The competence of this government has been put into question once again over the ongoing capital gains tax fiasco. The latest concession in offering "entrepreneurs’ relief" is just another example of how out of touch the government with the business community. Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI employers' body, stated that the new relief would "do nothing to help the real business powerhouses of this country":
How damaging is Conway to Cameron?
Will there be few tears shed for David Davis’s rounder-upper? This lunchtime’s news that Tory MP Derek Conway faces a 10-day Commons suspension after the standards watchdog said he paid his son too much from parliamentary allowances. Freddie Conway, received a salary as a researcher while he was studying at Newcastle University. The only problem was, according to the report “.. no records appear to exist of either actual work that Freddie did for his father, or of the work he was required to undertake”.
Polly turns on Brown
Must-read of the day is Polly Toynbee's searing critique of Gordon Brown's week, which she believes could turn out to be the moment the next election was lost. There's lots to surprise students of the Toynbee oeuvre here, not least to find that she is still pro-police after that distasteful demonstration. She's spot on about Labour's "miserable tribalism" (arch: G Brown) which is behind so many disastrous decisions (avoiding Rock nationalisation, messing up CGT to name two). But her smack-in-the-Brown-solar-plexus conclusion is this:
London Key To Vote In '08?
The Mayor of London is in a jolly mood. Latest polling suggests that his ratings have actually gone up since last week's Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which he considers to have been "a hatchet job". Indeed if Livingstone can win in May for the third time, some senior Labour strategists are now arguing that Gordon Brown should call a General Election in June.
YouGov - Livingstone apparently undamaged by Dispatches
A new YouGov poll for ITV London has topline voting intentions for the London mayoral election of Livingstone 44%(-1), Johnson 40%(-4), Paddick 8%(+1). I can’t find the exact dates of the poll yet, but press reports suggest it was conducted after the Channel 4 Dispatches programme criticising Ken Livingstone, and the preceeding couple of weeks of agressive attacks on Livingstone by the Evening Standard.
Boost for Ken in new YouGov poll
YouGov puts him 4% ahead. After one of his most controversial weeks since becoming Mayor in 2000 there’s a boost tonight for Ken Livingstone in his bid to secure a third term in the most powerful directly elected office in the UK. A Yougov survey for ITV London found - with changes on its last poll a month ago - Ken 44% (-1): Boris 40% (-4): Paddick LD 8% (nc)
Clegg and spending
I like Clegg’s language, his correctly choosing 2000 as the starting point to an “explosion”. The days of Kennedy’s “penny on the pound of income tax to pay for education” is gone. I’d like to think the premise of Kennedy’s proposal – that more money would get extra results – has been tested to destruction so future governments know not to make the same mistake. Standards have staggeringly declined in British schools between 2000 and 2006. The tragedy is that so many millions of pupils suffered to prove this point to the world.#
Andrew Lilico: Politics, the inflation target, and what Conservatives should say
In this article I shall argue that there has been a significant failure of political leadership, from Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, regarding the UK’s inflation target. The significance of this failure is becoming magnified in the difficult policy situation we face in 2008, has already undermined, and threatens to undermine further, the hard-won credibility of UK monetary policy.
Looking on the bright side
But for Conservative Home, we would have missed it completely (they nearly did) – but yesterday there was an ICM poll published in The Guardian which explored the electorate's views on the European Union. The strap gives you a taste of the findings, it declaring: "Poll finds support rising for EU membership." And, by the way, it also reports Labour polling up a point to 35 percent, with the Tories down two to 37 percent, giving Cameron a minuscule two percent lead – albeit in a poll that tends to favour Labour.
"Reform" is one of the most devalued words in politics. It should go into lexographical dustbin along with "radical" and "change". Consider the issue of welfare "reform". Alarmed by the Tories unveiling of "radical" welfare "reforms", Gordon Brown is today highlighting his own "radical reforms". He and his new welfare secretary, James Purnell, will pledge to introduce proposals recommended by the ex City banker David Freud. This is just, you may recall, what the Tories did a few weeks ago.
Davos and Soros are too gloomy- but Davos usually gets it wrong
A year ago the luminaries, power brokers and business leaders at Davos were very optimistic. The discussion in private sessions ranged widely over ever larger bids based on heavy borrowings. We were at the peak of the rule of King leverage. The attendees foresaw a continuation of the securitisation bubble and thought it represented the new economic stability. In other words, last year Davos did not predict Credit Crunch, securitisation meltdown or the coming slowdown. The world’s most powerful and best informed got it hopelessly wrong.
Why we need to reform the Electoral Commission and the Register of Member's Interests
Over the last few months we have seen a massive increase in the number of politicians who have not registered donations or other items with either the Electoral Commission or the Register of Member's Interests. I may be being generous but I don't believe all of those concerned are corrupt or deliberately not declaring things properly, so perhaps we need to reform the Electoral Commission and the Register of Member's Interests.
Is there a point at which Liberal Democrats should want to leave the European Union?
I used to take it more or less as an article of faith that the EU is good for us. Somehow. And that the Liberal Democrat position of being avowedly critical of some of the ways it operates was a good one - we were the first, I believe, in calling for CAP reform way back just after we joined, for example.
Alan Johnson donation - yes, it is a damp squib!
Tinkering around at midnight last night, I thought I was going out on a bit of a limb by describing the media story about the Alan Johnson donation as a "damp squib". I am delighted beyond measure to see my early doors judgment supported by the vociferous Mr Whenman and Liberal Action.
Too many soundbites from Cameron - Says Ken Clarke
Ken Clarke is right to highlight Cameron's obsession with the fluff of sound bites. Every time he speaks it is as if he had five of them to say and he shoe horns them in in an almost corny way. His sad attempt to emulate Vince Cable's Mr Bean line about Gordon Brown by referring to Gordon Brown "turning from Prudence to Del Boy without touching the ground" was enough to make you groan it was so lame.
Are the good times returning for Gordon?
Will today’s polls bring a smile back to his face? Following the good news for Labour in last night’s YouGov poll on the London mayoralty there’s a further boost for the party in new national voting intention surveys from YouGov and ICM this morning. And one of them has Labour’s deficit down to just two per cent. The latter finding is in the monthly ICM survey for the Guardian which has, with comparisons on the last poll from the firm a fortnight ago the following splits: CON 37% (-3): LAB 35% (+2): LD 20% (+2)