15 January 2009

A Belated Start To 2009

A lot to catch up on.

1. Tories To Fiddle Boundaries
I don't know why anyone would be surprised with the Tories for re-announcing their determination to reduce parliament by "at least 10%" or by 65 MPs at minimum. They have stated this many times in their previous manifestos - in fact they have mentioned a reduction of 150 MPs. When it comes to constitutional matters it seems governments can act very quickly when they really want to - unlike this Labour government which has dilly dallied for 11 years over their election promises of a PR referendum for Westminster. Of course the Tories do not have a hostile press and Lords to contend with. Don't expect the Tories to offer any say to us in a referendum on this important constitutional change to 150 constituencies that are going to have their MPs taken away at a stroke of a Tory pen. The arbitrary boundaries we have at present are bad enough but now it seems they are just there to be moved around so as to deliver the best results for whoever can get away with it - just like in the US where even computer programmes have been written for such a purpose. The Tories have worked out that urban voters can be disenfranchised if seats are enlarged to cleverly split urban seats up and combine them with enough Tory suburban and rural areas. That low-turnout in safe Labour urban seats due largely to our electoral system will come back to bite Labour. I don't see how Labour will get a second chance to put this right and deliver PR. The Tories could be in for another generation on a small minority of the vote (even less than the 1 in 3 that Thatcher got). Call that democracy?

2. Daily Mail Sells Out To Red Under The Bed.
I had to laugh at this one - you couldn't make it up - The Standard sold to a former Russion Spy. We live in strange times indeed. Well, to be fair I doubt it matters how right wing this Russion thug may be - the Standard couldn't be any more biased and distorted than it already is. It got rid of a great Mayor in Ken Livingstone and replaced him with a sick joke (still fair to Boris, he has finally managed to u-turn and restore half price travel for those on low incomes - I will give him credit for that).

3. Blowing My Own Trumpet
Can't provide evidence for this - you will have to take my word for it, but I wrote back in 2001 that a recession was due soon (I thought 2003) and that the longer the credit boom continued the deeper the recession. I also thought that the Euro would go from strength to strength and that the UK would eventually beg to join - all this guff about how setting our own interest rates has helped us is rubbish - all the experts agree that the B0E cocked it up in not reducing interest rates sooner. If we had been under the ECB our interest rates would have been stable around 2-3% not shooting up to 5.75% and then steeply dropping to 1.5% in a few months. This instability has helped no British business, add in the extra costs of our volatile currency and we can see how bad Brown's decision not to join was. We would have been better off in the Euro - we would have had to sort out the reckless lending in the housing market and personal debt markets before we joined (much to Tory protests) but think of how much money that would have saved the taxpayer now?

nb. By the way, Brown may have swapped Gold for Euros at a few million loss, but no Tory goes on about the £23bn Brown made the taxpayer from the sell off of the airwaves to the 3G mobile phone companies - he would only of got a fraction of that today. These things depend on arbitrary timings and I doubt the Tories would have done much different in either case. In fact I predict the Tories will probably be the party to take us into the Euro (probably in 2050 on really bad terms and after 20 years of rejection from the Eurozone countries).

4. Finally - Brown Really Has To Go.
It comes to something when Brown 'saves his skin' by bringing us to 'only' 10% BEHIND the Tories. What a despairing place the Labour party is in - still unfortunately, under this system it is our only hope.


  1. The 3G auctions we planned before Gordon got in to power. He was lucky on timing.

    The main reason that he wouldn't get that ammount of money now is because he got that much then. Even Ofcom didn't expect that much money and accept that getting so much was a bad move and Parliament has changed Ofcom's remit on spectrum auctions to remove the need to maximise money and ensure that the spectrum is used effectively.

    There is another major auction for mobile spectrum coming up soon (2.5GHz) and we'll see how valuable it is as soon as T Mobile and O2 have finished their legal objections.

  2. HNY,

    1. I made you Electoral Reform Minister in My 'Bloggers Cabinet, and you didn't even bother with an acceptance speech.

    2. So what?

    3. 3G licences, stroke of genius, or possibly luck, as GS points out. It's one of the Land Value Taxers' favourite campfire stories.

    Funily enough, the Euro has fluctuated much more wildly over the years than sterling (apart from the recent, ahem, crash).

    4. Agreed.

  3. Mark, sorry I didn't realise I had been appointed. As you may have noticed I have not been blogging for a while. I gratefully accept the post and will comment on your blog in due course, cheers.

    The Euro has actually been more stable in its first 10 years than the Deutchmark was in the ten years before the Euro's launch. I think to ignore the 'recent crash' in evaluating Sterling is a bit of a cop out, is it not?

  4. Neil, charts of EUR (or its predecessors) and GBP since 1990 here, you tell me which currency is more 'stable'.