Archive for the ‘recession’ Category

I know Labour are broke and that they have a nasty habit of recycling old policies and passing them off as new ideas, but don’t you think they’ve gone a bit too far with this latest election broadcast. I mean, whatever next?

First, Ramsay McBrown addresses the nation about the grave economic crisis:

And on a more personal note:

(They couldn’t afford sound for that one. Charlie said no.)

Isn’t it funny how all Labour governments end in a total economic shambles? Funny as in strange, not amusing.

Oh, and I do hope Brown isn’t going get any odd ideas from this about trying to rig some sort of national government with him in charge (on the very slim chance that this election ends in deadlock).

There’d be fighting in the streets. And I’d bring the Molotovs.

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So this evening we learn that the penny has finally dropped with George Osborne and he’s announced that he’ll be immediately scrapping Labour’s crazy plan to hammer national insurance if they win a fourth term. Whatever the economic impact of this – and it will only be good in the sense that businesses will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and Joe Public will have a little bit more to spend next year, at a time when the standard of living is falling in real terms – Osborne’s promise has just won the Conservative Party another million votes-plus. Don’t believe me? Remember the ’92 Tories? It was the campaign against Labour’s tax bombshell that turned that election.

All Osborne has to do now is keep his promises on becoming Chancellor, unlike Norman Lamont, regardless of the economic situation. The only way government overspending can be brought under control is by cutting that spending, not by shafting middle (and low) earners and squeezing small businesses all in the name of propping up bloated, inefficient, poorly managed and often appallingly wasteful public services, which is all half Brown’s laughable pledges meant anyway.

Whichever way you look at it, this seems like a firm, confident change of direction for the Tories – a change in the right direction, therefore. It’s clear, blue water they’re putting between themselves and Labour, and it speaks directly to the electorate. It says that they value aspiration and enterprise over punitive taxation and out-of-control spending. It says productive jobs, not non-jobs. It also says to people “we want to win”, something I, at least had begun to wonder about. People back a team that wants the prize.

Many will think that all this has come if not in the nick of time, then not a moment too soon. To me, though, as they bring their policies further into focus, and as their message becomes clearer and voters’ attitudes crystalise as they gain more confidence in that message, the Tories will absolutely annihilate Brown in the general election. Yahoo!

So, bye bye gold-selling, fake-boom-and-giant-bust, giant dithering weirdo Brown. You’re going down, buster, and my God you damn well deserve all you get, and then some!

PS: Iain Dale’s latest 7 Days Show podcast covers some of this policy ground, among many other things. It’s well worth the listen (if you like that sort of thing). You can get to it via his blog here.

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Thanks to Iain Dale’s heads-up, I’ve just seen what I think should and could be a politically game changing post by John Redwood on his blog. I say that because it made me realise, to my shame, that I’ve been as taken in by the Labour revisionist narrative on the economics of the Thatcher years as virtually everyone else has (and I dare “everyone else” to say otherwise). It’s potentially game-changing because, for one, rather important thing, it’s all evidentially true.

One of the myths perpretrated by Labour and the BBC is that Margaret Thatcher came in and cut public spending. She did not – spending on the main services grew rapidly under her control. She did cut plans in 1981 to help the recovery, but the overall figures for total public spending including capital, current and debt interest were:

1978-9 (last Labour year) £71.2 billion
1980-81 (first full Cons year) £120.2 billion
1981-82 £130 billion
1983-4 £137.5 billion

(These are all cash figures taken from the Red Books of the day – they also represent rises in real terms, though on a much smaller scale than the cash increases)

She tackled the deficit and the need to fuel growth by asset sales in the middle and later years, and by better control providing better value for money. She also got the high rate of inflation down which she inherited, and put through crucial trade union and nationalised industry reforms.

Margaret Thatcher had no need to cut public spending by the £39 billion Labour now say they need to reduce it by,(or by the then equivalent) because she ran things more prudently and did not borrow so much.

