Friday, 30 April 2010

Facing the Music

Birmingham is different from London but the London  mindset doesn't realise.  Birmingham does England and patriotism.  The centuries of industry and manufacturing that conferred such power that Birmingham regarded London as a playground, a divertissement, but no more than an equal in political heft, and readily looked in the eye even on financial resources, have stamped an independence on Birmingham that London has resented and often tried to cripple.

In Birmingham University's Great Hall last night  David Cameron's quick ear heard the now so faint but ever-lovely strains of Elgar playing through the gloriously municipal building, heard them still playing in the hearts and minds of the audience seated before the leaders of the parties.   Cameron assured us  that there would be no euro, that there would be no further invasion of values and culture, that the way out of Brown's economic disaster is work and growth, lowered taxes and encouragement of enterprise, offered the closing down of the client state and a country where people get on with whatever they wish to make of their own lives, while every opportunity to better ourselves is offered within what can be afforded.

Clegg was skewered by his proposals to leave behind the English way of life and embrace some unEnglish - no doubt worthy  but not for us -  European way.  And he knew it; he could hear the Elgar too as he tried to turn down his Party's music (and in Birmingham we know our music, ask Rattle.)  But much as Mahler is listened to with interest and respect, Verdi sung with gusto, Faure and Bartok, Schoenberg and Nono puzzled over in Symphony Hall, the Mystery Sonatas venerated in the Oratory - in Birmingham Elgar holds sway.

Brown reminded us all that he had the privilege to have been elected by the people with whom he grew up, where he was at home;  in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath no doubt they have their ways and presumably Gordon Brown embodies them.  Those ways do not go down well in Rochdale where plain speaking, honest dealing face to face, with a powerful streak of egalitarianism is also a very English way.  Even less do those ways go down in the feisty  English Midlands where economic adversity, any adversity, brings out determination, grit, inventiveness, and an intensely romantic strain of pride in country and history - everybody's history, for Birmingham has always had its face turned towards trade and the world.  Gordon's globalism, though,  doesn't go down in Brum -  not the globalism of permanent elites administering global regions and determining resource and wealth allocation,  democratically unreachable and with a leading role for  Brown.   Last night he was forced to face the music.


Thursday, 29 April 2010

Brown Should Speak in the Debate Tonight to Mrs Duffy and Other Humans

Many  would vote for what Mrs Duffy would vote for.  Now, like Mrs Duffy, they won't be voting for a Labour party led by Gordon Brown. 

Protect the vulnerable, treat others as you want to be treated yourself, be fair, work hard:
"It was drummed into us as children," said the mortified, courteous, so obviously kind and decent woman.

Each of us has been shocked by a different aspect of how disgraceful Brown is.  The specious response to millions of impoverished people from the former countries of realised socialism migrating into  an advanced capitalist country to possess the social wage capitalism can provide grated particularly for me:

"There are over a million people from Britain living in Europe". 

These are not people demanding social housing, educational provision, cash welfare benefits, and all the health services that go with the formation of young families - services and tax-funded provision to which the refugees from socialist reality have made no contribution.   The people from England living in continental Europe buy their own houses, bring or earn their own incomes and tend to return home for any serious claim they may be unfortunate enough to need to make on health care.  They make no claims for cash welfare payments, not least because these are not available to them. 

Liars lie in many forms and Brown rivals Lucifer in claims to be Prince of Lies.  If, this evening, we are fed mouthfuls of balderdash about global vision, saving the world, and institutionalising global governance and regulation, what will echo through my mind will be the misrepresentations to Mrs Duffy on the equivalence of immigrants and emigrants in our country.  That and the abused and shaken Mrs Duffy internalising the destruction of a lifetime's, a family's , committment to decency and politics practised on a human scale by  normal human beings.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

That'll be Brown and his Behaviour

Bigot / n. [Fr., of unknown origin.] 1. A hypocrtical or superstitious adherent of religion. 2. An obstinate and unreasonable adherent of a religious or other opinion; an intolerant and narrow-minded person.

Bigotry / n.  Obstinate and unreasonable adherence to an opinion.....narrow-minded intolerance.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Respecting Belief

Catholics must be considering their usual allegiance to Labour.  Taught from their Catechism that the man who is Pope is as vulnerable to falling into sin as any other Christian but that in the exercise of his office as Peter's successor and Vicar of Christ he is guided by the Holy Ghost and, on occasion, infallible, the popiness of him demands respect.  And a state visit to this country is a papal, if temporal, act.  With spiritual aspects.

If the insults offered to the spiritual duties laid upon roman Catholics had come from an ostensibly political source they would have been less offensive; many find the politics of others offensive and it is recognised that politicians are, therefore, likely to attract opprobrium. But these insults to the spiritual duties Catholics embrace came from those who Catholics, along with others, pay to carry out state organisational tasks.  From a permanent establishment apparently infected and the infection condoned.

To publish a political and cultural assault upon the Catholic tenets of chastity, marriage, the sanctity of life at conception, the creation of humanity in God's image,  as well as the implied criticism of indulgence in the sin of an over-luxurious personal life-style, makes plain that the spiritual weight of the papal visit is recognised.  This not just a temporal head of state visiting another, and England is not just any country in its spiritual status.  Hence, presumably, the sheer venemous vulgarity of the mode of attack.

None of the civil servants involved should have remained in post.  They have betrayed more than inappropriate attitudes to their work, they have spat hatred at millions of their fellow citizens, and attempted to assert cultural beliefs and values which, in fairness, have become associated with Labour only relatively recently, in the last half century.  Clearly the attitudes betrayed in the documents circulated - bound to emerge despite futile attempts to limit their publication and now known to us all - are widespread enough in government departments to require more senior staff to be removed as well.

The Church is right to feel profoundly disturbed by this manifestation and will be even more concerned at what kinds of dangers now threaten the faithful in a country where the ruling political party embodies such attitudes and encourages their embedding into what is supposed to be apolitical administration.  The advice it offers to the faithful must be under urgent reconsideration.   

