Tag Archives: Simon

Tory Hoare branded a ‘coward’ for plan to abstain on Bill that threatens peace in Northern Ireland

Should it say or should it go? “Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.” Isn’t Boris Johnson pushing NI towards re-integration with the Republic?

The Conservative chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland select committee is currently taking a drubbing on Twitter after he announced he will abstain on the Third Reading of the Internal Market Bill that threatens the peace there, rather than opposing it outright.

Simon Hoare tweeted that information from the US Congress that its members would not permit any free trade agreements with the United Kingdom. He seemed to believe that this was justification for him to abstain, rather than oppose the Bill that breaks international law by overruling the EU Withdrawal Agreement on trade borders around NI.

Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.

In abstaining on the Bill, Hoare is effectively saying that he does not want to express an opinion on it – even though he knows it will be harmful to peace in Northern Ireland, and to the Union. It is the position of a coward who is afraid to take a stand when his bosses do the wrong thing.

Even if he really didn’t know that, he is being told it in no uncertain terms:

If he does abstain, Spineless Simon should be ashamed to call himself a human being.

I wonder how many Conservatives will follow his example – doing just enough to salve their miniscule consciences without actually stopping the Bill?

Abstention means allowing Boris Johnson to break international law.

And it means an end to peace in Northern Ireland.

When violence breaks out again, after Johnson does whatever he’s planning to do to the Northern Ireland border, Simon Hoare and all other Tory abstainers will be responsible.

But then we know from past experience that Tories are perfectly comfortable to sit in Parliament with blood dripping from their hands.

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No, Robert Peston, Osborne was WRONG to impose austerity. Stop distorting the facts!

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The BBC’s Tory economics editor Robert Peston is clutching at straws again.

He’s trying to persuade us all that everything we thought we knew about the UK’s economy during the Coalition Parliament was wrong, and that growth was much stronger than we thought. He is being economical with the truth, it seems.

He writes: “The ONS … says that the economy grew 1.5% in the general election year of 2010, then 2% after austerity bit in 2011 – revised up by the ONS from 1.6% – and then 1.2% in 2012, when the eurozone’s economic crisis imposed maximum pain on us.

“The previous picture, of austerity reducing growth from 1.9% in 2010, to 1.6% in 2011, to 0.7% in 2012, has been magicked away by the official statisticians.

“And they have also revised up their estimate of growth for 2013 from 1.7% to 2.2%.

“If these statistics are more reliable than the last lot, a particular school of Keynesian economists may choose to re-examine their contention that only a fool or a liar would say there is a legitimate debate about whether George Osborne’s policies were good or bad for the recovery.”

One of that school of Keynesian economists has hit back – hard. According to Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Mr Peston’s argument is “just nonsense: complete and utter nonsense.”

He responds: “This ‘particular school’ has never based their assessment on observing what is still the weakest UK recovery since anyone can remember and looking for something to blame. They based it on what macro theory and the great majority of empirical studies tell us would be the impact of the fiscal austerity that happened. At the conservative end of such assessments is the OBR, who calculate austerity reduced GDP growth by 1% in each of the financial years 2011 and 2012. Estimates of this kind are completely independent of data revisions for one period in one country. We might doubt such estimates if they implied that without austerity we would have had implausibly rapid growth, but for this recovery they do not.”

This means that it doesn’t matter how well the ONS or Mr Peston says the economy performed – the simple fact that George Osborne had imposed austerity on the UK (unnecessarily) means growth was restricted by at least one per cent in the years he mentions.

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to point out that the UK’s growth performance – even with these revisions – is still terrible because Peston has not taken population growth due to inward migration into account: “You really have to look at GDP per head to make comparative statements about this recovery.

As the ONS point out, this new data still shows that only in this year has GDP per head exceeded its pre-recession peak. Assuming recent data revisions have not changed this, average growth in GDP per head between 1955 and 2008 was about 2.25%. Any recovery from such a deep recession should have seen growth rates well in excess of this.

