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On Osborne’s speech, Peston’s tie, and Labour’s need to unpick Tory argument on the past

Posted on 16 June 2011 | 7:06am

The noise surrounding it would suggest George Osborne made an important speech last night. Northern Rock sell-off and banking reform seemed to take most of the coverage, big ticket items both.

So for once I was keen to see the news and hoped to hear a little of what the Chancellor said. To be fair the first few minutes of the BBC 10 o’clock news were devoted to the subject. But we got one solitary clip of Osborne, and a lot of business editor Robert Peston.

I do get the point that sometimes it is easier for the reporter to summarise than for the package to be cluttered with clunky clips from a speech. But the trend away from the politician to the reporter has gone too far. I was in the car earlier and caught Mr Peston on the radio talking to Eddie Mair on the PM programme about what tie he intended to wear to the Mansion House! Perhaps it was the clash of his pink with George’s black that decided the editors we needed more of Robert and less of the Chancellor. I for one could have done with more of Osborne, and I don’t say that every day.

The political backdrop to the speech, yet again, was the financial crash, and the successful operation Cameron and Osborne have mounted to portray all of the country’s economic woes as the consequence of Labour profligacy.

Last week, when doing a bit of research for a TV appearance,  I came across a couple of figures which require wider ventilation. The proportion of debt in the economy in 1997 was 42.2 per cent. A decade later, it was 36.2 Рa fall of six per cent through a decade of Labour government.

Then came the crash. I am not an economist, but those do suggest the deficit now being run is more a consequence of the crash, and the decisions that had to be taken to protect banks, jobs and savings, not of Labour over spending across the piece.

The Tories successfully ran this line about ‘sorting out the mess we inherited from Labour’ while Labour were taking a long time to pick a new leader.

The Tories have done a very good job in making a weak argument stick, but Labour can still turn that argument around. Indeed, not just can, but must.

I look forward to the blog’s economic adviser, Olli from Finland, telling me whether I have got my facts right, and providing further advice and ammunition for this essential task for the Miliband-Balls team.

  • Pete Moring

    Be honest now – You must CRINGE in your boots every time you even ‘hear’ the names Milliband & Balls ūüôā
    They ARE the Laurel and Hardy of World Politics, and a very dangerous team to let loose on running the country.

    As for that turd Peston?? Well what can anyone say? His main concern every time he gets up in the morning is = “How can I raise my public profile even higher?” ….. Especially with his elocution lessons making him appear even more pathetic with each passing day.

    As for Osborne selling off Northern rock? …. i bet you’re secretly pleased that at last we’re offloading some of the baggage, while publicly dismayed because you know the Milliband fool won’t have an intelligent answer ūüôā

    Just my thoughts …. Love your blog though.

    Pete Moring.

  • I don’t think Ed Balls needs to be told those figures, do you?

    In any case, I think the more telling fact is, as shown in this graph, that debt interest payments calculated as a percentage of GDP were higher throughout the whole of the 1979-97 period than they were at any time under Labour, including the period from the crash to 2010. 

    The Tories will tell you that this is because interest rates were much higher in the ’80s and 90’s.¬† This is true, but was the fault of the Tories.¬† They will also tell you that interest rates would have soared if they hadn’t come into office in 2010, but there is simply no evidence of this.

    So their claim that we’re spending a¬†school a day on debt interest, or whatever¬†the latest incarnation of that rubbish, can be countered that in the early 1990s tory mismanagement in the face of a muc smaller economic crisis meant we were spending two schools on debt interest.

  • Kernow Castellan

    You are right that Darling & King had a “good crisis” – the preference share approach to the banks was far better than the TARP solution in the US (admittedly, they copied this from the Warren Buffet/Goldman Sachs deal – but they deserve credit for doing so). QE worked; by contrast, the VAT cut did not.

    However, in economics (as in politics), the momentum of the trend is as important as the level – the deficit you inherited was on a downward trend – the one you had just before the crisis was lower, but sharply rising. So there is some culpability here.

    So is Labour solely to blame? Not really. No more than the Tories were for the ERM crisis. However, Labour managed to convince the public (unfairly) that the Tories were not safe with money – and very effective that was too.

    All the polls show that the public has again settled its mind, largely blaming Labour for the economic mess. Alastair’s complaints remind me of Norman Lamont’s in the late 1990s – too defensive and too late to change public opinion.

  • Ehtch

    I’ve given up paying attention to Osborne et al. They are like a stuck record, repeating themselves.