Sunday, 25 April 2010

It's Not the Economy

The nation state is at the heart of this election campaign.  Not the wrecked economy but the boundaries of the economy that has been wrecked since 1997.  If an ideology of trans-national boundaries in economic administration or, for socialists, planning, is the bedrock of economic understanding, then  measures of failure distort and even disappear.  And in doing so the charges of incompetence, malevolence, unmandated political direction and the implementation of elitist agendas embedded in immovable supra-national institutions fall.  If the nation state is defined as the root of all evil we attack too the democratic individualism that overthrew emperors and monarchs, popes and tyrants, tsars and eastern potentates.

When we identify ourseves with England or Scotland we  identify our political society with our democracy  which defends our commonality of interest and sets the standards of policy and behaviour for our elected representatives.  We choose people of our kind to look after our interests and maintain decent relations with similarly organised but different peoples.  Our democratic nation states may have  parties within them standing for  alternative understandings and actions to make a good society but we should be able to be  sure that these parties are standing on the same ground, of nation and of state.

The dismissal of Italy as merely a geographical expression roused  such ferocious expressions of nationalism and cultural identity as to bring down at least two European empires.  New Labour's attempts to dismiss England (and the other countries of the United Kingdom) as merely a geographical expression, a north western European province whose administration falls in with parts of France and parts of Scandinavia, denies cultural and political coherence even to the misty romanticism of the British Isles.

'Let us assume'  begin so many economic arguments and analyses.  The economic argument with which Labour intend to pursue us in the last phase of the electoral campaign assumes priority to the building of global governance, the regulation of the globalised economy, to the irrelevance of the confines within which the last thirteen years of financial and economic policy can be defined as abject failure. 

In truth,  placing our economy at the centre of attention   places  betrayal at the centre of discussion and consideration, for it places our democracy and our nation state there too.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The UK Economy is Just a Little Local Difficulty in the Wider Scheme of Things

The illiterate gobbledygook in which the latest G20 communique is issued (what does progressive governance have against verbs?) is about to be inflicted upon the country from close quarters as the Prime Minister moves, from meet-and-tell cosyings-up with young admirers in provincial playing fields and off the settees of northern Labour pensioners now retired  from their years of unemployment, to seize the centre stage of the election campaign.  Gordon has shed Sarah the Carer and escaped from his mandelsonian out of sight out of mind purdah.

We, the country, as the Communique might put it, are going to be told how  runs the global economy under Saviour of the World leadership.  And because of its very globalism,  unfortunate standard of living and life chances outcomes in our United Kingdom economy will be set into the perspective of  being a mere and temporary regional blip that will be set right as soon as others fully grasp the interdependencies of the global economy. 

As soon, that is, as those who have not incurred  consumption debt and have lived within their means, earning their country's living by manufacturing, industrial production, innovation and various services provision within a modern mixed economy, have ended their selfish refusal to incur debt for consumption of what we produce - such as unregulated, verging  into criminal, financial services, and gun running, and recognised our contribution to  global balanced growth -  how much they owe to our borrowing and consumption. 

What they must learn is where would they be without us?  What we must learn is that it is right to play our part in helping emerging economies onto the sunlit uplands of higher living standards by exchanging freshly printed notes (not the scruffy, been through far too many hands too fast sort) for their goods and natural resources.  And we will provide the institutions, the regulation that will ensure the smooth working of the whole. Why, we could be thought of as the Greeks to their..... Mmm, perhaps not Greeks.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Persisting in Economic Error

It isn't about the fantasy of 'protecting the fragile recovery'.  It isn't about raising taxes, or pretending that not raising taxes is the same thing as 'taking billions out of the economy'.  It isn't about 'saving jobs'.  All of this is a disturbed attempt to frame an economic disaster as if it hasn't happened yet.

It has happened, as today's figures on the economy and recent returns on unemployment show.  Taxes have been raised to levels that have dropped consumption  like a stone once consumption cannot be financed by inappropriately extended credit; credit that has indebted the least economically defended, the least able to bear debt,  placed them in a dark and threatening landscape where their living standards are compromised for decades and their basic life needs - housing, energy, food, water, transport,  are hanging  not by  a thread perhaps, but by a very thin cord.

Employment?  Many -  millions -  survive without waged employment and their numbers rise steadily, breaking sad record after sad record.  Saddest of all worklessness stretches deeper and further into communities excluded from earning their living not just from  lack of skills, inadequate re-skilling opportunities, inappropriately focused investment both private but principally public, and the exposure to the export of work - so much more damaging than the import of cheap labour - but extends now to those who are able and capable but undermined by government interference levels in the economy that render it susceptible to the analyses once used  to understand why planned economies failed.  Just as in those economies we have now unmet demand from lack of capacity, gross underemployment masquerading as work in the public sector, high levels of unemployed younger workers  in 'training' that leads to no work, crowding out of  private sector investment by government expenditure, deliberate obstruction by bureaucratic regulation of private enterprise, and ever lower growth accompanied by ever meaner living standards;  the whole garnished with repressed inflation.

Our economy is in the worst shape of any economy in the West and, to Labour's utter shame, in the East freed from realised socialism as well.  There is a lot of fat, certainly, but no longer for growing numbers who see their savings giving no return, their pensions slashed, their family members without hope of waged work.  And that 'fat' is attracting  supra-national asset strippers from whom government seems unwilling to protect us, as they obsess on the attractions of globalisation and their role as an elite of global governance.

The whole game plan of Gordon Brown is in error.  That he was enabled by Labour's lack of democracy and by a culture of political bullying and thuggery to ruin so much and so many is frightening; but to accept any misrepresentation of what has created our current condition as a basis for persisting would be utter foolishness.  The  reason he has never apologised for what he has done is that he still thinks he is right.  That alone disqualifies him from any further political career.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Capacity Constraints: Skills, Machines, Finance

'Sir, The public discussion about cutting the budget deficit is virtually confined to cutting government expenditure or raising taxes. But it doesn’t have to be like this. The national accounts, with a little manipulation, tell us that the deficit is always exactly equal to private disposable income less private expenditure less the balance of payments.

This is to say that any reduction in the government deficit can in principle be brought about either by an increase in private expenditure relative to disposable income or an increase in exports relative to imports. The expansionary route will reduce the deficit leaving output higher than it would be if the disinflationary path were followed.

