Pre-Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review
"Badger" Darling was doing his masters bidding today in presenting to Parliament this report. A pre-election fest for us all, with no election. Quite scary when you look at the giveaways, practically nothing. The cupboard is very bare now and there are no more baubles left for us; In the bleak midwinter... So my 2 cents:
The City Unslicker
Abolition of taper relief - a stealth tax on small businesses?
Just listening to Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report. He has announced, with effect from April next year, the abolition of taper relief. Click here for the press notices (pdf). The way taper relief works is that it reduces the chargeable gain when a capital asset is sold. This relief is available to everybody who sells, or otherwise disposes of, a chargeable asset. It is not a special relief claimed only by private equity barons.
Bel is Thinking
Time to start listening to the officials again
The headlines tomorrow will be dire. Expect references to Tony Blair's moment against John Major, when he caught the tipping point by declaring "I lead my party, he follows his". The reaction is partly mystification: no one can recall such a spectacular turnaround in political fortunes. Labour MPs looked pained and - worryingly for Mr Brown - did little to provide covering fire. In interviews afterwards they struggled to say anything positive. Face it, it was the kind of dire performance that might have shamed Iain Duncan Smith. Alan Johnson has this evening suggested Mr Brown didn't think through the consequences of delaying his election decision.
Who are you?
Cassilis makes a good point about the relatively anonymous nature of Gordon Brown's Cabinet. However, I suspect Brown perceives this as a strength. The politicians that Cassilis describes as having 'intellectual weight', Clarke, Blunkett, Reid, etc may have been recognisable to the man and woman on the street... but they were recognisable as 'yesterday's men'... in other words (whisper his name) Blair's people. This, of course, is the charge about Gordon Brown that he so much wants to avoid himself.
After You! No After You, Please!
Much hilarity, gossip and swapping of anecdotes in the Sky News Westminster office about the edict from the Sergeant at Arms, Major General Grant Peterkin, ordering we mere mortals to stand aside for MPs when we're queuing for our fish and chips in the Stranger's Cafeteria.
Boulton & Co.
A lack of ideas
When Tony Blair was Prime Minister and Gordon Brown was Chancellor, the budget and the pre budget report seemed like a big deal. To most people they may have been of passing interest (but they were of intense interest to politicos across the land). However, when Alistair Darling stood up to speak yesterday in the House of Commons, I cannot quite remember when fellow MPs showed less disrespect. This was not a commanding performance. In fact, it was a dismal performance.
The Bristow Blog
Get ready for a row over Europe
After being pummelled at PMQs today, the last thing Gordon Brown wants is an escalation of the row over the so-called EU Reform Treaty, what used to be called the constitution, and Labour’s broken promise to hold a referendum on it.
Standard of Reporting Goes South
It's a badly kept secret that most of the right of centre press in this country would like to see a Conservative Government. You get the feeling that the only reason the Murdoch press has backed New Labour for 10 years in because the Tories were so unbackable in the shape they were in. But let's look at a couple of the tabloid stories today in The Sun. Firstly we have a piece entitled: "Is Cabinet biased to the North?".
Whither Zac Goldsmith?
One of the most remarkable turn-arounds in the last year has been the dramatic dropping of the green agenda by David Cameron. Hot coals don't come into it.
What now for Ming?
Okay, so I never thought he should have become leader in the first place, but I find myself feeling increasingly sorry for Ming Campbell. His conference speech in Brighton was easily the best of the season, and even contained the best joke - the line about Dave wanting to be Tony but not Maggie, and Gordon wanting to be Maggie but not Tony, and Ming not wanting to be any of them.
But nothing has gone right for Ming since, and the media focus on a potential presidential contest between Gordon and Dave has left him and his party completely marginalised.