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Proof that it’s a bad idea

It is a strange moment when an idea that you have promoted suddenly moves towards the political centre stage, even if Nigel Farage is the person who is doing the pushing.

This happened yesterday when the Reform Party presented its idea to eliminate payments of interest to the UK’s commercial banks and other financial services organisations that enjoy the privilege of having a central bank reserve account balance with the Bank of England. As I have noted here many times, the payment of bank base rate on these accounts at one time cost in excess of £40 billion a year, and still costs in excess of £35 billion per annum now.

What other proof do we require?

31 thoughts on “Proof that it’s a bad idea”

  1. The Meissen Bison

    It’s not a privilege, it’s a reserve requirement as any fule professor of economo-politix mite kno but dozen.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    This happened yesterday when the Reform Party presented its idea to eliminate payments of interest to the UK’s commercial banks and other financial services organisations that enjoy the privilege of having a central bank reserve account balance with the Bank of England. As I have noted here many times, the payment of bank base rate on these accounts at one time cost in excess of £40 billion a year, and still costs in excess of £35 billion per annum now.

    Those with better knowledge then me should be able to enumerate the 2nd order effects that Spud always ignores.

  3. He’s grumpily supporting my party’s manifesto. I need to get out, now!

    (Though, I congratulate him on actually ploughing through all 117 pages. I didn’t.)

  4. I like Murphy’s admission that Farage is closer to the “political centre” than he is.

    One to save to use again, I think.

  5. Another thing that Murphy and Farage have in common is that neither will likely achieve vermine and the daily expenses.

    Whether it bothers Farage I’ve no idea. My guess is it’s a festering sore for Murphy.

  6. Theophrastus (2066)

    Reform has a lot of bad ideas – eg proportional representation, which would guarantee leftist coalition governments for the foreseeable…

  7. Theo. Proportional representation, which would guarantee rightist coalition governments for the foreseeable works equally as well. You need to have confidence that you can pursued a majority of the electorate towards your point of view, not get an electoral fluke of a government with policies the majority of the electorate voted against. There’s already been 13 years of a Tory ( laughing & cat calls from the audience) government, thanks.

  8. Anyone else agree that the recent Tory governments under various PMs have been a strong argument against FPTP? It’s very existence has prevented the election of real right wing politicians. Why it looks like it’s only possible for that to happen if it’s destroyed at the polls by Labour.

  9. In which Spud displays his analytical skills….

    “The Tories have announced that they want to end self-employed national insurance contributions.

    …how will the self-employed have their old age pension contributions recorded – or is the Tory plan to deny them a pension? That is a point that has to be clarified.”

    Class 4 is being abolished, not Class 2. Class 2 NIC being the relevant NIC class. Took me 2 seconds to guess this when I saw ‘main rate’ being mentioned and 2 minutes to see they were talking of Class 4

    Even his terminology “old age pension contributions” is out-dated. They haven’t been called that for decades. They are State Pension Qualifying Contributions

  10. bloke in spain said:
    “FPTP … It’s very existence has prevented the election of real right wing politicians”

    Agreed. Although whether PR solves that depends on the design of the PR system.

    I’d support a proper sort of PR that let alternative parties get into Parliament. But I voted against the Coalition stitch-up transferable vote bollocks that just seemed designed to get more MPs for the DimLibs.

  11. Theophrastus (2066)

    BiS
    At present, with a largely welfare-dependent electorate stuck in the soggy ‘centre’, there is no majority for a genuinely right-wing government in the UK. And PR would not change that.

    PR encourages fragmentation of the electorate, the proliferation of political parties, and endless coalitions requiring the dilution of manifestos and policies. Often, the result is what political scientists call pluralist stagnation – with legislative gridlock, an inability to make quick and coherent decisions, tiny minority parties holding larger parties to ransom in coalition negotiations and granting them the power to veto any proposal that comes from the larger parties.

    So under PR, Reform would end up having to compromise its policies and enter a coalition with a ‘centrist’ party, if it wanted to be in government. In which case all Reform would have achieved is an explicit and formal coalition involving compromise, rather than an implicit and informal compromise as exists in the UK’s two main ‘broad church’ political parties.

  12. Martin Near The M25

    Spud practically had his hands on vermine. All he had to do was keep quiet for a bit. You can guess the rest.