My main purpose in writing this down is to enlarge the sphere for discourse and I do not pretend that the expansionary route would be easy to put into effect. Exports could be raised relative to imports especially if the pound were further devalued; the increase in exports was certainly substantial in the early 1970s and 1990s. It is possible that private investment would surge in a more expansionary atmosphere.
Wynne Godley,
King's College, Cambridge. ' [letter to the Financial Times 20 April.]

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  

Boosting consumption has been tried with credit expansion to the credit unworthy and the bubble has burst.  

Export promotion and import substitution should have occurred by now as a result of sterling devaluation by over a third in the last two years, unfortunately capacity constraints invalidate the argument.  Skills, plant, finance, demand.

Fiscal austerity is the only way out in these circumstances, where the problem is not just effective demand but the structural de-skilling of the labour force.   

We are in the long run, and the skilled workers are all dead. 

The Monster From Fife

A six-legged scorpion about two metres long and one metre wide, leaving tracks of which a cast is being made,  has been found in Fife.  The tracks were left as it crawled over  sand.  Scottish Natural Heritage  described the find as unique and internationally important because the creature is gigantic.

It is to be be moulded in silicone so that more people can see and research it.  Richard Batchelor from Geoheritage Fife, said:

"Removing it and housing it in a museum would be prohibitively costly but moulding it in silicone rubber and making copies for educational and research purposes means that we can still see and research this huge creature's tracks in years to come."

This artist's impression, released today, is of the creature under medication. 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Worn Out Armaments, Outworn Rhetoric

United Kingdom Armed Forces are very badly equipped.  They are badly equipped to fight  low tech war in a seriously under-developed country; heaven knows what their condition would be in taking on a seriously equipped foe.  In Iraq our Forces were effectively confined to the Basra airbase for years.  All the lying Brown years of returning troops, and all the betrayal Brown years when he refused to fund their role in Iraq's south and they died in their inadequate vehicles and under their lack of air cover and without communications equipment from this century.

Brown should never have brought the Ark Royal to our attention.  Cutting steel now for the UK's aircraft carriers is a Brownian period too late.  Just look at other European aircraft carriers, currently at sea, not launched in the mind's eye of liars providing jobs for own-voters rather than effective defence for our country.  And even if the UK's new aircraft carriers are ever finished, there are no planes budgeted for, never mind being built in the UK, once a  distinguished supplier of aircraft innovation, design, engineering and supply.

From New Labour - vainglorious warmongering on the cheap, except for the lives of the troops.   From other countries - hard-headed assessment of what they need for their interests and defence with troops trained, equipped, and supported by their governments, from body armour to conflict negotiation and resolution, from boots to helicopters, and aircraft carriers and aircraft of the 21st century.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Compare and Contrast

 The aircraft carrier Cavour, equipped with all its helicopters, field hospitals, skilled personnel etc., was despatched to Haiti to help after the worst earthquake for over a century.  It was un atto dovuto, an act required of our country in common humanity said the Head of State.

 The aircraft carrier Ark Royal has been deployed as a Channel ferry to 'bring home' 'stranded Britons' who have failed to ensure that they can cope should pre-paid cheap travel tickets not be usable on set dates.

The Brown regime sent some corrugated iron sheets to Haiti, and sends the Ark Royal to Calais.

UPDATE (just to add uselesness to the wrongness of using the Royal Navy's flagship as a ferry boat)
From the Times:
'...two of the three Royal Navy warships dispatched this morning to rescue stranded travellers still do not have an assigned destination.
Eight hours after Gordon Brown’s announcement, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said that neither HMS Ark Royal nor HMS Ocean had been given a destination and that it was “unlikely” that any British passengers would be picked up tonight.
A spokesperson for P&O Ferries said that the plans to bring in the Navy were little more than a gesture. “It might sound attractive to get in an aircraft carrier to take 1,000 people at a time, but we can carry five times that capacity. If anything is needed, it’s a large, purpose-built foot passenger ferry to scoop them all up.
“The lion’s share of the repatriation will be done by professional ferry companies working all along the French coast...'  

Just Able to Afford a Package Holiday is not Enough

The fragility of the arrangements some people, often with children,  have made when travelling to countries of which they know nothing continues to surprise.  On the evening news we watch English families in objectively quite scary situations who have simply thrown themselves on the mercies of Italians.  The Italians are being efficient and generous, camp beds in the airports, food and drink being handed out, blankets provided, the use of public buildings permitted and patrolled by the civil protection volunteers; but who are these people who have left home without the means to support themselves and their families if their travel arrangements are disturbed for more than a few hours?  What sense of irresponsible adventure or entitlement has led them to act as if they are student backpackers without limit of time and without needs beyond bare necessities?

One man declared that he had paid for a week's all-in holiday including fares, and thought it was for someone else to ensure they arrived back in Britain safely.  He's in the middle of Rome, shortly to be in the middle of the night, peeved to discover that Rome hotels are booked full all year round and he cannot stay beyond his booking, without money, unable to speak Italian, and with young children displaying the vacant-eyed exhaustion of the literally stressed-out.    A small HG, acting as translator, accompanied a friend to Santa Maria Novella station which was under assault for trains to all parts of Italy and to the rest of  Europe; including a desperate mob of English people,  with small children, unable to grasp that even if they got to Paris (which would not be till next Friday) they live on an island and there is no way across the Channel till even later. Hotel rooms in Florence don't grow on trees in April either, they were going to have to spread out into a fifty-kilometre circle round the city - but most simply didn't have the money to buy their way out of their days'-long bivouac.

Travelling hundreds, thousands of kilometres from home - home that supplies a large part of the standard of living in non-monetary form  - is foolish; partly it is the result of not understanding that they are only  not-very-poor-indeed in a very small home territory.  All these people are still there this morning, in 24 hours' worse shape, and trying the patience and good samaritan qualities of their increasingly unhappy hosts, who would prefer their public spaces and services to be called on for true, not self-inflicted emergencies.

Perhaps it is time to require tourists to demonstrate their immediate access to sufficient funds to finance themselves independently for the length again of their stay abroad; that would cover most return delays, limit the dangers to which indigent travellers are currently exposed,  return the civil protection and police services to their proper tasks, and clear  the streets, stations, and airports. 

