effective way of reducing carbon emissions and can provide a secure and reliable source of energy for the future. Who would argue such a thing?

Dig a little deeper and you will see that two of the three authors of the report are senior employees of GL Garrad Hassan:

It turns out that GL Garrad Hassan is an energy company that specialises in both onshore and offshore wind projects. As they boast on their website:

“GL Garrad Hassan is recognised worldwide as a provider of services at all stages of onshore and offshore wind projects. It has developed industry standard software products for onshore and offshore wind turbine and wind farm design.”

So we have the IPPR letting a wind energy company write a report on wind power, only for them to inexplicably find that wind is the way forward. Fancy that…

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“.[…] Read the rest

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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.[…] Read the rest

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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.[…] Read the rest

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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…[…] Read the rest

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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.[…] Read the rest

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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.[…] Read the rest

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"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.  […] Read the rest

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