Polly\’s economic solution

This is going to be good, isn\’t it?

Europe\’s impasse needs new purpose, after the old economic certainties helped cause this cataclysm. Even if the EU scrapes through, that\’s not enough. What then? François Hollande and Ed Miliband are calling a summit of social democrats this autumn to challenge dogma and forge a growth and jobs programme for construction and investment. Keynesian parties need to draw Europe-wide strength and credibility by working together. Hollande proposes a £120bn redirection of EU funds to an emergency growth programme:

This isn\’t going to help Spain you know, an investment and infrastructure boom. What they\’re suffering is the fall out from the bursting of the previous such boom. There\’s a million empty houses, 50 odd airports built and unused, museums and civic centres all over the country built and bust.

Infrastucture spending just isn\’t going to help in this case.

Germany imposed a solidarity tax to pay for reunification, taxing incomes, wealth and property. Britain has barely touched the abundance of its vast undertaxed wealth. This government can never rally the nation to unite in a crisis after hitting the weak hardest, with wealthy lifestyles remaining unchanged. The coalition may well fall apart sooner than expected: Labour needs to stand more ready than has yet been the case, with a radical alternative – easier to do as part of a Europe-wide appeal. In wartime bonds are issued to finance a national emergency by encouraging (or, from the rich, coercing) investment in a time of crisis. What Europe needs to escape slump is a war footing – but this time without the war.

The problem with war footing type of talk is that the populace needs to be convinced that we are a) fighting a war and b) that it\’s one worth fighting, c) that it\’s possible to win.

And to be honest I\’m really not sure that people are going to think that the saving of the pan-European jams, jellies, marmalades and sweet chestnut purees regulations is a war, worth fighting or worth winning. Quite the contrary in fact: there\’s at least one person out there who believes that it\’s worth figthing an economic war against the very thing that the pe-E j,j,m,scp regulations represents.

There really are iron rules in economics

There has been fierce criticism of the EU for making matters worse by forcing lenders to raise core tier one capital ratios to 9pc by the end of this month, a move widely blamed for tipping the eurozone back into slump.

Global regulators signalled a change of course yesterday, exploring ways to broaden the range of assets that count as liquid reserves. Critics say the whole policy of regulatory overkill should be abandoned until recovery is secure.

As in, you cannot expand bank lending and thus credit and the money supply, at the same time as you are insisting that banks double or triple their capital margins.

It\’s just not one of those combinations available to you.

Generals and last war all over again. Yes, the capital fragility of the banks was a problem. Almost certainly will be in hte future as well. But currently we\’ve an entirely different one: that shrinking money supply.

Yes, Skinner should go to the ball

Or rather, the Olympics.

Skinner will probably kill me for this – and might well turn them down anyway – but I have only one thought when we say goodbye: could somebody please send him tickets for the athletics at the Olympics? He and his family applied; he has two daughters and a son from his marriage, which ended amicably in 1989, and now lives with his parliamentary assistant. But another of his rules is never to talk about his family – so they only come up when he mentions the failure to get tickets. If Skinner doesn\’t deserve a seat at the games, I don\’t know who does, and if anyone would like to make amends for Cameron\’s contempt, I can\’t think of a better gesture.

Sod the Cameron\’s contempt thing. Dennis Skinner\’s one of those national treasures, up there with Peter Tatchell. Rarely right, entirely annoying and equally one of those who have made the country a vastly better place.

Why is Chuka Umunna such a prat?

Force firms to reveal tax bills, urges MP Chuka Umunna

Right after that Jersey trust tells us who owns your mother\’s house perhaps. If I\’ve got that little story correct.

But what really marks him out as a prat is this:

“To put it in context…in the tax year 2010/11, business paid £163bn in tax [in Britain]. That is the equivalent to the defence, education and transport budgets for this financial year.”

That\’s 11% or so of GDP. And believe me, that ain\’t corporation tax which is more like 2 or 3% of GDP. To get to that 11% he\’s certainly had to add in national insurance and quite possibly income tax on wages and maybe even VAT as well. Which might well be taxes collected by companies but they\’re not taxes paid by companies.

In fact, I seem to recall, when Chuka was shouting at Barclay\’s he didn\’t like the way that they lumped all these taxes together.

Last week, it emerged that Vodafone paid absolutely no corporation tax in the UK last year, despite taking £1.3bn in earnings before tax and interest.

I\’m becoming increasingly convinced that this is actually wrong. Not just the use of ebitda as the starting point and ignoring capital allowances etc. For there was the settlement of the Luxembourg case. In that settlement Vodafone said that it would be bringing some portion of that money back into the UK where it would be used to finance dividends. And moving such cash from a lot tax environment into the UK to pay a dividend will make it liable to UK corporation tax. At the headline rate minus whatever foreign taxes have already been paid.

It\’s possible that the very specific claim \”Vodafone UK LTD paid no corporation tax\” is true but not, at least I think not, the wider one that \”Vodafone PLC paid no UK corporation tax\”.

Why politics is such a shit way of doing things

Nick Clegg’s plans to replace the House of Lords with an elected senate could be watered down after the Conservative MPs expressed fury about Liberal Democrat attacks on embattled Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Maybe Lords reform should go ahead. Maybe it should be altered.

Maybe Hunt should be fired, be backed, be tickled to death.

But these are entirely different questions and the correct answer to either one of them should not influence what is the correct answer to the other. However, as can be seen, a temper tantrum over tribal loyalty seems to be influencing the basic structure of future governance.

A useful example of why politics is so shit as a method of doing things.


