Friday, 10 July 2020

Weekend Read: Why I still can't get over Tony Blair

All these years later, we still see the Left blaming many of the problems of the UK on Margaret Thatcher. It does not really work so well now, but they have had an entire generation making-up stories to tell themselves and ignoring facts. 

However, I am beginning to feel sympathy for their plight. Not because they were right about anything, Thatcher remains the best Prime Minister since Churchill by some distance. 

No, I have sympathy because I feel the same way about Tony Blair. I was educating my kids the other day about why we have ended up in such a polarised policitcal situation in 2020 and I realised That it is basically entirely Blair's fault. I will try to be succint in explaining why. 

1) Winning the Middle class for Labour - Blair in the 1990's realised Labour needed middle class votes to win an election. To do this, he switched away from the unions and traditional Labour support and focused on first world problems. One such idea was to put more people through University, from around 20% of the population, up to 50%. He did this by making courses free and getting the state to pay. The Universities, always left-wing, were delighted beyond belief. But we did not see a rise in hard and useful STEM courses, no we saw a rise in media studies and psychology. 

As as result we now have very Left-Wing univerities and two generations inthe workforce with pointless and unneeded degrees. Of course, later on the Tories had to introduce tution fees as the cost of Labour's plans was too high a burden and it was hoped this might end the proliferation of Madonna Studies and Kite-Flying. Which it did, but only at the cost of making more generations angry at the Tories. 

It has also left a huge number of people feeling the world is not fair. University education was supposed to be their route to a nice middle-class life. But with the economy growing at normal rates, we now see lots of people over-quailfied for jobs and really their University tution fees were not worth it. They are angry people and also they have been indoctrinated into Left-Wing thinking at Uni and by their feeling of grievance. Man have a point, if you graduated with a psychology degree in 2009 your prospects were not good for your career. 

Not only this, often referrred to as Elite Overproduction, but future Labour leaders have continued their obsession with Middle Class issues - which has meant in the last decade an obsession with identity politics, green issues etc. This has led to the loss of the working class voters, abandoned by the Middle Class chasing Labour party, more of this later. 

2- EU & Immigration - Blair of course opened the door to Eastern European immigrants, hoping to get both new voters and a boosted economy. He also was passionate about the EU, signing up to treaties and handing back the rebates won by Thatcher. 

This enraged the working class and a huge section (around 40% of the Country, as we have since seen at every election) of people who had never wanted mass immigration and the change it brought about - whatever the supposed economic benefits. Amazingly, Blair came up with the most anti-working class strategy of any Government since the Victorian era - whilst leading the Labour party. 

What we have seen since his time then is the pressure rocket for a referendum, said referendum then won by the anti-EU people (now disdainfully called populists for pursuing policy which has a majority backing) and eventually the end of the red wall with Working class voters flocking to the Tories. 

3- Culture wars - These are more post-Blair but the two point above have created this situation, along with changes across the West and the rise of Chine economically and politically. We have a Middle Class steeped in a new kind of class hatred, that of identities and anti-patriotic who vote Labour and even some of the Upper Class, champagne socialists like Keir Starmer, join in, but only in the big cities. Blair was a key started in this by defining those opposed to mass immigration as racists.

Thus began the twisting of merging policy and morality opposition into the single venemous brew that we see today on the Left.

4- Economic disaster Gordon Brown of course wrecked the economy which as left us right up the creek ever since and now Covid-19 has dropped on top of this. Blair was happy to ratchet state spending to try to salve middle class issues. He did not really care or understand much about economics, his focus was elections. Of course, when the 2008 crash came we were woefully ill-prepared and also a population had become hooked on middle class tax breaks and benefits, like child benefit for all, which it has proved almost impossible to row back from even over a decade later. 

Meanwhile everyone else in England votes Tory to avoid the lunacy of Corbyn and to make sure the EU is left and hopefully immigration brought back to a sustainable level. In the regions those disliking both Westminster rule ad Labour have found nationalist parties to vote for. (I could say devolution is point five, hastening the rise of the SNP and potential break-up of the UK - one success Cameron did have against the tidal flow caused by Blair)

But overall May and Cameron were only ever passengers on the torrent of change wrought by the above. Both tried to balance the anti-EU sentinement and remain sentiment (which we saw of course became an identity thing for the Left - hence FBPE on twitter and other such extremism). Both failed miserably and ended their terms in ignominy. 

So there you have it, blame Blair, so clever that he did not know what he was doing. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Rishi Runs Riot. Open Chequebook, OpenThread

Well the Left certainly don't know what to think ...

