The UK grows a bit

 

              The interview I was offered on Monday to give on Tuesday after the publication of the GDP figures was cancelled. Clearly the figures were too good to make it interesting. Growth came in at 0.5%, instead of the 0.3%  forecast. The story of a double dip or a falling economy was ruled out, or postponed as the government’s critics might say, on these  numbers.

             The year’s performance is still slow. Over the last twelve months  manufacturing is down. Construction took a tumble in the third quarter of 2011. Business  services and transport were strong.

              The most interesting thing that might surprise all those commentators and media specialists who have been talking about the public spending cuts is the continued buoyancy of  public spending. Government services boosted growth in the third quarter. They are up by 1.4% for the last year in real terms.

            Meanwhile over at the Treasury I welcome the arrival of Sajid Javid MP as the Chancellor’s Parliamentary Private Secretary.  Just before getting the job he published his thoughts on the Euro. He wrote ”  the euro is an idea built on economic and political dishonesty…. there is no hope that fiscal union would save the eruo…..It would be massively undemocratic… Why should the Greeks willingly become a German vassal state?….If European leaders would only accept that their grand economic experiment has failed, the impact would be more predictable and more manageable….”

               That sounds like good straight honest advice.

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70 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Of course there is slow growth!
    Why bother if you get paid anyway (dole etc)? Why bother if you only get hassle from all the million (yes) bureaucrats for not giving “compliance”? Why bother if your employees can skin you for everything you have got? You cannot even put an advert in the paper without getting sued.Why bother if after ream upon ream of paperwork you pay well over half your earnings to the totally decaying tax system or have to live as an exile or as someone who everyone hates for just being rich?
    And then there are the Chinese……………

    • JT
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I think the global recession … the slowdown from our trading partners combined with the UK’s continual slow drift down from colonial superpower .. has more impact on creating slow growth.
      Rather than your list.

      You really must be living a dreamworld bubble if you think that a meaningful number of people choose to live on benefits. Sure, there are some .. maximum of a millon people that swing the lead …. and sure, that costs but needs a system designed to address this issue.

      Suggesting that everyone out of work immediately drink bread and water, or go to the work house is a pointless

      • Disaffected
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        There are 370,000 households where no person has ever worked since the age of 16yrs. I suggest this equates to more than a 1,000,000 and it demonstrates there are a hardcore number of people who do not want to work and are not prepared to work as it is part of their culture. Children of these households do not see any reason to work at school as they will be given welfare which is more than they are likely to earn from a job. Look at poor people form other countries and their determination to go to school to improve their lives while we have welfare lifers prepared not to do anything. If the welfare state was changed it would change their mindset to school and work.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think I did say that did I? I have been on and off the dole myself for ten years in the 1990s.
        Nowadays, I listen to the young people who come into our Centre to volunteer to help the immigrants. It is from them that I get the idea that the dole is sufficient to get out of work. Also, of course, some of the immigrants are now onto the dole as a way of life. I can (but will not) name them. Mainly young Polish Mums, actually, some of them now living in Poland.
        Did you see, by the way, Ewan Davis’ programme on Wisbech young people – or the recent John Humphries’ documentary on his home town?

  2. lifelogic
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Indeed good straight advice from Sajid Javid MP.

    Growth figure are abysmal 0.1% over 12 months hardly “growth” at all and after a big downturn – not at all surprising as Cameron gone in totally the wrong direction for growth – more tax, more regulation, more EU, green expensive energy, little bank lending, little confidence in him or the EURO, and a huge mainly pointless (or worse an actually damaging) state sector pulling all under the water line.

    Many in the state sector will doubtless be asking the public impertinent questions to compile Cameron’s absurd happiness index as they all drown together.

    Interestingly they will not ask questions on the absurd “renewable” agenda (I assume because they might well get a mouth full of abuse) but will substitute government “figures” and just “assume” we are happy due with this nonsense waste of tax payers money on the Huhne religion.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      This morning I read that:

      The Archbishop of Canterbury has backed calls for a new tax on financial trading – dubbed a “Robin Hood” tax.

      Perhaps he would also kindly enlighten us on what the good book (and what last vestiges still remain of the Church of England) has to say on VAT, fuel duty, income tax, NI, stamp duty, landfill tax, carbon tax, £7.50 charges to enter cathedrals, and vehicle excise duty.

