It’s still the economy stupid

 

                Yesterday in Parlliament the Leader of the Opposition could hardly wait to get through a couple of questions on the economy, to get on to the issue that fascinates the political and media classes – themselves. The latest revelations about the relationships between the Murdoch media and the present government caused the downfall of a Special Adviser. They leave the Culture Secretary making the rogue adviser defence, saying that his Adviser said and did things he should not have done, but they were unauthorised by his  boss. The Leveson Enquiry is likely to find that the relationships between politicians of both main parties and the Murdoch press have been close, with both parties  competing for favourable coverage and backing. As far as the public is concerned, they want an economic recovery and want more attention on jobs, savings, and prices.

                 The age of spin has encouraged the strange idea that a party or an individual can maintain a good press whatever the reality of their actions and their consequences. To hear that politicians rang up leading journalists to ask how obviously bad events might be covered shows a curious naivety about the way the world works. It does not matter how many spin doctors a government employs, how much it has courted leading commentators: if it does not deliver a reasonable outcome for the public  it will be the object of criticism or abuse. It makes more sense to me to spend more time trying to get the policy right, and less time worrying about the headlines. If a party holds public support because it is delivering a good result, it will  find that the press is less hostile. Newspapers have to sell daily to the electorate. If the electorate think from their own experience that the government is doing a good job that will tone down the daily abuse Ministers can expect from a sceptical public and a free media.

                The Coalition government will find its press improves as and when recovery picks up, as people find there are more jobs, as real incomes start to rise. Low poll ratings and a poor press are the result of a continuing squeeze on living standards brought on by the tax rises needed to pay for all the extra public spending of the last few years. The government needs to show the value of that spending if it is to justify the tax rises, or get better value from spending so it can get the tax rises down a bit.

                     There needs to be a credible message of hope – we want to know the sacrifice of the tax rises is worthwhile and will deliver higher standards of living and quality of public service. I was pleased to see a few articles picked up the obvious but neglected point that current public spending continues to rise in real terms. My main contribution to the public debate seems to be to read the government’s numbers, which so many commentators decline to do  so they can make up stories not based on the reality of the public spending patterns. Many of them continue to talk about austerity as if it was a phenomenon confined to public spending, when it is primarily a reduction in living standards for the many, a reduction which started under the past government thanks to a big recession and has continued under the Coalition thanks to tax rises and inflation.

 

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113 Comments

  1. Paul Danon
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    You sometimes wonder whether we have a government or just a public relations front for the governing party. Time is passing and the govt still hasn’t sold to the public the necessity for real austerity, rather than talk of austerity while debt and spending rise (as John never stops pointing out). There must surely be a bespectacled policy-wonk out there who can suggest a rebalancing of fiscal affairs so that we really do shrink the state without clobbering the genuinely poor and sick.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:08 am | Permalink

      I wonder whether we have a government or just a front of ham actors making announcements for Whitehall, the EU commission and the bureaucrats on command.

  2. Jim J
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    John

    The “recovery” will begin when someone in the House of Commons realises that the last thirty years have effectively been a road to nowhere. All three parties are economic neo liberals they just chop it and dice it in a slightly different ways. What they have failed to see that just like socialism their grand idea makes no allowance for the human frailties of greed, incompetence etc. I f anyone wants to disagree with me for starters if you work for a living tell me how you have personally benefitted from a “flexible labour Market” ?

    As things stand today it does not matter who you vote for because the prevailing economic theories will continue regardless

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      I have a fair bit of sympathy with that Jim!

      Politics in this country is presently hemmed-in within a social-democratic box, and we need to escape it, and do things differently. For instance, I have been a law and order campaigner for over two decades, yet despite winning the intellectual argument, we still see the least effective, but most expensive remedies used to fight it. Which, I add, is totally against what most of the British public actually want. The Conservative party is best placed to make the necessary changes, and all they need to do, is re-align themselves with mainstream opinion – simple – but they are awash with people from a different social strata and mindset, who continually tie both hands behind their backs. In the process, they produce weak, diluted government and deny the people their democratic right. Perhaps many more of the important decisions should be put directly to the people in the form of a referendum?

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if donations to political parties were restricted to people on the electoral role and capped at £25k the ties would fall away from behind their backs and we would see the politicians hands out front?

    • uanime5
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      The problem with the “flexible labour Market” is that employees will never give their all for a company that can fire them for things that aren’t their fault, such as the company not making enough money. Secure employment motivates employees to ensure the company remains successful.

      • JimF
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        A successful company motivates the owners to ensure that employees’ employment is secure.

      • Bob
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        uanime5

        Isn’t that slightly self contradictory?

        If one can be fired easily, then one has a strong incentive to do one’s best.

        If a company is not making money then presumably it will have trouble covering the payroll, and a private company is not allowed to print money to pay it’s employees unlike the government.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          It you can be easily fired then why show any loyalty to a company that will show you none.

          Given that employees have more stake in a company they tend to ensure that it makes money. They’re also more willing to take temporary pay cuts out of loyalty to their company.

          • Bob
            Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            uanime5

            “…employees have more stake in a company they tend to ensure that it makes money. They’re also more willing to take temporary pay cuts…”

            If the staff are ensuring that their employer makes money, then why would they need to take pay cuts?

            Isn’t that slightly self contradictory?

          • APL
            Posted April 28, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

            Bob: “Isn’t that slightly self contradictory?”

            Nah Bob, it’s all the fault of the nasty greedy capitalists.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        This is nonsense in practice. Employees want rid of clearly lazy & useless employees just as the employers do it benefits all but the lazy & useless.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          However employers also want to get rid of the sick, pregnant, and employees with young children, something that is much easier if you can easily fire employees.

          • lifelogic
            Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

            The do not unless want to get rid of anyone who is any good.

          • lifelogic
            Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

            Sorry I meant:-

            They do not want to get rid of anyone who is any good at the job why should they want too – they are quite hard to find?