    But he needs to hold on to Nothern Rock for a good few years again. OK, so it is said the country lost out on a fair wedge extra on the offloading of gold when it was done, so Osborne should learn from that.

  • Robert

    Going back two days to that episode with Cameron in shirtsleeves in the hospital. Not exactly a Sharon Storer moment with the consultant handbagging the camera crew for being unhygienically overdressed.

    But did anyone notice the brief shot of the Savile Row suit jacket collar leaving the ward?

    I always thought TV crews were more leather jackets than smart blue pinstripe.

  • Laura Payne

    “Britain remains in a fiscal mess. The government’s current spending on everything from education to pensions has been pared to the bone, with stress points obvious everywhere. But its capital spending, already inadequate, is set to fall. All this hair- shirted austerity should at least have brought some virtue to the Government’s accounts – but not so….”

    Will Hutton Guardian July 8 1995 writing after 12 odd years of Tory rule РAs the country found then  Рparing to the bone is not the answer and can create even more of a fiscal mess. We are in danger of doing the same today.

    We are in this mess because of greedy international bankers who still openly laugh that there is no international regulation on their activities. They use the fear a country has of losing the essential invisible earnings international banking brings to a national economy to pit countries against each other. As a result which nation would risk losing this kind of investment by bringing in tighter banking controls? We will always be run ragged economically by large investment bodies until there is an international regulator in place.

  • MicheleB

    No proportion of Northern Rock should be being sold at this time, for its new owners to reap the higher value it is bound to acquire in the near and mid future terms. 

    Who has this deal been cooked up with ?  Certainly not by consultation with present part-owners, I daresay LittleO got a lot of pats on the back from likely-investors last night (and that some of them knew of the idea before fellow MPs).

    Has it even been discussed in HoC (since this is not an emergency action as buying was)? 

    I was also against announcements recently about bank/s compensating for mis-sold insurance / mortgages while still part-publicly owned.

    Labour is used to getting the ‘not quite one of us’¬† /¬† NQ1ou treatment in HoC, the public is getting re-used to it being commonplace.

  • MicheleB

    I really don’t think Labour lost the election due to any economics nouse/opinion among most of the public.

    It was lost because of personalities and PR schmooze vs facts; UK has an X Factor-loving / Wail & Express majority.¬† It’s all quite embarrassing.


    • Kernow Castellan

      Actually I think it is even more subliminal than that

      I have noticed how children often prefer one parent for good and exciting times (often a parent they see less frequently) and a parent who is dull & boring but who they run to in times of stress (typically the primary caring parent).

      I think the electorate are like this – when time are good, we want Labour to help us spend and party. But when times get tough we return to the medicine of the Conservatives.

  • Paul M

    I agree with your points about capital spending and banking regulation. The trouble is what little regulation there is done by an unaccountable committee of central bankers in Basle. Banking and international financiers are so powerful they are virtually untouchable even if our politicians wanted to.¬†Osborne gets a lot of unthinking support whenever there is use of the phrase “financial mess.”¬†It’s normal for governments to run deficits most of the time and a deficit even a large one is not bad per se provided it is managed. The interest payable on governmnet debt is relatively small when interest rates are low. The problem of the current UK deficit is exaggerated for political purposes. The ability to borrow and repay on time is what matters. Osborne cannot reduce the deficit¬†by reducing expenditure if as many have pointed out his tax income falls as well. As for Ed Ball’s’s tax cut proposal well the money may not be spent but may be saved. What is needed is infrastructure spending on useful things like school buildings.

  • Paul M

    Your thoughts? Really the abuse seems too fluent to be the product of thought..

  • MicheleB

    “Will Hutton Guardian July 8 1995 writing after 12 odd years of Tory rule” …. 16 yrs actually and unfortunately there were another two to go.

  • Richard

    Why did the arrogant consultant, knowing that “his ward” was to receive VIP guests, leave instructions as to how they should be dressed before being admitted. His ignorant behaviour to camera was not acceptable: his tantrum carefully measured in fact shows what a **** he is, and typifies the prima donna way these consultants behave.
    How would you manage such arrogance?

  • Watoop

    I too watched the Mansion House speech last night and agree wholeheartedly that the Coalition (let’s not forget the lovable Mr Alexander here) have successfully peddled the line that “it was all Labour’s fault” while doing next to nothing about a banking sector that seems to be back to “business as usual” (certainly in bonus terms).

