Archive for the ‘crisis’ Category

I nearly missed this extraordinary piece buried in the business pages of yesterday’s Telegraph by half-decent economics commentator (and there aren’t many of those) Edmund Conway. The thrust of the piece, supported by an interesting flashback to the days when Blair was, apparently, Labour’s City spokesman, just when the ’87 bubble burst, is that a series of FoI requests have revealed that Blair knew about Brown’s mega housing bust as early as 2004, possibly before. Said Conway:

So concerned was the PM back in 2004 that the housing market was turning into a bubble that he asked the Treasury for a full briefing note (in fact he was prompted by an FT column by Martin Wolf, warning: “Nobody knows when the bust will come. But come, I believe, it will”.)

Fine, but nothing, as everyone no doubt recalls, happened. Why? I think we can guess. Conway continues:

Now, it probably isn’t a surprise to hear that the Treasury dismissed this view in its document, which PricedOut has attained under a Freedom of Information request. But I was surprised by the length of the document (eight chunky pages) and throughout its length a sheer unwillingness to countenance the possibility that the housing market would crash. It underlines the simple fact that the Treasury under Gordon Brown was blind to the possibility that things could go horribly wrong – even within the confines of Downing Street. It turns out no-one was allowed to challenge the “end to boom and bust” trope – even Tony Blair himself.

Blair’s role in this debacle simply demonstrates how weak a prime minister, and person, he actually was. And, of course, it shows how far he would go to keep the title. He knew and yet he did nothing. If he’d had a spine, he would have fired Brown when he had the chance. But he didn’t, and should be judged accordingly.

As for Brown. My God! Is it any wonder that I hate him (and I mean hate) and all he stands for? Is it really that surprising that I, and millions of others, believe he is the worst man ever to have held high office in this country? Should it really be that much of a shock that I am 100% sure that if this unelected, incompetent, vainglorious oddball is somehow given a mandate this year, the damage he will do to this country afterwards would make terrible harm he’s caused so far look like the good old days?
At least the politics are therefore very straightforward: you vote Labour in your constituency and you will get five more years of the lying economic wrecker. Vote Tory, you don’t.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a moral duty to vote Conservative this time around, and all that that implies if you don’t. That what’s at stake here. The documentary proof in Conway’s article provides the proof, as if more were needed.

And now, just for a bit of extra entertainment, and in case you can’t be bothered to click through to original article, is that video of Blair in ’87. Who’d have thought a wet-behind-the-ears political unknown, who’d never had a proper a job in his life, would one day be prime minister.

Well, so much for David Cameron. But it is interesting to see Blair back then...

…about the same as he looks now, only less suntanned and without the Yank accent.


Read Full Post »

Jeff Randall, as usual, has said precisely what needed to be said (ie: the truth) about the implications of Labour’s latest act of political violence against the country we somehow collectively permitted it to ruin once again. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a grown-up (sort of) so I can take a bunch of socialist tax rises and spending lunacy on the chin. I’d expect nothing less from these power-hungry economic illiterates.

What I will not tolerate, at all, however, is the prospect of future generations having to pick up the bill for their rank electioneering and amoral, scorched earth economic blitz. Randall explains how and why this is precisely what will happen if the current voting generation really is stupid enough to allow the Labour fraud to work come the general election.

I’m no longer in the habit of lifting whole pieces from other sites (it breaks one of the ten blogging commandments that I take pretty seriously these days), but there are exceptions. This is most certainly one of them, because it’s too important to ignore:

If you want to know what would become of Britain were Labour to win another five years in power, turn to page 189 of the Treasury’s Budget book. Before you do so, however, slip into a straitjacket and gulp down an elephant tranquilliser. Prepare to feel like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as he was administered huge electric shocks.

In Table C3 – Current and Capital Budgets – there’s a line showing Public Sector Net Debt, ie how much we, as a country, will owe our creditors (not including personal borrowings). Now, cast your eyes over the column
“2014-15”. Pow! I bet that hurt. Have another go: it’s not a printing error.

Yes, according to the Treasury’s forecasts, the United Kingdom will nearly double its indebtedness from £776 billion (in 2009-10) to £1.4 trillion. Even in Gordon Brown’s devalued, debased and degraded system of accounting, that is still a poleaxing sum, equal to about one year’s national output.