      • Brian A
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        Security of employment can also encourage poor performance from a number of employees who believe that they are untouchable. The proportion of poor performers will vary from sector to sector and is usually low, however, even a relatively small percentage may be harmful. Many studies of organisations have revealed that the number one gripe of conscientious employees is that some of their colleagues do not pull their weight – this clearly has a potentially negative effect on overall morale and productivity.

        • lifelogic
          Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          Exactly the employer has his hands tied and cannot manage and as you say conscientious employees then feel unfairly treated as they are carrying others.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      I have benefited a few times by being made redundant and having to look for anther job. This has helped me to see the realities of the ‘flexible labour’, agencies, low pay, revolving door recruitment policies with top down management systems. More commonly knows as ‘A bunch of users’ This has helped me to get myself into a position where I have to be less ‘flexible’. Ram it.

    • Brian A
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Flexible labour markets benefit the economy as a whole by making more jobs available – for evidence look to highly regulated labour markets like those in Spain, where unemployment is well over 20% and over 50% for young people trying to enter their restricted labour market for the first time.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        How do you account for the low levels of unemployment in Germany and Japan despite these countries having a more restricted labour market than the UK?

  3. matthu
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    An interesting tidbit that has yet to be picked up by the media is this extract from an email fom News Corporation’s Director of Public Affairs in Europe providing feedback from discussions he has had with both Nick Clegg’s and David Cameron’s advisors at the beginning of December, 2010.

    “Proposition for News Corp to attend a ministerial Climate Change meeting with Chris Huhne and No 10 to present our strategy so far.”

    So instead of the press challenging the government’s climate strategy we have them cosying up and agreeing a strategy – presumably because they know too well that the real situation doesn’t bear scrutiny?

    • matthu
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      My comment appears to be stuck in moderation. Perhaps I need to give a reference for the quote I provided. Here it is:

      http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Exhibit-KRM-18.pdf

      • Gary
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Incredible ! A bunch of unelected news hacks dictating govt policy behind our backs. We have a (word left out) corporate stitch up here. Or worse…(word left out). The are fighting amongst themselves down at Animal Farm. Get the culture secretary out of the way so they can go after Dave ,and the rest of this odious bunch on both sides of the aisle. Hopefully all sides will destroy each other.

        Reply: As newspapers disagree with one another about what government should do, I do not accept that “hacks” dictate policy.

        • Jim J
          Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          John

          You have got to be kidding here…which Home Secretary would have been brave enough to release Myra Hindley?

          • lifelogic
            Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            I personally would have – but I do not suppose I would have ever have stood for any political position have been elected. That is the problem, anyone prepared and keen to seek office is probably the wrong person for the job.

        • Winston Smith
          Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          You misunderstand the balance of power. The media are invited not to involve them in policy, but as a means to sell policies and to manipulate public opinion. The media are generally lazy, greedy and stupid. Politicians, and especially, their civil servant masters, are clever. This is the reality.

    • Bob
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      @matthu

      “the real situation doesn’t bear scrutiny”

      The science is settled. The planet is not warming.

      See link:
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/23/breaking-james-lovelock-back-down-on-climate-alarm/

      Problem is that it has become a multi billion pound industry, and there are too many people whose livelihoods depend on it, so what can they do but try to keep it on the boil for a bit longer, or find another scare story.

      Maybe we need to build some giant laser cannons to defend against extra terrestrial invaders? That theoretical threat will take a very long time to dispel.

      Get ready for the Invasion Prevention Cover Charge.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        The high priest of this religion James Lovelock has very much to answer for along with many in the Commons and the Lords. Perhaps the many jobs lost, the financial waste, the many deaths caused by expensive food and the bio-fuel nonsense, wind, pv…..

        Still perhaps he is slowly seeing the light at last. Unlike Huhne and the coalition government. How are the new thorium reactors coming on?

        • lifelogic
          Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          I even see we have a new Ben Gummer in the house. Where does he stand on the green religion I wonder – has he caught any green religious infections off his father I wonder?

  4. norman
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Exactly right, and this is where the so-called modernisers got it so badly wrong. People don’t really care about politics, let alone policy, we care about how much the wife spent in Tesco this week (too much is my perennial answer), or whether no.2 son gets into the same primary as no.1, how safe we feel our job is.

    Make a success of the economy, everything else will take care of itself. And to make a success stick to a proven formula that works every time – conservatism.

    As a little example, I often run charity quizzes and try and slip in a political question or two in. The teams are made up of groups of four and you’d be astounded how many people think Alistair Darling is still the Chancellor. Last week one of the questions was to name the current Home & Foreign Secretaries. Out of around 30 teams you could have counted on one hand the number of teams who knew both.

    • Susan
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      norman,

      I agree that the public do not care very much about politics in the sense of being able to name various people in positions in Government but I disagree that they do not care about policy. The public care very much about what a Government will do about health, education etc. It is worth noting how the public react when they feel that some entitlement they have been given by the State is to be withdrawn or changes are made that they do not approve of.

      Unfortunately I do not believe that just being a Government that runs the economy well is enough anymore. There are many other ways that a Government may pass on a bad impression to the public, in these days when the media report every small issue that arises. For as long as this remains the case, politicians will always be concerned about how they come across in the media and any bad press which may be coming their way.

      Reply: Understandably people care very much about services and benefits they or their family receives from the state.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:14 am | Permalink

        Indeed they care very much, but as they have already paid, in taxes, then they just get what they are given and have to lump it or leave it – however appalling the service delivered (or not) actually is. They are virtually powerless, other than an almost meaning less vote every five years or so.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      “people think Alistair Darling is still the Chancellor” Well he might as well be for all the difference it would make.

  5. Adam5x5
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    “The government needs to show the value of that spending if it is to justify the tax rises, or get better value from spending so it can get the tax rises down a bit.”

    How about getting taxes down in real terms, not just reducing the rise a bit?

