Have the Tories got their policy and tone right in their response to the nationalisation of Northern Rock? The jury is out. For understandable reasons, based on their desire for voters to see this as a cataclysmic event, they have turned up the rhetoric against Darling and Brown to quite abusive levels. However, there is a creeping sense that it is not working. Voters are entitled to ask: what on earth would the Tories do differently at this point? Cue Conservative mumbling about the Bank of England, not starting from here and private sector solutions.
From a rock to a hard place
At last, after four months of dithering, the UK government has finally decided to nationalize the failed bank, Northern Rock. To their credit, and as if to show how far they have grown from their Old Labour roots, they declare that this nationalization will be "temporary". But as the economist Milton Friedman once noted, "Nothing is more permanent than a temporary government programme".
Darling/Osborne Fiscal Policy Meets The Smurfs
Yesterday, the TPA's Corin Taylor picked him up on one point he made, which was that cutting spending growth below Labour's planned 2.1% pa would be to "head off onto the margins of the political debate," chasing a target that "would be lower than anything Margaret Thatcher achieved during the economic turbulence she faced in her first parliament". Corin sets out the history of real public spending growth for the last 35 years so we can see the whole picture. He argues that although spending did indeed grow by more than 2.1% pa during Thatcher's first parliament (2.3% pa to be precise), it was an extraordinarily turbulent time. Over her whole period in office she got spending growth down to 1.5% pa, even taking account of the higher growth in the early years.
Northern Rock: History Will Vindicate Darling
So says Hopi Sen here. LOL agree 100% with all three predictions.
1. Northern Rock will be a money spinner;
2. Natasha will have time limited effect on Five;
3. Gordon will edge PMQs tomorrow.
Five are going to be on an upward swing anyway because of factors other than the lovely NK so it may be a little difficult to analyse the out turn.
Don't worry Darling
David Cameron is calling for his head, the City has lost confidence and the bookies are offering 5/2 that he will be gone from the Treasury by the end of the year. Yet, I suspect that Alistair Darling has more job security than most. Darling was a temporary appointment; no one believes that Brown will keep him in post after the next election which explains why some young Brownites were so keen on an early election. But to move Darling before polling day would be a huge risk. First of all, it would call into question Brown’s judgement in appointing him in the first place. Second, it would add considerably to the feeling that this is a government on its last legs. Finally, there is no guarantee that Darling would go quietly.
Cuba after Castro
Stay in one of the five star hotels, and Cuba is a fabulous place for a holiday. Sit down by that swimming pool and bask in the Caribbean sunshine, light up a cigar from beyond the wilder shores of Freudian symbolism and knock back cocktails blended from the finest rum on earth. And if it’s nightlife you want, there’s hot jazz and salsa clubs that stay open until four am. That’s on the weeknights. Convertible pesos only, of course.
Yes, it was dodgy
The long-awaited release of an early draft of the British government's Iraq dossier has produced a smoking gun
The selfishness of the Council Tax non payers
Let's get one thing straight immediately. I don't like the Council Tax and I want to see it replaced by a fairer system based on people's ability to pay. What else would you expect from a Liberal Democrat.But I do object strongly to people who deliberately refuse to pay their council tax in order to "make a point". I say this in relation to a gentleman in Norfolk who is now being sent to prison for 34 days because he has again refused to pay his council tax.
Ken Clarke rejects English Parliament
Former Chancellor Ken Clarke, Chairman of David Cameron's Democracy task force, gave evidence to the Commons' Justice Select Committee yesterday. The Committee is taking evidence on the impact of devolution. Within his evidence he said that...
Should we have more politics on TV?
Jon Bright (London, OK): Mark Bell of CentreForum has an interesting piece in CiF today asking the above question. I had a rather ingrained resistance to the idea, but he might have turned me round. The case against, which he deconstructs, runs as follows: Here in the UK, political parties are banned from advertising on television or radio - with the exception of occasional five-minute party political broadcasts. The logic is seemingly that political advertising encourages negative attacks, reduces politics to soundbites and superficiality, and increases the political influence of the corporations and vested interests whose money would be needed to fund such advertising.
Council Tax pensioner jailed
Meet Mr Richard Fitzmaurice, a 76-year-old pensioner who has devoted his life to his country, who served 22 years as a soldier in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and who yesterday was handcuffed and led away to prison for non-payment of his council tax. The humiliation of handcuffs was a bizarre decision for someone has never threatened anyone or exhibited any signs of resistance to his fate. He was there, he said, ‘on a matter of principle’, because ‘the way old age pensioners are being treated is shameful’.
Only three Daves from ICM in the Guardian
The poll that caught me by surprise. My apologies for not getting a thread up earlier but the latest Guardian ICM poll has taken me by surprise - I wasn’t expecting it until next Tuesday which would have followed the paper’s normal pattern. Also the fieldwork took place at the end of the half term week in many places when a lot of people are away. Pollsters tend to avoid such periods because they have thrown up odd results in the past. The shares are with changes on the last ICM poll CON 37% (nc): LAB 34% (+2): LD21% (nc). So good for Labour and the Lib Dems but disappointing for the Tories.
67% tell ICM that their taxes are too high
The Guardian suggests that voters prefer "continued spending at the next election over tax cuts" by 51% to 36%. We'll need to look at the exact question ICM asked but that seems a pretty useless finding if that was the question asked. What really would be interesting would be to identify voters' reactions to pledges of specific promises of, say, a reduction in council tax, paid for by slower growth in spending.
Tories 3 points ahead in latest ICM poll
ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 34%, LDEM 21%. The changes from the last ICM poll are Labour up 2, with the other two parties unchanged. The poll was conducted between the 15th and 17th of February. The poll continues the pattern we’ve seen since September last year of Labour doing comparatively better compared to the Conservatives in ICM polls done for the Guardian than in polls done for other clients. As I said when I first commented on this apparent pattern, I can find no obvious explanation for it, but as the months go past the patten seems to be consistent.