Dan Hannan blogged today on the CAP & Trade Scheme just adopted by the US House of Representatives. Assuming all assumptions are correct, the impact on global temperatures will be just 0.05 degrees by 2015. The costs on the US Economy will be trillions of dollars. If adopted worldwide, we might get 0.20 to 0.25 of a degree reduction. This scheme would therefore fail the Stern Review proposals of the benefits of action exceeding the costs. Without even questioning the AGW science, we can claim to be creating net harm to humanity by these measures.
All posts for the month June, 2009
Posted by manicbeancounter on 28/06/2009
The Tories straight-jacketed are becoming in the debate on public spending. For instance today Conservative Home reports Phillip Hammond saying that “protecting frontline services is the key reviewing government expenditure”. If the Tories do not change this debate then they will fail the nation when in government. Here are some examples from my shopping that might help them succeed:-
1) VALUE FOR MONEY – It is not how much that is spent, but the output that matters. Consider an example from my shopping. Recently I bought aubergines for 49p each against 89p each at another supermarket. The quality was not as good. However, the cheaper ones were at least 3 times the size of the more expensive ones, and I use them for bulk in making ratatouille. If the Labour Government were regularly paying 89p for their aubergines, they would say it was a cutback if a switch was made the 49p variety, and lowering of quality, even though quantity was increased 3-fold.
2) PLURALITY of SUPPLY. The standard argument is to have a single source and type of supply. In the Government sector, the NHS is the only source of supply for Healthcare and the National Curriculum is means that the syllabuses and the structure of lessons are determined centrally. In my shopping, I like to buy the branded tea and instant coffee. But in neither do I stick to one brand, or stick to one supermarket, and I tend to stock up when it is cheap. I therefore save around 30% on average. The government sector is more complex, but by having diversity it is possible to get better value.
3) WASTE REDUCTION. I do most of the shopping in my family, as I have the knowledge of prices, where things are in supermarkets and the best idea of my family’s diverse tastes, and the quantities required. Knowing tastes and quantities means that mistakes are minimized. We occasionally waste food in the household, but it is far less than 20% that is claim nationally. The Labour Government may have looked at cheaper sources of supply, but not consistently. In particular, as tastes change it
4) PRODUCTIVITY. Mine and my partner’s time is valuable. We neither want to spent large parts of out time on shopping or cooking. Therefore, we would not normally make bread, pizzas, sauces or sausages as these would waste time. In cooking, we may cook large joints of meat and freeze some, as this saves both time and cost. There is a lot of trail and error in this and learning by experience. The Government, consistently, has looked at extending existing services and creating new functions, with an eye solely on the public perception and no particular view on how much output is achieved for a given input. In so doing productivity has probably fallen. See Burning our Money here.
5) FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS. When shopping, I do not look for the absolute cheapest, nor do we do without luxuries. But too many luxuries, and too few bargains will lead to the overall household weekly shopping envelope constraining other expenditure, such as housing, cars and holidays. What is best is to have flexibility, so luxuries can be afforded, quality is generally good, diversity is high, new things tried yet cost is kept low. The Labour Government has for too long deceived itself about the financial constraints, first juggling over the course of the business cycle, then believing that boom and bust has vanished. Now there is the deepest recession since the constraints are massive, as government was already over-spending in the good times.
6) MAINTAINING FOCUS ON PRIORITIES. When shopping for the best bargains, I do not lose sight of the fact of that I am aiming to satisfy the needs of my family. I do not slavishly pander to the whims of the children (though I do provide some treats and some junk food), nor do we do without all luxuries and treats. Rather, it is a balance of getting value, and concentrating on the basic goods that need to be purchased week in week out. For the Labour Government, too many items that should be classed luxuries, or “nice to have”, have become essentials and basic human rights. When it comes to stressing priorities they have little idea. Rather than make such a decision, they are waiting to be forced to make a decision, and then cuts are likely to be evenly made across the board.
7) CONSIDER THE INTEREST OF THE RECIEVER AS NUMBER ONE. I look for the best offers in each supermarket. I take note and take advantage of pricing mistakes (such as making smaller packets cheaper per unit than larger ones); can see usually through phoney offers (usually); buy supermarket own-brands and trawl the discount cabinets for items at their sell-by date. In other words, I would like to think a supermarket’s profit margins on my shopping is somewhat below the average. My interest becomes before that of the supermarket. In Government, much of what is done is due to pandering to the government sector workers. Serving the general public is just another priority to be considered. Government should exist to serve the people. Everything should follow from that. This includes the interest of the public servants.
The analogy is only that. It does not encompass all the issues, and some areas (such as productivity and maintenance of priorities) are ranked as more important for government, whereas value for money in every item is the most important for my weekly shop. However, if it is the welfare of the nation that is our concern, it is a good way to move away from sterile and unproductive arguments.
