Tag Archives: interest rate

Cameron’s global crash warning: He’ll do nothing about it

"Our long-term economic plan is working!" says Cameron - and the debt keeps rising.

“Our long-term economic plan is working!” says Cameron – and the debt keeps rising.

It’s more accurate to say he’ll do nothing right.

David Cameron is warning that another global financial crash is on the way. It’s an accurate warning – others have been forecasting it for a while but, seeing him saying it, didn’t you ask yourself who he’ll be blaming this time?

It can’t be Labour’s fault – Labour has been out of office for a few years and besides, Labour policies were sorting out the fallout left by the last right-wing-precipitated global financial catastrophe until the Tories lied their way into office and then twiddled their thumbs for four long years.

He reckons emerging markets that sustained the recovery (what recovery?) are slowing down but the British economy is growing and needs to be insulated from any crash. He says employment is up massively and new businesses are proliferating – but if you scratch the surface of that claim you’ll see that the number of hours worked is no higher than in 2010 and new businesses are being ‘run’ by people who are claiming tax credits as self-employed because then they won’t be hassled by the DWP while claiming JSA. There are new businesses, of course, but not nearly as many as Cameron wants you to believe.

Cameron’s article in The Guardian, if read properly, is comedy. It certainly isn’t to be taken seriously.

“When we faced similar problems in recent years, too many politicians offered easy answers, thinking we could spend, borrow and tax our way to prosperity,” he writes. Which politicians? Gordon Brown is the only Chancellor in recent history to manage a surplus, rather than a deficit; his policies brought the UK unexpected prosperity (which, unfortunately, led to the EU surcharge that has so badly embarrassed George Osborne); and his successor Alistair Darling introduced policies that knocked £38 billion off the deficit created by the right-wing bankers’ gambling binge.

Cameron must be referring to Conservative politicians in his own government.

Yes, look, here’s a bit where he writes: “It is more important than ever that we send a clear message to the world that Britain is not going to waver on dealing with its debts.” He could have cut that sentence down to read: “Britain is not dealing with its debts.” The national debt has more than doubled since the Conservatives started running the economy – from around £800 billion to £1.8 trillion by 2015, meaning George Osborne’s pitiful attempts to tackle the national deficit by cutting public services and selling off the country’s assets have achieved less than nothing.

“This stability is vital in attracting the business and international investment that delivers growth and jobs, and which keeps long-term interest rates low.” You couldn’t make this up. Interest rates are low because lenders know the UK has its own sovereign currency and will always be able to pay its debts, one way or another, even if it means printing more money (quantitative easing, anyone?) – remember when the UK’s triple-A credit rating went downriver despite all Osborne’s efforts to keep it? He claimed this meant the cost of borrowing would leap, but the effect has gone unnoticed.

There’s a lot more waffle and you can read it on The Guardian‘s site. It’s amazing a paper of its standing bothered to publish it.

For a more informed opinion, let’s go to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK, pausing for a moment to wish him well in his recovery from recent surgery.

“His focus is instead on highlighting problems in Europe and on signing TTIP – the trade treaty that will require the privatisation of the NHS whatever he says now,” writes Mr Murphy – possibly from the recovery ward.

“This is a man who can see a crisis coming and who must know that his austerity programme can only make it worse (anyone but a fool can see taking money out of a failing economy, as he plans to do,  is bound to make it worse) but who is resolutely refusing to recognise the issues that will cause this next wave of economic collapse.

The wrong people have the money… The people who spend least of their incomes have had the biggest pay rises and are the only ones to enjoy effective tax decreases over the last few years. These people are the highest income earners in the UK.

“At the same time, cutting benefits for the poorest and increasing VAT (which together with deliberately enforced wage cuts have reduced the net disposable income of most people) and cutting taxes for the wealthiest, this has been the inevitable outcome. And we know this outcome has not happened by chance: this is deliberate.

“When there’s a shortage of spending in the economy to let the wealthiest get wealthier, [it] simply means that the imbalances within it get worse. And it’s imbalances that cause crises.