“Instead the revised data give us 1.1% growth in 2011, 0.5% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013. Only by 2014 had we got near the long term average growth rate. This is still an absolutely terrible performance for a recovery.”

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to suggest that Peston might be saying as much himself if the Tory Government were not “breathing down the BBC’s neck”. The point that BBC political coverage is being distorted by Tory influence is a very good one, as anybody who has seen Question Time recently will know.

In fairness to Peston, he does point out that any extra economic growth did not translate into higher tax revenues for the government. Where did that money go (if it doesn’t exist only in the minds of ONS statisticians and Mr Peston)?

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When is Chuka going to stop backstabbing Labour?

Blue is the colour (of this man's politics): Chuka Umunna should be in the Conservative Party.

Blue is the colour (of this man’s politics): Chuka Umunna should be in the Conservative Party.

It seems Mr Umunna is even ready to sink his own credibility in order to undermine the party he still claims to represent.

He has written an article in The Independent which Oxford University macroeconomist Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has rubbished in his Mainly Macro blog.

This Writer’s only criticism is that Prof Wren-Lewis headlines his article with a claim that it is a sign of “Labour’s growing macroeconomic illiteracy” – when it is far more likely to be a sign that Chuka should cross the floor and join the Conservatives he most closely resembles.

Chuka wrote: “To be running a deficit in 2007, after 15 years of economic growth, was still a mistake. My party’s failure to acknowledge that mistake compromised our ability to rebuild trust in 2010 and in 2015. If a government can’t run a surplus in the 15th year of an economic expansion, when can it run one?”

This is the Tory line in a nutshell – and nonsense. Mainly Macro‘s response: “What Umunna is saying here is much the same as George Osborne’s proposed rule: in normal times when the economy is growing run surpluses. But Osborne is saying that in the context of the current debt to GDP ratio of 80% of GDP. Umunna is implying that policy still made sense back in 2007 when the debt to GDP ratio was below 40%, the output gap was thought to be small and no one was expecting a global financial crisis.

“I cannot remember anyone before 2008 suggesting Labour’s debt limit should fall over time. Yet Umunna says the mistake was so serious it helped lose Labour two elections.”

In other words: What a load of rubbish.

“I would love to know who the economists are that gave Umunna the advice that led to this article,” writes Prof Wren Lewis. Who says anybody did?

To prevent claims that he is over-exaggerating a couple of sentences from a larger article, the Professor again quotes Chuka: “Reducing the deficit is a progressive endeavour – we seek to balance the books because it is the right thing to do.” This claim – that it is “the right thing to do” is straight out of the Tory phrasebook.

The response: “Would he give the same advice to UK businesses: refrain from borrowing and focus on paying back your debt? Somehow I think not. The Conservatives have a kind of excuse for deficit fetishism – it is a useful device for shrinking the state. That excuse should not apply to senior Labour figures.”

This Blog can see little future for Labour if a politician with so much sympathy for Conservative policies – and so little understanding of economics – remains on Labour’s front bench. Chuka has had his day.

It’s time he chucked it in.

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A fact-check for silly Cameron apologists

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Here’s a piece in the New Statesman that is worth debunking straight away. Entitled 10 delusions about the Labour defeat to watch out for, it makes assertions that suggest to This Writer that it is author Ian Leslie who’s been having dodgy visions.

Let’s focus on three:

“1. THE MEDIA DID IT

“No left-wing account of this defeat will be complete without a reference to the Tory press (bonus drink for “Murdoch-controlled”) and its supposed inexorable hold over the political psyche of the nation. Funny: the day before the election everyone decided The Sun was a joke and nobody reads newspapers anyway.

“3. CLEVER TORIES

“It will be said that the Tories, in their ruthlessly efficient way, pinned the blame for austerity on Labour and Labour allowed it to stick. Clever Tories. Few will mention that the Tories were, for the most part, a hubristic and directionless shambles, divided amongst themselves, the authors of several howlingly stupid own goals that would certainly have sunk them had they not got so lucky with their opponent.

