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Archive for the ‘Darling’ Category

I was surprised to learn from Sky News this morning that the latest general election economics debate, if I heard right, will be between George Osborne, Vince Cable and…er…Peter Mandelson.

Hang on a minute, do they mean Lord Peter “We’re all fighting to get re-elected” Mandelson, Business Secretary (among many other hats)? He’s not Chancellor of the Exchequer as well these days is he? That’s Alistair Darling, isn’t it?
Have I missed something? Has Darling come down with an inexplicable stomach complaint (soon after having tea and crumpets with the Evil One yesterday afternoon, no doubt)?
If I haven’t missed something, however, but there’s no highly suspicious sudden sickness involved (it’d have to be a pretty serious affliction to force you to miss your own debate seven days before the election, wouldn’t it?), then we are all entitled to ask a grave question about this very fishy affair: where the hell is Ali?
I think we should be told.
PS: If someone knows, by the way, why Darling has been elbowed, do let me know in the comments.
I wonder if George knows…
==Update==
Not entirely my fault because this wasn’t made clear on the news – or I was half asleep – but the three mentioned above are all giving speeches to the Institute of Directors today, not debating, according to Sky.com.
Even so, the question remains: where’s Darling!
Or, looking at it another way, why not send Clarke into bat against Mandelson instead of Osborne whose eyes, let’s face it, are probably still watering after being on the receiving end of a couple of severe spankings in the past administered with thinly disguised fetishistic relish by the Lord of the Lies.
Ken Clarke, in contrast, owns Mandy’s ass.
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If Osborne sticks to these home truths, and really nails Darling for his own, rather softer brand of mendacious tribalism, then he really could move the Tory argument and campaign forward tonight. Let’s hope he’s up to it. I think he is – but not everyone does. He’s still got a lot to prove to a lot of people, unfairly I feel, especially after his tour de force showing with his plans to scrap Labour’s economically suicidal tax-on-jobs NI hike.

Plenty of things to make it decent viewing, then.

Hat tip: the increasingly substantial, Guy News roving reporter and top blue blogger,Tory Bear – who delivered a pretty solid performance of his own on Sky a few moments ago 😉

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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.

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From what I’ve read so far, ‘trivial tinkering’ is about as generous a term I could think of to describe what is, beyond all question, the most inept and irresponsible response to Britain’s debt crisis that Labour could have managed, desperate as they are not to confront the consequences of Gordon Brown’s economic car crash before the general election. We got the usual cowardly hammering of harmless drinkers and smokers, the usual mindless fuel duty increases (staggered, as if that matters during a devaluation) and the usual (from Labour, especially under Brown, but now under Darling) stealth tax increases, which are being deciphered from the small print by various sifters and sleuth bloggers as we speak.

The giveaways were pathetic too. Raising the stamp duty threshold to encourage first time buyers will have no such effect. It is, when put into perspective, a tiny tax break. Not being able to get a mortgage on decent terms, or a mortgage that any first time buyer with half a brain will know would become an unaffordable millstone with the first interest rate hike are the real problems. So, no help there. As for the attempt to woo the grey vote once more, well, it’s nice for my folks to look forward to a winter fuel allowance again. But now that the worst of this winter is just about over, I can’t see them being overly impressed with this straightforward bribe. They’ll still have to stump up £2000+ a year for gas and electricity, a constant struggle for pensioners – who are hardly excessive users. See? Pathetic. And where were the cuts? Inadequate and slipped in under the radar.

In reality, therefore, this was a white noise budget with no clear purpose and no clear goal. I note with great pleasure that Cameron was especially thorough in his demolition of it, of Labour’s latest ruin of Britain and of the man responsible for it all, James Gordon Brown. Five more years of this? You need your head examined if you seriously want that.