It gets worse, because this unprecedented and unimaginable debt projection is based on Alistair Darling’s optimistic assumption that, from 2010-11, the UK’s economic growth will bounce back to 3-3.5 per cent, well above long-term trend. If you are feeling confused, don’t worry, you are meant to be.

Listen to the assurances of Mr Brown – that his ministers are acting to “halve the deficit” – and you might be forgiven for thinking that there’s a credible plan to reduce our national debt. In fact, the very opposite is true.

Labour’s plan, if one can so dignify it, involves a viral proliferation of state borrowing. In effect, the Government has turned the country into a home-owner whose mortgage is too onerous. Interest obligations are increasing faster than our ability to repay. Money goes out of the national account every month, but the capital owed is ballooning.

Consider this: the UK’s deficit (annual shortfall) is scheduled to drop over the course of the next five years to £163 billion, £131 billion, £110 billion, £89 billion and £74 billion. But total state debt in the same period will rise to £952 billion, £1,095 billion, £1,218 billion, £1,320 billion and £1,406 billion. At that point, the Treasury’s Debt Management Office will be humming like a Guangdong sweatshop.

In his Budget speech, the Chancellor was reserved, cautioning that there is nothing “pre-ordained” about our exit from recession and “there are still uncertainties”. But when it comes to inventing numbers to suit his political agenda, the calculations are sexed up with a Panglossian twist.

It makes no sense to warn that Britain’s fragile recovery could not possibly withstand the rigours of the Conservatives’ tough love, while at the same time attaching to it an assumption of turbo-boosted expansion for next year and the one after. As Ed Balls would not say, this a non-sequitur.

Never mind, let’s for argument’s sake accept that Mr Darling’s wonderland becomes reality and everything in the Treasury’s crystal ball turns out to be true. How much will we, Britain’s taxpaying classes, have to fork out annually for the pleasure of holding £1.4 trillion of debt? Go on, have a guess.

Well, next year the bill will be £43 billion on £952 billion of debt, an implied interest rate of 4.5 per cent. Apply that to £1.4 trillion and by 2014-5 those who contribute to the Chancellor’s coffers will be forking out £63 billion a year in interest. That’s 150 per cent of our current defence budget and three times what we will spend next year on industry, agriculture and employment.

Time for another happy pill, because the real outcome will almost certainly be more painful than that. For a start, the OECD rejects Mr Darling’s growth prediction, insisting that Britain’s economy will expand next year by only 2.2 per cent. Without a drastic slowing of Labour’s spending binge, weaker growth will inevitably necessitate even higher levels of state borrowing.

Then there’s the cost of servicing that debt mountain. Today’s rock-bottom interest rates are unlikely to be on offer come 2014-5. Add these factors together and it is not unreasonable to conclude that Britain’s annual interest bill could be approaching £100 billion five years hence.

This is legalised theft, a national disgrace. Under the bogus banner of “fairness”, the Government is stealing from our children’s tomorrow in order to buy votes today. It’s bad enough that the current generation of university students – including those at third-rate former technical colleges – will emerge with an average debt of £23,500 (see last year’s survey on push.co.uk), but they will also have to compensate for their forefathers’ profligacy.

When he was in opposition, Mr Brown lambasted John Major’s government for “the costs of failure”, by which he meant the bills for unemployment and debt interest. He was right to do so. Unfortunately, on this Prime Minister’s watch, those very same costs are rocketing out of control. His steadfast refusal to contemplate affordable spending has created an island of debt junkies: economic vandalism.

And for what? Clearly much of that extra funding for education – lots of nice teaching assistants – isn’t working, otherwise Mr Brown’s little helper, Mr Balls, would not be so angered by the success of grammar and private schools. Next year, the Government will spend £89 billion on education (an 80 per cent increase in 10 years) and yet our best universities are being strong-armed into accepting comprehensive-school pupils with sub-standard A-levels, in order to make up for a state system that is failing the poor.

If we are to extricate ourselves from this dung hill of Labour’s making, Britain has three choices. We can default, an option not even Mr Darling favours. We can raise taxes, and that is already happening. But to knock a hole in that £1.4 trillion, punitive taxation would need to extend so far down the food chain that even dinner ladies would be heading for Zurich.

That leaves fiscal responsibility. We can stop pretending that the state is a machine for ever-increasing mass entitlement and, instead, align public-sector spending with our ability to pay.

The trouble is, while Mr Brown remains in charge – and the latest poll in the marginal constituencies suggests he may yet survive – this will never happen. He will always use the public purse as a tool for his party’s advantage.

