Thursday, 30 September 2010

Nick Boles on immigration

Have you noticed how John Redwood always seems to post his blog hours before any reasonable person gets out of bed? Well this mornings post (6.52am since you ask) makes interesting reading.

It reviews 'Which way up' by Nick Boles producing some interesting proposals on the limits of social policy towards immigrants, including

  1. A cap on non-EU immigrants of between 20,000 & 50,000 per year.
  2. A surety deposit from all non-EU immigrants repaid once taxes have been paid for a number of years or forfeited for any legal offences or if no taxes have been paid.
  3. For EU migrants the UK should enforce the Directive which only requires a member state to allow free movement for the purpose of residence supported by work income or independent means. "Whenever a migrant from within the EU applies to a central or local government authority for benefits or housing or part of the NHS for non-emergency healthcare, that authority should be required to check whether the individual in question has a job or sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK. If they don't, they should be told to leave the country..."
  4. No-one should be eligible for social housing until they have lived here for five years.
Interesting stuff - especially after this weeks speech from Ed Miliband on how Labour got immigration so wrong.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The indulgence of David Miliband

With the massed ranks of the British media completely taken in, David Miliband quits the Labour front bench to give his brother a 'clean field' for the future. The truth is that you will never again see a more egotistical, self-centred 72 hours in British politics.

Having lost a democratic ballot for leader of the party on Saturday, David Miliband totally overshadow's his brothers inauguration and first speech to the party with his apparent indecision over whether to stand for Labour's shadow cabinet.

He then claims that this decision is putting his party first. It is quite unbelievable that experienced hacks like Nick Robinson and Adam Boulton are taken in by this blatant self-indulgence.

Friday, 24 September 2010

The wisdom of crowds

Three comments picked from Peter Oborne's piece 'Behind the Coalition's agreeable chatter, the real battle is beginning':

  1. Balls' economic 'ability' is being hyped in precisely the same way Brown's was; he may well have a degree of erudition, but he is wrong about the road to recovery. He was entirely wrong about education and the Secret Family Courts, and was a negligent washout as Children's Minister. And he is almost universally loathed within the Labour ranks. (Hence the likelihood that he will come last in the leadership contest). John Ward.
  2. "Balls insists that the Coalition has got the timing and nature of its cuts hopelessly wrong. He supports this thesis with an impressive array of economic reasoning and historical examples" says Peter Oborne.

    Nonsense. Balls's "historical examples" (1981 and 1931) show either a deep ignorance of economic history or a willful attempt to mislead. The statements he makes about both of these eras are factually untrue (for example, he claims that the Tories raised interest rates in 1981 and caused a recession - in fact, they cut interest rates and the economy grew from mid-1981). Balls's reasoning is only impressive if you forget to check out his 'facts'. HJ777
  3. Labour are desperate for a voice and your plan (Mr Oborne) is spot on. Get Ed Balls on the front bench attacking Cameron and Osbourne knowing full well he is up to his neck in s*** with the last lot. Perfect ammunition for Cameron. Nothing he says will have any credibility. This will be funny to watch. Panlid

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Peter Oborne on coalition

Excellent piece from Peter Oborne in tomorrows Telegraph including the thoughts:

  • ...the Coalition has pulled off a remarkable feat. It is simultaneously playing the role of Government and Opposition.
  • ...the only thing that matters is the economic contest between Ed Balls and George Osborne. Only one of them can be proved right – and it will be winner take all.
Well worth a read.

Comrade Cable

So much adverse press for Vince Cable this morning its difficult to know where to start. Take your pick from Allister Heath, Steve Richards, or Fraser Nelson. All contemptuous of a few pointed words. Yes Mr Cable was playing to his Liberal Democrat conference audience. No the coalition is not about to become a class-based Marxist regime like Chavez's Venezuela.

Just calm down you commentators. I may not agree with Vince Cable over a Graduate tax or a Mansion tax or a latter-day Glass-Steagall Act. Indeed there may not be too much else to agree with. But he's absolutely right when he says the banks caused - and continue to cause through their lending policies - untold misery to our economy.

Thank you Mr Cable for much needed honesty amongst the braying of bankers - or at least their apologists - who are in denial of the consequences of the bankers incompetence.