“Corporation tax cuts and reforms to our corporation tax system that means that multinational corporations based in the UK can, since 2010, find it much easier to make effective use of tax havens to cut their UK tax bills have also made the problem worse. I reckon these cuts are costing at least £10 billion a year. What these cuts do is transfer money that would have belonged to the state to companies in the hope that they will be encouraged to invest it as a result. But they aren’t doing any such thing.

“Companies are taking the tax cuts and banking them. They aren’t even giving them back to their owners. They’re just hoarding it. Like the wealthy (perhaps, unsurprisingly) large companies are simply sitting on their cash.

The tax gap is another indication of this. What really belongs to the government is in the hands of crooks and cheats, with massive economic consequences.

“What can be done? I’ve always pointed out that there are only four drivers of the economy: consumer spending, investment, net foreign flows and government spending.

  • “Investment is not happening; business will not do it: that’s why they havecash.
  • “Net foreign flows are broadly neutral: the trade deficit is dire but hot money still comes to the UK, although we cannot rely on that.
  • “Consumer spending is poor and may get worse: most people do not have the money.
  • “And that leaves the government to put matters right. It has to generate new economic activity.”

Mr Murphy proposes more quantitative easing – printing money and then investing it in a new, sustainable infrastructive (not the kind that Cameron is pushing); rebalancing tax by increasing taxes for those who can pay; and closing the tax gap.

You won’t see any of those under a Conservative government!

Get ready to batten down the hatches for another round of financial catastrophe, and this time, be prepared to put the blame where it really belongs – on Conservative politicians whose supposed reputation for financial competence is a myth and who should never have been allowed near the national economy.

And remember where the blame lies when you vote next May.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
bringing you the best analysis of the nonsense our politicians spout!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Labour’s spending plan could humiliate the Tories

"There is an alternative" - and it doesn't have to cost more than we're spending now.

“There is an alternative” – and it doesn’t have to cost more than we’re spending now.

It seems some people are upset that Labour has announced it does not intend to increase public spending, if elected into office after next year’s general election.

This is a perfectly reasonable reaction, depending on the amount of information available to the person holding that opinion.

In other words, if you don’t know why Labour has made this decision, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the former Party of The Left has turned Tory-lite.

That’s why we’re hearing that Labour will simply continue Tory policies; that the main three parties are “all in it together” (to overuse a hackneyed and devalued phrase).

But evidence is available to suggest that this is a big mistake.

To finance extra spending, Labour would have to borrow more money – but this would push up interest rates and create a potential disaster for people with mortgages and loans to pay off.

According to Modern Monetary Theory – an economic method that seems to have earned credence with all the main parties – government borrowing is not undertaken to finance its spending, but to maintain a target interest rate.

In times of recession, businesses borrow more and households find it hard to save money for a rainy day (as the saying goes). We have spent most of the last decade either in recession or in the slowest recovery in British history and the private sector simply doesn’t have the spare cash to pay higher interest demanded on loans in the wake of higher government borrowing.

Labour wants to safeguard those businesses; Labour wants to safeguard your homes.

The alternative would cost any government much more in the long run.

It’s as simple as that.

So Labour has set a spending target that is the same as the Conservatives’, ensuring that interest rates can be kept under control.

This doesn’t mean it will continue with Conservative-led spending plans. That would be a betrayal of Labour’s core voters.

Instead, it seems more likely that Labour will seek to stimulate the economy by taking funding away from wasteful areas – this blog would certainly wish to see less public money given to private contractors who pocket half of it as profit – and investing it in economic growth.

With more money flowing through the system and coming back to the Treasury in taxation, it will then become easier to relax restrictions on interest rates, which will help the government with its debt issue (this has to do with the way governments borrow money, issuing bonds at fixed rates of interest, and is a story for another day).

If Labour’s plan works, it will mean humiliation for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, as Labour will have spent exactly the same amount doing it as those other parties have been spending for the previous five years – to little effect.

Do not misunderstand; it is perfectly possible that Labour’s spending plans could be entirely wrong-headed! Labour spent most of the last 20 years experimenting disastrously with neoliberal thinking that, continued and concentrated by the Coalition government, has led us to the current pretty pass.