“5. THE SNP STOLE OUR VICTORY

“It is true that nobody, but nobody, foresaw the SNP tidal wave. But it’s not true that Labour would have won or even done OK without it. Labour saw a net gain of one seat from the Tories in England. One. Seat. One seat, in an election where everything favoured them. One seat, after five years of a shabby and meretricious government making unpopular decisions and a third party that virtually donated its voters to them. An epic failure.”

Firstly, nobody is blaming the media entirely for voters’ insistence on self-destructively supporting the Tories. The media helped hammer the Tory messages home, by amplifying Cameron’s statements and ignoring or vilifying Miliband’s. After a while – and in accordance with Goebbels’ (Cameron is a big fan of Goebbels) claims about The Big Lie – people start believing the claims they see most often.

This is why Conservative claims must be challenged at every opportunity from now on. Whenever a Tory puts forward a policy in the papers, on the Internet and social media or wherever, let’s try to put the questions in front of them that deflate their claims. It has been said that a lie can go around the world before the truth gets out of bed; let’s kill The Big Lie before it can get its shoes on.

Secondly, nobody This Writer knows is saying anything at all about “ruthlessly efficient” Tories. This lot are about as stupid as they come. It’s just a shame – and this was a constant problem for bloggers like Yr Obdt Srvt – that nobody in the Labour leadership saw fit to counter the silly Tory claims with a few ounces of fact. Therefore we must conclude that, not only are the Tories monumental imbeciles; most of Labour were, as well.

This is why the Conservative Party as a whole should be undermined at every opportunity. Whenever they make bold claims about their record – especially against that of the last Labour government – let’s put up a few embarrassing facts to pull the wool out from under them.

Finally, nobody but the SNP and its supporters is making any claim that the SNP’s “tidal wave” – alone – stopped Labour. As This Writer has already mentioned (and the election result was only known yesterday), the Conservative Party used the threat of an SNP surge to put fear into Middle England that “loonie-left” Labour would ally with these crazed Caledonians, to the detriment of the nation. Amazingly, people were gullible enough to believe it.

But you don’t have to take This Writer’s word for it. Here’s Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, from his latest Mainly Macro article [italics mine]:

“Why do I say Cameron is lucky? First, largely by chance (but also because other countries had been undertaking fiscal austerity), UK growth in 2014 was the highest among major economies. This statistic was played for all it was worth. Second, although (in reality) modest growth was not enough to raise real incomes, just in the nick of time oil prices fell, so real wages have now begun to rise. Third, playing the game of shutting down part of the economy so that you can boast when it starts up again is a dangerous game, and you need a bit of fortune to get it right. (Of course if there really was no plan, and the recovery was delayed through incompetence, then he is luckier still.)

“The Scottish independence referendum in September last year was close. 45% of Scots voted in September to leave the UK. One of the major push factors was the Conservative-led government. If Scotland had voted for independence in 2014, it would have been a disaster for Cameron: after all, the full title of his party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. That was his first piece of Scottish fortune. The second was that the referendum dealt a huge blow to Labour in Scotland. Labour are far from blameless here, and their support had been gradually declining, but there can be no doubt that the aftermath of the referendum lost them many Scottish seats, and therefore reduced their seat total in the UK.

“Yet that led to a third piece of luck. The SNP tidal wave in Scotland gave him one additional card he could play to his advantage: English nationalism. The wall of sound coming from the right wing press about how the SNP would hold Miliband to ransom was enough to get potential UKIP supporters to vote Conservative in sufficient numbers for him to win the election.”

While I’m not convinced about the UKIP claim (UKIP’s vote share enjoyed the largest increase of any of the parties in Thursday’s election) the rest rings true.

You have already heard an awful lot of hogwash about the reasons for the Conservative Party’s slim win. Don’t believe everything you hear.

It’s long past time that facts and evidence were reintroduced to politics.

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Vox Political vindicated on the economy

The Conservatives' latest negative campaign advert: The Tories seem to think they are the only party who should be allowed to steal the cash from poor people.

