Sunday, April 29, 2012

Inaccuracies, Damn Inaccuracies and Statistics

The Independent reports that official figures on economic growth may be wrong. According to Goldman Sachs the UK's economy is growing at between 1% and 2%, not, as the official stats claim, shrinking. It's not just the UK's stats that are called into question. The Euro area is doing better than official figures suggest, while the US isn't doing quite as well as claimed.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. Official figures always seem to be wrong. But it's growth predictions that are renowned for their almost comical inaccuracy. This new measure suggests actual growth figures are inaccurate for at least two to three years after the period they represent.

If this new measure is accurate, what is not comical is the damage being done to confidence in the British economy by the current talk of recession, that potentially could become a self fulfilling prophecy. For the government, news of recession has been leapt upon by opponents and the media keen to lay into them for a number of, mostly self serving, reasons. The figures came as a surprise as many were expecting a slight upturn. They may yet be revised upwards, but the damage is done in people's minds. Consumers and investors will become more cautious in spending their money leading to a higher likelyhood of a further downturn.

Politically, also, there are potential consequences. There are few respectable dissenting voices on the governments attempts to bring public spending under control. But those, less than respectable voices, that do dissent are getting louder and a lot more airtime and column inches as they shriek "I told you so!"; that cutting government spending inevitably leads to recession. In fact, spending is still increasing, but the likes of Ed Balls are never ones to let mere facts get in the way of their pseudo-Keynesian logic. And the more notice people take of Balls et al, the more pressure the government will feel to abandon the course they've taken, as arguably too cautious as it is. And that certainly would guarantee this country's continued decline for decades to come.

Of course, if the new measure is accurate, Osborne should find himself in a strong position come 2015, general election year. That is, if the coalition can survive the perception of failure in the meantime.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Not Very Local Elections

One pledge seems to be missing from this UKIP local election leaflet that's just come through my door - to fight for the UK's immediate withdrawal from the EU...

I'm sure Rushmoor Borough Council would be able to achieve such a promise if we fill it with enough UKIPpers.

Of course I'm indulging in the lowest form of wit. At least this leaflet is attempting to deal with local issues. Local elections are far too influenced by national politics. The last time these local seats were fought over, Labour were decimated due to the party's national unpopularity. Now the Tories and Lib Dems are going to suffer a similar (if not worse) fate, especially given the incredible low base Labour is starting from. Which is a shame as it will land many voters with higher council taxes and worse local services as a result.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ricky / Jeremy - Separated At Birth?

Separated at birth..?

Jeremy Renner (off of The Eastenders) / Ricky Butcher (off of The Hurt Locker).

Perhaps it's just a bad photo of Ricky.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Theresa May Be Right

Theresa May is getting a lot of flak from all sides regarding Abu Qatada's rearrest. Officials at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) allowed Abu Qatada to submit an appeal against their ruling, 3 months and a day previously. However, May has been advised he had 3 months from the date of the ruling to submit an appeal. So, she had him arrested in preparation for deportation back to his home country of Jordan.

Big mistake, we're are being told by government critics and newspaper and television journalists desperate to find more evidence for their narrative that the government is incompetent. But this document suggests otherwise...ège_GC_EN.pdf

The relevant passage being...

“In this connection, it is to be noted that the period of three months within which referral may be requested starts to run on the date of the delivery of the judgment, irrespective of whether the party concerned may have learned about it at a later stage. It expires three calendar months later and is not interrupted by bank holidays or periods of judicial recess. The request for referral should reach the Registry of the Court before the expiry of the above-mentioned period.”

Perhaps a quick call between the Home Office and the ECHR could have confirmed the date. But then, with guidance like this, perhaps the view was that the position was clear.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Red Ken's Brass Neck And Red Ed's Regret

You've got to admire the brass neck of Labour's Mayoral candidate, Ken "do as I say not as I do" Livingstone.

As Everyone will be aware he was caught out arranging his financial affairs in the most tax efficient way possible, despite condemning others who did the same as evil, tax dodging "rich bastards".

Hypocrisy in Labour politicians being par for the course the issue probably would have blown over by now had it not been for Livingstone's accusations that Boris Johnson, the Tory candidate, had similar arrangements. Boris and Ken had previously covered this territory and Ken knew full well the accusations weren't true.

Red Ken's accusations inevitably led to calls for all the candidates to reveal their financial affairs for public scrutiny. His attempts to avoid disclosure then, when forced, the revelations that he (and to a lesser extent the Lib Dem candidate - they always have to be "equidistant", don't they?) had paid a significantly smaller proportion of their income in tax than Boris, have made all the headlines over the past few days.

Now, Ken is attempting to make out that it was the Tories who made everyone's tax affairs an issue, saying it's a distraction from the "real" issues facing Londoners. In reality it was him, by making false allegations that inflamed the whole topic. The fuss being made about individuals tax affairs has been a distraction, not least as it was only Ken that had a big problem with tax efficient arrangements. But the original revelation on Livingstone's tax arrangements was very much relevant as it showed him up as the hypocrite he is. His response also revealed him to be and out and out liar. Boris Johnson would have to be condemning, and proposing the jailing of, serial adulterers to reach the same levels of hypocrisy as dear old Ken.

Mayoral elections are very much about the individuals as well as their policies. How trustworthy are they? Can we trust them to do what they say they are going to do? etc. Ken, like many politicians on the left in this country, has shown himself not to be trustworthy. His chances of winning are now looking very slim.

After losing in Bradford, Ed Miliband really can't afford to lose in another Labour orientated city like London, especially during a mid-term Tory government. He will hope the inevitable gains Labour will see in the local elections (the Tories will be defending a very high water mark result from 2008) will overshadow his failure in London.

How Red Ed must be regretting going for his colour-sake, Red Ken, now.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Snooping" - A Daft Policy That May Not Even Get To Be Draft

Someone really needs to get to grips with the Government's communications. The latest heavily trailed and predictably unpopular policy looks set for a U-turn before it is even officially been drafted for consultation...

Whatever the government proposes now, it will look as though they were "forced" into a watered down version of the original policy (or whatever evil fantasy policy is in some critics' heads), by whatever group want to take credit - front of the queue will be the Lib Dems, of course, closely followed by those making lots of noise today on Twitter and Facebook but who were silent and happily voted Labour in the Blair years when lots of far worse authoritarian policies were being enacted.