      Then again perhaps now is the time to get these foolish non-elected people out of the system of government completely.

      • Single Acts
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        With due respect to Dr Williams his economic qualification is not immediately clear.

        • lifelogic
          Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          He seems to have studied theology (Christ’s College, Cambridge).

          I suppose it is better than studying “astrology” but then again is there very much real difference?

          Clearly he must have covered the benefits or otherwise of turnover taxes on financial transactions in some detail on such a course.

          But then perhaps he just thinks that a Robin Hood tax sounds good – a popular concept with the masses and BBC lovies and a was a good popular film & tv series or two and might get me on TV again.

        • Mark
          Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps he read the line in the Bible:

          Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

          Mark xxii 17

          Or perhaps he should re-read it.

      • Simon 123
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        The Archbishop needs to refine his argument.

        ‘Bankers’ are like any other corporate bureaucrats and are there to ascend the greasy pole located in their banks. They would not pay personally any tax on individual ‘trading’ unless they carried it out in a private capacity. Those most affected by the tax would be the usual mugs – pension funds, insurance companies and private individuals with the former two acting as proxy for the man in the street.

        It sounds to me as if the C0fE has suddenly become the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats at prayer. Perhaps the Archbishop should give an interview to the BBC and write an article in the New Statesman.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        If the Archbishop wishes to know who is to blame then he need only look in the mirror.

        The crisis in the west has been brought about as much by an excess of socialism as an excess of capitalism; in fact a combination of the worst elements of the two is at the heart of it all.

        The CofE is packed with socialists. In fact it’s hard to conclude – from the teachings of modern clergy – that Jesus wasn’t a socialist himself.

        That’s why I left the CofE and I bet that’s why most people have abandoned the CofE. We believed that turning water into wine could be done but telling us that socialism would work was a step waaaay too far.

        How fitting that their nemesis will be born of socialism in the form of the state-sponsored unwashed camping on their doorstep.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          Jesus was a socialist as he healed the sick for free, whereas a capitalist would have charged them.

          • Mike Stallard
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            And Simon the Zealot?
            And the High Priest’s idea of the Messiah and revolution?
            And Marx’s idea of religion withering away?
            And Marx’s atheism?
            And the fact that the Socialist Labour Party under Mr Brown took Richard Dawkins for their holiday reading?

            Don’t kid me!
            Jesus, being apophatic, was not socialist. He was an English Imperialist like his Dad. Just look at the stained glass windows in your church and see!

          • John C
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

            Of course…

            Public services are provided free – no wonder they cannot be criticised. Nobody pays for them in socialist utopia…

            Apart from the few free market radicals the debate should be between who can provide the best cost effective service.

            I don’t care if a private company makes a profit if it can provide the same (or better) service at a cheaper price to the tax payer.

            I find it funny that people on the left slag off the Tories for allowing private companies to “make profits” yet don’t give a damn about all the waste in most publicly run services.

        • lifelogic
          Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          As much by socialism!

          No almost entirely by over large and incompetent rampant socialism at all levels.

          They set all the rules, they over burden private industry with tax and regulations, they failed to regulate the banks, they set the accounting standards that allow the “massaging” of company accounts, they protect bank deposits, they force the banks and pension funds to invest in government debt, they force expensive energy on them, they push the rich and successful abroad, they set up CAP, the social chapter, the fishing rules, the absurd EURO structures and endless other half baked mess.

          Private industry generally just tries to make a living despite all this nonsense – the rules should stop the crooks that are in private industry (private industry cannot do it they do not have the powers to) – they just need to make good rules and enforce them.

      • The Meissen Bison
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        The Archbishop should worry less about what is rendered to Caesar and more about what is due to God.

        And when he’s done that, he might like appoint a water-canon to the precincts of St Paul’s

        • rose
          Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          “My Kingdom is not of this world”

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted November 3, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          The MB – Ha ha ! Very funny.

          But seriously. A couple of cold running hoses wetting the paving slabs would make things utterly miserable for the ‘campers’. They wouldn’t stick around for long.

          No need for violence or legal proceedings. Just a rather heavy water bill.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Still at least Huhne has finally killed the absurd and pointless (rather cloudy UK) Photovoltaic industry stone dead by halving the absurd feed in tariffs. But can he explain why he encouraged this pointless industry in the first place?