    “Many of them continue to talk about austerity as if it was a phenomenon confined to public spending, when it is primarily a reduction in living standards for the many…”
    What austerity in the public sector? As you point out yourself, public spending is increasing, and the population has to fund it through taxes. (either immediately or deferred through borrowing)

    It would be good for the country if the government and majority of politicians went on a basic economics course (unless having business experience). Or how about if you just stand up in the commons and paraphrase George Orwell:
    “Saving money: Good, Spending money: Bad”

    A simple maxim like this might just get it through to them that we need a paradigm shift to a smaller state that lives within its means instead of chucking money away without a concern where it’s coming from…
    More complex arguments don’t seem to be working – whether this is because those in government don’t understand or some other reason I don’t know.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      We need to move away from government departments justifying any extra spending to them justifying why they are not reducing their spending by say 10% per annum. Justification will of course not always be in economic terms but also for social, environmental and other reasons. The economic benefits need to be assessed in the medium turn not just in terms of the immediate debt reduction.

      Why for example is the Environment Agency which controls most of our rivers not pursuing the installation of mini-hydropower units on all of the weirs that it owns? These would return any capital investment within about seven years and be much more effective wind turbines as they give a continuous uninterrupted power generation for less investment.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Confession: As a man, I was so humiliated by a woman becoming Prime Minister that I could not look at the TV when Mrs Thatcher came on. Towards the end, she got very unpleasant indeed on TV too, actually.
    But she saved my country and for that I respect her much more than many men.

    You are totally right about spin. In the end it fools nobody. Even when liars tell the truth, nobody believes them.

    PS Keep badgering away at the figures. Nobody else is bothering – including the shadow Chancellor! (He shouts a lot though).

    Reply: I thought it great news that a woman PM was brave and did much to improve this country – but then I admire the way Elizabeth 1 stood up for England as well. Why be humiliated, when someone else does something well?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      And despite her much more limited resources Elizabeth managed to avoid bankruptcy, albeit only by selling off Crown lands to the tune of £900,000, while her antagonist Philip defaulted on his debts.

    • Timaction
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      The comments you make about media reporting is often a “own goal” by the political leaders of the day (both sides). A simple maxim. Before you act or do anything, how would it appear if it was reported on the front page of the newspaper or the leading story on the television? So don’t cosy up to the Murdoch media empire, or the president of the United States in an election year, or place bizarre PC priorities as policy with no manifesto promises. Deliver on what you promised (Spending cuts, economy, EU, remove quangos and bureaucracy, immigration etc).
      So how are Messrs Cameron and Osborne doing? Appallingly, with no sense of conservative values or ethos. Goes to show how important life experience outside Westminster is.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      The ‘nasty’ Tories the only party to do it too.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Put a woman in the top job, that is.

    • Susan
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Elizabeth I was indeed a great queen, probably the best Monarch England ever had. However, often with greatness comes ruthlessness as well. Elizabeth left her sailors who had just won the Armada for her to starve through lack of payment from her.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        She and her Council did, through shortage of money. Over the preceding years she’d scrimped to build up a reserve of £300,000, more than one year’s normal revenue, but it wasn’t enough. About half her revenues were going to help the Dutch, plus subsidising James in Scotland. In 1588 she’d tried to borrow £50,000 abroad at 10%, and in early 1589 she tried again to borrow £100,000 in Germany, no luck on either occasion, and later that year she had to start selling lands. This is why the fleet which went to attack Portugal in 1589 had to be funded by a joint stock company with the Queen putting in only a quarter of the £80,000 capital, with the bad consequence that the interests of the other investors prevailed and it got diverted from its stated primary task of finishing off what was left of the Armada.

      • pj sok
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        Pirates to be sure!
        X(

  7. ian wragg
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    The usual excuses are trotted out by the government. i.e. Europe accounts for 50% of our exports and they are in trouble. They neglect the fact that the rest of the world, the oher 80% is growing.
    Until we cut free from this monstrous socialist quango of the EU, there will be no growth and very little prospects for the young of this country.
    The experiment has faailed and its time to put it to bed.

    • JT
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      But the government have virtually nothing to do with our trade partners.
      They do not decide to trade with the Euro Block (well Ireland actually)
      It is the outcome of 100,000s of businesses, organisations and individuals. It is also the product of historical legacy.
      The reality is that the government can do very little to impact economic trends in the short to medium term.
      It takes 30-40% of GDP every year to spend on collective items.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Another reason why the UK trades with Europe is that the cost of transporting manufactured goods to Europe is much cheaper than sending them to Africa or Asia.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          Africans and Asians in general do not have the money to buy European goods and making things in China means that you have to get the product to the markets where they are sold.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        Around 50% since 2009

    • James Reade
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Funny that. We’ve been in this monstrous socialist quango for the best part of 40 years and I believe that for many of those years we’ve shown growth rates comparable and better than anything we achieved before that. How do you explain that?

      • norman
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Technology, quite simply. Take a look at the bigger picture, look at how we’ve changed in the last 40 years, at how productivity has shot through the roof. We’ve never advanced technologically at a greater pace than in the last 50 or so years. Compare what a single worker can output now in virtually any field compared to his grandfather.

        Of course, we can’t second guess what would have happened had we harnessed that technology to a more conservative approach (like the USA did, say) but neither can you discount alternatives.

        It’s not simply a case of saying ‘we’ve had good growth in the last 40 years compared to the previous 200, which were plagued by wars, so therefore everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’.

        • James Reade
          Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          Yes but you don’t address my point. We had growth. We were in the EU.

          The moment you start introducing other explanations for growth, as you do, is the moment you accept my point – it’s not all about the EU.

          Get over this anti-EU prejudice.

          • Electro-Kevin
            Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            Define ‘growth’.

            I don’t count the Brown years as a period of growth. It’s now clear for all to see that they were not.

          • Bob
            Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

            @James Reade

            Don’t understand yr point.

            Are you suggesting we would not have grown our economy without joining the EU?

