Thursday, January 28, 2010




Inequality under Labour has risen to its highest level since World War II.

A report from the National Equality Panel, published today, reveals that after 13 years of Labour Government:

· We have the highest levels of income inequality since soon after the Second World War;

· We have some of the highest overall poverty rates in Europe;

· Social mobility has stalled;

· By the age children start school, there’s a gap of up to year’s development between children with two parents with paid work, and those without;

· Up to age 44, women are better qualified than men but actually earn up to a fifth less.

Families are worse off under Labour.

As George Osborne has written in The Sun today, the latest figures show that the average family is almost £900 worse off than in 2005. Under Gordon Brown, Britain has gone backwards, not forwards.

Ex-Daily Mirror Editor agrees we can’t go on like this.

The former Editor of the Daily Mirror, and lifelong Labour supporter, Mike Molloy, has said that he will vote Conservative for the first time at the forthcoming general election. He says:

‘When New Labour came to power, I was confident they would change Britain for the better. Well, we all know how wrong I was... the experiment with New Labour has ended in catastrophe and this Government has wasted money like no other in history. So I shall vote Conservative for the first time in my life.’

Read Mike Molloy’s full article here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spot the difference

Yes - the picture on the right shows the shopping centre after the economy has grown by 0.1%, and what a big difference it has made.

Today, new figures show the first signs of economic growth after 18 months of recession – the longest and deepest since the war. Of course, the end of the Great Recession is good news – even though we were one of the first big economies into recession, and the last out. Now we are coming out of recession, Labour’s Debt Crisis is the biggest threat to our recovery.
As the Director-General of the CBI says in The Times today, ‘one of the troubles with the Government’s programme [of debt reduction] is that it’s long on aspirations and short on details, and it’s stretched out over the lifetime of two whole Parliaments.’ We can’t go on like this. We need change and a Conservative government to get a grip on our debt crisis. As any family with a credit card knows, the more we spend and the longer we wait to pay off our bills, the worse it gets.

Five facts about Labour’s Debt Crisis
  • We’re borrowing money at a rate of around £6,000 every second - every five seconds, the Government borrows more than the average British person earns in a year.
  • This year, we’re expected to borrow almost 14 per cent of our GDP – almost twice as much as when we nearly went bust in the 1970s
  • We’re spending more money on the interest on our debt than on almost anything else.
  • We have the biggest budget deficit of any large economy.
  • Last week, we had the worst public borrowing figures for any December on record.
However you spin the economy, the V shaped (short, shallow dip and strong recovery) recession promised by the Government is a bad memory. What it looks like we are in is a very deep U shaped recession (steep decline, levelling off for a period of flat or zero growth followed eventually by a climb) in which case as we have had 18 months down, and we may have to have a very long period of flatness before ecomimic activity starts to climb again.

There is a third, less comfortable possibility, which I still personally believe may turn out to be the case. The Government and Bank of England actions, (0.5% interest rates, printing money, pouring cash into banks and cutting taxes) have temporarily stalled the downward slope and as soon as the patient comes of the drugs the downward slope will resume. We will have a W shaped recession, - Mr Boom and Mr Bust brought out of retirement by none other than Mssrs Brwon and Darling.

It is caused by an unbalanced economy; growth is caused not by genuine companies being successful and expanding, but by Government spending, bailing out loss making and old industry businesses to keep people in jobs, speculative booms in property and asset values, and a consumer frenzy. When the debts catch up with everyone the music stops and the country lapses into a recession. The Governent reacts by spending more and the whole cycle repeats.

In the 1950's, 60's and '70's this was called "stop-go" economics and ending it (by making radical supply-side modifications to our economy) was a driving force behind the Thatcher years.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Choosing Cadbury
has cost Kraft 30%
less, thanks to Gordon

I got very steamed up last night watching Peter Mandelson shedding crocodile tears over the takeover of Cadburys by the American food giant Kraft.

For while he was bleating about the impact this takeover might have on jobs the simple fact is that it was a 30% drop in the value of the pound, for which his Government is solely responsible, that made this take over affordable for Kraft.

A weak economy leads to a weak currency, and a weak currency makes our businesses cheap pickings for firms based in places where the currency is stronger than ours.

I expect to see many other famous and not so famous British names to join British Energy, Scottish & Newcastle breweries, ICI, Scottish Power, British Airports, Thames Water, Pilkington Glass, P&O, and the Abbey National bank in being sold to overseas owners.

All this is a far cry from the 1980's and 1990's when it was British companies causing controversy by buying out iconic foreign firms like Smith & Wesson pistols, Greyhound Bus' and culminating in the huge takeover by Vodafone of German mobile telephone giant Mannesmann. Back then our companies were strong and profitable, our taxes were low and as a result our currency was worth more, making British firms powerful and opening huge opportunities for the companies and, more importantly, the staff who work for them.

Why do we need strong British companies? Because they are the backbone of the economy.