      • Mark
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        Feed in Tariffs were introduced by Ed Miliband when he was Energy Secretary. As an example of economic nonsense they are hard to beat. They are also a warning of the kind of nonsense he might sanction were he to gain power.

  3. alan jutson
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Good straight honest advice.

    Yes we are now seeing the results of a bit of honesty in Greece right now.

    At last the cat is out of the bag, the Country is financiallybusted, the cover up has been blown wide open.

    The effect of years of cover up, overspending and over borrowing by politicians is clear for all to see.

    Personal debt can be covered up for some while until realisation strikes, and the bailif calls, then you have to face the stark truth.

    Sovereign debt is exactly the same, other than deluded Politicians/Country’s have the opportuity to print more money (sound familiar) to extend the realisation phase, but then when it does eventually come, it is bigger and more savage, because of the scale of the cover up.

    I would think that many political leaders are now even more fearful of facing realisation, but at some stage they will have to.
    That is the penalty for not having the courage to resolve overspending and borrowing at an early stage.
    That is the penalty for overspending and borrowing in the first place.

    Sound money and defence of the realm, the very first principles of government.

    Ps

    I see from the newspapers (telegraph) today, we do not have a single naval ship immediately available to protect UK waters. !

    • alan jutson
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Oops forgot to add.

      The taxpayer ends up funding/paying in one way or another, for both their personal, and the politicians debt.

      • alan jutson
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        High taxes often means Low growth.

        Low taxes usually means higher growth.

        People spend their own money usually better than governments do.

        You have to make reward greater than the risk to encourage business to start up and grow.

        When risk is deemed higher than percieved reward, you get business stagnation, and investment if any happens into perhaps other areas.

        We have had high taxes and a low reward to risk situation for too many years of late, so its no wonder we are not growing as fast as other areas where the balance is more positive.

        • lifelogic
          Posted November 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          Indeed as you say:

          “People spend their own money usually better than governments do.”

          They certainly do:- S0 much of what government spends does nothing of any use at all and inconveniences people and businesses into the bargain. Not to mention the huge costs of tax collection, the inconvenience to the public (in administration of this complex tax collection (book keepers, record storage, accountants and lawyers) and the irrational changes of behavior thus produced.

          The state probably spends their (50%!) about a third as efficiently at the very best it terms of benefit given. Beyond the basics of defense and law and order they should get out of it. Imbecilities like Cameron’s happiness index and Huhne’s expensive energy should go for a start.

          • uanime5
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            So you’re saying that everyone should pay for their own schooling, healthcare, and rubbish collection. I believe they tried this in the Victorian era and the result was high level of mortality and large numbers of the population had no education.

          • alan jutson
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            Lifelogic.

            Talking of Accountants and the Inland Revenue.

            Has anyone noticed that many Banks and Building Societies have now stopped sending out an end of year (April-April), Tax certificate, which shows interest and tax paid on savings accounts etc.

            Spoke to my Accountant who confirmed this was the case now with some, and he said we now have to work it out with our own calculations.

            I wonder if I make an honest mistake, or a simple calculation error, the Inland Revenue will fine me ?.

            Given all/most investment interest is tax paid (in my case, as it is with most people) this seems an absolute nonesense.

            More work, more time, spent filling in forms for no reaon when tax was deducted at source.

          • Bazman
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            Individuals do not spend enough to provide vital infrastructure and private companies are unable to provide this at a viable price for the nation and the vast majority of individuals. We would be third world state in lifelogics fantasy and because of this companies would declare that Britain was no good for businesses due to lack of infrastructure, education and a weak population. Even a child can see this one coming.

          • Bazman
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

            That will be the same reason why water company in Cambridgeshire, Alan now send out their bills quarterly instead of as they used to half yearly. To hide the price per year and the shocking amounts every six months. You do not double the number of times billed per year to lower costs that’s for sure.

          • alan jutson
            Posted November 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            Bazman.

            Ref: Water company and high bills.

            Are you on a water meter ?

            We reduced our bill by half, simply by going for a meter, still do, and use everything as before.

            Worth investigating especially if you live in a largish house, with only two at home.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          Taxes and growth are usually not related; as you can have high taxes and high growth, or low taxes and low growth.

          Stagnation occurs because of a lack of innovation, with risk and reward being largely irrelevant.

          Also you forgot that what may be very risky for one business will be nearly risk free for other businesses.