  8. Boudicca
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    “They’re all as bad as each other” applies in this instance (as in so many others). Successive Governments and their Ministers have courted – or grovelled – to Murdoch and in return, the Dead Tree Press failed to hold the Government properly to account.
    The losers were the people whose opinions are largely ignored by both politicians and the MSM, but who have had to pick up the bill for the failures of government and their cheerleaders in the media – not just News Corp.

    It isn’t just the economy, stupid, although that is obviously a significant element of the disconnect between government and the people. It’s the knowledge that our political elite have given control of this country to the EU and ECHR, and regardless of what WE want, they have no intention of getting it back. It’s the way our country has been wrecked by mass immigration. It’s the sheer greed of the bankers and the failure to hold anyone to account (in the banks, the FSA, the Bank of England, the Treasury) for their actions. Instead, it’s ‘business as usual’ for the politicians, the bankers and the officials who failed to carry out their jobs – and the people pick up the tab.

    And with Cameron, Clegg (or even Deadwood if he gets elected) nothing will change. They all believe in the EU. Not one will stand up to the ECHR. They will continue with mass immigration, because membership of the EU prevents control of our borders. They will continue loading taxes onto the middle classes instead of tackling the waste and cutting spending. They will continue to preach austerity in the UK whilst shovelling money at the EU and IMF.

    There is no hope. Unless we can break the control of LibLabCON. And that’s one reason why, come what may, I will vote UKIP. I am sick to death of the cosy consensus being perpetrated by LibLabCON and rule from Brussels. I want my country back.

  9. colliemum
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    You say: “It makes more sense to me to spend more time trying to get the policy right, and less time worrying about the headlines.”

    Oh absolutely! But no government since 1997 has taken that view because of the undeniable success of the Blair/Campbell/Mandelson set-up in delivering a government perceived to be successful, where bad news were hidden and where MPs were held on a very short rein. ‘Being on message’ was the point, and the MSM and public were fed nothing but ‘messages’. The expenses scandal and the way this was treated (not!) is a prime example.

    That is why your following sentence: “If a party holds public support because it is delivering a good result, it will find that the press is less hostile.” is again a bit of pious hope. We all know that the biggest medium, the BBC, will only become less hostile when there’s another Labour government in office.

    What this government needs is an even thicker skin where the MSM are concerned, do the work regardless of MSM onslaught and tell what they’ve done through blogs, like this one.

    • Bob
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      The BBC are against all things conservative.

      But that shouldn’t worry Dave too much.

  10. JimF
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    It is indeed difficult to see where these so-called sacrifices are leading us.
    It seems to me that we are sacrificing the long-term, through decreasing capital spending on construction, for the sake of maintaining short-term spending on benefits, rather than vice versa. Any decent Conservative government would have this the right way round. Once people start to realise that their taxes are by and large being spent on welfare subsidies for the underclass and interest to pay government bondholders a black economy is likely to gather momentum.

  11. Atlas
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    One of the problems this government has is that senior ministers fancy themselves as being super smart, yet as you point out so eloquently, their solutions to this economic problem are failing to work.

    I suppose the ministers have their policy ‘sacred cows’ and they are not willing to admit that these policies may not be a correct expression of reality. In science if the theory does not fit the facts then it is discarded. It would seem that this is not the case in politics – rather the attempt to bang square pegs into round holes continues.

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Except the climate change con which ignores scientific evidence to maintain the illusion.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        All the scientific evidence shows climate change is real and being accelerated by human activity.

        • Bob
          Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          uanime5

          Climate change is a natural phenomena beyond our control.

          It has just been hijacked by con artists in a money and power grab.

          Don’t fall for it.

          • uanime5
            Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

            So because you don’t like what scientists are saying they must all be con artists. It’s clear to see who is the real con artist.

          • Bob
            Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            uanime5

            Who?

      • Atlas
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        “Agreed”

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Indeed politics is basically a religion – the religion of what people wish to believe (despite the evidence) not reality. People believe in lottery tickets, religions, homeopathy, quack medicine, herbal remedies, the politic of envy, enforced equality and all the rest – politicians like Cameron ride and exploit this ignorance and irrational emotion. They think that is their job.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        I would say that you are being exploited to scandalous degree with your blind beliefs in the free market and mankinds lack of freewill to avoid a race to the bottom in any situation.

  12. lifelogic
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    It is hard to have “a credible message of hope” when the coalition is clearly heading towards the cliff edge, due to a defective leadership direction. We need an uplifting vision of pro-enterprise, lower taxes, fewer regulations, a smaller & more efficient state sector, cheaper energy & real bank lending to industry. Also we cannot afford any more money down the drain on projects such as HS2, “loans” to the PIGIS, green tosh and all the rest of the nonsense.

    Ed Miliband today on radio 4 “Why did public expenditure go up as a %? Because the economy shrank.” Actually the economy shrank because the last few governments were bleeding it to death and pulling it below the water with the over regulation, over large parasitic and hugely wasteful state sector. It was thus totally unable to compete in so many areas – so it stopped trying or just went abroad.

    Does one believe Rupert Murdoch or Gordon (some bigoted woman) Brown after yesterdays revelations I wonder? Which seems more likely and more in character I wonder?

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      I see with the recent judgement that legal position of retirement of people over a certain age is now hugely uncertain so no one knows how the courts will react. Great news for lawyers thus bad for every one else.

