Saturday, 25 April 2009

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Bust Budget

Right, so a government in severe trouble, announcing record deficits and negative growth figures, would normally try and announce measures to help the poor and vulnerable, and to ease the pressure on those under average wages (don’t forget that the average wage in this country is apparently £20,000, who earns that much?). But then again, we’re talking about New Labour, their first instinct is to survive,everyone else can go hang.

This is the only conclusion I can come to for today’s budget. There is nothing for workers on the 10-15000 bracket, there’s nothing for single people, there’s token help for unemployed people ( an extra £1.7bn is to go to the “Job Centre network”, oh and woo-hoo statutory redundancy pay is to go up to £380), Oh and the child tax credit is to go up. That’ll please the pram face constituency.

Compared to what Darling could have done, re-instate the 10p band for starters, this is a typical New labour budget. All talk and no trousers. Even the supposed installation of the 50p top rate of tax is not guaranteed to go ahead, stated to come in at the start of the 2010/11 tax year presumably after the next Westminster election.

It is this measure which the Westminster comentariat have cited as being part of a left wing budget. Nonsense, utter nonsense. For starters, New Labour should have brought this measure in, in 1997. They were faced with a small black hole when they won power, but decided to raid the country’s pension pot instead. They are right to tax the better off more, but they shoud have done it years ago, rather than sit and let the inequal society that we have, grow.

Equally unimpressive were the do nothing party. Cameron went through his speech, not really making any points which pretty much most people would have thought of anyway. We may hear what the Tories would do differently in the next couple of days other than vague promises “ focus on the taxes for the many." However, I doubt it.

Overall, as I think New labour have lost the next election anyway, this does their position no favours. Without any additional measures to help people through the depression, most people will see through the hike in the top rate of income tax. This though will be remembered as the bust budget.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

More Spin...

{sigh} McBride-gate… well here goes.

Firstly, can I say that Damian McBride & Dolly Draper thoroughly deserve the kicking that they have been getting, particularly from Guido and Ian Dale. McBride deserves what happened to him. His job in particular is to present a positive face of the government, not to try and destroy anyone who disagrees with you, even those on your own side. You know what they say, those who live by the spin, die by the spin.

What has been somewhat missed by everyone on the blogosphere, and those willing to criticise the blogosphere from the sidelines (not mentioning Iain McWhirter, but… damn), is how much this has exposed the gaping lack of ideas in this government.

From what we are led to believe, the next Westminster election is to be a dirty campaign, with all sorts of muck being thrown at the Tories. And the class issue being thrown up, with the Conservative leadership being accused of being toffs. Not that New Labour don’t have their own toffs, Shawn Woodward, the member for St Helens South even has his own butler.

This is not the behaviour of a government full of ideas. In fact this is a government with no vision, other than to stay in power. It is laughable to hear “senior figures” mutter about Brown’s performance, warning him that he is going to lose the next election. Too late, he already has. My own opinion is that he lost it over the Pre-Budget report. Rather than cut taxes’, particularly aiming those cuts at low earners, Brown and Darling instead chose to cut VAT. A cut on taxes which is only of use if you have money, which the country is short of. Genius.

What the New Labour hierarchy should be worried about is the scale of the defeat, after all it’s not that long ago that the polls were showing a projected Conservative majority of over 100 (the current polls show a projected majority in the 40’s). In this regard, Events, Dear Boy might be on to something with his assertion that June will be key for Brown.

What this also exposes is Brown’s leadership skills. Or a lack of. Rather than drag the story out for 6 days now, he should have made a statement on Saturday. Something along the lines of sorry for the offence caused by my members of staff… I am appalled at what went on in the name of the prime minister… essentially act contrite and emphasise that he took action when he discovered what was happening (Which assumes Brown knew nothing, maybe he didn’t, maybe he did. There is no evidence for the former). This is only the lates in a long line of bad decisions Brown has made.