          • alan jutson
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

            Really.

          • Sebastian Weetabix
            Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            I am trying to think of an example of a “high tax, high growth” economy, but I cannot think of one. Where do you have in mind?

    • Bob
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      “I see from the newspapers (telegraph) today, we do not have a single naval ship immediately available to protect UK waters. !”

      France will look after the UK, in the absence of the hard pressed Royal Navy.
      That’s what friends are for!

      • alan jutson
        Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Bob

        Like it, yes you can always depend upon the French.

        We now have one carrier between us I think.

        Last time I heard, it was in for a service, having broken down.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      But we do have Anne Widdecomb!

    • Bryan
      Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Er – not true. I saw one parked off Dover yesterday.

      At least I assumed it was one of ours, or maybe the one!

  4. Pete the Bike
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Sajid Javid’s arrival may be a good thing, anyone that doesn’t approve of the euro must have some sense.
    However your comment about growth being boosted by government services is absurd. Government spending can only come from theft from the private sector today (taxes) or borrowing which is theft from the private sector tomorrow. That it shows up as growth in statistics is a failure of the methods used to calculate them. If unrealistic, and tiny, growth claims is all that Dave and George have to support their policies they are in more trouble than I thought.

    • Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      JR’s point about public spending boosting growth is perfectly reasonable. The fact that funds for public spending are taken by force from the private sector does not prove the worthlessness of public spending. Voters express their wish at election time for a proportion of GDP to be allocated, by force, to various forms of public spending: health, education, etc. That’s because voters regard such spending as more worthwhile than spending on the alternatives: more booze, bigger cars, etc. There is no ultimate proof that voters are right here, just as there is no proof that the services of a member of the oldest profession are worth more than the services of an NHS nurse because the former is paid more. The free market is just one way of valuing things. The democratic process is another. So I suggest the best assumption we can make is that the value of a public sector employee is about equal to that of a private sector employee.

  5. Javelin
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    He makes a very good point about the predictability and manageability.

  6. Simon 123
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    We need a more sophisticated debate about ‘growth’. Growth depends on several distinct components:

    1. Start ups – individuals risking everything to start a new small business.
    2. Expansion of existing small businesses.
    3. Expansion of mature businesses not large enough to have a stock market quote.
    4. FTSE 100 companies.
    5. Inward investment from multi-nationals.

    Different categories require different treatments.

    We also need to manage our own expectations: you are unlikely to achieve serious growth if the rest of the world, especially your own trading partners, are flat lining.

    The mainstream media is a liability in these discussions. No credit is given for the fact that we are making a small improvement in a world environment where the US and the EU are both floundering.

    Finally, I note plenty of rhetoric from Mr. Balls but little detail. Can Mr. Balls please set out for us in full and in writing a list of specific measures and initiatives that he thinks the Coalition should be following. This list should omit throwing money at the public sector.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Your forgot businesses generating revenue by anything other expansion, such as releasing a new product.

      Also you don’t have to risk everything on you own business if you have another part time job until your business is more established.

  7. waramess
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Growth? add back in the depreciation taken out of the raw figures and add back in the CPI. More like delusion!

    At least Athens is willing to show us how democracy should work. Maybe after they have left the Ero, defaulted and have to manage with a smaller government restricted by the taxes collected and unable to raise debt they will also show us what growth is.

  8. waramess
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    “add back in depreciation taken from the raw figures” should read “deduct”. In a rush as usual

  9. Single Acts
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Er possibly stupid question, but…..

    ‘Growth’ is measured by GDP. Setting aside all the problems with this measure for a moment, is this a ‘raw’ GDP figure or is it one after inflation has been taken into account?

    For example, if every price in the entire economy went up uniformly by say 10% in a year, then GDP as measured in sterling would be up 10%, but actual economic activity may have been unchanged. So I would say this is no growth, what would the official GDP figure tell us in this case?

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    JR: “Government services boosted growth in the third quarter.”
    Be careful; Ed Balls will be citing you in support of his borrow and spend ideas. On that basis you can see why Balls keeps saying the government should borrow more to stimulate growth. There seems to be something perverse about including “government services” in growth figures, particularly when so much is being borrowed. Surely the main reason the government wants higher growth is to increase the tax take and help reduce the deficit. How is that helped by borrowing more to spend more to massage the growth figures?