(give them time - someone will tell them)

What do we think?


Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Wealth Tax on the List of Demands

My crie du jour just now is: "what are the demands?"   The BLM thing was the proximate cause, and "they" still haven't got remotely near Marcus Rashford's stunning, tangible achievement in terms of coming up with something of all-round practicability.  "Defund the Police and dismantle capitalism & the patriarchal system" allow Kier Starmer to snort with dismissive ridicule for the cameras, and counter with his deep and abiding support for the police.  So - not much traction there.  

But it's broader than just BLM's amateurish flounderings.  Starmer's Labour, and in particular the signally unimpressive Anneliese Dodds, are always coming up with silly anodyne lists of things they'll be holding the government to account for, ("Our 4 tests for Covid Economic Recovery") which are always modelled on the Brown/Balls tests for joining the Euro - designed as a cunning trap for their enemies disguised as something constructive and clever.  (Does this clever-clever political stuff ever really work?)

Anyhow: it hasn't taken long for that old Corbynite favourite, the Wealth Tax (- everything can be paid for by smashing the 1%), to hove into view.  Here's nervous little Dodds again; and here's ... Polly!

Cards on the table: though I'm no LVT obsessive, I've always reckoned the Council Tax is a masterpiece and case study in practical politics, and that Little Git Osborne missed a massive political, fiscal and economic trick in 2010 when he failed to take the simple step of extending the bands upwards very significantly, thereby rectifying a grotesque anomaly.

But WT in the way Polly intends it (and she writes of all manner of serious work being done on the subject) we're talking a lot more than recognising the stupidity of a banding scheme that stops at 'H' ('I' in Wales).

What do we reckon?  Open WT thread below.


Friday, 3 July 2020

Restructuring UK plc 2020/21

As you may have noticed, UK Plc is in a very sickly state. The first impact of Covid-19 was to push over the edge a whole bunch of companies that were teetering on the brink anyway - like Flybe as a prime example. The casual dining sector, hugely oversupplied, had been struggling and now we are seeing barely any chain survive with nearly all of the either in administration or about to be, like Prezzo.

I don't think many of these dining options are going to do much damage to the overall economy, we did not need 3,000 variations on pasta and burgers to really push on in the 21st Century.

However, what is harder, notably for the retail sector but also SME's, is that the rent holidays and mortgage holidays are all going to come to an end in the next few months, along with the need to increase contribution to the furlough scheme.

These extra costs are a huge debt burden on businesses, some of whom may bounce back on pent up demand, but others who thanks to social distancing, will suffer continued slow business. But this slow business will be under the added debt burden above.

This wont be sustainable for many businesses in the medium term. In the short-term many will try to struggle on, but sooner or later the owners will try the administration route or end up in insolvency.

Much of the lending has been arranged by the British Business Bank, which has worked with the clearing banks to distribute the interest-free Government loans.

At the moment and considering the above, a huge chunk of this is going to have to be written off if the businesses fail. Which leads me to the conclusion that in order to keep businesses going why not write-off a big chunk anyway, before the businesses go under?

This will be difficult politically to achieve, but either the Government takes on the debt or the private economy will be ruined - so in a different way to 2008, but with a similar outcome. History does not repeat but it does rhyme. Last time the Government bailed out the banks, this time it will have to be businesses directly.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Theresa May, An Authoritative Voice (ahem) ...

Theresa May has lambasted Boris Johnson in Parliament for his choice of National Security Adviser.  He really ought to listen to her on this one ...

(Apologies to Bugsy Malone & the rest of gang) 

My name is Theresa 
Prime Minister once; 
Until hounded out by 
A right bunch of chumps! 
I have a simply stellar reputation behind me 
So if you need my wisdom 
In the Commons you’ll find me 

My name is Theresa
No failure am I - 
The Eurocrats loved me! 
(I never knew why) 
I know an awful lot about appointing advisers 
They must be liked in Brussels, 
And be good compromisers 

Lonely, a PM can be lonely 
Come and hear Theresa 
She can put you straight when you stray 
If you’re lonely, you don't have to be lonely 
When they talk about Theresa 
You know what they say … 
They praise me in the Lords, they praise me in the Commons 
“Theresa had her training from the great Olly Robbins!” 

My name is Theresa 
And soon I’ll be gone 
A trashed reputation’s 
The road I’ll travel on 
“Brexit means Brexit” - now the words upset me 
You may be glad I’m gone 
But don’t say you’ll forget me … 

Lonely ...