In this case, it seems the Devil really is in the detail.

But the overarching strategy is sound and Labour should not be criticised for it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions.
Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy Vox Political books!
The second – Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook
The first, Strong Words and Hard Times
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

The Coalition is creating serious problems and distracting you with phantoms

140124earnings

According to the beauty industry, women must now start deodorising under their breasts.

I kid you not – it was in The Guardian.

Columnist Jill Filipovic hit the nail on the head when she wrote: “I can already hear your objections: ‘But the area under my boobs doesn’t stink!’ or ‘What kind of marketing genius not only came up with the term “swoob,” but actually thought half the world’s population might be dumb enough to buy into it?’ or simply, ‘This is a dumb product aimed at inventing an insecurity and then claiming to cure it.’

“You would be correct on all three points.

“In fact, inventing problems with women’s bodies and then offering a cure – if you pay up – is the primary purpose of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.”

The simple fact is that you don’t really need to worry about smells down there – a good old soapy flannel will cure any such problems.

That’s not the point, though. The aim is to get you thinking about it and devoting your energy to it, rather than to other matters.

Now let’s translate that to politics.

We already know that all the scaremongering about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants storming the country from January 1 was a crock. That bastion of good statistics, The Now Show, told us last week that the total number of Bulgarian immigrants in the last couple of weeks was “around two dozen so far”, according to their ambassador. In the first three months after our borders were opened to Croatians, 174 turned up.

Yet the government wanted you to believe they would flood our immigration service in their millions, “taking benefits and yet simultaneously also taking all the jobs”.

My use of language such as “storming” and “flood” is not accidental. By far the more serious threat to the UK in the early days of 2014 was the weather – and, guess what, not only was the government unprepared for the ferocity of the storms that swept our islands, the Coalition was in fact in the process of cutting funding for flood defence.

This would have gone unnoticed if the weather had behaved itself, because we would all have been distracted by the single Romanian immigrant who was ensnared by Keith Vaz in a ring of TV cameras at Heathrow Airport.

Now the Tories are telling us that our take-home pay is finally on the rise for all but the top 10 per cent of earners, with the rest of us seeing our wages rise by at least 2.5 per cent.

The government made its claims (up) by taking into account only cuts to income tax and national insurance, using data leading up to April last year, according to the BBC News website.

This kind of nonsense is easily overcome – New Statesman published the above chart, showing the real effect of changes to weekly income for people in various income groups, and also provided the reason for the government’s mistake (if that’s what it was).

“The data used … takes no account of the large benefit cuts introduced by the coalition, such as the real-terms cut in child benefit, the uprating of benefits in line with CPI inflation rather than RPI, and the cuts to tax credits,” writes the Statesman‘s George Eaton.”

He also pointed out that other major cuts such as the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the 10 per cent cut in council tax support were introduced after April 2013 and were not included in the Coalition figures.

Once all tax and benefit changes are taken into account, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that almost all families are worse off – and the Coalition also appears to have forgotten the five million low-paid workers who don’t earn enough to benefit from the increase in the personal allowance.

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock compounded the mistake in an exchange on Twitter with Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Asked why his analysis “ignores more than four million people in work (the self-employed)”, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Analysis based on ONS ASHE survey of household earnings data”.

Wrong – as Mr Portes was quick to show: “Don’t you know the difference between household and individual earnings?”

Apparently not. ASHE (Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) is a survey of employed individuals using their National Insurance numbers – not of households or the self-employed.

So the Coalition – and particularly the Tories – were trying to make us all feel good about the amount we earn.

That’s the distraction. What are we supposed to be ignoring?

Would it be David Cameron’s attempt to bribe councils into allowing shale gas companies to frack their land? Councils that back fracking will get to keep all the business rates collected from the schemes – rather than the usual 50 per cent.

He has also claimed that fracking can boost the economy and encourage businesses into the country, in a further bid to talk down dissent.