  11. Caterpillar
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Inflation: the known downside risk to growth with estimated thresholds of 2 or 3% in developed countries, and yet the MPC/BoE/Chancellor will claim their high inflation policy has helped growth. All so they can see a nice flat nominal growth curve; who cares how much is real growth and how much is inflation? A few more decades of this doveish absurdity to go.

  12. Winston Smith
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Is it possible to re-state growth figures after removing Govt debt based expenditure? What effect would the £40bn, borrowed in the last quarter, have on those growth figures? Would it be negligible?

  13. James Reade
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Government services grew 1.4% in real terms? Perhaps you could link up where this number came from so it can be properly scrutinised? I just went to the ONS (here http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-236742) and downloaded the contributions to growth by different sectors at the yearly level (since year-on-year is meaningful, quarter-on-quarter is not), and found government to be growing 1.1% and contributing to 20% of the numbers. Furthermore, we might look back at 2009, which shows the impact of the recession, when government grew 2.3%, and we might look back further and note that these numbers are cyclical, low and behold – because at the end of the day, the government’s fiscal position is cyclical.

    I haven’t looked back to the early 1990s, but given that the deficit remained high well into the mid-1990s after the milder recession of 1992, I would expect we probably saw that government’s contribution to growth was reasonably large then too. What exactly are you purporting to show here?

    I won’t even bother responding to this supposed “straight talking” by another MP since I’ll just get accused of carping or something. So much for debate, eh, John?

    • James Reade
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      So, that link John? That analysis over more than one period of spending patterns I mentioned?

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    As George Osborne has been prepared to appoint Sajid Javid as his PPS, does that mean he’s having second thoughts about the desirability of eurozone fiscal union? One can only hope so.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Oh no, still the same line yesterday:

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111101/debtext/111101-0001.htm#11110165000350

      And what an answer to JR’s question, Column 751:

      “Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend ensure, if he is not using our veto against more fiscal integration, that Britain gets something out of the deal? Do we not need the right to opt out of any past or future EU measure that could damage jobs and prosperity at home?

      Mr Osborne: We have already extracted a price for the European Stability Mechanism treaty that the eurozone wants to put forward by getting ourselves out of the EU bail-out mechanism to which the last Government had committed us. We are working to keep the increase in the EU budget to a real freeze. In other words, we have, I think, proved in office that we can extract important concessions and in the case of the EU bail-out fund we have actually taken a power back to Britain. That will be the approach we take to future discussions and negotiations – putting Britain’s national interest first.”

      So the eurozone states kindly excusing us from any further participation in their illegal bail-outs schemes, apart from through the IMF, and without that “concession” even being put into the treaties, is spun as “we have actually taken a power back to Britain”.

  15. Martin
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I note your comments about construction. Perhaps you should ask the new Minister of Transport how much the anti-Heathrow third runway agenda is now contributing to weaker growth.

  16. Posted November 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Sajid Javid ideas are total nonsense. First, a European wide fiscal union would not be “massively undemocratic”. We do have MEPs and a European Parliament. Perhaps Javid has not heard of these. No doubt this parliament has defects, as does the Westminster parliament, but the details of any fiscal union would nevertheless be heavily influenced by Europe wide democratic pressures.

    Second, in what sense would Greece become any more a “German vassal state” than the North East of England or Scotland are vassal states of the South East or London? Scotland and the North East are dependent on hand outs from London. But Scotland has plenty of politicians at Westminster – perhaps too many.

    Third, even if Greece did end up being ordered around by Germans, it would do Greece a power of good. Greece entered the European Union on the basis of fraudulent figures for its deficit, debt, etc, plus Greece is a nation of tax dodgers. Plus they’ve consumed about 10% more than they’ve earned in recent years. If Greeks spend the next five years having some sense knocked into them by Germans, they’d owe Germans a big favour.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      MEPs have no more control over the activities of the unelected commission than you or I. It is literally a talking shop with no meaningful power. The whole point of the EU is that it should be immune from democratic pressure – it was designed that way by the Enarques to prevent -erm, ‘national passions’ (Nazis!) – taking over the reins of power again.