Posted by manicbeancounter on 28/06/2009
Daniel Hannan made an interesting in last week’s Sunday Telegraph. Could Peter Mandleson in his elevated role, be saving the government until October to enable the Lisbon Treaty to be ratified? Certainly he seems to have rallied both the cabinet and the PLP when they seemed to be distintigrating. Labour seems to be back on course feeding the agenda, rather than being battered by new revelations on expenses and resignations. However, there are two weaknesses to this arguement.
Firstly, if Labour had continued to disintegrate, then it would have further destroyed it’s own prospects in the forthcoming general election. Saving Gordon Brown’s Premiership helps the Labour Party, as a new leader would have to call an election soon afterwards. Labour will stage some sort of recovery, so the delay will save a few Labour seats.
Secondly, for Lord Mandleson, he has reached the pinicle of his power. If the government collapses, he will be cast out in the wilderness.
The interests of the Labour party and the European Federalists coincide at the present time. They are not in conflict as Hannan would suggest.
Posted by manicbeancounter on 26/06/2009
The election of John Bercow as speaker of the House of Commons was achieved with very little support from MPs of his own party. Whether you accept is was with 3 or 4 conservative votes (per Nadine Dorries) or might be at high as 20, it was still with a 10% or less the consrvative votes. Hopefully John Bercow can rise above this and become a strong and impartial speaker. But he has a mountain to climb, as his support could well be based upon a cynical attempt to make life difficult for a future Conservative Government. T o quote Fraser Nelson in the Spectator.
“History has been made, insofar as Mr Bercow is perhaps the first Speaker ever to be chosen on account of his unpopularity and lack of authority. And this is, in itself, a deeply revealing insight into the late-stage Labour game plan. A retreating army still has plenty of options, if it is imaginative enough. There are bridges to be burned, landmines to be laid, earth to be scorched. And Speaker Bercow is merely the most visible of the many shackles with which Labour hopes to burden a Tory government.”
Another example of a Labour Government planning for opposition?
Posted by manicbeancounter on 26/06/2009
John Redwood points to a small victory for the Conservatives in the Commons yesterday in a vote on Regional Assemblies.
It may be a small victory, but a failing government ploughs on. Why should they do this when the opinion polls would show little enthusiam for the idea of another body of bureaurats?
Might I suggest that the New Labour spin-doctors have re-grouped under Lord Mandleson. The brief now is to destroy the incoming conservative government, by crippling them with commitments and providing daily headlines about Consrevative cuts. In so doing, the most destructive part of the alternative reality of properganda spin is revealed.
Englishman’s Castle provided a blog about the death of the South-Western Regional Assembly. It shows the lack of purpose in having such entities. The fact that the Government is still promoting the assemblies when they serve no distinct and useful purpose either suggests that
The government does not have a measure of their lack of purpose,
They are keeping them, expensively, on life-support, so that it is the Tories who will lkill off “a brilliant initiative in decentralisation”
Either way, it does not show a government serving the people.
Posted by manicbeancounter on 26/06/2009
Iain Dale has posted an e-mail sent to a former labour supporter, inviting him to rejoin. Dale’s comment is
“Note that people are being asked to rejoin three times. If the BNP line doesn’t get them, then maybe the threat of cuts will. And note that there’s not a single positive reason to rejoin – it’s all attacking the Tories.But it’s the BNP line that will enrage right minded people.”
Again, the line being taken by Labour is that “we must prepare for opposition”
Posted by manicbeancounter on 15/06/2009
Ed Balls has continued the preparations for post-election opposition with an attack on the Tories education policies in today’s Guardian.
This oppposition mentality is shown by the Labour Government’s policies merely form an unquestioned measuring-rod from which to evaluate the Tories. Like any opposition with no hope of forming a government, consistency is not required. In the current circumstances, when spending needs to be squeezed, if something is raised up the list of priorities, we need to know what has fallen down the league table. In particular, those areas which are no longer required, so can be dropped. Or there might be areas can be reduced.
Unfortunately the Ballsian approach tends towards an extremist party that knows that they will never form a government when he says
“David Cameron is playing the public for fools and, frankly, the centre-left have let him get away with it too long.”
In other words, the Tories have a conspiracy to make things worse. Labour needs to expose the “truth”.
Hat tip Dan Hannan
FOLLOW UP – John Redwood stated yesterday that
“It is pathetic that we are still stuck in this idiotic sound bite culture, where Mr Brown seriously believes he can frighten people from voting Conservative by continuing to fib that Tories want to sack teachers and nurses.His main reason for wanting Balls in place of Darling apparently was to have someone as Chancellor who would spend his time rubbishing the Opposition instead of tackling the serious productivity and deficit problems in the public sector.”
Well perhaps Ed Balls is trying to do the attacking role from his current position?