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Defending Democracy Means defending the Nation State

A  'vision of creating a global institution to help reconstruct countries where civil society was broken; a global environmental organisation to tackle climate change; and a global financial system which serves the people.'  is a vision of dystopia, of  undemocratic progressive,  unreachable elites administering the lives out of us.  

Speaking to academics, international development campaigners and supporters in Milton Keynes, the Saviour of the world and Leader of the Labour party went on to declare that he wanted to provide more [enough already, ed.] support to international development agencies.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

There Is A Green Hill Far Away

Overheard on leaving the cinema in central London:

 "If Gordon Brown gets in I'm going to buy myself a hill in Umbria."

Umbria is not Tuscany, but there are no hills for sale there either.  Not any more.  Should have done it thirteen years ago.

Brown Cannot Serve Us Now Any More Than He Ever Could

Silvio Berlusconi offered Italian citizens low taxes, action on immigration, drastic reductions in bureaucratic interference in people's lives.  Angela Merkel offered low taxes, action on immigration, no Turkish membership of the EU, a cut in bureaucratic interference in people's lives, and stability - stability expressed as protection from international and global economic forces.  Many dislike both of them, but most have settled for the broad policy bases that are all democracy can deliver.

Brown's Labour offers high and ever higher taxes, high levels of immigration, grotesque rises in bureaucratic interference in people's lives,  a country so unstable that its borrowing costs are the third highest (after Greece and Portugal) in Europe; and  globalisation.

Labour hasn't the slightest chance of winning the election; what it is manouevring for is some kind of coalition with Brown retaining the prime ministership. The United Kingdom is an electoral dictatorship (except in the case of Brown where the courtesy of an electoral mandate has been dispensed with until forced upon him, and he has governed using his predecessor's mandate) which is renewed or with held every four or five years or so.  Who is prime minister is king, in some ways quite literally holding the powers of the monarch; and all the cabinet government stuff belongs in political science text books of the 1950s (and earlier).

Why should Brown be given a dictator's mandate?  The moment the centre-left of the electorate saw that a vote for the Liberal Democrats would not be a vote wasted they were off and running from their sad subservience to  the Brown faction who hold in thrall what has been, for so long, the main party of the centre left.

What is more, there is the consistent expression of a desire for 'a hung parliament', ie., for a grand coalition government of all the centre parties that will deliver low taxes, action on immigration, a cut in bureaucratic interference in people's lives, and stability, with protection from international and global economic forces (of which immigration is but part).

Brown can deliver none of this.  He is its antithesis: his is narrow, sectional rule, exclusive even of most of the Labour party -  never mind the electorate.  He stands on a programme rejected decisively in Italy and Germany (I choose these comparison electorates as Italy is a country with a similar standard of living, size of population and with an only slightly larger economy; while Germany is the kind of economy we might hope to have with sensible and similar policies.)  And in Italy and Germany the Social Democrats languish in the low 20s of electoral support while they come to terms with smaller state and lower taxes policies.

The United Kingdom does not have a social democrat default setting.  It is centre-right in its political culture - indeed it has to be restrained in its more atavistic right-wingness by its own centre-right leaders.  For a grand coalition to be constructed there are going to have to be compromises, mostly on our relationship with Europe; but there are solutions to finding agreement through our Parliament and constitution that are ours to use and the electorate's to settle, without any permission-seeking from Brussels, just as is done in Italy and Germany.  Also the mitbestimmung contribution to Germany's economic success must find its English transformation and place in our 're-balancing' of our economy.  The federation of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom needs 're-balancing' too, with parliaments for each and federal relationships more respectful of the interests and cultures of our constituent parts.

There is no place for Brown in any of this; he has betrayed our sane interest for his entire political life, let alone his thirteen years in office.  Those to the right of centre can vote for the Conservatives, those who are social democrats  will divide between Liberals and Labour, but all of us must be aware that Brown has no interest in bowing to electoral withholding of his mandate, nor capacity to build what we all  want, and need, to emerge from the disaster he has made.

Our first objective must be to vote Brown from office, any office, for he can make no contribution to political life nor can anything he stands for.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Nothing to Do With Right or Left, but Right or Wrong

The Guardian is reporting that Brown Labour is lamenting the leaking of its economists' letter. That puts 'leaks' into perspective.   Anyone who can put BSc(Econ) after their name has had a copy. 

Its content is hardly  rocket science, more like warmed over greens from the Cambridges of the 1960s (and earlier); so there would be economists who disagree, wouldn't there?    Nothing to do with right wing or left wing, either - some of those signatories are distinguished, and others are even more distinguished by their right wing stance.

Just Looking

David Cameron's decision to let the party leader televised debates take place has yielded a prize: a public measure of just how much damage Brown is doing to the Labour party.  Not just damage from a display of petulance, inappropriate body language,  lying, and unprovoked aggression coupled with transparent (or should that be trans-paaar-ent, in his peculiar pronunciations of standard English?) brown-nosing of a man he has been insulting for years,  which under-scored his personal inadequacies of character and personality; but an hour and a half-long warning that the Labour he leads,  a reflection, a composite, of his repellent self, has no intention of pausing in its destruction of our country's economic independence or  democratic system.  And if the goal of staying in power while delivering the UK into the beggary and thuggery of corporatism requires dishonesty displayed in every word, twitch , and lick of Clegg, he's the man for the job.

While the Liberal Democrat (well, Social Democrat really, there's nothing Liberal about the  shirleywilliamsyness of the Labour  schismatics led by Clegg) displayed the attractive 'let's be reasonable about things, we've got to put our differences aside and pull together for a fair society, decent jobs, a nice house, continental holidays, and pretty clothes', the toad agreed:

'As Nick says, we must have all those things...'  

Clegg should remember the Punch cartoon from the last time the Liberals were asked by Labour  "Are you going my way?"  The electorate must remove Brown before there can be any rapprochement,  or reunification of the centre left in England.   

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Croydonian (as was) Crowd Sources the Election

Chiswickite is 

'looking at the current state of betting over at Betfair, and based on the shortest odds, I am calling   results for [each part of the country]' .