    However it wasn’t the substance of what Osborne was saying (of which, as usual, there was not a great deal) that got my attention but the whole ambience of¬†the event¬†– the finery, the dinner suits, the privilege – when compared to the real suffering and fear for the future that is going on¬†within¬†ordinary¬†families in¬†our country (and particularly the lowest earning ones).

    The anger and injustice felt by people in Britain over the banking industry’s behaviour has not gone away. The frustration and sheer incredulity that taxpayer-owned banks can pay obscene amounts of bonuses to staff as though nothing has happened undermines¬†any sense that “fairness” has meaning in our democracy.

    This is not envy, it is the realisation that certain strata of society are untouchable and operate to a completely different set of rules to the rest of us. Perhaps it has ever been thus but never has it been more explicitly demonstrated than by the policies of this woeful administration.

  • Mike

    Ed Balls systematically picked apart Osborne’s¬† “economic policy” this morning, Ed Milliband slaughtered Cameron yesterday,¬†

    The government are creaking at the seems so the message has to be attack, attack, attack.

  • Andyatchapel

    The coalition were given a clear run to portray the economic situation as Labour mismanagement.¬† Their ‘spin’ control was excellent with every written or quoted comment containing- as it still does –¬†some reference to the ‘economic mess’ they inherited which was Labour’s fault: and Labour let them get away with it while they were lost in self contemplation.¬†
    Quite possibly too late now to undo the effects of this highly effective propoganda as the truth is complex and a right leaning media not inclined to question what has become the received story Рbut perhaps you have views on how this might be done?.   

  • Robert

    Perhaps, Richard, you should be attacking the viruses and bugs as being arrogant as well?

  • As I’ve previously admitted here, I cannot claim any adequate understanding of national or global fiscal matters but I am always able to glean what I need to really know. Sad to say, my gut feeling is, was, and remains firm that the election was lost on a mixture of misinformation about both the economic downturn and the personalities of the leaders being offered.

    Plus, constantly chanting ‘the right thing’, ‘we need change’ seemed to lull the electorate into a false sense of security.

    Whilst I realise this post is not about Ed Miliband, may I express my concern at hearing him use the phrase ‘the right thing’? I shuddered when I heard it, read it, and will continually fail to understand his reasoning. (I’ve tweeted and commented him thus but to no avail, I suspect).

    I wish no single person ill-will, but I am concerned that we are going to need a politically acute, charismatic and wise leader to win back our tenure.

    And I remain bemused that the author of this great blog has never used those skills – oh yes you do have them – to put himself into the fray of parliamentary leadership.

    However, I also understand the price in terms of health and family life.

    Maybe, the 21st Century demands dual or trio leaders – in the same party!

  • MicheleB

    I wonder if there is some synergy in the sale of Northern Rock and LittleO’s new bank controls ?


  • MicheleB

    The consultant had every right to complain as he did.  It would have been complacent for him to do otherwise.
    His ‘my ward’ was shorthand for ‘my responsibility’ and now that we are so long past the days of MRSA-etc I’m glad he took his.¬†
    It’s a lot more worthy to take responsibility for the health of recovering people than it is to disown it for bankers behaving as they have.¬† I’m so glad I’m not partnered with or the parent of one.


  • Dave Simons

    Medicine is supposed to make you feel better, not worse.

  • Anonymous

    The great Tory lie is
    incredibly damaging. There are plenty of people out there who believe
    it and this is giving the Tories free rein to attack the poor and
    most needy. It also makes it almost impossible to have any sort of
    debate around the cuts being unfair,and too deep and too fast. The and sites have some really
    good background if you want the truth. This lie needs to be exposed.

  • Anonymous

    I actually think this is
    quite easy. Every Labour politician has to go on the offensive with
    the media. Whenever ‘economic mess’ is mentioned in that context they
    must talk about the ‘great Tory lie’ and provide some figures. At the
    moment they allow the media to spout this nonsense completely
    unchallenged and this gives the impression of their tacit agreement.

  • Ehtch

    As a total aside, non-cricket and footie, may I wish to all to have a good beach break in Pembrey country Park and sands in the next few days. Came back from Swansea early this morning, and spotted several vehicles going there, with surf boards on their roofs, as well as said festival trade vans. It is reported that there is four feet of surf, and becoming seriously glassy, in the next couple of days.

    But the aux contraire of good surfing, is flipping rainey weather for the music and sun freaks and chill out ones. Ah well, that is how it goes.

  • Dave Simons

    ‘I look forward to the blog‚Äôs economic adviser, Olli from Finland, telling me whether I have got my facts right, and providing further advice and ammunition for this essential task for the Miliband-Balls team.’

    We haven’t heard from him since 7 June so I assume he’s on ‘Olliday’.

  • Mabozza Ritchie

    Bill Keegan’s regular articles in the Observer have been consistently (and brilliantly) nailing the failings of the Coalition claims on public debts for the past year. I am amazed that his arguments are not seized upon by Labour,¬†

    The subject of taking the fight back to the Tories was raised in this forum 6 months back and an informed contributor suggested a point by point repudiation of the claims in a formal Labour document. This would allow any Labour interviewee to refer to the repudiation document rather than try and explain concisely a complex subject. This remains a teriffic idea imho.

  • What you forgot to mention AC was the 2006 Spending Review document given to the Cabinet, simple message, spending should be in line with inflation and after all the money Labour had spent, what had improved. What did GB do, spend like a drunk sailor and ignore the advice from his OWN department. Before the Crash of 2008 GB had broken the piggy bank, the crash made it worse, you have your friend Ed Balls to thank fort this info, he really shouldn‚Äôt just leave documents at his old department if he has just lost an election, he‚Äôs hardly Mr Popular. Keep up the Spinning AC, but don‚Äôt get caught out not giving info that‚Äôs out in the public domain.

  • Gilliebc

    I guess Olli I must indeed be on “Olliday” Dave.¬† I also have noticed his absence from this (AC’s) site.¬† I just assumed that the topics of the past week weren’t quite up Olli’s street.¬†¬†But he wouldn’t have missed today’s topic.¬† He even blogged on his birthday, so I’m surprised he would take a hoilday away from the computer.¬† I hope he’s okay.

  • Robert

    Yes, the group of bankers may consider itself untouchable but¬†the ones shown fast asleep during Sir Mervyn’s speech might be discovering otherwise sometime soon.

  • Gilliebc

    I very much agree with your first paragraph Shirley.¬† I also tend to “work” mainly on gut-instinct and intuition. I had quite enough of statistics and damned lies during my working life and as such tend to leave national and global fiscal matters to the so called experts and then tend to take what they say with a large pinch of salt.¬† Statistics, as most of us know can easily be used to make the case for or against pretty much anything. I suspect that the majority of the elecorate take much the same view also.

    On a personal matter Shirley, I was very sorry to read in your previous post that you have MS.  I hope you are not too badly affected by it.  There is hope on the horizon I understand in the form of new medicinal treatments.  So fingers crossed for you and others that are sadly similarly affected.  The increase in people getting MS is I think very suspicious and I know many others think the same.

    Finally, multi-leadership of a political party is a nice idea in theory.¬† But as there would be egos involved, big-time!¬† I don’t think it could work, imho.

  • ambrosian

    Andrew Neil was today peddling the line that we have Greek levels of debt but German interest rates on our debt because of the government’s deficit reduction policy. Later the BBC’s rather scary City pundit David Bewick was saying the same.
    But are they really comparing like with like? May I humbly suggest that the markets look at more than the speed of deficit reduction when setting interest rates.

    The UK has a population of 61 million and is the 6th largest manufacturing nation in the world.
    Greece has a population of 11 million and is so far down the manufacturing table I can’t find its precise ranking.
    Greece’s GDP is 0.53% of the world economy.
    The UK’s GDP is 3.51% of the world economy.
    Unemployment rate in Greece is double that of the UK.

    In the UK, tax avoidance by the wealthy is well publicised. But in Greece tax evasion by the general population is both endemic and socially acceptable. Greece’s tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is half the EU average. The failure to collect tax revenue by the government and the entrenched culture of not paying taxes¬†in the general public has been a major factor in Greece’s economic crisis.

    As I’m not Olli, I think that’s enough stats to be going on with and I think shows that the claims of the coalition and their poodles in the commentariat that only the coalition has saved us from the fate of Greece is yet another of their big lies about the economy.

  • Nicky

    That’s a really daft analogy.¬† By 1997 we didn’t need Labour to help us ‘spend and party’, we needed it to try and put right the damage and neglect of 18 years of Tory rule.¬† Schools and hospitals were in a terrible state, educational attainment was poor in too many cases, unemployment was rife in areas where industry had been decimated, nationalised industries and the railways had been sold off (‘selling the family silver’ as Macmillan put it) and revenue from North Sea oil had been squandered.

    The ‘medicine’ of the Conservatives nearly killed the patient.

  • Nicky

    Incidentally, AC РI know your former boss would rather keep a diplomatic distance from UK politics, but I think he should speak up about the Tories claiming he supports their destructive policies. 

  • Anonymous

    Hospitals should rule out ‘VIP guests’ on health grounds. ¬†And if I see one more shot of Cameron without a tie I shall throw something at the screen.

  • Anonymous

    Agree. ¬†But I have to ask AC about Steve Richards’ latest article in the Independent – which claims Blair is in many ways Cameron’s greatest ally. ¬†If the right wing press are going to cite Blair’s occasional utterances in Cameron’s defence, as the Sun apparently did, that is another front to fight on.

  • Manofkent70

    He was correct in pointing out the infection risk.  He was right to insist that there should be no exceptions to the precautions in place.

    The manner in which he did so was typically pompous, a manner which us health professionals will recognise in Orthopods. ¬†The whole *my ward” (he doesn’t actually carry responsibility for it, the nursing team do) and “I’m not having it” could have been spoken by pretty much any Orthopod I’ve ever met.

  • Janete

    I think you are completely right to say ‘the trend away from the politician to the reporter has gone too far.’ In the¬†power struggle between¬†media and politicians,¬†journalists are winning and nowhere is it more¬†obvious and objectionable¬†than in the BBC.¬†Too often,¬†reporters are used to block¬†access to¬†elected politicians rather than allowing us to hear political comments first hand. They are given¬†freedom to peddle their own prejudices, whilst hiding behind assumptions of BBC impartiality.

    In Nick Robinson’s briefing on Today ahead of Ed Balls’s speech, we heard plenty of¬†subjective¬†(even sarcastic) comments¬†like the Shadow Chancellor¬†‘not doing uncertainty’ and that he was going to say ‘he was right and still is’. Laura Kuenssberg on News 24, tried her best to generate a potential fallout between the two Eds, as she claimed it was not certain Ed Miliband¬†had approved the¬†speech. Oddly, no BBC reporters had similar¬†concerns about¬†Osborne’s speech last night. She did attempt a bit more coverage of content but wanted to know¬†‘how on earth’ would a temporary VAT cut be funded, a clearly political comment. On PM, Ed Balls was interviewed first followed by MIchael Fallon for the Conservatives. Neither politician was allowed to speak directly to the other to challenge the validity of the other’s arguments, which would have¬†raised the level of debate and provided¬†listeners with a more thorough understanding of the issues.¬†Hence Fallon went on again about having no choice and Labour having maxed out the credit card. The presenter could/would not raise obvious arguments against, but I am sure¬†Ed Balls would have done so had he got the chance.

    Another tactic used to reduce politicians’ influence is the increasing tendency to belittle¬†politics in general, and politicians in particular. On the Daily Politics, Anita Anand,¬†obviously out of her depth on any political programme, was given the job of summarising Gove’s education plans. A mocked up image of Gove dressed¬†as Chairman Mao added nothing to our understanding of his plans, but served as usual,¬†to poke fun at the whole subject. It’s bad enough having to contend with¬†Andrew Neill’s opinionated, overbearing, interviewing style but we also¬†have to suffer daily, infantile contributions from Giles Dilnott; frankly I wouldn’t pay him in washers!¬†¬†

  • Dave Simons

    I hope he’s OK too and when he gets back I want to draw his attention to a post I appended to his one on 4th June. Mine is about an article by Matthew Paris last Saturday in ‘The Times’ which I think is a succinct expression of the Tory attitude towards socialism. Matty is in today’s ‘Times’ claiming that he lives on Narrow Street by the Thames in Limehouse. He omits to mention his llama farm in Derbyshire and, I understand, his converted monastery in Spain. His article is against ‘localism’, which I suppose can be a bit of a problem for multiple home-owners.

  • Julie

    I’m worried about Ollie now.¬†

  • Mike

    Cameron’s response to Ed Balls should make us all feel much better. Apparently we no longer have a deficit but now just have an overdraft. ¬†

  • Gilliebc

    I’ve just read your post Dave, that you “appended” in reply to Olli’s.
    I think it would be fair to say that I’m not nearly as well educated or as well read as you are.¬† So correct me if I’ve got this wrong.¬† Is it you or Matthew Paris that is saying that Socialism doesn’t work, or both of you?

    No doubt you’ll get a much more erudite reply from Olli on his return.
    On the issue of the Russian Revolution, I¬† read somewhere on t’internet that it was financed by the wealthy ruling elite.¬† Whether this is true or not, I don’t know.¬† But it struck me that is was a bit like turkeys voting for Christmas, given what happened to the Russian royal family.

    I would say this though regarding the Labour Party, if they go too far to the left again they will certainly make themselves unelectable.  Sometimes for me it seems that the more I learn about politics and the way the world is really run!  It almost feels like the less I  know and it gets confusing.
    I wish I had listened more to my late parents, because they seemed to have had it sussed.  Maybe I need to go back to square one as it were.
    You’ve obviously got it sussed as well Dave.¬† So any book reccommendations you may have, I would be very grateful for.

  • Robert

    Excellent analysis.


  • ronnie

    Forgive me for repeating myself but as we’re back on the subject I’d like to resubmit an idea I posted a couple of months ago.

    ‚ÄúA lot of people are still buying the ‚Äėdeficit all Labour‚Äôs fault‚Äô mantra. and I think it will continue to be immensely damaging until Labour find some effective way of striking back when the accusation is made.

    It seems to me that a huge part of the problem is the fact that the situation is so complicated and multifaceted. In a Newsnight or Question Time situation, for example, a Labour spokesman, when challenged with ‚ÄúLabour‚Äôs deficit‚ÄĚ, will want to answer in several different ways at once. ‚ÄúThe crisis came from the USA.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThe Tories would not have regulated either.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúAnyway, we acted promptly and saved the economy‚ÄĚ. No one answer tells the whole story – and in the context of a modern media confrontation, any lengthy response starts to sound like wordy bluster.

    Here is a possible solution. The Labour Party holds a big press conference, with as much publicity as it can scrape together. The purpose is once and for all to draw attention to how childish, how intellectually empty and how maliciously misleading it is for the Tories and Liberals to carry on with their false description of economic events. 

    And they do it by making a big noise. By launching, with fanfares, impressive graphics and dancing girls if necessary, a specific document with a specific title which lays out the situation in a clear and undeniable way. 

    The document should be written by someone more economically erudite than me. But it could be something like this and it could be called:

    ‚Äú5 Points of Clarification on the Economic Crisis‚ÄĚ

    1. There was no political fuss about Britain’s deficit up to the time of the toxic debt crisis. This can only mean that it was universally considered that the deficit was at an acceptable and sustainable level relative to the performance of the economy at the time.

    2. The toxic debt crisis originated in the USA and the ensuing economic disaster was worldwide. No-one could possibly say the crisis was caused by the Labour government.

    3. Labour’s bank regulation policies were all supported by the Tories Рin fact they would have regulated less, not more. The deficit would therefore still have happened if the Tories had been in power.

    4. Labour’s handling of the crisis is universally acknowledged to have been inspired. They did the right things and saved the country and possibly the world from even worse disaster. These measures were opposed by the Tories.

    5. Labour’s policies in their last quarter in office meant the deficit was not as bad as expected, unemployment not as bad as expected and economic growth better than expected. It is only since the Coalition came to power that the economy has slowed again.

    If such a document could be launched in a big enough way, and be worded well enough to be pretty much clear and undeniable, things would be a lot easier in future. Any time any Tory or Liberal came up with the glib putdown of ‚ÄúLabour‚Äôs deficit‚ÄĚ, for example, all the Labour spokesman would have to do would be to say ‚ÄúWell, that‚Äôs nonsense – haven‚Äôt you read the Five Points?‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúWhich of the Five Points do you disagree with?‚ÄĚ

    What I‚Äôm saying is that the phrase ‚ÄúThe Five Points‚ÄĚ could become shorthand for the whole argument, just as ‚ÄúLabour‚Äôs deficit‚ÄĚ has become shorthand for the whole attack.

    It may not end the damage once and for all, but it would certainly help”

  • Ehtch

    Yes, beach break live, and it is pissing down, but the surf is seriously glassey,
    But the rain is good for the flowers, even if they do not realise it…..

  • ambrosian

    Could not agree more. Those stupid cartoon graphics on The Daily Politics have been annoying me for years. No doubt the Beeb would say this is making politics more ‘accessible’. Complete tosh of course. If people have no interest in politics they probably wouldn’t watch even if the programme was presented by Kerry Katona and Peter Andre. And on balance I’d rather watch the latter than Giles Dilnott!

  • Richard

    “The proportion of debt in the economy in 1997 was 42.2 per cent. A decade later, it was 36.2 ‚Äď a fall of six per cent through a decade of Labour government.”
    Nice try Al, but aren’t you forgetting something?
    The extra 12% of GDP which is PFI Debt. Or is that a  different sort of debt?

    In all the storm about the bonus culture one fact is
    If a Bank pays £1,000,000 Bonus the taxman takes £650,000
    income tax and national insurance, the employee takes £480,000

    If a Bank pays tax on £1,000,000 profit, taxman takes £250,000
    Corporation Tax

  • Dave Simons

    A quick reply before a longer one, Gillie. Matthew Paris was saying socialism doesn’t work, as do most, if not all,¬†members of the Conservative Party. I couldn’t use quotation marks because I wasn’t quoting directly from Paris’s article. Also I haven’t got anything sussed – it’s ongoing!

  • Ehtch

    just come back from Pembrey, and even though it is yes pissing down, there is some serious French atlantic coast like tits out, as well as some lads that are trying to expose their cobblars, cock and balls in anoher language…. But no vaginas yet.

  • MicheleB

    Bonuses can be paid off-shore; don’t you think that means that they usually would be?


  • Richard

    The employer and employee are responsible for payment of taxes and NI on  UK earnings of UK residents, MicheleB. If you have knowledge of tax evasion as you suggest, tell HMRC. They would love to know.
    Otherwise stop following  the herd , blah blah bankers, blah blah bonuses blah blah tax evasion blah blah. The reason Blair and Brown cuddled up to them so warmly was precisely because they paid so much tax. As Chancellor Brown removed all the tax avoidance loopholes which previously had existed.

  • MicheleB

    Oh dear, I guess you’ve not heard of private banks have you Richard?

    Most banks have a ‘private’ arm, often trading with the same main name.

    Dealings are private, confidential and ‘legal’.

    Given, also, that so many bonus makers (I use the word ‘makers’ instead of the word ‘earners’ on purpose) work within banks and ….. sigh …… given that so many banks are multi-national …….. need I go on?

    Let me hear your ‘baaa bbbbbbbbaaaaaaa’ ūüôā


  • MicheleB
  • MicheleB

    It’s quite an admission by Cam et al;
    realising they are unconvincing they have to (mis)quote an.other to steal some cred.¬† What’s that saying …. ‘couldn’t make it up’ ?

  • MicheleB

    ” …….he really shouldn‚Äôt just leave documents at his old department …..”

    Which documents do you speak of?
    Presumably not the one about ‘no money left’ as that wasn’t Balls’s so perhaps the jottings/hand-written notes, the type of thing one does in prep for a meeting.¬†

    I think it’s the idiots that have guessed at the purpose of the latter that are the spinners but heck, don’t let actuality stand in the way of trying a pop!

  • Dave Simons

    I’m not surprised to hear that the Russian Revolution was financed by the wealthy ruling elite. Tolstoy would have done the same if he had been alive. But I can’t condone what happened to the Russian royal family, even though I’m pretty sure that the Czar would not have been lenient to the Bolsheviks if he’d got the upper hand. In contrast I can understand the decision to execute Charles I in 1649 – the man was a damned nuisance and he would have exercised no leniency towards his opponents.
    My recommendations for reading would not be Marx, Lenin, Trotsky – or even Tony Crosland (‘The Future of Socialism’) or Tony Blair’s ‘Memoirs’. I’d recommend Thomas Hobbes’ ‘Leviathon’,¬† Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’¬† and Adam Smith’s ‘Enquiry into the Wealth of Nations’. Also ‘The Strange Death of Tory England’ by Geoffrey Wheatcroft, former editor of ‘The Spectator’. In other words, don’t read stuff that you tend to agree with.

  • Anonymous

    Clearly the jungle drums on this blog work and Blair is now disclaiming paternity for Cameron’s policies – sort of.

  • Richard

    Perhaps you have not been involved in business, and do not know how the PAYE system works.
    An employer receives a payment net of tax and NI. The employer remits the tax plus employee’s NI plus employer’s NI to HMRC. Any UK employer will do the same, and the world of hidden offshore accounts etc is in your head.
    If you think the private Banks means undisclosed to the HMRC,you are wrong.
    As with many people involved with Labour politics, you inhabit your own world and do not allow the facts to get in the way of your malicious, envious bitterness and perceived class struggle.

  • MicheleB

    What makes you think I’m malicious Richard?
    Or envious?
    Or bitter?
    Or believe that wealth or lack of it equates with class?
    Try to be more than so one-dimensional, I’m sure it’s possible, even for you.

    Perhaps you’re like another poster here that imagines anyone that is not Tory must by default be hard up.
    I’m not; but neither am I a tax evader.

    Whatever opportunities this country has given me to earn as I do means that whatever the colour of the present Govt I will pay my taxes and for quote some time they have been higher rate.

  • MicheleB

    PS: Re the above …… I’m not J K Rowling in disguise.

    You really have to get out of your silly mind set.

  • Gilliebc

    Thank you Dave.  The books you have recommended, I have at least heard of one of them!  sound good for a beginner such as me.
    Much appreciated.
    I sort of understand when you say “don’t read stuff that you tend to agree with”¬† my problem is that sometimes I’m too easily influenced by what seem perfectly sensible and logical opposing views!¬† However, that is very much my own problem ūüôā
    Thank you again.

  • Lusina

    Dear Alastair, wise words on your part. ¬†But, I think it is always the same story. ¬† It’s not something Dave Cameron or George Osborne invented. They are bad imitators of previous actors. ¬†After a long period in government, it is always good ammunition for the incoming government to blame the mess (if any) on its predecessor. ¬†The Tories ¬†(and Lib-Dems) found a very convenient situation for themselves in that respect on taking office in May 2010. At this stage, they can even discard the international argument as to why the economic situation worsened and why it was necessary for the government of the time to take drastic ¬†measures to save the national situation from further deterioration. ¬†Labour is getting no praise for taking these measures despite the obvious arguments in their favour why such action was absolutely needed. ¬†On taking office, it seemed as if the script was written for Cameron and Osborne by a seasoned writer. ¬†All they had to do was the obvious – quote and sustain the argument that they had inherited a horrendous ¬†economic situation to give them validation for what they had to do. ¬†The Tories did it in 1951, Wilson did it in 1964, Heath did it in 1970, Blair did in 1997, and so on. ¬†I bet the argument will soon be exhausted, as it always does. Soon people will start asking questions when the novelty of the new government wears out and then start demanding answers from the government. Really, it all boils down to the last six months before the next election (whenever that comes), and the question is: ¬†will the economy pick up by that time? ¬†Whatever happens by accident or intent to the economy, the formation of the next government will depend on the answer to that question at that particular time. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

  • Matthew Miles

    If anything Labour are getting away lightly on this. ¬†Its a STRUCTURAL deficit that we are closing – thats the element on the deficit outside of the economic cycle. ¬†The bankers can be blamed for a lot – but not for the structural deficit and not for the cuts. ¬†The structural deficit has arisen because of a conscious decision to overspend and because the trend growth rate was overestimated (‘an end to boom and bust’). ¬†¬†
    “Labour always run out of other people’s money….”

  • Ehtch

    Katsen, from Brighton, what we should all strive to be the like. I lurve ’em, even from South Wales, in another world…

  • Ehtch

    Russian controlled East European city?
    As I said, I really, really like Brighton Katsen.

  • Ehtch

    Weather? The people make a festival, and they are making it, even with glassy surfing seas and pissing rain, Da Iawn pobl pawb.

  • Ehtch

    I am thinking of gettting a serval cay, or maybe a Savannah sub-breed of them. Anyway, sould send the shits up the loval cats and doggies, even with their good nature.
    Queen’s corgis? Give me rest, they can’t compete with cats,
    Corgi is a welsh name, by the way. translates to the english as dwarf dog, bred to nip cattles hooved to get them to market, Smithfield or not,

  • Ehtch

    I love Katsen from Brighton, an isle in an isle, a classic from them,

  • Ehtch

    A song for you, Fiona, if you don’t mind Alastair. Have never met either of you, but whatever?

  • MicheleB

    “…………… a conscious decision to overspend ………………..”

    How do you quantify your ‘over’?
    The country had been so run down by the mid-90s that all its infrastructure needed massive repair.
    Spending to improve the lives of people earning and paying tax (or learning so they can do so in the future) was essential. 
    National confidence was boosted and you can’t really put a price on that.

    There’s something very weird about better-off people resenting public amenities (I’m not presuming you’re among those better-off but you are a resenter).¬†

    We all gain from better looking streets and schools and hospitals, these things are worth investing in ……. don’t you think that’s a better description than ‘over-spending’?¬†

  • Olli Issakainen

    You are right. The deficit before the crash was also lower than under the Major administration. I have proved with official figures on numerous occasions that Labour did not cause the “mess” by overspending.
    Having just arrived from my summer cottage I have so far managed only to print a couple of interesting articles from Larry Elliott. But further advice and ammunition will follow soon!