Brave statement

The first question does not require a “strategic welfare review” as Field suggests. It demands that bigger macroeconomic questions be answered, including what the cost of not supplying this care might be. But I already know the answer: it will be politically impossible for any elected government not to supply the healthcare people in this country want and need.

People are denied treatment they desire all the time.

Ever heard of NICE? Waiting lists?

Sigh. So, public services are free are they? Over time that is:

Second, spending creates the capacity to pay more tax. The reasons should be obvious and yet apparently they are not. New government spending is, of course, someone’s income. It is not poured into a black hole to be lost forever more. That means that some comes straight back in tax. And yet more comes back because the recipient of the extra income also spends, and so tax is paid, and so on. It is quite likely that over time new spending pays for itself. Field should learn some basic economics.

Amazingly, no, it doesn’t work that way.


Or third, there is the Common Weal approach, which seems to me to be the only viable option Scotland has, and which has the advantage of being based on economic reality.

Err, yes.

Have a drink Nick

If I were to describe secretive organisations that make millions from mafia states, you would imagine – what? Mercenaries? Conspiracies with Blofeld at their head? Nothing so thrilling, I’m afraid. Picture instead respectable lawyers of high status and higher income, whose love of money is now, in the words of the Commons foreign affairs committee, a matter of “national security”. Others should judge whether they were so “entwined in the corruption of the Kremlin and its supporters that they are no longer able to meet the standards expected of a UK regulated law firm”.

The lawyers who worried MPs worked at the “magic circle” London firm Linklaters, whose 40 highest-paid partners received £1.57m on average last year. Linklaters decided that the attempted murder of the Skripals, Russia’s shooting down of the MH17, its complicity in crimes against humanity in Syria, the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of Ukraine, support for the far right, the interference in democratic elections in the west and the suppression of democracy at home in no way obliged it to answer questions about its dealings with Moscow. It had nothing to say about its role in floating a Russian company last year.

The argument seems to be that bad guys shouldn’t be allowed to have lawyers.

I’m really pretty sure that’s not the way we want the system to work actually.

Good point Rod, good point

The English Defence League founder, Tommy Robinson, turned up in Leeds on Friday to film people going into the trial of several Asian men accused of “grooming” white girls. He did not speak, chant, accost anyone or do anything but point his phone at attendees from a distance. Still, several coppers bundled him into a police van, accusing him of a breach of the peace.

I’m not remotely a fan of the unpleasant Robinson. But wouldn’t it have been lovely if West Yorkshire police had acted with as much rigour and alacrity when, in an earlier case, they were told of the horrific sexual assaults taking place on their patch?

So here’s an idiot idea

Retailers are currently closing stores at a faster rate than during the recession, but despite the underlying issues being well rehearsed, no coherent plan has emerged to tackle high-street decline. Some 50,000 stores are deemed surplus to requirements and MPs have recently launched a fresh inquiry, with the goal of drawing up a vision of what high streets and town centres could look like by 2030. There is no shortage of brain power being devoted to this emotive subject; retail guru Bill Grimsey is currently leading a taskforce that is revisiting his influential 2013 review. But while MPs and retail experts bang their heads together, the pace of decline only accelerates.

Why not just liberalise the planning laws and see what happens?

No doubt they’ll be prosecuted, eh?

The official campaign to keep Britain in the EU is facing fresh questions over whether it breached spending rules during the Brexit referendum.

Britain Stronger in Europe published a video on its website and Facebook page which formed part of a celebrity advertising campaign in the final days before the vote in 2016.

The clip, featuring Keira Knightley, a Remain supporter, urging people to vote, was produced by an advertising agency – along with a series also featuring Dame Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer and Lily Cole, the model – at a total cost of more than £76,000.

Given the precedent in the manner they’ve been crawling all over the Leave accounts?

Interesting assertion

What it implies is an attitude that Scotland should not tax companies, capital and wealth too heavily for fear it will relocate. That there is almost no evidence that real wealth does relocate for tax reasons does not matter to those who promote these arguments.

That it’s a basic assumption in all economics about taxation seems to escape the Murphmonster. All those very bright people filling libraries over the centuries, they’re all just wrong. Because.

Gordon Brown actually proved it for us as well. North Sea taxes were raised above the level where companies said they would invest. Companies didn’t invest, North Sea tax revenues fell.

But, you know, reality and the Great Tuber.

In particular, there is a worrying suggestion that the so-called ‘Laffer Curve’ might be relevant in a Scottish context and that there are limits to the tax rates that it might wish to consider. I suggest that this is wrong. The work of economists working with Thomas Piketty has made clear that there is no tax rate that Scotland might reasonably consider where an increase in tax rate would reduce tax yield.