  13. Andrew C said:
    “Class 4 is being abolished, not Class 2”

    But isn’t Class 2 already being (mostly) abolished? I’ve lost track of which Budget that was announced in. Although the entitlement to pension is no longer linked to paying.

  14. Bloke in North Dorset

    I still prefer political deals being done in smoke filled rooms before the election not after it when they don’t have to sell their compromises to the electorate.

    If the broad left or right can’t work together before the election what makes anyone think they will afterwards? That said, I fully expect Starmer’s broad coalition to breakdown within a year..

  15. Theo. You’ve just summed up Tories. They’re not in favour of democracy. Demonstrated since Cameron didn’t get the result in the referendum he mistakenly called. Democracy is when the majority of the electorate desire your policies. Not just as a result of a split between opposition parties puts you in power to do what you want.
    And sorry, the idea that the Tory party is a “broad church’ is bollocks on stilts. Maybe at the constituency level*. But as the constituencies don’t seem to have any power whatsoever at Parliamentary level it doesn’t mean anything.

    *Does the Tory party still have a constituency level these days? There are actually fools still wish to be associated?

  16. @RichardT

    No Class 2 still exists. You can pay it voluntarily if you earn below c£6.5k and are treated as having paid it if you earn above that.

    You have to register for it either way.

    Technically you don’t have to pay a single penny to get a pension qualifying year. But it’s still your class 2 contribution record that counts towards your pension.

  17. Theophrastus (2066)

    BiS

    We are talking about the demerits of PR, not the Tory Party. There are no good arguments for PR. Your notion that PR would or could deliver rightist governments in perpetuity is fantasy politics. The UK electorate will buy some right-wing policies as part of a package; but I doubt there’s much more than 20% support for a full-blooded right-wing political programme.

  18. Amusingly the FT had an article questioning the wisdom of this and how it wasn’t workable. Why amusingly? As below the line comments delighted in repeating, the FT’s own economics commentator has proposed exactly this policy a week or so ago.

    Pretty much nailed the FT as disliking the party, not the policy.

  19. The UK electorate will buy some right-wing policies as part of a package; but I doubt there’s much more than 20% support for a full-blooded right-wing political programme.
    True. But why would one want one? It wouldn’t be democratic, would it?
    I’ll say one thing for Labour. They have tried to implement the policies they were elected on. That’s why you’re running scared of them being elected. The Tory version is to get elected on their policies & then implement something totally different. 2017 & again in 2019.

  20. The Meissen Bison

    It’s difficult enough to attempt to hold single-party government to account unless like the Tories the failures are flagrant and persistent. We shall soon see how visceral that reaction can be.

    With PR no such possibility can ever exist because a shifting government programme only emerges after the governing coalition forms in which senior coalition legislators jockey for their preferred portfolios and then aim to implement a mish-mash of sometimes contradictory policy compromises.

    Germany’s “traffic light” coalition is in utter disarray but perhaps more interesting is the fate of individual members of any unpopular coalition: the SDP has been overly promiscuous to remain in givernment and sinks ever lower in the voting. Meanwhile, the German FDP, like the LibDems here, are inevitably pummelled when they are implicated as a bit player in unpopular policies which betray their supposed core “beliefs”.

    I’m sorry to have missed (on a different thread) BiND’s thoughts on the gender of sponges but I entirely concur that Starmer’s government will be brought down: in my view by a mixture of factional in-fighting internally and more broadly by a break-down of public order.

  21. @RichardT – “But I voted against the Coalition stitch-up transferable vote bollocks that just seemed designed to get more MPs for the DimLibs.”

    In the last election, the LibDems got 11.6% of the vote and 1.7% of the seats (85% lower than proportional). Meanwhile, the SNP got 3.9% of the vote but 7.4% of the seats (90% higher). If you don’t think that this is a massive problem, you cannot value democracy. And, of course, the Conservatives got 56.2% of the seats on only 43.6% of the vote (29% higher).

    In contrast, for example, the last Irish general election, which uses STV and so has the property of being generally proportional, returned parties with a maximum discrepancy of 7%.

  22. Charles, of course I agree the lack of proportionality in the current UK voting system is a problem; that’s why I said I’d support a decent form of PR.

    But the UK proposal that went to the referendum was for single-member constituencies with an STV. That doesn’t promote proportionality, indeed it can actually reduce it and can cause results as disproportionate as FPTP.

    The Irish system is different; it has multi-member constituencies (3, 4 or 5),
    That indeed has its merits (although I’m not sure what the optimum number of members per constituency is), but it isn’t what we were offered.