But if you really are as determined as I am to see the end of Brown and his ultra-corrupt government, but can’t vote for Cameron for whatever petty reason, then just remember: If you do that then you will split the vote and you will get five more years of Brown. And you’ll only have yourself to blame. Putting prejudice before country is as sure a way of letting these useless wreckers back in by default as actually voting for them.

I would have thought this burnt-out budget of a burnt-out government would have provided reason enough to wake up, smell the coffee, vote Tory and finally get them out.

Then, fifty days after that happy day, we’ll have the real budget. You know, a Conservative budget that will begin the process of reversing the catastrophic damage long years of a Labour government has caused to the United Kingdom. Again.

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What a load of laughable lightweight rhetoric. “I believe that government can make a difference,” whimpers Darling. Yes, mate. But not this one. Not your bust government.

The whole tone of the thing makes me think that he’s decided to vote Tory himself, actually (on the sly), because then, in his confused mind, at least he could guarantee the “big changes” he thinks we so desperately need – without Gordon there to wreck them, that is. Well, at least that’s two things we can agree on then: the need for big changes and the necessity to vote Conservative to get them.

Peter Hoskin was a little less (a very little less) scathing about this pre-budget manure. He also thinks it’s a signal that Darling’s nicked another Tory policy and is going to cut business tax. I doubt it will be handled competently even if he does, however, given this nightmare government’s record when it comes to the private, productive heart of the British economy. What’s more, you can guarantee that it will be paid for not with vital cuts in government debt and overspending, but with tax hikes everywhere. Prepare to become a lot poorer after tomorrow, everyone.

Epic, unravelling fail, 24 hours before it’s even happened.

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If any further evidence of the pain being caused by the inexorable slide in the value of the pound, and the subsequent inflation an import-addicted economy is suffering, were needed, the latest reports about rocketing petrol prices provide it.

The Independent, for instance, tells us that pump prices have risen by well over a fifth in the past 12 months, although it omits to mention that they were pretty stable for most of that period. It’s been the last three months or so that have seen the bulk of the spike – so far. And there is far worse to come. If you drew a graph of petrol price rises over the past 12 months, the line would roughly trace a parabola. My own local Texaco has pushed its prices up five times in the last five weeks alone – to an eye-watering 117ppl, and perilously close to the record of 119ppl, which happened when oil prices had ballooned to $147/barrel, just before the crash.

Today, as of 5.38pm GMT, the NIMEX crude oil price stands at around $81 a barrel and falling (itself an inflated price caused by artificially created conditions of scarcity by OPEC output cuts) as bad consumer spending data in the US causes further jitters on their markets. That’s a full $66 a barrel less than the previous spike – or 44%. Even taking into account Darling’s many tax rises that have since boosted that price (by about 7ppl since 2009), your pound is worth at least 35% less than it was before the crash came. The economic damage this is causing is unknown as yet, but it will be serious. Indeed, the Chancellor’s plan to slap another inflation+1p hike on the price in the budget is, quite simply, economically suicidal.

The whole mess smacks of chaos, incompetence and desperation at the heart of a government hell-bent on pursuing a scorched earth economic policy, where they continue to mask the real horror of the current state of the British economy by creating yet more debt in an attempt to delay reality till after the election. But it’s a spiral, with increased debt leading to further currency devaluations, followed by higher inflation, higher prices, especially on imports (like oil) – all paid for by us out of salaries that remain stubbornly flat – and then all that’s followed by even higher (stealthy) taxes, and the cycle is complete.

I just hope people remember whose ineptitude is responsible for this renewed impoverishment (Brown et al) – and punish them accordingly, ie: severely. Otherwise, as I’ve said before, what comes next will make March 2010 seem like the good old days. At this rate, for instance, the two-pound litre will be with us just in time for the General Election and whoever wins will send a signal to the markets, who will then determine in which direction prices will move after that. If it’s Labour, then the only way is up – for the petrol price, of course, but also for debt, the acceleration of devaluation, inflation, tax and pain.

For Britain, the only way would be down. Down and out.

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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.

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