Professor Philip Booth of Cass Business School sums up the problem: “Almost every Budget measure [on Wednesday] involved a spending favour for some small group or other, or some tax relief for a group that the Government hopes to sway behind the Labour Party at the election.”

Thanks to Channel 4’s Dispatches, we learned this week that the daily rate for former Labour ministers “on the make” is £5,000. Perhaps we should pay the entire Cabinet that rate to clear off for good and save ourselves a fortune.

Five more years of Labour? Over my dead body.

Read Full Post »

Earnestly deploring a strike is quite different from dispatching a semi
house-trained polecat against the pickets to save a business and its workers’

This is a David Blackburn quote about Brown’s latest bout of dishonest dithering, this time over a real doozy of a conflict of interest for Labour over the BA/Unite dispute. The dishonesty is not all on Brown/Labour’s part, however. Both Unite and the BA management appear to have been trying to outflank each other for months, and, insodoing, (by behaving like Brownite Labour cabinet figures rather than professionals, in other words) have buried any trust that might have been possible between the two sides, and probably buried the company with it. Bad management and aggressive, untouchable unions. It’s 1977 all over again.

Meanwhile, Brown is paralysed – as usual. He can’t intervene because ‘Unite’, one of bankrupt-Labour’s life support machines will…well, who knows what they will do. Try to take over, probably. He also can’t not intervene, because, if these strikes go ahead, then there’s a real chance our loss-making national carrier will be doomed, just like KLM and JAL in the past 12 months or so alone. The job losses would be horrendous, and that’s before we mention the national humiliation. (I feel a bailout coming on. Pardon me).

All this merely serves to illustrate with absolute clarity why, in a time of economic crisis, you cannot have a government as weak, contaminated and compromised as this one in charge of anything – anything at all. They are powerless to make policy, and if they do make policy, they are then powerless to enforce it. Brown’s government is knackered, and Brown himself has been politically neutered. You need a new government, mate. Immediately.

With a crippled Labour government limping along, lurching from one crisis to the next, it’s becoming clear for all to see that the unions see this as their latest big chance to undermine democracy and seize a sizable slice of power for themselves. They’ve done it before.

All the more reason why Blackburn is right. The semi house-trained pole cat would no-doubt have all his crown jewels in tact, and be free to act independently. He would be ready, willing and able to tear into the old trots of the unions, more interested in the dictatorship of the workers than those workers’ livelihoods as they are, and make sure they’re made to remember once more that, for better or for worse, the government that we elected runs this country, not them.

Lord Tebbit: over to you, sir.

Read Full Post »

Jeff Randall has done it again. In his latest piece for the Telegraph, he considers his recent, possibly game-changing interview with Alistair Darling, which produced arguably one of the most memorable quotes of the Brown years. You know, the one about the ‘forces of hell’ being ‘unleashed’ – by, er, the son of the manse himself. Randall is at his sparkling best in this piece, as this hefty taste will, I hope, demonstrate:

Renewed allegations about Mr Brown’s bullying had surfaced at the weekend, when The Observer published extracts from Andrew Rawnsley’s new book, The End of the Party. The Chancellor knew that he would be facing a few bouncers on the subject, almost certainly on the way that Number 10 had tried to intimidate him in the past, especially after he had predicted in the summer of 2008 that Britain’s downturn would be the worst for 60 years.

Mr Darling was not caught off guard by me. He and his adviser, Catherine Macleod, had had plenty of time to formulate an appropriate response to the issue of Mr Brown’s bad temper. In the event, they went deliberately for the explosive option, a decision that would have been endorsed by the delightful Maggie Darling, the Chancellor’s bubbly but determined other half.

This was revenge at its most delicious: a platter of cryogenically modified resentment. From now until the election, and almost certainly beyond, Mr Brown’s cabal of slime merchants will be branded as the doers of the devil’s work: Forces of Hell, the Inferno’s Enforcers, Satan’s Storm troopers. The son of a preacher man has, it seems, been employing the wrong crowd.

After the interview, Mr Darling and his Treasury team accepted my offer to stay on for a few drinks. Over a glass of chablis and a bowl of Doritos, he chatted confidently about the task of reducing the United Kingdom’s unprecedented deficit. As we discussed the choice between lower spending and higher taxes, Miss Macleod’s BlackBerry was glowing like Chernobyl. The fallout had begun, yet the Chancellor seemed entirely unbothered.