However much trouble Brown is in, there is one thing which might save him. Cameron is not really the most convincing candidate for PM. When the election comes, it’ll be a really difficult choice between a poor prime minister, and the self confessed “heir to Blair”, who even has his own version of Allistair Campbell lined up. Alternatively, i could describe the next election as do nothing versus all talk and no trousers.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Spin... and lot's of it.

Extract from the Paisley Daily Express, dated March 27.

"A council spokesperson said: “Renfrewshire is in line with the Scottish average on recycling but we want to improve that record and are taking forward a number of new approaches to achieve that.

“Also, from the autumn, the council will increase opportunities for waste collection. Recyclable household material will start to have its own specific weekly collection, followed the next week by the collection of non-recyclable material.”

Sooooo.... am i right in thinking that Renfrewshire council are trying to sneak fortnightly collections for non-recyclable waste through the back door without announcing it. There is an obvious public health issue here, encouraging vermin which bring disease. It was bad enough when Glenburn had an infestation of field mice 2 years ago. We really don't need the flies and rats.

Having said that, the council must be congratulated for recognising that it's recycling processes are not up to scratch. Anyone who uses the green and blue re-cycling bins knows that they are not really up to standard, they are too small to recycle anything. That and the binmen's ram-rod refusal to recycle the plastic milk bottle's.

But if the council are bringing in fortnightly collections. Sneaky... sneaky.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

More on the Toothless FSA...

I’ve been really busy this week, and thought that other bloggers had covered the Dunfermline Building Society scandal, particularaly SUBROSA, Paisley Expressions and er... Terry Kelly. The scandal originaly being that the FSA did not bother to loan DBS money, but called in the administrators straight away, forcing a shotgun marrage with Nationwide.

However, the current issue of Private Eye has an interesting take on the situation, which is incredibly damming for the FSA, which as I’ve posted before seems content to go after the small fry but let the Goodwin’s, the McKillop’s and the Hornby’s of this country off the hook.

According to the Eye the FSA had always regulated building societies but had paid little attention, considering them a low risk area. The particularly damming section though talks of coercing building societies into markets that they have no knowledge of.

Confronted by ever-greater competition from the mutual’s turned banks and “shadow banks” such as the big US owned sub-prime/non conforming loan originators GMAC, GE Money and Lehman Brothers, the old line building societies were effectively encouraged by the FSA to “diversify or die”. The old model of boring residential mortgages no longer worked. The new model was to go into the exciting commercial property loans, loans to housing associations and buy-to-let and self-certified mortgages. All businesses that building societies like Dunfermline knew next to nothing about. But that didn’t stop them piling in.

The result? Over £1bn of high risk or bad loans built up in three years or less… Meanwhile the Fundamentally Supine Authority did not seem to understand or insist that Dunfermline needed more capital or bigger reserves for the greater risks it had taken on at the wrong price until it was too late.

Bearing in mind the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin name of the FSA, the Financial Services Authority. This shows that they should have been called the MANTSA (Move Along Nothing To See Authority). Under the FSA’s watch we have seen their failures result in near collapse for Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley, Alliance and Leicester, HBOS, The Royal Bank of Scotland and the Dunfermline Building Society. I am sure that this list will be added to in the coming year. Come to think of it, reading that last part about taking on risks at the wrong price, echoes of the Royal Bank and ABN AMRO - Goodwin's folly. Hopefuly that's just coincidence and not the start of a pattern.

Of course, in the light of this lates failure of the FSA, this blows a rather large hole in the Government’s “light touch” regulation policy. Unfortunately, the question that should be posed is, what would the even more business friendly Conservative’s do?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Sign The Petition

I've just signed a petition that's calls on the government to put people and jobs at the heart of the economic recovery; you should sign up as well. While the Government has poured billions into saving the Banks - institutions whose recklessness caused this crisis - we’ve heard too little about protecting those suffering the consequences of the crisis - ordinary working people like you and me.

Sign the petition to tell the Government to support our jobs -