Posted by manicbeancounter on 15/06/2009
The Labour government is now trying to tie the hand of a future Consrvative government. In launching a The Child Poverty Bill puts a legal obligation on local authorities and other public bodies to work towars the irradication of child poverty. In the words of Yvette Cooper (new Work & Pensions Sectretary) “The reason for having this legal framework is to say that this is not something that you can just walk away from. Future governments, future agencies shouldn’t just be able to turn round and say OK it’s got a bit too difficult…..”
So a new Labour government in 1997 sets an impossible standard. Twelve year later, having not gotting close to fulfilling it, they then tie future Governments into their targets. The reason that it is impossible, is that the measure of child poverty involved is a relative concept. So even if we get Chinese rates of growth for the next generation, if income distribution remains unchanged, we will get policy failure.
The Bill is aiming to tie a future government into a socialist concept. It is putting in place laws which cannot be met, for which to breate a future Conservative government.
See Today Programme on Fri 12th June at 7.52. At 3 mins to 3.15 Yvette Cooper explains that it is a relative measure, and gives a backhanded dig at the previous governements. At 3.15 mins is the above quote.
Posted by manicbeancounter on 14/06/2009
Have you noticed that the Labour Spin Machine has kicked into life again? Problem is that instead of promoting government policies, they concentrate on attacking the Tories.
This excellent interview on the Radio 4 Today Programme (at 8.10 on 11th June) has Liam Byrne attacking the prospective Conservative cuts, whilst failing to admit that Labour need to do similar cuts. John Humphreys asks a number of times for a clear answer to whether Labour in Government will cut expenditure. He does not give a straight answer. The reason that Liam Byrne does not give a straight answer is that the Labour Party no longer expect to win the next election, so have no plans on how to sort out the current Brownian mess. They election campaign is already underway.
Listen in particular after 1.45 mins and 2.30
Posted by manicbeancounter on 14/06/2009
BNP supporters include many hardworking, but unappreciated people. Their lives can be turned around by a confident Christianity that values them.
The Political Establishment reviles the BNP, either describing them as beyond the pale, or denigrating them for views they do not necessarily hold. In so doing they guarantee that the BNP will build a core following that will endure. Instead we should understand the people who voted for the BNP. The recent Channel4-commisssioned Yougov survey of electors highlighted the issues.
- BNP voter families are poorer than national median, but less than 10% below. Indeed, if you allow for the concentration is the lower income areas (Burnley for instance), they are about average.
- They are disproportionately manual workers (36% v 20% in the population), male (61% v 48%), and read the most down-market papers (33% v 20%). There are few professionals (11% v 36%) and few readers of the quality papers (6% v >12%)
- They feel left out by society. “Just 19 per cent of BNP voters are “confident that my family will have the opportunities to prosper in the years ahead”. This compares with 59 per cent of Labour voters, 47 per cent of Lib Dem and Green voters, and 42 per cent of Conservative voters.”
- They feel discriminated against as compared with immigrants, such as the feeling that immigrant families can jump the queue in getting a council house (87% v 56%), and feel that white people suffer unfair discrimination (70% v 40%)
There is something else that can be inferred from this data. Despite being of near median family income, they display signs of being below the average educational levels (more Sun & Star readers and lots of manual workers). That means there must be something else that characterises these people. I would suggest that they are hardworking people. The sort of people who two or three generations ago who do any job rather than claim dole; who would be horrified if their children had sex before marriage; who would be proud if they could go through their working lives without a day off sick; who would work long hours to afford the luxuries; who would be proud of their council houses and keep their gardens in a better state than a National Trust property. They are the sort of people who a generation ago would have bought their council house, and immediately change the front door to a mahogany-look one with a brass knocker to show their status. The same generation who would have seen the next door house being allocated to a single mum, who having had three children by different fathers, gets more cash and benefits through a few minutes of drunken sex, than they ever could by working 60 hours per week. They are the people who should be proud of what they have achieved, but looking round now say “should I have bothered?” (or something stronger). They resent those who get things easy, and the hectoring state who taxes their pleasures (smoking and drinking). They have been deserted by their natural political party, who, in being multicultural and inclusive has lost its dogmas and its passion. The final straw is when they support a party who seems to answer their concerns, they are treated as outcasts by the political establishment. That same political establishment, who having for years actively encouraged the politicians to gorge themselves at the public trough, now dither in sacking them.
Like the worst gangs, the BNP encourages these people to blame this on other groups – on the muslims, the immigrants, the corrupt politicians or the foreign imports – then provide a strong solution. But the solution is to turn inwards, rejecting outsiders, rejecting foreign imports, rejecting customs. It is also to say that by a strong government that they can believe in, they can get the esteem that they lack. But this will not be the answer. Crushing ones opponents never brings peace; harsher punishment does not reduce crime, nor does protecting jobs make us richer, or even reduce unemployment. Like the communists of yesteryear, they believe with the right plan, ruthlessly implemented they can solve all problems.