I inferred from Mr Darling’s equanimity that he has accepted his fate. For him, the Downing Street game is nearly over. Even if Labour were to pull off a remarkable election victory, securing another overall majority, the chances of him being invited to remain as Chancellor are slimmer than a collection of Mr Brown’s witticisms. In the unlikely event that the Prime Minister finds himself back in charge, you can be sure that only loyal Yes Persons will be rehired.

Thus, Mr Darling has nothing to lose. He is unsackable before the election but, in political terms, unemployable after it.

This is why I like Randall so much, not just because he is always clear, illuminating and knows his own mind (a mind I more often than not totally agree with), but because he is fair, tough-but-amiable and, above all, lays almost 100% of the blame for grinding the British economy into the ground squarely at the door of the self-aggrandising weirdo wrecker, Gordon Brown. And rightly so.

Anyway, I won’t go on – read it for yourself; it’s certainly worth it. But be warned, Randall ends the piece on an ominous note about the true state of the public finances and the real scale of the Brown catastrophe that awaits the next government:

When near-bankrupt companies are taken over at the 11th hour by fresh management, it is often the case that their numbers are far worse than we had been led to understand. In desperation, dodgy directors try to hide the full extent of the horror in the vain hope of bluffing their way through. That is what Labour is doing to UK plc – and very soon its bluff will be called.

So don’t believe the hype anybody (not that you do, of course). Whoever wins, things can only get tougher.

Read Full Post »

Nick “I know which side my bread is buttered” Robinson, BBC-Labour’s tame political pundit, after the start of the UK’s so-called economic recovery (0.1% to be adjusted is not exactly Darling’s “trampoline” recovery now is it, especially after squillions in printed inflation-fuel has been chucked at it?), has just concluded on his hyper-moderated blog:

…some voters may note that we are still not securely out of the longest and deepest recession since the war and may conclude that the current custodians of the economy can no longer be trusted to finish the job.

You think?

The fact that Brown and his cohort of economic nincompoops and ne’re-do-wells, whose now-legendary incompetence is only just about trumped by their compulsive mendacity, have managed to bankrupt the country in search of some sort of theoretical, artificially stimulated recovery that, as these figures show with devastating clarity, has utterly failed to materialise will not have gone unnoticed by the general public.

So, toenails, my old china, for “may conclude,” read “decided a long time ago,” and for “the current custodians of the economy,” read “the Brownite, Labourist liars and wreckers,” and for “can no longer be trusted to finish the job,” read “are going to be lucky to get away with not being hanged en masse from the nearest tree, never mind an election defeat, for the cataclysmic economic harm they’ve managed to do to Britain, not to mention the desperate harm they’ve managed to do throughout British society, during their overlong period in office.”

This is no time for understatement, you see!

But it is time for a Tory government. And if you read between Robinson’s BBC-approved lines, even he knows that most sane people have known that for quite some time.

Read Full Post »

Seems that Obama’s speech on banking regulation has finally put paid to any remaining pretence that Brown was in any way ‘leading the world’ in this area. It has, perhaps predictably, sent the government into a tailspin, with no co-ordinated response to the plans and, it seems, very little idea of what to do with the new information. According to Iain Martin:

So, since Obama spoke British ministers have been in quite a spin. The Chancellor’s office said Britain would not be following the U.S. but Number 10 said, rather nervously, that it is studying the plans.
“I think what the president is doing is very much in accordance with the direction we’ve been taking,” said a Number 10 spokesman. But that’s simply not true. Obama’s plans are not in accordance with the direction the British have been taking. A plan to break up the megabanks and inhibit proprietary trading is not at all what the Treasury wants. It wants the UK’s megabanks – RBS, and the Lloyds-HBOS monster it created mid-crisis – to trade their way out of their poor position and into safety so that taxpayer money can be recovered.
The Number 10 spokesman mused some more: “Obviously one of the issues in the banking world is that you have different circumstances in different countries.” Sorry, I thought a co-ordinated global response was supposed to be the priority?To further cloud the issue up popped Lord Myners of the Treasury. He said there is no way Britain will follow the Obama lead on this. But… “I think the important thing is that there is a globally co-ordinated response taking place here.”
Again, no, there isn’t a globally co-ordinated response. I repeat: Obama acted unilaterally on Thursday in making his biggest post-crisis reform proposal.
What there is here is a mess created by a serious breakdown in global policy-making. In a panic after his party’s Senate defeat in Massachusetts this week, Obama has decided he needs to be much tougher than he has been.
And it creates a serious difficulty for the current British government, which wants to appear in line with a president who popular on this side of the Atlantic and is taking on finance. But he is proposing to do what the Treasury and Number 10 do not want to do: he wants to break up the big banks
For the Tories this is a gift. They have advocated G20-wide policies similar to those now promoted by Obama – so they get to be on his side (a boon in Europe) and lined up against big banks the government here won’t break up. No wonder George Osborne sounds delighted this weekend.