Two years after the disaster became apparent, British banks continue to be supported both directly and indirectly by taxpayers money whilst they continue to pay obscene bonuses to themselves. Why? because they are reaping vast profits from lending out money at high interest rates that has been borrowed at near-zero interest rates from the British taxpayer via the money markets. You don't really need a Cambridge Mathematics Tripos to work that one out.

Did I hear Mr Cable use the word 'spiv'? Did he mean a slickly-dressed petty-criminal, dealing in black market goods of questionable authenticity? I don't think we need to sink to the level of rhyming slang for bankers here - the term 'spiv' seems pretty appropriate to me.

Meanwhile, the political class decide which welfare payments are to be cut, which school re-building project is to be scrapped and a whole host of other public spending decisions to pay for the privilege of bailing out the banking sector.

Mr Cable hasn't quite got there yet. Mervyn King is still the closest that I have seen to suggesting that banks need to actually take responsibility for their mistakes. Step one is to announce that from here out any UK bank which fails will be put into
receivership by the Bank of England. Yes that does mean that shareholders & bondholders will be wiped out - after all, they understood the risk that any investor takes. But it does NOT mean depositors like you and me - or businesses holding money on deposit - will be wiped out.

The assets of the bank - the depositors, branches, staff & customers - need to be re-bundled into a new bank, wholly owned by the taxpayer, with a clean balance sheet ready for business. Now that would really ensure competitive new lending - a new 'clean' bank with no losses, a nationwide presence on every high street and hungry for new business.

And all it took was a little imagination. They don't teach that at Oxford.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Brown Years

Just been listening to Steve Richards new book 'The Brown Years' being serialised on Radio 4. The first of three episodes tells the story of those first few months in 2007 when Brown took over as Prime Minister - the brief honeymoon through the summer and the catastrophic decision to pull out of an election he had himself hyped up simply to 'wind up' the tories.

The first thing that hits you is Ed Balls' role. This man was right at the heart of the Brownian cabal, describing not just events as they unfolded, but detailed emotions and thinking that characterised his bosses every move.

The Education secretary was not only there at Brown's side, he was tying the blindfold, tightening the noose and pulling the lever. Both Douglas Alexander and Ed Miliband were blamed for 'the election that never was' in September 2007. Both were briefed against to Adam Boulton by number 10. Both by Damian MacBride. Both on the instruction of Ed Balls. Both of which were denied on the program, but in just too general terms, 'I have never in my career...' by Ed Balls.

Did Gordon Brown know this was going on? asks Steve Richards. No answer. But an interesting consequence was that the famously-close Brown treasury team which had moved across to number 10, was now fatally fractured and would never again provide the same coverage.

The 'election that never was' left Brown in limbo - a non-elected Prime Minister, unpopular with a savvy electorate. As Peter Hain put it, the Brown premiership 'never recovered'.

Thereafter, Brown was wickedly mocked at PMQ's, his integrity lost with another enquiry into party funding, whilst the loss of Inland Revenue data disks screemed of incompetence. The seminal accusation of dithering was later reinforced by the ill-judged private signing of the Lisbon Treaty - as if the occasion were something to be ashamed of.

Disaster piled on disaster as events quite beyond Gordon's control blew up. But the media had already shifted. The narrative which Gordon Brow had so singularly failed to tell of what his ambitions for the premiership were had already turned from triumph to disaster.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Liberal Democracy

I still find it incredibly difficult to see how the LibDem's can achieve anything approaching their 23% general election poll ratings anytime soon. But if a third of that total were disaffected Labour voters now returning to the fold, good riddance - 'shifting sands' they may be, but the LibDem's hold no debts.

Mary Ann Sieghart, writing in today's Independent, suggests that everything necessary is already in place and that time - as with broken bones - will heal everything.

It may need some help. Beyond doubt now is Nick Clegg's feeling that being a short-term protest party for the left is no longer viable. If you didn't like the Iraq war or ID cards or 42-day detention without trial, or the loss of civil liberties or too many other top-down authoritarian bullying initiatives to mention here, then why did you vote Labour?

Certainly, the tone from the left has begun to change. Both Polly Toynbee and Jackie Ashley, after months of ill thought out visceral hatred towards the 'traitorous' LibDems (following years of cosying up we note), have begun to recognise that coalition government means compromise and co-operation, not ideologically-driven utopianism. That way only hatred lies - and we've had thirteen years of that.