I do wish the commentators and interviewers wouold look at the numbers and the published facts, instead of all this misleading spin. They could also point out that say a 10% per cent overall cut over 4 years is a very modest cut by private sector standards, and has been delivered by many private sector companies with no dimunution in quality of service.

There are several simple truths – it is possible to cut public spending by substantial amounts without sacking a single nurse, teacher, doctor, soldier. It is possible to cut some public spending and make things better by doing so. It is possible to greatly increase efficiency throughout the public sector, if only someone started to run it with the taxpayers interests at heart.

It is also an immutable law of public sector reform in the UK that Labour spin doctors and some BBC journalists will wish to keep alive the myth of the massive “cuts” of Margaret Thatcher, and the myth that all cuts are damaging if not politically impossible.

It’s so obviously time for a new Conservative government because it’s so obviously time to get on with reversing the dire consequences of the devastating new Labour decline. Watching that little weasel Liam Byrne on Question Time just now, the first part of whose incoherent outgas was to whine incongruously that it’s time “to front up” to the economic disaster confronting Britain (that his party designed, facilitated and delivered), simply reinforces the fact that, astonishing though it might seem, his own second point was entirely correct, though not quite in the way that he intended (surprise surprise): we are faced with a “clear choice” between Labour and the Conservative Party in the general election. That choice amounts either to more of the same under Brown, or an honest attack on Brown’s economic crisis under the Tories.

Not an especially tough choice, then, is it, actually?

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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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No matter what the increasingly irritating (is that possible?) Nick Robinson might think, quoting himself as usual – always a very bad sign – this was yet another trainwreck interview from Gordon “give me a chance to finish the job of destroying the country” Brown this morning. (Just remember, for instance, that when he growls that ridiculous phrase “continue the stimulus” he really means “continue adding to and Britain’s, titanic, horrifying debt mountain”.)

You cannot believe word one of a man who thinks that by saying he’s ‘cutting the deficit’, he’ll fool people into thinking he’s actually tackling the terrifying debt explosion that he, personally, created. They are not the same thing, and this appalling man, who caused the recession in Britain to be far worse thanks to years of hopeless economic mismanagement, is doing what he always has done: telling the country – and the world – a pack of absolute lies. If he does somehow hoodwink – or even bribe – the people of this country into letting him sneak back into power, the rest of the world will deliver its verdict in short order. The economic crisis that would follow would make Brown’s first, record-breaking recession look like the good old days.

But I’m pretty confident that, thankfully, the British electorate won’t be fooled again. Far from the twit-Robinson’s idea that this was somehow an ‘assured’ performance by a man pretending to be some kind of latter day Churchill, this is Brown’s political death rattle. It was the last, desperate diatribe of a very desperate man clinging on to office for dear political life. I’ll give him this, he doesn’t sell it cheaply. The unelected fraud, who, so it goes, ‘thrives’ in a crisis – and therefore causes one wherever he goes and with whatever he touches – will soon be gone, gone, gone, thank God.

Hard though it might be to take for some, it is time for the Tories to come back, once again to clear up a Labour government’s economic catastrophe. It’s time for the medicine.

And it’s way beyond the time for us to be able to say ‘good riddance’ to the remorselessly dishonest, politically and nationally corrosive influence that has been and will always be James Gordon Brown, the worst prime minister ever to have been inflicted upon this nation.

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The British electorate trusted Labour to inherit the most stable and competitive economy in Europe and to invest wisely for the future. Yet over 13 wasted years our public finances have been squandered and our economy is in a dire state. The damage they have done is so extensive it is hard to quantify.

So writes John Major in an excellent article in today’s Mail on Sunday. And who with half a brain could disagree with that? But, as he goes on, the gulf between reality and Gordon Brown’s increasingly desperate political narrative nevertheless just keeps on relentlessly widening.