Or is it the growing threat of a rise in interest rates, which may be triggered when official unemployment figures – which have been fiddled by increased sanctions on jobseekers, rigged reassessments of benefit claimants, a new scheme to increase the number of people and time spent on Workfare, and the fake economic upturn created by George Osborne’s housing bubble – drop to seven per cent?

It seems possible that the government – especially the Tory part of it – would want to keep people from considering the implications of an interest rate rise that is based on false figures.

As Vox Political commenter Jonathan Wilson wrote yesterday: “If the BOE bases its decisions on incorrect manipulated data that presents a false ‘good news’ analysis then potentially it could do something based on it that would have catastrophic consequences.

“For example if its unemployment rate test is reached, and wages were going up by X per cent against a Y per cent inflation rate which predicted that an interest rate rise of Z per cent would have no general effect and not impact on house prices nor significantly increase repossessions (when X per cent is over-inflated by the top 1 per cent of earners, Y per cent is unrealistically low due to, say, the 50 quid green reduction and/or shops massively discounting to inflate purchases/turnover and not profit) and when it does, instead of tapping on the breaks lightly it slams the gears into reverse while still traveling forward… repossessions go up hugely, house prices suffer a major downward re-evaluation (due to tens of thousands of repossessions hitting the auction rooms) debt rates hit the roof, people stop buying white goods and make do with last year’s iPad/phone/tv/sofa, major retail goes tits up, Amazon goes to the wall, the delivery market and post collapses… etc etc.

“And all because the government fiddled the figures.”

Perhaps Mr Cameron doesn’t want us thinking about that when we could be deodorising our breasts instead.

Show your support for Vox Political!
The site needs YOUR help to continue.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book,
Strong Words and Hard Times
in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Are the Tories planning to bury us in debt when interest rates rise?

Don't look so smug, George - we know what you're trying to do.

Don’t look so smug, George – we know what you’re trying to do.

It is surprising that they don’t seem to think we can make the connections.

Two articles have leapt from the national media to trouble us this week. The first, in the Telegraph, states that the economic recovery that has made George Osborne so proud is built on mounting consumer debt and a housing bubble.

(This is something that has been known to us for several months, in fact. Osborne’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme is the principle cause of the bubble, and it was recently revealed that there is no way to slow it down. Let’s not forget that the taxpayer is underwriting the scheme – so when the bubble bursts we will have to pay both as individuals and as a nation!)

The second article is on the BBC News website, which tells us that up to 1.4 million extra households could face “perilous” levels of debt when interest rates begin to rise – in addition to the 600,000 families already in that situation.

(It adds that mortgages are the largest source of household debt.)

Vox Political has long held the belief that the Conservatives have been trying to increase personal debt. Whether the plan was to decrease the national debt in this way is debatable as the deficit has plateaued at around £120 billion for the last few years.

When Mark Carney became governor of the Bank of England, he said he would not raise interest rates until unemployment falls below seven per cent – which might provide a bit of breathing-room for those having to deal with mounting debt.

However a few months ago, at the Conservative conference, we heard that George Osborne wants to falsify unemployment figures by putting the long-term unemployed on Workfare indefinitely.

If a person is put on Workfare, they are removed from unemployment statistics, even though they only receive social security payments for the work they do.

We already know that figures show a larger fall in unemployment than commentators had anticipated, so it now stands at 7.4 per cent, according to official statistics. Putting hundreds of thousands more people on Workfare should cut that figure below Mr Carney’s benchmark.

Meanwhile, household debt is due to rise to 160 per cent of income by 2018, partly because wages are dropping in comparison with inflation. The number of households using half their disposable income to repay debt could rise from 600,000 to 1.1 million if interest rates rise to three per cent (according to the Resolution Foundation, as quoted in the BBC piece) – and to two million if rates hit five per cent.

In the light of this information we must ask ourselves: Is this a Tory trap? Are they trying to create conditions in which more people on low or middle incomes become indebted to the rich, just by fiddling interest rates?

What do you think?