Amazing, so different from the political sampling being offered.  

Hot, Not Cold Revenge of the Icelandic 'Terrorists'

Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano has  responded to Brown naming Iceland and its people as 'terrorists'.  The usual jonah effect comes as no surprise.  Brown always blames someone else for his incompetence, calls other people rude names, tries to bully everyone to have his own way (called 'getting on with the job' and 'being demanding') and brings down the wrath of the Gods on us all.

Remind me, how many volcanoes has Iceland?  They could keep this up for aeons.

Propaganda and its Guises

"Dear Sir,
As expected, a key election issue concerns how much to cut government expenditure in 2010/11.   The main opposition party now proposes to cut an extra £6 billion, on top of the measures already planned by the government.   This cut is described as efficiency savings.   But in macroeconomic terms it is just a cut by another name.   It will lead directly to job losses and indirectly to further falls in spending through the standard multiplier process. This is not the time for such a destabilising action.   The recovery is still fragile.   Firms and households are saving more to rebuild their balance sheets, so that firms are investing less and households are spending less.   Only when the recovery is well underway, will it be safe to have extra cuts in government expenditure.   The first step is to make sure that growth returns, and thus that tax receipts recover.   Rash action now could imperil not only jobs but also the prospects for reducing the deficit."

Reading that letter makes me sigh.   Of course it would be nice not to cut, particularly if you look at the world with keynesian eyes, as Skidelsky does.  But  others, with other eyes,  do not intend to cut out of sheer viciousness -  though the temptation to remove 'jobs' which are nothing more than client-state sinecures is strong.

The economic incompetence, nay true economic illiteracy of Brown, left festering at the heart of our country's economic governance for far too long by the New Labour power compromise, requires immediate cuts. International creditors have held off until May, after that, the deluge if inappropriate keynsian partisanship attempts to encourage the big state, anti-democratic, 'progressive' authoritarian rule.  

The attitude displayed in this letter is nothing to do with economic truth, or even economic best practice. Old men seeking self-justification for an intellectual stance they have held all their lives and cannot bear to recognise now is inadequate for dealing with the economic circumstances to which our country has been reduced,  should be aware that letters of this kind to the newspapers are nothing more than propaganda dressed as technical judgment.  They are propaganda for a discreditable, corrupt, anti-democratic bully and his party, posing as defenders of the poor and providers of equality and a fair chance for all.

Keynes is an Angels hero. This, however, is not about economics. It's about democracy and the assault being mounted on it by the usual suspects: by those who think they are qualified and equipped to tell us what to do and constrain us, attack us, wage war on some of us, if we won't.

After  thirteen years of anti-democratic government, some have wondered if a  kind of Truth and Reconciliation commission might be needed to mend the damage done by self-styled and appointed-among-themselves shepherds of us the poor people, and bring them to book.   Angels recommends the measures adopted in Italy after the overthrow of Fascism - another, if cruder,  exemplar of economic corporatism, social bullying, and war-mongering.


The letter has been published in the Times.  Among others, after Skidelsky, it is signed as you would expect by: Richard Layard, David Blanchflower, Victoria Chick, Partha Dasgupta, Richard Portes and,
in collaboration with,  Aubrey Silberston!

Something to Read for the Future

Take a look at the programme of the Soros Conference at his INET - Institute for New Economic Thinking -  held, rather sweetly, at King's College Cambridge:
from where you can also download lots of interesting papers; John Eatwell's keynote introduction speech and Akerlof's paper are not there.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Judge a Book By Its Cover


is compatible with this
 and even with this

which, despite its reputation, is a resounding appreciation of the achievements of capitalism [does Brown's Labour understand that? ed]

but none of the above are compatible with brownian realised, or any other realised, socialism as presented in this

It's Not the Economy

The wipe-out of the leftist, socialist government in Hungary's elections teaches a sharp lesson: big state wastrelism unsupported by wealth production will be ended by creditors.  Greece, too,  has had to accept that standards of living must be earned, but Greece tried to dodge the bullet by electing a socialist government, thinking that the reckoning could be bought-off cheaply by adopting particular sociocultural policies and ideology.  Hungary has had more sense. 

The big state, tax-funded, handouts are over.  In which case at least choose a government that will deliver policies that deny access to state largesse for the practitioners of moral hazard exploitation. Greece voted left, hoping that the restraints and pay-backs would be in some measure ameliorated, and that voting left would carry all the other policies and attitudes associated with the clintonian triangulation antics of 'global' governance and anti-democratic administration, rather than national government mandated by the choices  (albeit forced choices) of the electorate.

Hungary has gone to the right and accepted economic stringency but saves  the wishes of its national electorate on all other  policies.  Greece went to the left  in the hope of buying economic mercy by ceding the wishes of its national electorate on all other policies.  This is precisely the choice that must be made in England (because, make no mistake, this is an election about domestic English policies -  for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in control of their own domestic policies, despite their Labour-granted dominance over English domestic choices), and  we must accept that economic stringency will be imposed, that no amount of wheedling and attempted bargaining in other arenas will ameliorate it one jot or tittle. 

This truth centres Labour's last big lie:  that they can make the reckoning hurt not at all, or at least less, if we continue to accept being swallowed up not into merely Euro-regional governance, but global governance (Brown is the saviour of the world  remember).

So what we should be voting  on is the ending of Labour's 'lives of others' state surveillance, on preventing Labour's ending of the rule of law and of the Common Law,  on rejecting Labour's rigging of our constitutional landscape so that they can favour  the ending of our nation state,  on resistance to Labour's assault on democracy, on rebuilding the Labour-destroyed cultural pillars of our society. 

Brown's economic illiteracy and subsequent scorched-earth policies have dealt a death-blow to avoiding lower living standards, lower growth paths,  debt  -  both individual and public.  We shall reap..... for there is no means of ameliorating what Brown has done.  But while we must accept what we permitted in our inattention and, frankly, disbelief, the rest of the Labour agenda is ours to reject,

Monday, 12 April 2010

Takes You Back, Doesn't It?