I have heard hon. Members claim that only 10 per cent. of our laws are made in Brussels—a figure that they attribute to a Library paper, but that paper says no such thing. It remarks that the number of statutory instruments laid under the European Communities Act 1972 amounts to about 10 per cent. of all the statutory instruments passed by the House, but points out that EU statutory instruments typically enact a whole directive, which is often the equivalent of an Act of primary legislation, whereas domestic statutory instruments implement regulations. To compare the two is like comparing apples and pears, or rather pumpkins and pears given the disparity in their size. It also ignores the most plentiful fruit that comes from the European orchard—regulations, most of which are never considered by this House and which hon. Members find difficult even to obtain.

The total scale of EU legislation is enormous. Last year, the EU passed 177 directives, which are more or less equivalent to our Acts of Parliament, and 2,033 regulations, which become directly enforceable in this place, not to mention 1,045 decisions.

Foreigners never really quite get it, do they?

Norm is trying to define Englishness. That alone marks him out as a foreigner as we simply don\’t.

As to the description he\’s looking for that\’s simple and should resonate given his place of birth. We English are simply those wityh the winning lottery tickers. All others are, by definition, simply losers.

This is why we don\’t blame foreigners, hate them or even dislike them. But we do of course pity them which could well explain why so many of them despise us. Nothing like being condescended to to inspire hatred.


Usain Bolt is launching the new Puma fragrance range.

I mean, yes, there are smells associated with athletes and athletics and sports, sure.

It\’s just that that combination of deep heat and old jockstraps is likely to have a fairly limited market I would have thought. Definitely a very specialist kink…..

No Pork!

No, sadly, not a new promise from politicians. Rather, about school lunches. And as one gentleman points out, it\’s nonsense anyway:

Jon Benjamin, the chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “This is simply not an issue. Jews of a certain level of observance would not eat in non-kosher restaurants or dining halls.

\”Children at mainstream school who are bothered would probably have packed lunches.

\”Children who are comfortable with using the same cutlery and crockery as everyone else would choose their dishes from the options available. It is live and let live – we are certainly not calling for this.”

The issue of pork or not pork simply is not important to anyone keeping kosher or halal. For both are a complete set of rules about what is allowable: kosher for example would not allow there to be either butter or milk in the mashed potatoes that go with the bangers from any kind of meat (insert joke here about the impossibility of finding meat in a British sausage).

As the man says, anyone seriously trying to follow the religious rules wouldn\’t be eating school lunches anyway.


“The best things in life are free”

Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson

No, Janet Brandford and Berry Gordy. And the best recording of it is obviously the Flying Lizards.

Well yes, obviously

Sent last week to Terry Stewart, president of the Dorset branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), Mr Letwin’s email states: “I anticipate that subsidies for both solar photovoltaic and onshore wind will come down to zero over the next few years and should have disappeared by 2020, since both of these forms of energy are gradually becoming economic without the need for subsidies.”

Although given that the becoming economic is not being driven by the UK subsidies they should be cut today, not in a few years.

What will interest is, well, who will argue against this?

Hurrah! I\’m Famous!

I\’ve actually made the Morning Star:

For the Adam Smith Institute\’s Tim Worstall it unmasked campaign group UK Uncut as nothing more than \”ignorant teenage Trots.\”

However, Rory does seem to miss the odd fact or two:

But it does clearly say – without making presumptions about the legality of HMRC\’s actions of the character of its executives – what the UK Uncut campaigners have said all along.

Well, no, the NAO report does not.

Vodafone has admitted to wringing a £1.2 billion payment from a £6bn dispute

For example, there never was a £6 billion dispute. This number was entirely an invention by Private Eye.

Homeopaths: no, we don\’t have to kill them

Just to infect them with malaria.

Today\’s stupidity leads us to this page.

Homeopathy was used in the past to treat and prevent malaria but largely fell into disuse with the emerging dominance of the pharmaceutical industry. Today, people are taking a second look and finding that homeopathy is still useful in the fight against malaria. It is also safe, inexpensive, and free of parasite resistance.

No, we don\’t have to kill them as they would kill others. Just infect them with malaria and watch them using their homeopathy to treat it.

Nuttin\’ like a Dame

Dr Mary Doreen Archer, Chair, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. For serv the NHS.

Rather fun. Dame Mary, Lady Archer……

Ms Zaha Hadid, CBE, For serv Architecture.

Has anything she\’s designed ever been built? And stayed up and been useful?

More on honours

So Charlie Grosvenor picks up another gong.

Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor The Duke of Westminster, KG, CB, OBE, TD, CD, DL, Formerly Member of the Council, Duchy of Cornwall.

A CVO this time.

So, he\’s the Duke of Westminster, obviously. Knight of the Garter, Commander of the Bath, Officer of British Empire, Territorial Decoration, Canadian Decoration (for 12 years meritorious service in Armed Forces, and given to those with honorary ranks/appointments. I have a feeling that he\’s Colonel or something of one of the BC or Vancouver regiments? Not all that odd, given the land holdings over there.) But what is DL?

It\’s a slightly strange group to have really. You lot know more about such things than I do but the Duke, the CVO, CB, KG, CD all rather come from who he is. The OBE and TD come from what he has done (ie, lots and lots of Territorial Army).

I think it\’s rather admirable that even though near gifted a basket full of baubles he\’s plugged away at something, anything in fact, and achieved much lower gongs entirely through his own efforts.

There\’s a rumour out there that it\’s the TD which he is most proud of……

Birthday honours

So what does this mean?

Timothy Bartel Smit, To be made substantive.

He was made KBE in 2011. But maybe he was still Dutch at that point? Meaning that it was an honorary knighthood? And he\’s now taken out UK citizenship so is Sir Tim now?