Did YOU get money for Christmas?
Are you struggling to find a good use for it?
Then please donate to Vox Political!
This site needs YOUR support to continue.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book,
Strong Words and Hard Times
in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

‘Slimy’ minister talks up unfunded housing scheme while 50,000 face eviction

'Slimy' Tory mouthpiece? Kris Hopkins (left), the Coalition's new housing minister, takes tea with David Cameron on a Northampton housing estate while talking a lot of nonsense about Help to Buy.

‘Slimy’ Tory mouthpiece? Kris Hopkins (left), the Coalition’s new housing minister, takes tea with David Cameron on a Northampton housing estate while talking a lot of nonsense about Help to Buy. [Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images Europe]

One of Parliament’s “slimiest, nastiest MPs” has got stuck into his new job, putting out a press release on how the hideously ill-judged ‘Help to Buy’ housing scheme is “surging ahead”.

Kris Hopkins, the Conservative MP for Keighley whose only previous claims to fame were allegations that “gangs of Muslim men were going around raping white kids” (thanks to Johnny Void for that one) and a Twitter spat with the odious Philip Davies, said the equity loan scheme had driven up the rate of house building and captured the public imagination with more than 15,000 reservations for new-build homes in its first six months.

Reality check: House building is at its lowest level since the 1920s. In the 2012-13 financial year, only 135,117 new homes were completed – the lowest number on record.

Earlier this year, Hopkins called for Conservatives to unite behind David Cameron – to which Nadine Dorries responded, “pass the sick bag”. Yesterday, he at least was united behind Cameron – as they toured a Northampton housing development.

According to the press release, he said government action to restore confidence to the housing market was working, with over a third of a million new homes built over the last 3 years, including 150,000 affordable homes.

Reality check: That is a lower number than any period on record prior to the current Coalition government. It is not an achievement. It is a disaster.

Under the equity loan scheme, buyers can get mortgages on new build homes with a five per cent deposit, with the rest provided by an equity loan from the government of up to 20 per cent on properties with a value of £600,000 or less.

Yesterday (October 8), Cameron and his Chancellor, George Osborne, launched the second part of Help to Buy – the mortgage guarantee – which will also be available on existing properties worth £600,000 or less. Lenders will be able to offer a 95 per cent loan-to-value mortgage, made possible by a government guarantee to the lender of up to 15 per cent of the value of the property.

Reality check: In English, this means the taxpayer is underwriting people’s mortgages. Osborne reckons he has put aside £12 billion for this part of the scheme but – as former Chancellor Alistair Darling recently noted  – the source is unidentified. “Strange that when Labour makes promises, the Tories claim it will mean more borrowing, yet it’s fine for them to make unfunded promises,” Mr Darling wrote.

Back to the press release: “Housebuilding is growing at its fastest rate for 10 years,” it says.

Reality check: The Channel 4 article, quoted above, warns us to “take the proclamations we are getting from the government about high rates of growth in housebuilding with a hefty pinch of salt. Housebuilding completions are starting from modern record lows; the rates of growth are bound to be high.”

What does Kris Hopkins have to say about this? Not a lot, in fact. He blathers that the equity loan has “captured the imagination of the public and is boosting the supply of new homes across the country”.

Reality check: Back to Channel 4 – “The levels… show that something went wrong in 12/13. Turning the corner means going from abysmal to terrible.”

“Our policies on housing are working,” said Hopkins in the press release. “Housebuilding is growing at its fastest rate for 10 years, and the tough decisions we’ve taken to tackle the deficit have kept interest rates low and are now delivering real help to hardworking people.”

Reality check: We’ve already covered the speed at which house building is growing; he should not be pretending this is a huge success when the number of new houses being built has fallen to a record low. As for the policy on the deficit keeping interest rates low – Vox Political blew that out of the water months ago. For clarity: A government can always service its debt, if that debt is in its own currency. Our debt is in UK pounds and we can always service it. Our creditors know that, so they remain happy to continue financing it. Otherwise, with Osborne borrowing 75 per cent more than he said he would in 2010, and with the UK’s ‘AAA’ credit rating gone in a puff of agency doubt earlier this year, Osborne would have been up a certain creek without an economic lever (to mix a metaphor or two).