      Just let anyone fire anyone with say 3 month pay off. All would benefit on balance businesses would take more on and would be much more efficient and well run.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Just because something is good for a business doesn’t make it good for employees or the economy. Those who have worked at a business for many decades shouldn’t be treated the same as those who have only worked there a few years.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        As usual this would never apply to the higher ranks of a company as they would not be attracted to work there. In other words they are not desperate enough. Redundancy is in effect compensation for the lose of the job. If you think there should not be any you are wrong. These employees have made a lot of money for the company over the years. A point seemingly lost on you, but not lost on the executives who take most of the credit and money for very short term inputs and often bad input.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      I listened to Miliband on Radio 4 today whilst driving the white liveried van up the M11. I’m not white van man, by the way. What where you doing? Lifelogic? Tea and biccy in your kitchen no doubt? The economy did not collapse because the government was bleeding it lifelogic. This is your own fantasy. Miliband said a lot of sense and the fantasy of business saving the day for everyone is a good one. He needs some lessons off Bob Crow on combating lies and fantasy from the likes of lifelogic. and other fantasists who believe cutting everything that does not effect them will work. If you believe Murdoch attempting to run a shadow governments whilst the government ran a shadow banking system is legitimate politics, then you are beyond help. Go and wash your cup and mind the crumbs. Those Rich Teas are not going to clean themselves up.

  13. Kenneth Morton
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Four paragraphs that completely sum up the last dozen years in the United Kingdom.

    Please repeat this post after each quarter’s growth figures are published until the message gets through to all concerned on both sides of the argument. Thank you.

  14. Peter T
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Surely our economy depends upon the availability of plentiful and cheap energy.We used to have that but for some time now we have been travelling in the other direction. We can have cheap and plentiful energy and we can have clean energy but not with our present energy policy. It is easy to see that windmills cannot ever provide the energy we need. They do not even turn in very cold windless winter weather or in strong windy weather and that alone is an extremely good reason for not spending millions and more millions on them. In other worde, windmills cannot begin to meet the basic economic rule of supply and demand.

    • Martyn
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Apparently Mr Cameron does not recognise the obvious facts of life re wind farms. Today in the DTel he calls for more to be built to ‘keep the lights on’ while ‘protecting the planet for our children and grandchildren’.

      The village in which I live (and my dwelling is 15 feet above the nearby river Thames) has now had a line drawn around it as being at risk of flooding arising from global warming. House insurance has overnight become almost impossible to obtain except at huge cost. The only flooding in living memory that has occurred in the village was in one very specific area upstream of a culvert carrying the brook (now declared by the DoE to be a river for utterly obscure reasons) under the main road which became blocked by rubbish.

      If the river level here rises by, in my case 15 feet, then downstream towns and villages will all be under several feet of water, but naturally, this has not stopped the local council from building new houses on the historic flood plain of the nearby town. We are governed by idiots…..

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        Clearly not numerate or not honest which is it – did he not have a toy one in non winndy Notting Hill – generating virtually nothing – I wonder if it will ever generate more energy than was used by the van of the man who fitted it that day? Wind cost loads more than gas and is not even available on demand so the electricity is worth far less. Ugly bat and bird killing insanity. Even the Gaia hypothesis high priest James Lovelock seems to accept it was all a silly scare story now got up by his likes and the BBC. (See Delingpole’s blog) at a cost of billions.

        Total madness the elderly D Trump and the Duke of Edinburgh have worked it out too? But not Charles it seems.

      • APL
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Martyn: “Today in the DTel he calls for more to be built to ‘keep the lights on’ while ‘protecting the planet for our children and grandchildren’.”

        Not to mention the extremely lucrative tax subsidy farms his various relations are operating.

        Talk about special pleading.

  15. James Reade
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    “It makes more sense to me to spend more time trying to get the policy right, and less time worrying about the headlines.”

    This is undoubtedly true – which then makes a mockery of your later statement:

    “Low poll ratings and a poor press are the result of a continuing squeeze on living standards brought on by the tax rises needed to pay for all the extra public spending of the last few years”

    So we’ve flatlined since May 2010 (funnily enough) all because of tax rises needed because of that reckless previous government?

    It is indeed the economy, stupid, and hence it needs us not to make stupid conclusions about the economy based on little or no evidence or analysis.

    The US economy is growing; it didn’t have a new administration come in announcing its severe austerity plans (regardless of whether they materialised – you know full well there’s an expectational effect of government announcements John – as well as a longer term consequence of unemployment caused – people are not quite as simple as other factors of production), and a US economy with the highest corporation tax rate in the world – how does that fit in with your narrative John?

    The Coalition brought in tax rises for political reasons (to try and lay blame at the previous government), at odds with advice from a large group of economists (I’m talking about non-politically attached economists here – I don’t listen to think tanks of any party), rather than because of any economic imperative – fear that markets might turn is not logical given that they may always turn and hence by that logic nobody should ever borrow.

    I’ve already pointed out that in relative terms, the deficit run in 2008 was much smaller than historical standards which makes a mockery of the implied statement that the last government spent too much and was “reckless”.

    It is indeed the case that if the Coalition puts in place good and sound economic policies, it will get a little less flack. There’s little optimism that they will be able to do that though, particularly not the Tory party if it’s guided by the kind of sentiments expressed here.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      “The US economy is growing; it didn’t have a new administration come in announcing its severe austerity plans…”

      No. But the US has had a house price correction.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 27, 2012 at 3:56 am | Permalink

        Our policies seem directed at saving those who are over-extended, over-leveraged, highly-geared on over-valued ‘assets’.

        These people are hunkered down. Attempting to service debt.

        Waiting in the wings are those with cash deposits and steady jobs.

        They are hunkered down too. Either waiting for the correction to happen and/or having to service over-valued rent.

        Both of these things stifle ‘growth’. I’m sure it stifles true growth in the form of export work too – especially where key workers are trapped in their homes.

        Home ownership has made our workforce less flexible to some extent.

        Slightly off topic: A reader on another blog proposes an additional tax which is introduced by taper for London home owners who do not pay income tax within the UK. London because this is where a property bubble is clearly taking place but which is of detriment to those who would live and spend their money there.

  16. Lord Blagger
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    There needs to be a credible message of hope

    =============

    There is no hope. That is why you won’t publish the true debt figures. People will work out that you can’t afford to pay back the debts you have run up, and that means defaulting on promises.

  17. Lord Blagger
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    brought on by the tax rises needed to pay for all the extra public spending of the last few years.