Perhaps we'll start to hear the backstory - the principles behind the 'orange book' or the surging tide of bottom-up localism espoused throughout this party. The deeply held priciples of personal liberty, international co-operation and 'fairness' that pervades all Liberal Democrat policies in the public sector.

The left of course, would have us believe that before the 1997 ascendancy of New Labour, there were no schools, hospitals or welfare. Just broken people floating around in dirt, poverty and injustice. All provided by Margaret Thatcher and the wicked Tories.

Funny how they won four elections in a row and 18 years in government then...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Quote of the day

Great quote from Nick Clegg at the LibDem conference today: 'You cannot build social justice on the sands of debt'.

The conscience of Lord Ashcroft

Lord Ashcroft pontificates on why the Conservatives did not quite conquer the mountain of our electoral system at the last attempt.

Has he considered that the discovery of Ashcroft's non dom status before the election - and the constant references at PMQ's and other parliamentary business in the few short weeks that followed - might have impacted on the result?

Stand up IDS, your time has come.

Danny Alexander announces at the LibDem conference the spending of £900m by the treasury to introduce new moves to stop tax avoidance. He says the measures will raise £7bn in additional revenue over the lifetime of this parliament. Good news.

And as precedents go, havn't we heard somewhere else about arguments between the Treasury and spending departments looking to spend additional amounts up front in order to achieve greater savings further down the line?

Stand up IDS. Your time has come.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The words political honesty and Polly Toynbee have not been seen together for a long time. Today they made a brief appearance:

(the Liberal Democrats) can't forgive Iraq, or the 42-day jail without trial row, ID cards or what they see as crimes against liberty. They detest Labour's authoritarianism, its baronial fixers sliding favourite sons into warm seats, a thuggishness, a bossiness, the whipped-in policy uniformity. Just look at all the Labour awfulness exposed, partly unwittingly, by the shameless Blair and Mandelson memoirs. There is a lot not to like about Labour, seen from outside. Just look at some of the faces along their benches to be reminded that making Labour likeable again will be an uphill task for the new leader.

The authenticity of faith

We really should have known. If Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell were the answer, then we're asking the wrong question. Just listen to the shrill braying of current media luvvies being buried by the deep authenticity of ordinary people, who gather impressively in their hundreds of thousands to celebrate their faith before the Bishop of Rome.

How easily a surging tide of belief deafens our political class. Once again the people speak - straddling pavements 10 deep, noisily determined in chant, banner and humoured determination to meet the living embodiment of their much maligned and widely ridiculed faith.

And in their authenticity, they naturally dictate the terms of media coverage. Funny how - now that he is here - the shallow waters of personalised bigotry give way to fundamental moral dilemma's. Have you ever seen a foreign head of state stand in the houses of Parliament, before our last four Prime Ministers and talk of 'the inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems'? Nor will you again.

There are some amusing anomalies. The inappropriateness of the Duke of Edinburgh greeting the Pope with a military guard of honour complete with rifles presented for inspection. And the totally unmagical Popemobile looking strangely like a portaloo shoved on the back of a cheap saloon car with glass walls.

And the vast majority of us? Why do we find such faith so impressive? Precisely because we have none.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

It must be Thursday

Andy Coulson seems to have slipped down the cold black shute of history. It must be Thursday. Or perhaps its the effect Keith Vaz and his extremely important parliamentary scrutiny committee has on its victims.

Thats not the Standards and Privileges Committee you understand. They of course censured him in March 2001 for obstructing investigations into financial irregularities. Mr Vaz that is. And again in December 2001. This time for preventing Elizabeth Filkin “from obtaining accurate information about his possible financial relationship with the Hinduja family”.  And again in 2002 when he was suspended from the house of commons for a month after making untrue allegations about a former policewoman, Eileen Eggington. Oh dear. It must be Thursday.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cranmer on the Intolerance of New Labour

Some choice words from Cranmer writing this morning:

New Labour was so intent on legislating for ‘equality’ and tolerance towards every intolerant minority that they were incapable of seeing that they simultaneously legislated for the intolerance of the tolerant Christian majority. The United Kingdom has become a nation in which Christianity is an ‘eccentricity’ practised by ‘oddities’ ...united in their opposition to the ascendant secular intolerance which renders ‘equality’ an infallible dogma and ‘rights’ an immutable article of faith.