“I’m delighted we’ve launched the second part of Help to Buy, the mortgage guarantee, which will strengthen the package of measures that have already done so much to restore confidence in the housing market,” Hopkins concluded.

Final reality check: Michael Meacher is one of many who believe that ‘Help to Buy’ will do nothing more than create another housing price ‘bubble’, most likely leading to another debt crisis. “Even [George Osborne’s] Tory supporters believe [this] will throw oil on the fire of the already overheated surge in house prices,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, at the other end of Britain’s housing market, 50,000 people are facing eviction because of the Bedroom Tax.

Clueless Cameron – as tired as his policies?

Tired old Tory: Is this David Cameron or Ken Clarke? [Picture: BBC, augmented with help by Ian Davies]

Tired old Tory: Is this David Cameron or Ken Clarke? [Picture: BBC, augmented with help from Ian Davies]

David Tennant’s outstanding run as the title character in Doctor Who began by ending the career of fictional Prime Minister Harriet Jones with just six words to an aide: “Don’t you think she looks tired?”

The character had been PM for a very short time but had made serious errors of judgement. In that respect – and that alone – she is the David Cameron of the Doctor Who universe.

Cameron and his cronies are currently wheeling out a succession of policies that they want us to believe are new. The latest of these, according to the BBC News website, involves extended opening hours for local doctors.

That’s right – he’ll be piloting a £50 million scheme in nine areas of England where surgeries will be able to bid for funding to open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

Perhaps he’s hoping that our memories have suffered rapid ill-health recently, because this is nothing but an old Labour scheme, painted blue.

Labour offered GP practices extra money to open later in the evening and on weekends, and most surgeries tried it out – until lack of demand meant funding was reduced and hours cut back.

Many surgeries still offer out-of-hours appointments – so it seems unlikely that there is any need for Cameron’s version at all…

… unless he is considering making an appointment for himself. Look at the image. Don’t you think he looks tired?

Other policies introduced during the Tory conference include the indefinite extension of Workfare for the long-term unemployed, which is nothing more than an underhanded plot to make it seem that joblessness has dropped, allowing the Bank of England to raise interest rates, as this blog revealed yesterday.

And the much-touted but low-paying married tax allowance turned out to be even lower-paying for the low-waged who are already receiving help through tax credits, which are due to be phased out in favour of Universal Credit, paid to people whose incomes are low after tax. Their higher after-tax income means their UC will drop by £130, making them just £70 per year better-off.

Meanwhile, the ‘free school meals’ policy unveiled by Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats has also left a nasty taste in peoples’ mouths. It turns out that the number of people receiving such help is about the only indicator of low-income households available to school authorities, and is part of how schools show regulators that SAT results are not their only priority – they are doing their best in areas where parents are out of work. Losing that marker means schools in challenging circumstances will be unable to demonstrate their situation and will suffer as a result.

That leaves just the new tax on plastic bags in England, which is an idea the Coalition stole from the much-maligned Labour Welsh Government – another Labour idea the Tories have adopted (and this should serve as a warning sign for Labour: When Tories adopt your policies, you have drifted much too far to the right of the political spectrum).

Clearly the strain – of trying to dream up new policies that will make his party look good – has taken its toll on clueless Cameron.

Don’t you think he looks tired?

Osborne’s big plan: falsify unemployment figures under the Workfare banner

A swivel-eyed loon, earlier today. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

A swivel-eyed loon, earlier today. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

So Gideon wants the long-term unemployed to go on Workfare indefinitely, does he?

Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but doesn’t this mean the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s big announcement – at this year’s Conservative Party Conference – is a tawdry plan to massage the unemployment figures?

I’m indebted to The Void blog for the following information, which I recalled while reading reports of Osborne’s drone to the swivel-eyed masses. An article from May stated that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had been forced to admit a rise in unemployment was down to a fall in the number of people on Workfare.