There’s reasonable – not conclusive I agree, but reasonable – evidence to suggest that current UK top income tax and capital gains rates are at the peak of the Laffer Curve. It’s even true that the major theoretical paper of recent years, Diamond and Saez, concurs. Taxes upon income – note taxes upon income, not income taxes, therefore add in NI – peak at 54% in a system with allowances. The ability to leave the country and remove oneself from the tax system by changing residence is an allowance in this definition.

Err, Saez works with Piketty, no?


These mid-career actresses do all look the same, don’t they?

Actors and actresses are used to being recognised and approached by fans who feel they know them.

But as Victoria Beckham knows only too well, a case of mistaken identity can prove more than a little embarrassing.

Thandie Newton, who stars in Line of Duty and Westworld, has revealed that the former Spice Girl was “mortified” when she engaged her in conversation after confusing her with Zoe Saldana.

There began an awkward exchange that left Newton baffled before it dawned on her that Beckham thought was talking to someone else.

Although both women are actresses, one is British and the other American.

That annoyance at finding out that what they were renting out all those years were the fading youth and beauty, not actual talent.


I want to make clear I am not just talking about some recent failing here: the succession of firms that KPMG seem to have audited that have gone to the wall after their audit reports have been issued; the disaster of Carillion, and the dismal failure of the Financial Reporting Council to show any initiative at all in the face of such issues arising are not what has created a crisis. Important as all these things are I suggest to you that they are symptomatic of a much greater malaise that is what really needs to be addressed.

The greater issue is one that I suggest that anyone who has interest in saving the market economy should rally to support. That issue is that without data; without is verification; and without trust that the data supplied is both useful and reliable, then markets as we know them will cease to exist.

What do I mean by that? I suggest that:

People will stop saving – at least in shares;

But isn’t he running a campaign to stop people saving in shares?

This is the patriarchy, is it Rhiannon?

When is the right moment to reveal the full horror of the patriarchy to your daughters? According to BBC historian Dan Snow, you don’t. The “grim realities” of gender relations won’t encourage them to follow their dreams, he reasons, and so he fibs. This week, on an episode of the Parent Hood podcast, he said that during a visit to an aviation museum his six-year-old daughter pointed out that all of the photos of Spitfire pilots were of men. Snow told her that women also flew Spitfires in combat in the second world war, which is untrue.

“Having to then explain to her why all the pictures of women are of them in ball gowns or in formal dress looking quite wooden and all the pictures of men are of them rampaging around having a great time, being heroic and climbing mountains, shooting things, being soldiers. That is something I struggle with,” he said. “Now at some stage she’s going to learn that I lied to her and she’s going to find out that women weren’t allowed to do active frontline service so I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

Millions of men forced – yes, forced into state slavery to then go die – into the military and active service is patriarchy is it?

Does he even read his own stuff?

Second, the IFS defines health care affordability in terms of capacity to tax. This too is quite simply wrong: health care is affordable if there is the capacity to supply it within the economy. That is what limits the health care we can supply, and not tax. It really is time the IFS looked at the real economy and not just the money.

But third, and worst, is the sheer poverty of the IFS thinking. Paul Johnson admitted on the Today programme this morning, which I endured on my way down to Stansted, that he might suffer from a lack of imagination. Let me assure you, I agree. And the reason is obvious. Johnson simply cannot imagine the world changing. His whole analysis exists in a world where ceterus paribus holds true. But it does not.

I have not checked the report as yet to see what it says about automation so I will stick to discussion of tax where what the IFS is saying is that nothing will change. Johnson’s commentary made this clear. We can’t tax business: he thinks it will run away. Land and wealth taxes won’t collect much, he says. And as for changes to allowances and reliefs, most especially when it comes to subsidising the already wealthy? Of that there was not a hint.

Let me put this in context. The IFS seem to be looking for about £30bn a year. That is, as I have shown, half the sum that subsidies to pension and ISA saving in the UK now cost each year. All of that sum goes as a subsidy to the City to effectively over inflate the price of shares. Johnson should know that. But he said on Radio 4 that there was nothing he could imagine cutting now that could meet health care costs. The only explanation for that is that he is not thinking, or cannot think, or wants to perpetuate the tax inequality we have in the UK where the wealthy pay no bigger a share of their income in tax than most in the population do.

And as I have also shown, we could raise this money from additional taxes on wealth.

Whether we tax or not, how we tax, is not the determinant of whether we can have more health care or not. Rather, it’s if we’ve got a few spare doctors and nurses lying about which does determine that availability.

But don’t worry folks, I’ve found a way to tax more even if I’ve not got more doctors nor nurses. So that’s alright then.

Time has costs does it? My, my….

