Dave and truth
Raised eyebrows in Camp Cameron this morning at the way his views on parents and faith schools were presented this morning by the Times. They assure me he does not condone parents who lied about their faith to get their children into religious schools. The key line is "I don't blame anyone who tries to get their children into a good school," but presumably he would blame those who can be shown to have exaggerated their religious enthusiasm.
Will a downturn help or hinder Brown?
Although they look at it from different angles, I think that James Forsyth and Daniel Finkelstein have both identified one of the most interesting political questions of 2008 – will an economic downturn boost or deflate support for Brown’s Government? Contrary to James, Finkelstein claims in an article today that the gathering economic storm-clouds will be good news for the Prime Minister:
ID Cards are to be delayed: Ten reasons to scrap them.
Apparently a document has been leaked to the Conservative Party which suggests that plans to issue ID Cards to UK citizens have been put back to 2012. Some suggest that this could be leading to the scrapping of the stupid scheme. Here are ten reasons why I think the scheme should be scrapped:
The recession of 2008 and the return of economic intervention
Governments should not intervene in market economies. For over two decades now, even to challenge that proposition has been enough to mark you out as at best an unreconstructed Keynesian pinko and very probably an outright goddam red. The smelly little orthodoxy moved on from being the exclusive preserve of mildly eccentric laissez faire think tank nerds in half-moon spectacles to become the received wisdom of the parties of the mainstream right, ultimately spreading to international social democracy. That girl TINA has surely been putting it about.
Yesterday's decree from the Secretary of State for Education unsettled me somewhat. On the face of it, teaching children the basics of how to cook is a laudable ambition. It does seem, on the face of it, that much of the current fatness epidemic is caused by poor eating habits. Children ape their parents so if they are fed a bad example there isn't much that is going to whip them into shape until they are mature enough to set their own direction.
BREAKING NEWS: LibDems want a referendum on the EU constitution!
Yes it's true! We have not broken any promises - we promised a referendum on the EU constitution. We still want a referendum on the full constitution of the EU as constituted from the various treaties since the Treaty of Rome - ie. an “in or out” referendum - which is a much, much wider matter for referendum than the very narrow amending treaty - the EU Reform treaty.
Ken Livingstone and Dispatches
I guess a lot of people watched the Dispatches program on Monday night - Martin Bright's the Court of Ken! I watched it myself at about midnight on Monday. Hadn't realised when they interviewed me (for an hour) that I would have such a starring role! Usually when you do these things (or my experience anyway) is that you end up on the cutting room floor.
This Not-So-Charming Man
A couple of weeks back, the right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn made a vile attack on Gordon Brown in which he made reference to his "kiddie fiddler smile." That estimable blogger Paul Burgin was one of those who were suitably outraged, expressing the view that Littlejohn should not be allowed to get away with such a "joke."
Is the “Gordon’s a weirdo” tag a deliberate strategy?
Could such an approach backfire on Cameron? Yesterday’s characterisation by David Cameron of the Prime Minster as being “that strange man in Downing Street” has prompted a number of Labour-leaning bloggers, including Paul Linford, to suggest that this is part of a Tory plan.
Fanatics, bores and sceptic tanks
Sorry to return to possibly the most boring issue(s) on the agenda these days - Europe, the Lisbon treaty and the campaign for a referendum. It seems that 80% of the British public want a referendum, but the same public is evenly divided as to whether the treaty should be approved or not. And when it comes to whether the EU is really an important issue at all, opinion polls suggest that most of us don’t think so.
Let me say something nice about Mr Darling
Over the last decade the UK has been marooned with a high standard rate of capital gains tax, whilst many other countries have decided to be friendlier to savers and entrepreneurs by slashing CGT rates.
Tony Blair regarded ID cards as an election winner. He pledged that legislation to make them compulsory would form a "major plank" of Labour's next election manifesto. Under Gordon Brown it now looks clear that will be no such pledge. Any decision on compulsory ID cards could be delayed until after 2020 even if ministers stay committed to the scheme and there is no change in government and technological problems, concerns about cost and shifting public attitudes don't cause yet more delays.
A climate for eurosceptics
President Barroso sees the European Union’s plans to deal with climate change as a route to popularity. He told the European Parliament that it was a great argument for the European Union and shows that the world needs a strong EU. I am not sure he won over quite everyone in the chamber.