And here is the Leader, watched by Sarah, as he brings in the harvest of the state collectives in the Pontine Marshes! [are you sure this is the right country? ed.]

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Taunting With Taxes

Coping with Brown has taken up most of the Labour party's energy in the first week of the election campaign.  Despite Sarah the Carer constantly at, and often grabbing him by, his elbow, Brown has again been off-message, obsessed with his own  self-delusions about his years wrecking the UK economy.

It has been impossible to stop him from going on and on about National Insurance tax rises.  The matter is very simple and well understood by the economically literate, and the working people who don't like the level of stoppages on their wages.  Raising payroll taxes at a time of very high un- and under- employment, and reducing take-home pay when the economy needs consumer stimulus, is a no-no. 

Brown's personal difficulties with courage and character prevent him from admitting this most obvious of errors and have led him into insulting every major employer in the country at every appearance he has made other than in Labour loyalists' front rooms.  He has blundered on into fresh fields of delusionary self justification by imputing economic policies to the Conservatives that are wholly of his own limited imagination. 

In his meanly-furnished, poorly-grasped, and narrowly conceived  economic world the only alternative to raising National Insurance Tax is to raise the rate of Value Added Tax. 

Not at all, as any fule no.

Angels have been asked before 'not to give them ideas', so it will do to say that VAT is a tax that should be reconsidered in its effects on the economy as a whole (it is, of course, a tax on tax) on its levels, on its extension, on its encouragement  throughout the tax base of tax evasion, and on its partial subjugation of the country's tax-raising to European Union regulation.

A small but perfectly-formed public reconsideration of VAT and its use and applications would drive Brown over the edge into bogs and thickets of half-understood tax practice and effect.  His need to believe he really grasps this stuff  is such that he will fall apart, the Carer's constant supervision or no.

Tax policy does more than raise funds for widely agreed state purposes;  it shapes the entire society and delivers ideological goals, sectional agendas that are anathema to many mulcted of part of their earnings.  Brown knows this last but is without the knowledge or imagination to grasp an alternative tax agenda, a Conservative agenda.  And the Labour strait jacket on even discussion of tax forms and policies has been worn too long by the country, just like the demonisation of any discussion of immigration levels, or cultural norms.

People hate some kinds of taxes much more than others: inheritance tax, National Insurance, VAT, petrol duty, and duties on tobacco and alcohol.  They are understanding of the need for a progressive income tax (preferably flattish and always adjusted for fiscal drag) and there is positively demand for  taxes on assets various,  provided they start high enough up the scale.

Brown needs to be herded further into the wastelands of his conceits and we need to reconsider how we are taxed and what for.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Give Us a Conservative Society, Not Trimmed-Down Socialism

Conservatives are capitalists.  They recognise a government role in adjusting the more cruel outcomes of capitalism's mechanisms, the vulnerabilities of certain members of our society facing technical change, individual circumstance or misfortune, or society-wide threat (as in war time, or international shifts in economic balances, or breaches of the rule of law governing social behaviour) but essentially markets clear, capitalism itself delivers distribution.

So they should propose a Conservative vision of the place of government in a capitalist society, not proposals of where a socialist state might be reduced.  After all, a grossly fat socialist state is not going to be improved much by being slimmed down; lean and hungry is even nastier than fat and complacent, particularly when it comes to the nomenklatura and hangers' on of big state-high tax governance.

So let's hear it for entrepreneurship, banking practices that evaluate and embrace risk as a source of profit, nationalism tempered by trade advantage considerations, the last couple of years of schooling integrated with the first years of apprenticeship in the modern economy and work,  the ending of core state provision exploiting contract outworkers in pseudo-private employment, the abandonment of economic inactivity at 60 or even earlier.  And so on into the horrors of the brownian client state.

40,000 'jobs' cut by  natural wastage  is not good enough.  Fat-thighed socialism does not make itself more attractive by losing a bit of weight; it smirks on, in all its falsely-grinning determination to maintain its privileges and inequalities.

Conservatives cannot adjust socialist reality.  It needs to be rejected tout court as inefficient and unattractive; an aesthetic disaster  that can only be abandoned.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Empty Budget and its Consequences

The abject if reasonable fear of facing the electorate, ever, that caused Brown to put off the election until the last possible day before Parliament would have expired  (an unusual practice last seen some three centuries ago) has had the effect of clarifying the Brown regime's attitudes to both the economic disaster Brown has brought about, and the unhealthy aversion to democratic scrutiny of fiscal and monetary policy they would like to pander.

 The Conservatives have stated plainly that they will have a budget within 50 days should they take office and as soon as they have seen the books.  In that Budget the Conservative administration's response to dealing with our fiscal and monetary crisis will be enacted.  It is this clear undertaking, coupled with the equally clear commitment to restrain government expenditure and  limit taxes on jobs to encourage growth, that is playing a large part in holding the UK economy in its state of suspended animation and preventing it from going into free fall.  Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland are going through severe expenditure restraint and facing down the fiercely expressed disapproval of some of their people. They all took such measures months ago and still Greece is being eyed doubtfully by its creditors, the other countries less so but they weren't caught out fiddling their official statistics as well.

Brown Labour has refused to countenance any restraint in government expenditure, not even a consideration, until 2011.  The reckless continuation in office but not in power forced a Budget upon the regime and then, when required to declare whether this was it, that the contents of that Budget were  the  Budget for 2010, insisted that that indeed was it.  Should the regime get back, the next Budget will be in 2011.  Either there will  be no attempt to restrain expenditure for another 12 months or, so irresponsible is that stance, so unacceptable to our creditors, the intention is to make the necessary cuts and tax rises either by stealth, away from the public view embodied in the presentation of a Budget to the elected Parliament, or to accept an IMF imposed programme of cuts and tax rises that Brown can declare to be necessary in the interests of global economic discipline and the furtherance of the role of global institutions in economic governance, but most certainly not his fault - it was the IMF.  Either way our Legislature will be pushed further from its surveillance, and concession of authority to the Executive.

So in the warped ideology and political understanding of  Brown and his regime this will be seen as a win-win: no need to be held responsible and lose the elections by cutting back their client state; increased Executive autonomy in economic decision-taking and implementing further tax rises to enlarge the areas of government expenditure, or globalising our economic governance, and laying any pain and blame elsewhere.