Let’s for a moment assume, as they do, that the number of clearances will not reduce (which they seem to have ignored – oddly) that means the cost will be £100 a clearance. That is made up of an assumed £32.50 charge on each side of the import or export plus, I guess, a broadly similar cost to business to actually complete the forms.

So the rational question to ask is whether it might cost £35.00 for business to complete a customs declaration. Even if large parts of this could be automated the whole process will take time, effort, management, communication, systems, checks, audits and delivery so that the right person has the right form on the right consignment at the right time. Of course costs will vary. But allowing for overheads and on costs of employment £35 seems entirely fair for business.

In which case it seems fair for processing too. Twice over, of course.

So my gut reaction is that HMRC may well be in the right area with this one.

But to do country by country reporting to sate the delusions of one monomaniac has no costs at all.

This from a Professor of Political Economy

First, capitalism is killing itself. Since, as a matter of fact, capitalism depends upon the existence of markets in which there are many participants, and the whole trend within our current economy is for there to be fewer and fewer meaningful participants, with the sole remaining companies servicing some sectors looking more and more like monopolists with the absolute power to abuse consumers for their own private gain, then capitalism is dying from within.

Jeebus. Capitalism and markets are not the same thing. There is no requirement for there to be markets in capitalism. We’ve actually got some rather fierce warnings about what happens with monopoly capitalism.

We also don’t require capitalism to have markets.

They’re just different things. And a Professor of Political Economy doesn’t grok this?

That expansion of the universities wasn’t a good idea, was it?

Second, in that case it is for the Tories to say what they going to do to regulate markets to ensure that they are effective when every current trend shows that markets are trying to destroy competition which is the only thing that neoclassical economic theory says makes them efficient.

The capitalists would destroy market competition in a heart beat. As would all too many socialists of course. It’s not the markets trying to destroy the competition, it’s the other lot, those people entirely orthogonal to markets and or competition’ existence.

Third, it is absurd to claim that either capitalism or socialism provides a single, simple answer to the future nature of the UK economy. The truth is that the free market is a myth: there is, quite simply no such thing, and nor can there be without effective regulation. And at the same time, there is absolutely no appetite in the UK for a socialist economy where the right of a person to undertake trade on their own account, or with others, is denied.

That last sentence has absolutely nothing at all to do with socialism of any form. It has to do with hte absence of markets an the entry of competition into them.

To put it in a nutshell then, Danny Finkelstein’s argument is nonsense

Rich considering the preceding, isn’t it?

How bloody stupid do you have to be to believe this tripe?

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee concluded in April 2018 that overly optimistic passenger forecasts were to blame for the collapse of the East Coast mainline franchise.

The franchise’s repeated collapse highlights two key flaws with Britain’s rail model: it incentivises overestimating to win bids, and the government ultimately holds all the risk. Since transport plays too vital a role in keeping the economy going and all of us moving, the government cannot allow the railways to stop running.

The Franchise holder is taking a certain amount of risk, no? They’ve agreed to make payments, passenger numbers don’t turn up, they still have to pay.

Yes, they do. Stagecoach and Virgin are taking a thumping loss on the East Coast line. They’re being let out of future losses because Network Rail, the government owned bit, has fucked up over upgrades.

Someone was always going to try this

A local Labour party has suspended a man who previously made it onto the list of candidates for women’s officer because he “identifies as a woman on Wednesdays”, under their “self-id” rules.

In order to stand for the women-only position, the candidate has to self-identify as a woman, but there are no other stipulations about gender.

David Lewis, a Labour activist, told the Spectator he identifies as a woman “on Wednesdays, between 6.50am when my alarm goes off and around midnight when I go to bed.”

Some feminist activists have raised concerns about self-identification, arguing it could cause men to stand on the all-women shortlists the Labour uses to improve gender equality. They have tried to bring a legal challenge against the party, saying where transgender women do not hold a gender recognition certificate, they should not be allowed to stand in posts the law reserves for women.

Mr Lewis said he stood as candidate to: “inform the CLP, and maybe some other people, about what this policy means, about what happens when you say that someone’s gender depends only on what they say and nothing else.”

He added: “anyone else’s criticism or questions about my gender identity are just not relevant to the Labour Party at the moment, given the current policy. If I say I’m a woman, I’m a woman.”

And of course no one is happy that he’s exposed the contradictions in the policy. Everyone would rather he just shut up.

If it is possible to gain privilege through simple self-identification then people will self-identify in order to gain privilege. You know, incentives matter?


Marcel Marceau says:
May 22 2018 at 12:53 pm
Freedom under law, economic freedom, personal freedom, fairness, happiness and equality of opportunity.
Is there a place for these?

Richard Murphy says:
May 22 2018 at 1:41 pm
I am not sure anyone could flourish without them – so yes

Although what is economic freedom?


Might be something to work out before designing an economy, no?