    ============

    Partly. What you missed off is having to pay for all the debts run up by governments of all hues, and hidden off the books.

    Why would you want to hide the debts, unless its a fraud?

  18. Tad Davison
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, was on the BBCs Newsnight programme last night, and was pressed by the presenter to tell us what Labour would do differently. He wouldn’t be specific, but he kept on about his ‘five-point plan’. If he has a ‘Five-point plan’, then he surely knows what those five points are, so why won’t he tell us?

    It would seem that Labour are the ones to gain from the fall-out of the latest mediocre figures. It then follows, that the public must have short memories.

    To turn this around, firstly, Labour’s ineptitude needs to be exposed. It’s a sham! Secondly, the government must really grasp the nettle and drive down spending for all it’s worth. That is going to take men of courage, and is where I am most fearful. Save for one or two exceptions, I don’t honestly believe there are people in situ with sufficient calibre.

    I can think of lots of ways to drive down spending, and improve our export chances, but I’m not in parliament. How about it John, shall I write to Mr Cameron to see if there’s likely to be a vacancy at the Treasury any time soon?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Ed Ball not being specific what a surprise. I tend to thing anyone calling many excellent and moral people “Morally Repugnant” should go to create a vacancy.
      Certainly anyone pushing the absurd GAAR tax.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    John,
    You sound like the lone voice of reality in the Conservative Party if not the Commons. I hope there are others but I fear most are just like sheep and will baa to their shepherd’s whistle. Our frustration is that we can see deceit and incompetence abound amongst the three main parties and want a real change. The calibre of MPs seems to be appallingly low. The drop in the Conservative vote next week will be taken as a rejection of the so-called austerity measures which really have been tax increases and high inflation encouraged by government. The pressure will then increase for the government to borrow and spend even more money the country doesn’t have and cannot afford. This will in many cases be a complete misinterpretation of what is happening in the electorate.
    I started by saying you sound like the lone voice; I hope I’m wrong but you now have an even greater task and responsibility to make that voice heard and resonate throughout the country.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I read in a newspaper this morning:

    “Britain has plunged into the first double-dip recession since 1975”.

    The word “plunged” is rather overstating what appears to be more like a shallow splash on the surface, so far, if the provisional GDP numbers are accurate.

    There’s a bar chart here:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9225414/Britain-in-double-dip-recession-as-growth-falls-0.2pc.html

    showing quarterly changes in GDP over the last five years.

    So far this second dip is nothing like the first dip from Q2 2008 through to Q2 2009, when there were drops of 0.9%, 2.0% and 1.6% in three successive quarters.

    As I pointed out in a comment yesterday, without the Bank of England funding the government’s budget deficit during the year starting Q1 2009 the economy would have fallen off a cliff, and it may that the second round of QE which started in Q4 2011 will artificially restore a small measure of growth.

  21. waramess
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Almost five years on and still the recession rages. No growth in spite of government spending, the expansion of the money supply and the “saving” of the banks.

    This is why they look for spin: they just don’t know what to do, so they talk the talk.

    No matter that the “Conservatives” have been in power for a shorter time than the recession itself, their answer to the crisis seems to be no different to that of the opposition.

    Maybe one day they will look to some of their right wing politicians to come and sort out the mess but I shan’t be holding my breath and, until then, I suspect we will see spin as the imperative and the Sun continuing to run the country

  22. Matthew
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Refreshing to hear

    With youth unemployment running above £1m, lots of UK business on the brink, most people are not too interested in the Westminster carnival.(amazing news, governments have close discussions with News International – who would have thought it)
    Political tides come and go, stick to the economy, get it right and the votes will follow.

  23. forthurst
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Overwhelmingly the media is functionally innumerate. One not infrequently reads a respected commentator, in the privacy and intimacy of his column, admiting to not having been much good at sums at school. Our politicians are largely drawn from the same stable. Why are we so often told that someone has a degree from a particular establishment without reference to the subjects studied? Is it not important? How much easier is to ignore the figures if there is no capacity to construe them? We are living in an innumerocracy.

    Anyone with the capacity for numeracy and abstract reasoning could not but fail to be highly sceptical of the AGW hoax and its consequences for our economy.

  24. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    “There needs to be a credible message of hope – we want to know the sacrifice of the tax rises is worthwhile and will deliver higher standards of living and quality of public service.”

    That may be true if you want to get reelected but it is not an absolute truth. You have a continuing obligation, in the interest of good government, to carry on reducing the fiscal deficit year by year at a substantial pace, regardless of the growth rate. It is necessary to prevent the total public debt rising to an unacceptable level, which would in turn push our debt interest payments through the roof – e.g as in Greek, Portugese bonds etc.

    Since taxes are near saturation point, the axe has to swing hard on public expenditure, with no ministry exempt. The government would do well to plan on the basis of GDP growth of about 1% for the next few years; let our surprises be pleasant ones.

  25. Damien
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    More so than ever before emails are the main body of evidence used in these public inquiries. It is not politically feasible to refuse to release these into the inquiry and for the inquiry to publish them (and probably not legal to refuse to when requested to do so). By logic I would assume that once the snoopers charter is passed into law universal surveillance of all telephone calls will record the date time duration and parties to the call. Again it will not be politically (and possibly legally) to refuse to supply this evidence at public inquiries. If such a law was in force today imagine the effect on the current inquiry.

    The economy has been in stall speed and just like a plane when it stops going forward in the air it drifts downwards, in our case a double-dip recession. The current growth is insufficient to meet public spending demands and borrowing is increasing despite the best efforts of the chancellor. Banks will continue to deleverage for many years and that will reduce credit available to businesses. Those businesses that have capital will be cautious about investing while the Euro looks so fragile. The economy needs more QE.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      QE and regulation are forcing banks to favour State debt over private sector lending.

  26. alan jutson
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    You are right John, it is the economy.

    Spinners are only really required if the policies are failing.