A good example of the beneficial impact of a successful company is the above mentioned company Vodafone. It was created from scratch by the electronics company Racal in 1985 following the Thatcher Governments decision to licence mobile telephony to private enterprises. Now the company employs 79,000 people and produces £9bn in profits for its mostly UK shareholders, rents shops, call centres and infrastructure across the country, spends billions with UK partners and suppliers on supplies and services like advertising, and of course contributes billions in taxes to the Treasury.

Generally companies are prone to focus their spending in the countries of their origin, British companies operating abroad often take their British suppliers, and service providers like bankers, accountants and advertisers with them creating more work for those firms back in Blighty.

But of course American and Continental European forms tend to do the same, so when British companies fall to foreign hands very often business is lost to their UK suppliers. Kraft will almost certainly prefer to work with their existing American packaging partners, their American ingredients providers, American banks and American advertising agencies, in the process depleting the value of Cadburys to the UK economy; and the UK treasury will have to learn to live without much of Cadburys corporation tax revenue into the bargain.

The only way out of this downward spiral is to make our economy strong again. For ten years Conservatives have been warning that the growing tax and bloated regulatory burden was killing UK competitiveness and endangering the economy. This has now come to pass and the only remedy is a substantial dose of de-regulation and eventually, substantial tax cuts.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

... And now we know why.

I was puzzled last winter by the apparent eagerness for many schools to close down at the slightest sign of bad weather.

This cold snap has once again led to thousands of schools closing across Britain. While in many cases the closure is logical and expected in many places, where the snow is not that bad, I have been surprised to see schools close anyway.

Many of us remember trudging to school as children in all weathers, indeed I can remember being forced to carry on playing outdoor sport in freezing conditions regardless, and one wonders where this relatively recent trend to close schools whenever their is bad weather comes from?

Cynical parents have suggested it is just an excuse to give staff the day off, others suspect it is a cost-saving measure to avoid putting the heating up!

Well part of the reason head teachers really are keener to close their schools than they used to be did eventually emerge today. During an interview on radio 4 this morning between Stephen Alambritis, chief spokesman of the Federation of Small Businesses, and Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, it emerged that some head teachers might have more than one eye on their attendance records when deciding about keeping their school open or not.

Pupil attendance records are a key Government target, and make up part of the performance tables that define a school heads record. A day in which hundreds of kids won't arrive at at school would be disastrous for this 'key performance indicator' - whereas if the school is closed by the head the attendances aren't counted for that day.

So head teachers have a strong incentive to do the absolute opposite of what the targets are supposed to achieve.

This is a classic case of unintended and undesirable consequences from badly drafted laws and poorly considered management targets for which our Government have become legendary.

Schools need targets, and parents are entitled to information about their schools performance, but the challenge is to make sure that the tail does not wag the dog.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

And they are off....

Yes and it's a slightly wary welcome to the start of the Twenty Ten General Election hurdle; run over a record long distance of four months, this historic contest has been started at a record pace and far earlier than usual. Will the crowd grow bored of the race long before the runners and riders reach the finish line? That all depends on the twists, turns and hurdles that lie ahead.

The horses have left the start and after a sharp getaway it's an early lead for favourite David Cameron riding Oak Tree, a length ahead of Gordon Brown on the second favourite Red Rose Spinner. Rank outsider Yellow Peril ridden by the young Nick Clegg stumbled out of the start but has since picked up the pace and lies a shoulder behind Red Rose Spinner. These three have already opened up a significant lead over the rest of the field.

This is going to be a very long race on a slow course in soggy conditions, and the risk for the riders is keeping a steady pace through the early jumps - Cameron missed his footing at the first and lost a few paces to Red Rose Spinner but then a slip up by Red Rose at the infamous Dodgy Dossier corner means the gap has opened up again.

And barely past the first jump and Red Rose Spinner is reported to be facing another Stewards Enquiry; the owners are reported to be in talks to replace the jockey after the race has started!

And we have maybe another 150 days of this before the finish line.

Monday, January 04, 2010

That message from David Cameron in full:

"We can't go on like this. We need change to get the country back on its feet. And that change must be based on the values of responsibility and aspiration.

We can't go on with:
· The same irresponsible economic policies that gave us the biggest boom, the biggest bust, and now threatens our recovery with higher debts, higher instability, higher taxes, higher interest rates and higher unemployment.

· An old-fashioned left-wing class war on aspiration from a government that has seen the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We can't go on with the old style of politics that divides our country instead of uniting it.

· Labour's bureaucracy, running everything from Whitehall, denying people control over their lives and undermining the professionals in our public services.

· A weak Prime Minister and a divided government.

This is no time for more of the same. And it's the modern Conservative Party that has the plans, the ideas, the energy, the people, the unity and the leadership to bring that change.

Our plans are not timid - but the truth is they can't be. The problems of today demand more. They demand real change: a better NHS; an aspirational economy; a big society; a new politics.

We have a four year track record of delivering change in our party. Now we are impatient to change our country. We are determined to make a difference. We are all in this together, and we know that if we all pull together then this country can have great hope for the future. So let's face this New Year with confidence, optimism and hope. And let's make 2010 the year for change."

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A happy new year to everyone. I was busy with a family bereavement before Christmas and have not been updating the blog. But we will be back to normal now.