The Election Called Too Late

'If I were you I wouldn't start from here', never had a truer moment than now.  The election should have been called in 2007; had it been the economic debacle would have been avoided, for in the very process of losing the 2007 election Brown's economic illiteracy would have been  pointed up in discussion of his economic proposals and an enforced earlier defence of what he had perpetrated already. 

There was a double failure of democracy in 2007 - within Brown's Party and within the country.  And the double violation of democratic validation has led us to where the need for a democratic mandate is forced upon Brown only after his uncomprehending politics and economics and his personal bombast, coupled with even more serious personality and character failures (cowardice, fawning on the powerful, failures of understanding, self-seeking 'career' advancement, vulnerabilities various and often personal) have reduced our economic present and our future well-being for a generation at least to a depressing, uniform, battleship grey.

The turning point was Blair's confirmation of Brown  as Chancellor of the Exchequer  after the 2005 election.  Overcoming even the revulsion of Labour supporters at his Iraq warmongering, Blair still could not repulse Brown's continued claims to office. Claims enforced by what, one shudders to think.

The gathering storm was so clearly visible that there were retail runs not just on the banks in the offing, but anyone with the means and opportunity, right down to private individuals of modest wealth, was shifting what they could to safety outside the UK.   Greece is now sending delegates to the US and to China to beg for funds, just as Brown went to the US and Mandelson to China, Russia and the Middle East  for the same purpose in the last couple of years.  But patience is running out for us as much as it is for Greece.  Report after report from international monitors decries the failure of Brown's regime to cut its fiscal coat to its fiscal cloth; denounces squeeze-lite as too little, too late, too slow - an impertinent assumption that we can ignore economic reality and pretend that all is well with just a small adjustment, a brief pulling-in of the fiscal horns -  and after the general election of course.

' Immediately after the election' Brown kept saying to our creditors; only he wouldn't call the election, wouldn't face the electorate until forced by a choice between a formal coup (following the informal coup bullied through in 2007) and the immediate economic devastation that would have followed such a suspension of parliamentary democracy. Now there is just one last month of lies and misrepresentation and begging 'don't pull the rug out from under now', in the hope that he can fraudulently rig the reckoning.   But patience has run out.  If Brown's client state and client media is successful in threatening a return of Brown to power there will be a last rush for the exit before the beginning of May. 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Tax Reductions and Simplification Will Win the Election

Lower taxes do not threaten the economy - lower taxes enhance the chances  of recovery  from the Brown abyss.  So every time the Conservatives state they will reduce Brown taxes their poll lead leaps upwards.  Inheritance tax abolished for ordinary housing stock? We all want that. Lower National Insurance taxes?  Of course, who wants to raise taxes on jobs?  Lower taxes not tax credits?  Of course that is sensible, for what is the point of all those administrative costs for taking away earnings that then have to be reclaimed as 'credits'.

Once into the swing of this we can see that there should not be an expensive 'national' health service, provider-oriented, meeting every risk however remote or rare; but a recognition of the place of insurance and its automatic adjusters operating in the provision of health services; most of us are mostly well, with well recognised crisis points like childbirth, road and industrial and home accidents,  and the eyes, teeth, wearing-out of joints  syndrome;  other stuff  and should be budgeted for separately, again by using insurance principles and, probably, individual higher contributions for those in fear or genuinely at risk.  There is a great deal in favour of the provision of community sports facilities and the better general health levels that result from parks, gyms and swimming pools.

Nor should there be such an aggressively all-embracing state education system.  Vouchers for educational provision are well understood and well worked-out - a great improvement on the take it or leave it state monolith, and cheaper by the administrative burden a producer top-heavy educational service brings.  And educational vouchers could be available throughout life, to be used at opportune moments by all, rather than having educational expenditure inappropriately concentrated on particular age groups.

Apart from the arteriosclerotic social provision produced by the dying hand of redistributive big state government being so inefficient and democratically inappropriate,  the reduction of individual consumption from the plundering of our earnings by big government in the name of 'fairness' reduces all of our living standards by lowering the growth path.

It's not  fair at all.  It's foul -  impoverishing living standards and bullying people and their life styles.  A very poor fist, clunking or otherwise, has been made of tax and spend over the last thirteen Labour years.  None of us are social neanderthals refusing to pay up for decent social provision for all, but tax levels are too high for growth to be re-established, and too high for the effective pursuit of our diverse and individual happinesses.  

Brown Tries Just Once More Not To Answer the Questions

We have elected representatives in the Opposition to ask the questions, but all of a sudden Brown wants direct democracy.

From: Gordon Brown
Date: 6 April 2010 11:15
Subject: We're going to prove it

Today I visited Her Majesty the Queen to ask for a dissolution of Parliament and a General Election on May 6th.

From now until polling day I will travel the length and breadth of Britain with a simple message - Britain is on the way to economic recovery and now is not the time to put it at risk. But this is going to be a different kind of election – one where we the politicians throw open the doors to grassroots activists and the wider public.

That's why I'll be holding a People's PMQ tomorrow - let me know what questions you'd like answering.

Britain's future success will be shaped in the next few months.

It is a time of big challenges and tough decisions. Big questions need to be answered by all parties - click to ask me yours.

From the big calls on the economy - securing the recovery and creating future jobs - to tackling climate change, succeeding in Afghanistan, restoring faith in democracy and the other issues that face our country, only Labour has the credible answers.

And we’re going to prove it.

Tell me what you want answered at People's PMQs.

Thank you; I’ll see you on the campaign trail


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Seeing the Whites of Their Eyes

Getting the general election called at all is a political achievement by conservatives. They have kept the UK's credit rating on hold and have not looked down as the economy went off the cliff; the Governor of the Bank of England has printed a couple of hundred billion to buy up the bonds that have kept bills paid and things still moving; misrepresentation of statistics has been overlooked more or less, unless so blatant it might have frightened-off investors.  Just imagine if they had gone for Brown, no holds barred.

 As Conservatives and other voters  groaned at the missed, even ignored, open goals undefended, indeed indefensible, by the Brown regime, the conservatives held back on showing political strength too early, putting the country's well being first, and committed to what was still standing of our Constitution.  Brown's Labour is bad through and through and have acted without regard for precedent or law in their rampage through our society.  Because of this behaviour and attitude to their right to power, it was  not an unreasonable concern that a special measures administration would be shoved into place and kept there during 'the global crisis that was nothing to do with Brown';  getting  rid of such rule would have been more brutal than most would have wanted it to be.  Brown would have been getting on with the job for years - just until he'd resolved the global crisis, then we could all have our votes back.

There are still those who argue that they will not vote Brown out in the only available mode because the Conservatives should have been more assertive, arrogant in political stance, punitive,  or concerned themselves more with special interests, rather than the national interest.

Yet at last that corrupted Parliament, ushered in on the hopes of a new-forging of the social contract, and maintained for so long in its bought-off worthlessness by a Speaker who was eventually too much even for such MPs as we have suffered  to stomach , is sent away.  Now it is our turn; it is for the voters to send away Brown and his supporters and hangers-on. 

 Not hard to do:
 - make sure of your vote and cast it, or someone else might well be using it. 
 - vote for the candidate in your constituency most likely to defeat the Brownite candidate. 

A lot of decent social democrats are going to go down in this election; but they should have got rid of the unelected 'Leader' of their Party themselves.  When it's left up to the electorate of the entire country,  then they go down too.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

A Walk in the Park...

....can speak volumes, even if you haven't a word to offer one another.

I'm not going to mention the coats.

Easter Bonnets

Happy Easter

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Back to the '80s


All right, it was the men that actually rowed today.  Just wait till we get the Equalities Bill up and rowing.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Growth Delusions

The Times reports today that:
'recent PMI  figures have been much more upbeat that the underlying data being released by the Office for National Statistics.
The headline PMI figure for March suggests that activity at British factories is growing faster than in China, where the headline reading was 57. The index of output is 61.9 in the UK and a more modest 58.1 in China.
As Colin Ellis, European economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, puts it: "Today's data reveal that output in the UK manufacturing sector rose at a faster pace than in China last month. To be blunt, anyone who seriously believes this needs their head examined."'

 So let us examine our heads; manipulated figures? Apart from that unlikely hypothesis, there could be two factors:

an increase in the share of imported inputs, in place of in-factory production of components and parts.

or, even without an increase in the share of imported inputs, the reported rise in import prices being due to a weaker pound.

The second is a certainty; the first is a plausible conjecture that fits into the perception of British industry turning into the pure assembly of foreign components.

A result of globalisation is division of labour not only across the spectrum of final products, but across all stages in the production of every product.  For instance, the capital intensive research and development stage in Germany or the United States, the labour intensive processes in India, low-wage qualified labour at the assembly stage in the UK,  and so on.

This perspective turns current figures on British manufacturing growth into an optical illusion.

Marx Fall Out

While reading moral-skepticism-and-moral-disagreement-developing-an-argument-from-nietzsche
(go on, have a read, you know you ought to want to) I remarked to Mr HG as he passed through on his way to lunch:

" The trouble with Marx is he was a really rotten philosopher."

(Preprandial exchanges are more usually on the lines of, 'You might like the lasagne but you'll need to warm it, and there are some little lamb chops and washed salad in the fridge').

 To which he replied, in the spirit of the moment:

 "I never thought Marx was much of a philosopher,"  pause, "Or of an economist, come to think of it." pause, "He was a revolutionary propagandist; he belongs with agitprop."

 "His main contribution to economics was a theory of the evolution of economic systems, which he called modes of production.  Based on the rise of contradictions in society and their resolution through institutional change.  He was aware of that, for he wrote, to Engels, claiming to have done for political economy what Darwin had done for the species.  Unfortunately here he made three most serious mistakes:

 he gave primacy to economic factors (materialism);

 secondly he believed that there was a necessary and irreversible sequence in the appearance of successive systems;

thirdly he believed there was one, superior system - communism - which would abolish classes and, therefore social conflicts and contradictions, and be the final solution."

Never get between Mr HG and his lunch.  It makes him dismissive beyond his usual inclination.

More Moral Hazard in Labour's National Care Service

Care of the elderly as a universal state benefit funded from taxes is a grab too far.  Getting old is not, of itself, an illness, though it manifests itself as illness as the body declines.  An image of a universal health service (and a very particular model of such a universal provision, at that) has been taken and applied  to a  different phenomenon - aging and dying.

We all know this will happen to us; it could be argued that quite a lot of life is preparation for death, at least after the first conciousness of decline in strengths and capacities arises.   Yet we are told that so many have been in denial of the obvious that they have made no provision whatsoever for their inevitable need, during the long years of their competence.

The old have had longer than anyone else to get organised -  longer than anyone else to prepare, in every aspect of their being, for the end of their lives.  And many have done so, supported by family, economic preparedness, and by whatever faith in which they have chosen to live their lives so far.  Agreed, in our common humanity we cannot abandon those who are without provision now.  This has always been so.  Throughout our history there has been support from the charitable community for the old who have found themselves unprovided for by misfortune or from social change.

Although lack of provision now is  on such a scale, encouraged by attitudes and ideologies that have pretended to replace the need for individual responsibility, it is not a role for government.

Government's role is to provide an environment conducive to saving and pension provision; to insurance against the unexpected and against misfortune.  Not to create yet another giant occasion of moral hazard and its accompanying emptiness of spirit, and lack of commitment to one another.

Socialism failed.  It failed completely. Failed to the level of building walls to keep its sad societies imprisoned, its subjects from running away.  And when they tried it, shot them as they fled across the fields of fire to reach its last perimeter walls and the capitalist democratic societies on the other side.  Socialism produced subjects who spied on one another, even within families, who betrayed every last shred of decent human solidarity, their faith and belief systems mauled and disfigured by the demand for atomistic allegiance to the socialist state.  Socialism failed to produce decent living standards, and in its failure produced the end of decency in all sorts of behaviour.

 We have already a socialist planned monolith disfiguring our economy, failing and infecting the  society it is supposed to serve, in the National Health Service.  A National Care Service would be a death blow to our open society.