      With regard to vassal states – I think you will find a significant motivation for SNP supporters (with whom I strongly, violently disagree, FWIW, speaking as a Scot) is precisely that they believe Scotland is a vassal state of England, rather than an equal partner as the 1707 Act of Union makes clear. But when you cannot decide your own fiscal policy, cannot vote for an alternative, and have overseers from Germany & Brussels deciding what national assets are going to be disposed of, immune from any democratic accountability, you truly are a vassal state. Historical precedents for this state of affairs are not happy ones.

      etc etc

    • Winston Smith
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Govt expenditure per head is higher in London than the NE. Germany and Greece are separate nations, have different languages, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and completely separate and independent histories.

    • forthurst
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      “Third, even if Greece did end up being ordered around by Germans, it would do Greece a power of good. Greece entered the European Union on the basis of fraudulent figures for its deficit, debt, etc, plus Greece is a nation of tax dodgers. Plus they’ve consumed about 10% more than they’ve earned in recent years. If Greeks spend the next five years having some sense knocked into them by Germans, they’d owe Germans a big favour.”

      Had you ever given thought to the possibilty that the Greeks did not want to be ‘improved’, or do you regard such a concept as irrelevent?

  17. Mark
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Will the UK be allowed to grow some more?

    http://www.upstreamonline.com/live/article286803.ece

    How Huhne responds to this is crucial.

  18. forthurst
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that the ‘Eurosceptic’ (‘No’ on the Referendum) Sajid Javid becoming a PPS can be construed as any more than window dressing (ticks two boxes). I’m sure the Chancellor can tolerate Eurosceptic coffee, since he gets plenty of the genuine Kool-Aid on his annual pilgrimage to meet the Bilderbergers.

    Sarko the S***n’s spokesman averred that the Greek plebiscite was “irrational and dangerous”. Well it would be for someone whose idea of democracy, hardly based on the Athenian model, was that having deprived national parliaments of their law making function, they now existed purely to bamboozle their ‘electorates’ into accepting a creeping erosion of freedom and accountabily until they had delivered a European superstate with oddly unsympathetic individuals such as Sarkozy callling the shots.

    I understand that at a meeting of COBRA during the summer, called in response to the public lawlessness, Cast Iron proposed closing down parts of the internet. Do we have two (bad-?ed) PMs on the trot?

  19. stred
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    The ‘service’ that we have received from our local government Building Control Dept. has certainly been growing. In the last 5 months they have raised every obstcacle possible, in some cases reversing earlier approvals for our one bedroom extension.

    I have a pile of letters and calculations which have cost thousands in professional time and double payments resulting from a delayed completion. The latest nonesense is beyond belief. So far, all of it has been overcome and the project remains as conceived and costed.

    However, the chief BI had the gall to complain that we had been wasting their time and is talking about increasing the fee, as they are over budget. They even complain about the length of our letters, which we have to write in order to refute their demands.

    The worst one was a recommendation from their structural engineer to Building Control that the 38 year old existing extension should be rebuilt. This was because of excessive deflection in a beam. This was later described as ‘goodwill advice’ after we had complained to councillors.

    These inspectors always turn up in expensive new cars and their holidays are usually for 3 weeks, during which time we have to wait and stop work. They tell us that we are free to continue, but that in the end it must comply with every piece of legislation and code of practice that they can find. If not the project risks demolition and rebuilding.

    Eric Pickles could save the country a fortune by privatising these offices and letting them compete with private inspectors on a level field. They would find few customers.

    That that all this nonsense is counted as a service and contibutes to growth is peverse.

  20. Paul
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Growth is non-existent. The government’s strategy, if there is one, is failing miserably. 18 months in to this Coalition and the government continues to blame the the previous government – not good enough. Regulation, largely from the EU, is strangling small businesses – what is Cameron going to do about this? Nothing.

  21. uanime5
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    John I have a question regarding the growth of 0.5%, instead of the 0.3% forecast. Was this forecast the Governments original forecast or one of the downgraded forecasts?

    Reply: N o, it was the expectation of private sector forecasters. The government has forecast 1.7% for the year.

  22. MajorFrustration
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Growth of 0.5% – is that before or after inflation? Dream on.

  23. George Stewart
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    That was refreshing information on the PPS for Treasury.

    John, something that has been bothering me. The Government has pledged all manners of support in the so called Arab Spring.

    Should the Government not be making contingency plans to assist the Greek People in the event a referendum says no?

    Seriously, I do not understand the passion of so many of the political players involved. The Greek people will vote yes or no. I think it would be appropriate that we as a people have in place a means for helping the Greek people forward and get out of this jam. This is really not much different than a bank stepping in to provide interim financing after a bankruptcy.