The Prime Minister feeds the public with a diet of nonsense, telling us that tackling the deficit is his priority, while promising increased expenditure for popular services. The disconnect between the Prime Minister’s fantasy and the real world becomes ever wider.

And yet he continues to make claims that are easily contradicted by the evidence. How can trust possibly be maintained? And how have we come to this?

The former Prime Minister therefore raises three key points, which he does make some effort to answer in his piece, but not fully. First, he suggests that the vast damage caused to Britain in 13 years of this disastrous government will be very hard to quantify. Well, that could be the case – the damage is massive, in terms of our society, the law, education, productivity, the economy and so on and so on (ad infinitum – nearly) – but quantify that damage the Tories must, if there can be any hope of putting at least some of it right. The first thing they will have to do, once they have begun to bring Brown’s debt chaos under control, is embark upon a great national audit, just to establish how deep in Brown’s manure we have been left.

Second, he asks about trust. It’s a good point, that, but it should be remembered that there is nothing wrong with parliament – never has been. The system of expenses, for instance, relied upon the integrity of MPs to function correctly. No one could have expected that fully 80% of those MPs had no integrity to speak of. Finding replacements that do, and then simply having a blanket cap on what they can be paid beyong their salaries in these years of austerity will provide an effective solution. As for Labour, its endless lies, spin and arrogant, shameless abandonment of the principles of ministerial and collective responsibility must be ruthlessly reversed by the next Tory government. Moreover, because of the vast assault on accountability – and the subsequent democratic deficit – by Labour with their creation of an enormous, extraordinarily expensive quangocracy, the third job for a Cameron government, if it hopes to repair the damage done to parliamentary democracy in this country by Labour, is to make these organisations democratically accountable (at the very least) and seek to abolish a large proportion of them. The former (democratic accountability) could be achieved, short term, by taking the ‘N’ out of QUANGO. Bring them under direct ministerial control; make them directly accountable. The ‘quasi’ bit, then, which has become meaningless under Labour, would then regain some sort of a truth value. Abolition and/or merging of these things could then be achieved more efficiently, and with fewer job losses in the long run, which is desirable in a broad sense. Ultimately, the savings to the taxpayer will be truly vast. A quote from wiki, for instance, on the subject:

In 2005 Dan Lewis, author of The Essential Guide to Quangos, for example, claimed that the UK had 529 quangos, many of which were useless and duplicated the work of others. In August 2008 a report by the pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance, claimed that £15 billion was being wasted by the regional development agencies, quangos set up with the stated goal of encouraging economic development in their respective English regions.[7]

There’s clearly scope for the abolition of, say, half of these so-called – in government circles – “NDPBs” (non-departmental public bodies), which cost a staggering £100Billion+ in 2008 to run, according to the Times, most of which was poured down the drain. It’s not just about slashing budgets: there is a point of principle here, too, and it should be trumpeted by Tories from now on: not one pound of taxpayers’ money should be spent without democratic scrutiny ever again. Otherwise, we will simply have more of what we have now, vast amounts of our money funding unelected special interest groups. It’s not so much that we can’t go on like that, but that we just bloody well won’t.

And in all that, Labour’s abuse of parliament, Labour’s vast, as-yet unquantified, abuse of public money, the abuse of the expenses system (worse by Labour than the Tories), Labour’s abuse of the elecorate, and, most appallingly, two Labour Prime Ministers’, in their different ways, utter contempt for and abuse of their office – not to mention a whole string of ministers’ abuse of theirs: in all that lies the answer to John Major’s third question: “How have we come to this?”

The challenges for Cameron are staggering; the scale of the destruction wrought by a corrupt, corrupting Labour government almost unimaginable. And that’s all without even mentioning Europe, or the many dodgy wars. If Cameron has the stomach for the post-Labour reconstruction job, then he’s a far better man the me!

I think he does, though, – and should certainly be given the chance to prove it with a clear mandate, which I am certain he will win.

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