While I very much doubt that Obama was thinking too much about Gordon Brown’s political credibility when he decided to get tough with the megabanks (for better or for worse – probably worse since he’s got just about everything else wrong since he took over), there can be no doubt whatsoever that Iain Martin is right and this is a disaster for a prime minister who, in his own fevered imagination, believes he – and only he – has the credentials to ‘save the world’.

And Martin is right to say it’s a gift for the Tories. It is, and for Britain too. Anything that helps to prick the Brown ego bubble and correct his (and Labour’s) utterly dishonest narrative on his role in the economic crisis (for which he himself as Chancellor was largely to blame) can only be a good thing. Why? Because it hastens the useless old fraud to the political grave he so richly deserves and to which his passage is now long overdue. Two cheers for Obama, then.

Read Full Post »

I thought the Daily Mash’s reporting of Billy Bragg’s principled hypocritical tax protest and celebtivist posturing was rather bloody funny.



CHANCELLOR Alistair Darling has been forced to scrap his deficit reduction plan, admitting it was based entirely on sales of Billy Bragg’s Between the Wars EP.


Bragg says some RBS executives can now afford to buy a house as big as his

Britain’s 14th biggest pop-folk shouter is withholding his income tax in protest at Royal Bank of Scotland’s continued insistence on being a bank.

Bragg said: “The RBS bonuses echo the kind of backstage rider demands I never get to make at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival. I just hope I can make a difference before the Murdoch press hires someone to assassinate me.”

But the Treasury warned it will be forced to make even deeper cuts in public services, including those council-sponsored equality and diversity festivals where Bragg turns up and makes BMW-owning management consultants feel like students again for 20 minutes.

Tom Logan, chief economist at Madeley-Finnegan, said: “This is potentially very serious. Five year gilts are currently being sold on the basis of guaranteed revenue streams from William Bloke and the ones he did with Wilco.

“We don’t want to have to use up the tax revenues from the Kirsty MacColl version of New England. We need that in case we go to war with China.”

Other left-wing musicians have supported Bragg’s stance, with Paul Weller only declaring income from his last three solo albums and all that Style Council rubbish.

Weller added: “But not Stanley Road or All Mod Cons. I’m not some fucking mug.”

A spokesman for the Inland Revenue said: “I’ve actually got a copy ofTalking With the Taxman About Poetry. Maybe he should do a new album called Talking With the Taxman About Spending 18 Months in Jail for Being a Marxist Twat.”

Meanwhile Bragg demanded that all banks should be run like the Co-operative with its green investment policy, fair trade mortgage refusals and the ethical way it charges you thirty quid whenever you go 1p over your limit.

You can read Billy Bragg’s pile of disingenuous horse manure here, if you really want to. Some of the comments underneath it might make it worthwhile, I suppose. Like this one from ‘unionjackjackson’:
I similarly am withholding my tax from HRMC until we have a tory government and my money will be spent wisely.
unlike these labour tossers pissing it away.

Or this excellent one from the multi-posting Lefty-basher ‘stevehill’:

I’ll visit you in prison Billy. Maybe.

Starving schools, hospitals, pensioners, benefit claimants etc of funds to make a protest is a particularly infantile form of toy throwing.Most bank staff are on or below the national average wage, their bonuses will be in the order of £1,000 or so, and they depend on this to pay their bills. The bank’s assets – which you and I own – are essentially its people. They walk out of the door every night. You seem to accept that you can’t veto HSBC or Barclays or Goldman Sachs bonuses. So how do you plan to stop the best people at RBS joining their rivals, causing the bankruptcy of RBS, the loss of 141,000 jobs, and a total write-off of the taxpayers’ investment?

No, you’re not an anarchist. But you’re not being very smart.

Perhaps there is hope for Britain after all – so long as we all club together now to ensure that Bragg and his ilk never have any influence on the running and the future of our country again!

Then we can deal with the bankers properly. They’ll keep.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »