Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Here is the case for a snap election:
(i) Labour is enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls; the "Brown bounce" seems to be holding.
(ii) It will give Brown an opportunity to obtain his own "mandate" (nonsense in terms of British constitutional arrangements, but probably psychologically important to Gordon himself).
(iii) The Tories are in a stew, with Cameron unable to decide whether to do a Coulson-right-turn or a Hilton-left-turn, with the Tebbit-tendency in revolt and Gordon triangulating like a maniac (Although I find this latter rather gimmicky and somewhat distasteful. Is it really necessary to purloin the BNP slogan: "British jobs for British workers"?).
(iv) It might not get better: house prices (so beloved of Middle England) may take a dip, the credit boom looks like coming to an end, interest rates may rise...some commentators are arguing that the cautious thing to do - and Gordon is judged a cautious creature - is to "go early" on the grounds that it can't get better.
(v) If he doesn't take the plunge it may look like he "bottled it" as - some argue - he did in 1994 by not standing against Tony (when, of course, he would have been beaten!).
(vi) The Tories, with the help of Lord Charlie Ashcroft are pouring money into marginals they think they can win; an early election foreshortens this as the statutory spending limit would kick-in.
(vii) Oh, and did I mention the lead in the opinion polls...?
Here is he case against:
(i) Polls are fickle. Things can change. It's not so long ago that they showed that, if Brown became Labour Leader, the Tories would have a bigger lead than the one they had before Blair departed (Blair? Who he?). In the context of an election, it could be they will shift again.
(ii) The Tories could recover. It may depend on how well Cameron does at Conference. If he decides to robustly confront and "see off" the Tebbit-tendency that could do him a lot of good. It's not all over just yet.
(iii) If he loses Brown would be the shortest serving PM since...well, since who? (Some are saying Bonar-Law and others George Canning. I haven't worked it out, but at any rate he would have served for less than a year, and he must be terrified of that...(How Cherie would laugh).
(iv) Voters don't like unecessary elections, and they may decide to punish Brown for making them endure one.
(v) There is no need to go. He is not in the same position as Callaghan in 1978 (in his fourth year leading a minority government); he has a comfortable majority and can wait until 2010. If it all goes pear-shaped in 2008 there is still time to try to get back on course.
(vi) A "dash to the polls" may look like an (opportunist) attempt to exploit a (temporary?) poll lead; or may look like an attempt to get re-elected before the economy runs into difficulty. Either may boomerang on Brown. "It's about perception, Stupid".
What will he do? Absolutely no idea. Wild guess? He'll go for it.
Manchester Cycle Path
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The PFI Rip-Off
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Free Speech in the USA
Clearly, Andrew Meyer is a bit of a pain (every meeting has one). But that is not the point. The guy is pinned to the ground by four or five campus cops and then - when he clearly posed no threat to anyone (and it seems he may even have been handcuffed at the time) - tasered (i.e. electrocuted). Incredibly, he is later charged with resisting police with violence and disturbing the peace; although the only violence on display is that used by the police. There is a very good post on this at Unrepentant Communist (see Links), who is shocked by the reaction of the other students (although here we can hear several people protesting, and one asking "why are you doing this?"). Why do the cops do it? Because they're a bunch of half-witted thugs. At least Walter Wolfgang wasn't tasered.
Free Speech on the Web
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Brown: too clever by half?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
An Appalling Crime
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The ambitions of Bush
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Eton Dave the hypocrite
Vaz and the Euro-Referendum
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Tax and Fat Cats
- The Labour Government has "stemmed the growth in inequality inherited from the Thatcher years, but not reversed it".
- Many of those entitled to tax credits do not claim them (18% in 2004-05).
- The tax system considered overall is not "progressive": if indirect taxes are taken into account "people pay much the same proportion of their income in taxes all the way up the income scale".
- The system could be made more progressive by (a) raising the top rate of tax to 50%, (b) reinstating the 10% starting rate.
- There is likely to be "considerable public support for curbing the excessively high salaries and bonuses of company directors and managers by making it obligatory for companies to have employee representatives on their remuneration committees".
This comes on top of a report by Ashley Seager in Thursday's Guardian which tells us that Giles Thorley (chief executive of Punch Taverns) earns 1,148 times the average salary of his employees. And: "The average boss-to-worker ratio across the FTSE is 66:1 based on salary alone or 98:1 with share options and other incentives". Tesco's boss gets 415 times the salary of the average shelf-stacker. New Labour was, famously, "seriously relaxed" about this kind of thing (as Mandelson put it); but my guess is that most Labour voters find it quite obscene.