    Simple fact.
    Newspapers only survive by selling newspapers, and bad news or sensationalist news sells more papers than a good news story.

    Problem is now we have more opinionated reporters, than we do good forensic reporters who investigate and report on the facts.
    The result, we have now lazy journalism which is often factually incorrect.

    You often quote the red book for your facts, others prefer to guess, a simple but huge difference.

  27. brian
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    What you say is very true but we have a press which is prone to hysteria, desperate to sell newspapers in a dying market, owned by people such as an ex-KGB agent, residents of tax havens, a trust located in a tax haven, (etc ed)a friend of Gordon Brown (possibly excusable) and a foreign anti-monarchist!

  28. merlin
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    GDP down by 0.2% , double dip recession it surely must be the end of everything. I actually think this is not too bad considering we have one of the worst public sector deficits in the whole of UK history created by the previous socialist administration. I agree with previous commentators in that we had a succession of social democrat/liberal governments for the last 30 years with the only real conservtive government under Margaret Thatcher, our greatest prime minister this century. My probably forlorn hope is that we may get Margaret Thatcher mark 2 eventually whoever that may be. What really sickens me is that as soon as things appear not to be going too well the opposition and the left wing media go into negative overdrive. Somehow the left seem to get an attack of short term amnesia about the mess that they created by overspending and overborrowing. The headline that I think is far more serious recently is that the EUSSR want to increase their budget by another 7% which will cost this country another 1 billion-the sooner this dreadful entity implodes the better, we will all be better off.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Even Lady Thatcher fails to control the state sector alas.

  29. oldtimer
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    The coalition has had its chance and it has muffed it.

    In the short term the only way out that I can see is a rebellion in the ranks of Tory MPs coupled with a willingness to attempt a minority government. I have no idea how likely that may be given Cameron`s efforts to control his party machinery.

    In the mid term, the chances of a Miliband led government look a pssibility. In no way can Milliband be a solution – he is part of the problem. After all he was the MP responsible for the Climate Change Act. He is in the pocket of the unions.

    In the longer term, failing a fundamental and earlier revolt among Tory MPs, there will be a realignment in British politics away from the centrist group think that currently prevails in Parliament. The only surprise is that it hasn`t already happened. For that the media that inhabits and reports events in the cosy Westminster village must take their share of responsibility. Some are just waking up to the possibility following the recent Bradford election result.

  30. ian wragg
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Slightly off topic but relevant, I see cameron is again promoting windmills as the answer to all our problems. Foreign owned, foreign built and totally useless but foisted on us by a Prime Minister of little knowledge or experience of the outside world.
    Like the EU referendum, we liove in a virtual dictatorship.
    If Cameroon says it, it must be true.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Insane – Cameron clearly has not done the simply sums or is just lying for political reasons which is it?

  31. Iain
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    ” as people find there are more jobs, as real incomes start to rise. ”

    Which people find more jobs? British people or immigrants?

    During the ‘boom’ most jobs went to immigrants and for many real incomes fell, there was little if no trickle down.

    So what makes you think that when/if there is a recovery it will benefit the majority of British people?

  32. Barbara Stevens
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    The problem is now the Murdoch fiasco as burst it’s bubble MPs are afraid of journalists, and the press in general. Why they should be like this is unknown only to them. Its obvious this is true as they now give the the press a wide berth. With the fiasco opening new revalations daily with the enquiry gathering speed, MPs don’t know how this will pan out. I hope that the press will speak out as they should in the national interest, and not for scoops and for any party line in the future. Indeed, I’ve seen on forums many people ask why they don’t support the people instead of parties. May be now we will get an open press and report the truth instead of the rubbish we have had to endure.
    We can see now why some papers have been sidelined into certain camps and the journalists have followed in their way, and what we have had is a broken press, and a bad press and criminality along with it.
    When you get MPs almost begging for a good press for their policies and party, that is unhealthy journalism, and not what we expect from the press or them. This Leveson enquiry as opened the can of worms as they crawl out we are seeing the extent of the problem. I don’t blame Murdoch at all, I blame the political elite for the extent of this mess. It is they who courted the press for favours, he obliged, and his bid for BskyB was expected inreturn for favours given. The whole saga stinks and this is what British politics has sunk to. How anyone can have faith in them now I’ve no idea.

  33. Phil Richmond
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I have said for for years that this country will continue to sink into the mire until we break free of the economic corpse – aka The EU.
    The political elite have conspired against us. At present we have three main parties who are left wing. Cameron lied to become leader of the Tories and PM. He has surrounded himself with Lib-Dems & wet spineless Tory lackeys.
    The opposition consists of about 50-100 Tory MPs who arent prepared to take any action to regain control of their party.
    We are finished!

    Reply: Were you to be right about the number of rebel tories, they by definition could not take control of the party because they would be a minority.

    • Phil Richmond
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      John – My best guess from what I have read(and you would know better than me) is that Cameron doesnt have that much loyal support. Most of the grass roots are against him and he has possibly has 50-100 MPs that would support him.
      I would say it is in the balance. With decisive action he could be removed.
      A lot of Tory MPs will be without a job if they dont. UKIP will get stronger and stronger and many like myself dont care if Labour get back in as I dont see a difference between the main parties.

  34. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    The Prime Minister was at it again at PMQs, extolling the virtue of ultra-low interest rates. These cause inflation which is benficial only to HM Government. Mr Cameron should be told (he is wrong on this-ed). Are you going to tell him or shall I?

  35. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    The sooner we banish “the age of spin” to the past the better for us all.

    By the end of this year the whole country will have gone digital. There is no shortage of channels. There is also the internet for those who do not want to watch TV. Now is the time to change the way politicians communicate with their electorate.

    There is no need for politicians to be beholding to any part of the media to get their message across. There is no need to master the art of the interview so as to say what you want irrespective of the question being asked. The electors do not have to get the political message though a media editorial filter.