    The difference is crucial; it’s the multi-member constituency aspect that makes the Irish system more proportionate; not the transferable vote bit (which is just a way of making multi-member constituencies work whilst avoiding a party list).

  23. At present, with a largely welfare-dependent electorate stuck in the soggy ‘centre’, there is no majority for a genuinely right-wing government in the UK. And PR would not change that.

    Yet NZ managed to get a proper right wing government with PR? And that in a country where Labour would win most of the time with FPTP, unlike Britain, so basically less naturally right wing.

    If you had PR, Reform could easily get 15% of the seats. That has to drag the Conservatives right.

    All across Europe we are seeing PR yield actual right wing governments. Sweden, for example, is another with a tradition of left wing voting.

    Your statement is simply untrue.

    PR encourages fragmentation of the electorate, the proliferation of political parties, and endless coalitions requiring the dilution of manifestos and policies.

    Not if you make the minimum percentage required quite high it doesn’t. Again, most PR countries have a limited number of parties win the vast bulk of the seats. In NZ it is six parties now. Quite manageable.

    There’s a couple of countries with excessively low minimums, but they are rare.

    The “endless” coalitions are present in FPTP, just inside the parties. At least with PR they can fight their fight in public.

    The whole fear of coalitions is just a FPTP scare — they turn out to be very little issue in most cases. The right wing parties all lump together and the left wing all lump together. It’s not often you get actually fragile ones. Britain has more early elections than most PR countries.

    In fact British politics is a total mess at the moment – internal coups in parties, early elections, major parties losing voters left and right. Hardly an endorsement of your apparently good system.

  24. I agree with Chester Draws on this one. After a lifetime voting in FPTP Elections in the UK, I have now voted in 3 PR elections in New Zealand.In the first one , Winston Peters support gave us a Labour led Government , but he became so pissed off with what resulted that his party washed their hands of Labour and would not continue to support them after the next one. Covid proved a deciding factor in the next election and Labour got sufficient seats to govern with Greens and the Maori Party as co conspirators.( Three cheeks of the same arse). They pissed off sufficient electors that they were booted out at the last election. National now lead the government with both Act and New Zealand First to keep them honest , and so far they appear to be giving us most of what they promised.
    Would I like to go back to a FPTP system? I don’t think so, the system here is not perfect,but then none are.

  25. Bloke in North Dorset

    The problem with extrapolating PPTP voting results to PR is that it makes the massive assumption that people would vote in exactly the same way. I’m not convinced that would be the case especially in safe seats where voters are likely to stay at home rather than making the effort to vote for a lost cause

  26. Theophrastus (2066)

    CD

    1. Yet NZ managed to get a proper right wing government with PR? NZ also elected the batshit crazy Jacinda. And I suspect that NZ doesn’t have the UK’s welfare dependency problem, with millions sucking on the state’s teat and so inclined to vote left.

    2. If you had PR, Reform could easily get 15% of the seats. That has to drag the Conservatives right. That is not a given! Farage is a ‘Marmite’ politician – a few love him, while many loathe him – so the Tories could move leftward and look for a coalition with the Limp Dicks…

    3. Sweden, for example, is another with a tradition of left wing voting. Sweden’s electorate votes for right-wing economic policies – eg contracting out of public services, social insurance healthcare, and independent schools that can make a profit. The last two examples would cause outrage in the UK. Meanwhile, PR has not worked well in Israel, Italy, Germany, etc…

    4. The whole fear of coalitions is just a FPTP scare — they turn out to be very little issue in most cases. The right wing parties all lump together and the left wing all lump together. It’s not often you get actually fragile ones. That may be your experience in NZ, but it is not true more generally. As TMB says above: a shifting government programme only emerges after the governing coalition forms in which senior coalition legislators jockey for their preferred portfolios and then aim to implement a mish-mash of sometimes contradictory policy compromises.

  27. +1 Theo

    A perfect electoral system is a mathematical impossibility, but (as I never tire of pointing out, mostly because it’s so obviously true when you’ve observed events on the continent over the last couple of decades , but also in part because it winds Charles up so badly) PR is a system under which the people vote and then the politicians decide who has won. Nein danke!

  28. Theophrastus (2066)

    Chris M

    PR is a system under which the people vote and then the politicians decide who has won. Nein danke!

    Exactly!

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