    The further we get along with this the more I scratch my head and say this is a solution to the problems of politicians not a solution to the problems of Greeks or other Europeans.

    This idea of the euro being above all else is actually pretty frightening.

  24. Mark
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    I tried looking at the data from the ONS, but it’s very difficult to make much sense of them. The ONS admit that they have carried out a number of adjustments for “one off” and seasonal factors, and we are forced to accept their professional judgements because the raw data are not available. We should also be wary that new methodologies and rebasing of data are taking place, opening scope for errors to creep in (the BoE debunked a persistent error in the CPI which failed to recognise that in fashion industries after end of season sales, the new lines were essentially the same clothes: the error was worth 0.3% p.a. over a decade on the entire CPI index).

    One thing that does seem now to be clear was that Labour organised a boom in construction activity (effectively “financed” by QE) that was meant to give a “feel good” factor for the general election. It arrived in Q2/Q3 2010, and makes the year on year comparison slightly spurious.

  25. A different Simon
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    We have a choice , productivity and creative destruction or trying to preserve everything which is wrong with this country .

    Do we really want an economy which is based on pushing pieces of paper , selling houses at ever higher prices and restricting the availability of land to ensure the rich get rich and everyone is in debt servitude and gets nowhere ?

    Make no mistake that is where we are .

    Stop propping up house prices , let banks fail and their creditors take haircuts ,

    Release public land in such a way that it cannot be bought up by those seeking to make money by engineering a shortage . This would bring house prices down allowing people to save money for old age instead of paying interest to the banks and would cut businesses premises costs .

    Surpluses in housing and jobs render employment and rental legislation less important .

    Private land ownership stems from rights of conquest . The system needs to be changed so that the dividends from the land accrue to society as a whole rather than the few .

    The men coming back from WW2 thought they had earned the right to create a better Britain . It’s clear that in 2011 we still haven’t got beyond the stifling effect of land enclosure .

  26. zorro
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes…that will be the Mr Javid who wrote the following in the Bromsgrove Standard on 28/10 to explain why he voted against the referendum motion……

    “I am very much a Euro-sceptic and I believe Britain’s relationship with the EU has gone too far and that we do need to repatriate power back to the UK”….”But I voted against this motion because I believe it would have made those efforts more difficult,” he added.

    Of course…. unlike voting against the motion which would have made the government rush off and renegotiate our relationship with Europe in the national interest….oh wait.

    Of course, the position taken by this ‘Eurosceptic’ Tory MP has nothing to do with the fact that he had recently been promoted to be George Osborne’s PPS….It would of course be wrong to assume that MPs would be so venal as to compromise their supposedly cherished principles in the pursuit of power….

    zorro

  27. John C
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    “That sounds like good straight honest advice.”

    Which, no doubt, Mr Sajid Javid MP will disown now that he is on the government’s “payroll”…

    That’s politics for you…

    In a similar vein, I cringed watching Iain Duncan Smith on Question Time last week.

    A good man trying to do good work with benefit reform and it is probably a good reason to stay in government. But, really, did anyone believe that he really meant what he said when he was trying to support the government’s line on last Monday’s vote?

    IDS did what they all do when real politics conflicts with principles. Forget that we are not fools and treat us like idiots.

  28. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    I am currently working in Asia. I am not surprised that UK construction activity is down. There are so many projects in Asia that will give a higher rate of return than anything the UK can offer.

    Presumably that 0.5% growth is for a quarter. Sounds about right; it is the sort of growth rate we should be planning for. Given the size of our public sector debt, it is better to have pleasant surprises than unpleasant ones.

  29. NickW
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Recommended Article;

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,790138,00.html

    Der Spiegel, (In English) On the History and future of the Euro.

  30. lojolondon
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    John, note how the BBC has been pumping Ed Balls and others for the last week, saying Osborne has failed, the cuts are too harsh and the economy is failing. When the unpredicted, limited good news comes out on the economy, they gloss right over it.

    When Oliver Letwin dumps private papers the subject stays on the news for days, including the question whether he is fit for his position, but when the Righteous Vince Cable does the same thing, it is off the news in 24 hours.

    It is time to get rid of the BBC’s free ride at the expense of the taxpayer, they are anti-British and anti-Tory, and their message is certainly not even-handed.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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