“According to the Department, the number of people in work fell by over 47,000 over the last three months – which they say ‘reflects’ amongst other things a drop of 16,000 in the numbers on Government employment schemes,” the article states. As far as I know, this is still correct – if a person is put on Workfare, they are removed from unemployment statistics, even though they only receive social security payments for the work they do.

Putting the long-term unemployed on Workfare indefinitely, therefore, will effectively wipe long-term unemployment from the national figures. This will make Osborne’s administration look very good indeed – despite having done nothing to improve anyone’s chances of finding a job. In fact, those prospects will have worsened because every Workfare place removes a paying job from the market.

And what will this do for the Bank of England’s scheme to raise interest rates only if unemployment drops below seven per cent?

Wait – it gets worse. We can also see a now-traditional Tory ‘bait-and-switch’ going on, supported by a justification narrative based on a bit of voodoo polling. This one pushes lots of our favourite buttons!

Osborne’s rationale for imposing the scheme – the justification narrative – is simply that people want it. He’s basing his reasoning for this on a voodoo poll by the right-wing Policy Exchange, as described on The Void today.

“The general public’s opinions on workfare have been grossly distorted by the nature of the questions asked in this survey – of which there were only two,” the article states.

“The first question asked whether people thought ‘The government should require people who are unemployed for 12 months or more to do community work in return for their state benefits.’ The truth is that only just over half agreed at 56%. But the public were not asked if this workfare should be full time. In fact it does not even specify that the work should be unpaid – previous workfare schemes have come with a top up payment to benefits attached. Whilst those engrossed in welfare policy might assume workfare to mean 30 hours a week, every week, without pay, there’s no reason a survey respondent would think that. They might think yes, they should volunteer in an old people’s home for an afternoon a week, or do a couple of days a month helping out in the local park, for reasonable expenses. This 56% in no way gives a mandate for full time unpaid workfare.”

It continues: “The second question is even more dubious. The Policy Exchange are attempting to use the answers to this question to claim that only 22% of the public support disabled people being exempt from workfare. That incidentally is disabled people “who are capable of working” – another devious phrase as who is and isn’t capable of working is clearly open to debate as the Atos scandal has shown. The obvious inference from the from this figure is that 78% of the public support workfare for disabled people. Yet in question 1 only 56% of people support workfare for anyone at all. There must be something in the going on to explain this bizarre discrepancy.

“Question 2 asks respondents to imagine that compulsory workfare exists and then questions who should be exempt. Now a disabled person completing this survey may think well if I have to do workfare then why shouldn’t a lone parent, and vice versa. That doesn’t mean they support workfare, it means they support equality, of a sort.

“There is no option available for those who think that everyone should be exempt from workfare, although it is possible to answer that every group of claimants given should undertake unpaid work.”

So: Extremely dubious findings, used to support a dubious claim that the public supports increasing Workfare and this is why the Coalition is doing so. In fact, this is a thinly-veiled attempt to falsify unemployment statistics and trigger an interest rate rise.

The swivel-eyed loons must have lapped it up.

Now, why wasn’t Vox Political‘s best friend, Iain Duncan Smith, making this announcement?

What’s wrong with this picture? (Quite a lot, as it happens)

laughter

This is what passes for information among Conservatives nowadays, apparently.

I picked up the original image on a brief visit onto the Conservative Party Facebook page, where I passed a few choice comments on it – which appear below. I decided the correct information should not be wasted on the Conservatives alone, so I tried to share it on the Vox Facebook page.

There, I discovered that Facebook‘s problem with politics is ongoing, as my attempt to post the, shall we say, altered version of the image was met with the response that FB was having trouble processing it, and I should try again in a few minutes. Repeated attempts failed, so now I’m posting it here, and what would have been an ephemeral moment of humour will now remain with us into posterity (or at least until I decide to take it down).

So what is wrong with this picture?

For a start, that deficit has been down by a third for a long time now. How much has it come down in, say, the last year? Less than a quarter of a per cent, according to my calculations. And in the last quarter? Even less.