    There is already the means for the government, opposition and other party politicians to be able to post their message on the internet, but little use seems to have been made of this facility. But probably what would work much better would be television programmes. The air time can be made available free, and probable technical production support as well: if there is to be some more public funding of political parties then funding in kind is much better than cash.

    Of course, the broadcasts need to attract an audience, but this is down to those with the message to put together a programme which electors would find interesting; information and explanation, but not “election broadcast” style in which the only content is how wonderful we are and how poor are the others.

    As to economic arguments, pictures would make the numbers accessible to a wider audience. There was a most interesting programme on BBC4 yesterday in which masses of statistical numbers took on a shape and their hidden meaning was made clear in a very watchable manner. So, for instance, a diagrammatical presentation of which groups pay how much tax would be a revelation to many, including the media commentators it would seem.

  36. AJAX
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Not that I feel sorry for them (vote UKIP & all that), but the current government has a big electoral problem in that it’s inherited the worst economic circumstances globally in 3 generations thru no fault of its own, & things are I suspect going to get much, much worse before they get better as the great economic contraction takes place thru debt deleveraging worldwide.

    The “let’s go for growth & export our way out”, begs the ?, whom is meant to purchase England’s goods when the world is not buying, & where is this growth meant to come from exactly?

    The in-situ administration in the brunt of this storm is in for a bumpy ride. All they can really do is try to balance HM Treasury’s books after the near-chaotic management of Messrs. Gordon Browen & Augustine O’Donnell for a decade, & be brutally honest with the public as to how bad things economically are & what the course to steer the ship has to be to weather & try to get out of it ASAP. Osborne’s grave demeanor pre-election was the right approach but that seems to have been ditched now, & this administration seems oddly listless & without purpose, perhaps reflecting the nature of its leader’s character? Only Cameron could get beaten up in the opinion polls by the walking absurdity of one of the Milliband twins

    Stopping the Bank of England copying Bernanke’s voodoo macro-economic experiment of 0% interest rates & attempted currency devaluation by stealth via money printing to try to pump up a ripped bubble is also a good idea, as this is making the crisis worse.

    The truth is that whilst governments have the power to wreck economies, other than perimeter macro-economic strategic measures such as international trade policy via tariff usage (which isn’t in vogue …. yet), they don’t really possess the means to make them successful, & should get it into the public’s mind that this is the reality.

    By gulling people that you control something when you really don’t, you reap the whirlwind.

  37. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Seldom does a politician shine a light on his fellows’ weaknesses; but, yes, there is an unlovely blend of naivety and deviousness in those for whom spin is all. Politicians should lead, instead they, with some honourable exceptions, promote the infantilisation of a public which has come to believe that, for example, public spending can defy the law of gravity.

  38. Acorn
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Come on guys, cheer up. All good things come to an end. We did the empire thing. We did the global mercantile bit and a lot of our elite families and firms got rich on it. You know how it goes from here. Greece; Portugal; Spain etc., etc., all had empires; look at them now! It’s our turn next for the knackers yard. Well 99% of us anyway. When every moral and spiritual deviance becomes accepted as the new normal, you know it’s time to move your camels; there are new tribes taking over the oasis.

  39. Daedalus
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    The following paragraph from your piece sums up where we need to go; but the paragraph does not say it!

    The Coalition government will find its press improves as and when recovery picks up, as people find there are more jobs, as real incomes start to rise. Low poll ratings and a poor press are the result of a continuing squeeze on living standards brought on by the tax rises needed to pay for all the extra public spending of the last few years. The government needs to show the value of that spending if it is to justify the tax rises, or get better value from spending so it can get the tax rises down a bit.

    We could have better results if we had cut government spending, no tax rises more money in peoples pockets and off we go again!

    Daedalus

  40. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Today’s Independent is interesting. Pages 10-13 are News/UK in recession, based on the ONS’ announcement of an 0.2% decline in quarterly GDP. It’s full of the Tories’ impending doom.

    Then you turn to page 58, the start of the business pages. “Official data on recession can’t be right, say business leaders” is the headline. The article goes on to present the contrasting figures:
    City expectations ONS preliminary data
    Services +0.5% +0.1%
    Construction -0.5% -3.0%
    Manufacturing +0.1% +0.1%
    Industrial production -0.2% +0.4%
    Agriculture +0.5% +1.9%

    I wonder who is right? ONS preliminary data is based on 40% of returns, which is normally a pretty good sample – unless it is for some reason biased. I await the two revisions of the ONS data that will follow with some interest. Incidentally, how do they take into account the output of start-up companies, of which there are usually a lot in a recession.

  41. Derek Emery
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    That fact that a coalition won the election is a reflection that the public does not see any strong political figures of stature and drive in any party worth voting for.

    By its nature a coalition has to be a compromise so therefore is less likely to be able to come to difficult decisions because it is being pulled in several directions and can never fact hard facts frontally because the second party is very likely to object.

    Margaret Thatcher was tough and knew where she wanted to be yet even she never managed to cut public expenditure, only reduce the rate of increase.

    We should not expect the coalition to do as well as Thatcher as it is a far weaker government by design. Strong politicians only come along once every blue moon, we may not see another for decades.

    For a different approach to the UK’s that seems to be working better see http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-swedish-model/2012/04/25/gIQA3rvvgT_story.html

  42. lojolondon
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    John, this incenses me, it is so hypocritical. View the incestuous relationship between the Biased BBC and Labour. The Conservatives will really pay the price in the future for leaving the BBC to operate as they do, the target is destroying all Murdoch’s UK businesses, leaving no dissenting media voice.
    You are really sleepwalking into disaster this time.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 28, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Channel 4 seems to give politicians a hard time, but what do you propose to do about them challenging the government position?

  43. lojolondon
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    PS, John, if you want evidence of the BBC’s pro-EU bias, just try to find news on their website detailing the collapse this week of a stable, fiscally secure major European government. The collapse is due only to EU targets.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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