Darling getting it wrong again
Under Blair, Labour was never so foolish as to come into direct conflict with the City. The government tiptoed around it in an effort to nurture the powerhouse of the British economy. But led by Brown, with Darling as Chancellor, they are now clumsily treading on the collective toes of many in the business community.
Time to go on the offensive on Europe?
It’s pretty much a given in the Liberal Democrats that the party doesn’t talk about Europe in its leaflets. It’s with good cause too. Firstly, it isn’t actually one of the top concerns of voters when they are asked in opinion polls what their biggest issues are. Just like electoral reform, it comes well down the list after all the big ones like health, education, crime, transport and so on. But also, there is an understandable reluctance for Lib Dems to talk about an issue on which it is perceived that the party is out of touch with the voters.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband today makes the argument for military intervention to 'spread democracy'. So, according to The Guardian (although it is less than clear in the text) Britain and its partners have a 'moral imperitive' to use force to 'spread democracy'. Gone is the requirement for some sort of facade, no more humanitarian intervention to defeat tyrants terrorising their own people, not even a 'sexed-up' excuse to wipe out fantasy weapons of mass destruction... no, the moral argument for spreading democracy will be sufficient for us to send our forces off to die, and to kill.
They really don't want you to have a referendum
Labour is clearly rattled by the row over it reneging on its promise of a referendum on the EU Constitution. Not content with threatening to withdraw the whip from Labour MPs who support honouring this manifesto commitment, Labour is engaged in a desperate attempt to discredit the cross-party ‘I want a referendum campaign’.
Should we subsidise the arts?
Should there really be tax breaks for donations to the arts, as Paul Myners and Nicholas Serota demand here? The Pigovian case for such tax breaks is well-known; without them, there’d be an under-supply of such public goods. However, the egalitarian case for such breaks is very shaky, as this recent paper discusses. It argues that donations to the arts can actually increase inequalities of well-being in two ways - even leaving aside the possibility that such donations are really intended to boost the ego of the donor.
Frank Field: Right theory, Wrong practice
Labour MP Frank Field has had to put up with a lot over the years - not least being ousted from Blair's first government for being too radical and since then being treated by his own side as if he's about to defect to the Conservatives. Well, today Frank launched rather interested reform plans that would charge people who earn over £150,000 a year an extra 10% tax which could be offset totally through donations to charity. You can read the BBC report here.
Foul emission in London
Up in London the Livingstone beast is at it again. He is going to charge the owners of Chelsea Tractors £25 a day for taking their gas guzzlers into “town”. It will not affect me. I have only driven in London twice in the last six months and the Crippen Toyota Previa (four children, Ken, what else can we do?) has relatively modest emissions. As Iain Dale vehemently points out, the charge will not apply in some of the most congested parts of London, such as Crouch End and Willesdon. The people most affected will be voting for Boris anyway.
Prime Minister Balls?
In a fascinating post, Robert shows how the Tories are doing Alistair Darling harm by sympathising with him. The Chancellor may be replaced by Ed Balls so they present Darling as a decent man treated awfully by bossy Brown. They want to spread discord and paranoia because it suits their own ends. But at the root of the Balls for Chancellor movement, is a prospect even more worrying for the nation: it is that Ed Balls appears convinced he is the natural next Labour leader. Can I be alone in finding this idea preposterous?
Voodoo polling corner
A sudden outbreak of voodoo polling this morning, or more to the point a sudden outbreak of serious newspapers reporting a voodoo poll as being meaningful. What’s a voodoo poll? It’s what Bob Worcester calls the little “press the red button to vote” polls on Sky News, or the little readers’ votes things on the BBC website. They are entertaining enough, but they mean nothing whatsoever, they don’t measure the opinion of a representative group of people, they only measure the opinions of people who wander past that particular website (or are directed to said website by people trying to influence the poll) and care enough about the issue to vote…often several times if they know how to delete cookies from their computer.