Is it not ironic that this Pope comes to defend those very liberties which his forebears sought to deny us?

...but the old theme of Church and State will not be indulged, because it doesn’t fit into a Tweet.

Newman always placed conscience above Pope, which makes him a rather fitting subject for beatification in a relativist, egotist and materialist culture.

You don't have to agree with him to know the blogosphere's a better place with him back...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Economic stimulus

Smart blog from Ben Brogan who quotes Matthew Hancock MP (formerly George Osborne’s chief of staff) in showing how 2 & 3 year interest rates have halved since the coalition took over in the spring. Even 
10 year rates are down from 3.96 to 2.91%  As Hancock says:

when a country has a debt problem, getting to grips with the finances will keep interest area lower for longer. This is just what’s happened since Britain elected a government prepared to clear up the mess created by its predecessor. Interest rates on borrowing for 2 years or 3 years – the sort of rates fixed mortgages are based on – have halved. That’s a huge economic boost to families and businesses up and down the country.

Low interest rates of course are the greatest economic stimulus that businesses and consumers need.  

Phil Woolas

Liberal Conspiracy - hardly a centerist or right organisation - is now calling for the expulsion of Phil Woolas following his court appearance yesterday on electoral charges - even if the charges are not proven.

The offending leaflets apparently included what they describe as "vile and disgusting racist filth". This from a former Immigration Minister.

Archbishop Cranmer

The Internet spluttered back to life yesterday afternoon as first a tweet, and then a familiar old blog came back to life. Archbishop Cranmer is back in the blogging universe and I have missed him. His blog is one of the most erudite, enlightening and amusing reads in the blogosphere. As he put it:

His Grace would like to tell his readers and communicants what he has been through, but you would not believe him. It is an episode worthy of Burmese justice or North Korean notions of truth. It appears to have passed, and His Grace has prevailed. He thanks God for his deliverance, and those readers and communicants who have prayed and occasionally enquired. Bless you sincerely for your compassion and intercession.

Welcome back your Grace.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Different religions, different standards

Just remembered an interesting observation from Dan Hannan on Sky News press review this morning.

Whilst the forces of political correctness deplore the threat of Muslims being upset by Qu'ran burning in Florida, those same voices attack this weeks papal visit without a second thought to Catholic sensibilities here in the UK.

'Oh! That hadn't occurred to me' commented fellow reviewer Jasmin Alibhai-Brown. I wonder why?


Have to stop following Sally Bercow on Twitter. It's like 10 tweets an hour. She really needs to get a life. Come to think of it, so do I.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Minimum wage

Back in May I wrote about The Welfare Revolution, a subject Simon Heffer returns to in todays Telegraph. He suggests we need to reduce the minimum wage in order to stimulate jobs and provide growth. But this would serve only as a dis-incentive to finding work as welfare became relatively more appealing. A perverse scramble to the bottom.

There are ways in which the minimum wage could be lowered to stimulate job creation. Raise the tax threashold to this level first - currently £11,400. As I wrote at the time:

A permanent link between these two would provide the greatest incentive for enterprise generally and getting back into work in particular. It would also enable dismantling of the overly-complex and widely abused Tax Credits system, as well as providing a fairer and more balanced tax system which benefits all taxpayers.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Hypocrisy and the BBC

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner argues on the six o'clock that most muslims live in 'authoritarian regimes' around the world and cannot therefore understand why the US government does not intervene (as their own regime undoubtedly would) and stop pastor Terry Jones from burning the Qu'ran in Florida.

No arguments are presented for the rule of law, democracy, freedom or individual conscience as we should expect from an unbiased media organisation. Once again the BBC uses its poverty of aspiration to justify appeasement and hypocrisy in the name of cultural relativism.

All we need do apparently is 'understand' islam and all will be well.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Burning the Qu'ran

Have to agree with Anna Racoon over the Qu'ran burning in Florida. Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Centre may be a fundamentalist nutter, but Islam must accept what it has thrown at other religions for many years.

We've all witnessed the street violence, provocative language and the burning of effigies and books (remember the Satanic Verses) by muslims across the world.

Chote gets OBR

Michael Crick writes in his blog about Robert Chote landing the OBR job "despite Mr Chote's appalling purple v-neck top". Ouch.