Businesses have not created more than 1.25 million new jobs – certainly not in the last three months! For a start, as we all know, 200,000 of them were education jobs that were simply transferred out of the public sector into private ownership to make ConDem figures look good. I haven’t seen any job creation figures for the last three months, but I doubt they’re as good as this image pretends.

Interest rates are indeed at record lows, but this has nothing whatsoever to do with decisions by the current government.

I notice that the only legible word on the side of the coins is ‘impune’. It’s a misspelling, but I take it as an invitation for all to come and impugn the lies we see here (Impugn: cast doubt upon or criticise as unreliable or unworthy of respect).

Cameron’s determination to ruin us all continues unabated – BBC

borrowing

David Cameron must think we’re all as stupid as his fellow Conservatives and that party’s most rabid adherents, if the latest BBC report is to be believed.

In it, he responds to comments from his Coalition government’s own Business Secretary, Vince Cable, suggesting the government could consider borrowing more – at, let’s remember, the lowest interest rates in British history – to inject some growth into the economy.

Cable’s remarks are eminently sensible – which is, of course, why Cameron is believed to be moving so quickly to counter them. The fact is that austerity never – ever – brought a country out of debt. Investment is the key. Investment needs money. If you don’t have money, you borrow it from someone who does. Then you pay them back – with interest from your profits. ‘Speculate to accumulate’, as the saying goes. It’s how most Conservatives and Tory voters made their money but Cameron – and his sidekick 0sborne, let’s not forget – inherited theirs and therefore, we may reasonably deduce, know nothing whatsoever about it.

Instead, Cameron will reiterate his insistence on following the ‘Starve the Beast’ policy that George W Bush used to such devastating effect when he was President of the USA, reducing a surplus of $128 billion to a deficit of $10.627 trillion within a few short years.

A decent definition of ‘Starve the Beast’ economic theory is that it is a fiscal strategy to create or increase existing budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government.

This is clearly what Cameron and his cronies are doing – and the Liberal Democrats are helping them all the way, no matter what Cable says about it. It’s why they’ve borrowed more money in the last two and a half years than the Labour Party did in three terms of office (as a recent meme puts it).

And they will cut the machinery of this country’s government down to the marrow, for no better reason than their own personal enrichment and the fact that it will create huge problems for any government that follows them in 2015.

The BBC report contains excerpts of what Cameron was expected to say in a speech today (Thursday). These deserve interpretation, as their meaning is not entirely clear at first glance:

I know some people think it is being stubborn to stick to a plan. That somehow this is just about making the numbers add up.” He’s setting us all up with a false premise. We don’t think he’s being stubborn; we know his real plan isn’t what he has been trying to sell us. It’s about cutting the state to nothing, impoverishing the vast majority of us in the process and enriching his cronies. This is why, crucially, the numbers don’t add up at all.

The very moment when we’re just getting some signs that we can turn our economy round and make our country a success is the very moment to hold firm to the path we have set.” So the present moment, with the loss of our ‘AAA’ credit rating, high street shop chains dropping like flies and his own political party regularly being dropped to third place in by-elections, would definitely not be that time.

And yes, the path ahead is tough – but be in no doubt, the decisions we make now will set the course of our economic future for years to come.” This is absolutely true. The decisions he makes now will set the course of our economic future for years to come. What a shame nobody seems able, or willing in the case of the Liberal Democrats, to stop him.

And while some would falter and plunge us back into the abyss, we will stick to the course.” He is projecting the effects of his own actions onto his political opponents. He knows perfectly well that it is his course that will lead us straight to that metaphorical abyss – if he hasn’t pitched us over into it already.

The BBC article goes on to say that he will point to the creation of a million extra private sector jobs – a claim that has been debunked many, many times since he first made it. Private sector jobs have been created, but nowhere near a million of them! Also the terms under which people are being employed are appalling.

It is typical of the kind of ridiculous babble to which he and his lieutenants have subjected us for nearly three years now – a period in which our situation has never – not once – offered even the appearance of improvement.

This blog reported only a few days ago that Cameron had been put on notice by his own party – improve or lose the leadership.

The sooner those backbenchers follow through on this threat, the better.

For all of us.