The answer is not to revile such people, but to see them as achievers, who have been lead astray. One hundred years ago, they would have been the people who packed the churches during the revival, cheered loudly on the terraces on Saturday afternoon, sung lustlily on a Sunday morning and repaired to the club afterwards. The churches again need to accommodate them. To provide them with strong dogmatic statements, not tortuous arguements about gender-inclusiveness and sexual orientation. To provide them with a strong sense of faith, that believes its past achievements and what it can achieve, not a faith that is no better than any other. The BNP followers, I would suggest, are made up of people who have been lead astray, but are not fundamentally evil. They are sinners whose lives can be fundamentally changed by a confident faith.
Channel 4 commissioned a massive poll of 32,000 electors, of whom nearly 1,000 voted BNP in the Euro election on 4th June. This is the website analysis.
First, who voted BNP? They were mainly men: they voted divided 61 per cent male, 39 per cent female. (Men comprise just 48 per cent in the electorate as a whole.)
They were also more working-class. In the country at large, professional workers outnumber manual workers by 20 per cent to 18 per cent. Among BNP voters the pattern is very different: 36 per cent manual workers, 11 per cent professionals.
One third of them read the Sun or Daily Star as against one in five adults generally; just 6 per cent of BNP voters read the upmarket papers (Times, Telegraph, Guardian etc), which is less than half the national average.
Yet the household income of the typical BNP voter (£27,000 a year) is only slightly below the national median (£29,000) – and not that far below that of a typical Conservative voter (£33,000).
It is not money that marks BNP voters apart as much as their insecurity. Just 19 per cent of BNP voters are “confident that my family will have the opportunities to prosper in the years ahead”. This compares with 59 per cent of Labour voters, 47 per cent of Lib Dem and Green voters, and 42 per cent of Conservative voters.
Among UKIP voters the figure is also fairly low, at 28 per cent, which suggests that UKIP also picked up the votes of many who feel the traditional parties let them down – and not just on Europe.
Not surprisingly, BNP voters regard immigration as the top issue facing Britain. Fully 87 per cent of them told us it was one of their top three or four concerns. (This compares with a still-high 49 per cent among the public as a whole.)
But when people are shown the same list and asked which three or four issues “are the most important facing you and your family”, the figure falls to 58 per cent. True, this is three times the national average of 20 per cent, yet it means that for almost half of BNP voters, immigration is NOT among the worries of day-to-day life.
We also find that most BNP voters do NOT subscribe to what might be described as “normal racist views”. Just 44 per cent agreed with the party in rejecting the view that non-white citizens are just as British as white citizens.
Yet the feeling is widespread that white Britons get a raw deal. Seventy seven per cent of BNP voters think white people suffer unfair discrimination these days. But that is also the views of 40 per cent of the public as a whole.
The average British voter is more likely to think that discrimination afflicts white people than Muslim or non-white people. And only seven per cent of the public think white people benefit from unfair advantages, while more than one in three think Muslim and non-white people receive unfair help.
Thus the BNP is tapping into some very widely held views, such as the desire to stop all immigration, and the belief that local councils “normally allow immigrant families to jump the queue in allocating council homes” (87 per cent of BNP voters think this, but so does 56 per cent of the public as a whole).
Yet, depending on how the term “racist” is precisely defined, our survey suggests that the label applies to only around a half of BNP voters. On their own, these votes would not have been enough to give the BNP either of the seats they won last night.
There are two telling pieces of evidence that suggest wider causes of disenchantment. Seven out of 10 BNP voters (and almost as many Green and Ukip voters) think that “there is no real difference these between Britain’s three main parties”.
But perhaps the most startling finding came when we tested anecdotal reports that many BNP voters were old Labour sympathisers who felt that the party no longer speaks up for them. It turns out to be true. As many as 59 per cent of BNP voters think that Labour “used to care about the concerns of people like me but doesn’t nowadays”.
What is more worrying for Labour is that this sentiment is shared by millions of voters, way beyond the ranks of BNP voters. Overall, 63 per cent of the British public think Labour used to care about their concerns – and only 19 per cent think it does today.
In contrast, just 29 per cent think the Conservatives used to care about their concerns; this figure has climbed to 37 per cent who think they care in the Cameron era.
Yes, Labour has a problem with voters deserting the party for the BNP. But its far bigger problem as it heads towards the next general election is to extinguish the overwhelming public view, reinforced by the scandal over MPs’ allowances, that today’s Labour Party is no longer on the side of ordinary voters. And that, more than anything else, is why its vote collapsed to just 16 per cent in the Euro election.
Posted by manicbeancounter on 10/06/2009