The Conservatives’ latest negative campaign advert: The Tories seem to think they are the only party who should be allowed to steal the cash from poor people.

Twice, in a matter of days, Vox Political‘s findings on political issues have been supported by the evidence of a scholar.

Today, the Mainly Macro blog written by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, who teaches Economics at Oxford University, supports This Writer’s argument that the so-called economic recovery, that began in 2013, had little or nothing positive to do with the Coalition Government or George Osborne’s policies.

“The idea that austerity during the first two years of the coalition government was vindicated by the 2013 recovery is so ludicrous that it is almost embarrassing to have to explain why,” he writes.

“Imagine that a government on a whim decided to close down half the economy for a year. That would be a crazy thing to do, and with only half as much produced everyone would be a lot poorer. However a year later when that half of the economy started up again, economic growth would be around 100%. The government could claim that this miraculous recovery vindicated its decision to close half the economy down the year before. That would be absurd, but it is a pretty good analogy with claiming that the 2013 recovery vindicated 2010 austerity.”

That’s right. George Osborne did huge harm to the economy when he imposed austerity in 2010, choking off Labour’s recovery. It is senseless for him to claim that easing off on that policy has created an economic miracle. As this blog has repeatedly stated, any economic recovery enjoyed by the UK has had nothing to do with the actions of the Coalition Government.

It is important to remember that the Tories intend to impose even deeper austerity if they win the election next month, causing catastrophic harm to anyone who isn’t in the richest 10 per cent of the population.

But why do this at all? What was the point of it?

A commenter to this blog’s Facebook page put it very well only today. Tracey Wilkinson Clarke wrote: “Corporations and capitalism [were]crashing…the banking crisis was created … as a reason to bring in austerity measures to feed the money back up to the few.” This opinion is supported by an article on this blog at the time.

It is also supported by the Conservative Party’s most recent anti-SNP campaign advert. Following on from David Cameron’s overheard comment on television last week, that Alex Salmond was a pickpocket, the advert has an image of the SNP candidate reaching towards a member of the public’s pocket, with the tagline, “Don’t let the SNP grab your cash.”

It is Conservative Party policy to do exactly that – and hand it over to the very rich in the form of tax breaks (both personal and business-orientated), tax avoidance, lucrative public ‘service’ contracts, and shares in privatised utilities.

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The ‘Labour overspent’ lie debunked – again

It’s astonishing. Right-wing politicians, journalists and members of the public are still – still – pushing the myth that the financial crisis and recession of 2008 onwards was caused by the last Labour government overspending, being “profligate”, “not fixing the roof while the sun was shining”.

This Writer heard it twice on Thursday evening alone – from the Tory candidate at a local hustings event (although, bearing in mind that Brecon and Radnorshire’s Conservative candidate Chris Davies has all the intelligence of a farm animal, this is not surprising) and on the BBC’s Question Time, from William Hague (who was probably one of the Tories who invented this particular tall story in the first place).

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis wrote illuminatingly on the subject in his Mainly Macro blog, saying that the Coalition government wanted people to believe a myth that it rescued the economy from an impending financial crisis, but this could not be squared with the fact that the very large government budget deficit in 2010 was largely the result of the recession.

Therefore, he stated, it was important for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats “to push another explanation for the large deficit: that it reflected the profligacy of the previous government.

“Economic journalists know full well this is a myth. Yet it is a myth repeated on countless occasions by the coalition parties, and by journalists working for the partisan press. On one occasion one of these journalists tried to rubbish a post where I wrote it was a myth, and I hope learnt to regret the experience.”

As ever, with a big lie (and here on Vox Political we have seen this very often in regard to the SNP’s claims) there is a nugget of truth. Here, it is the criticism that Gordon Brown was not as prudent as he might have been in his pre-recession budgets. Professor Wren-Lewis writes: “That memory is both correct (both the IFS and NIESR made that criticism) and the criticism is valid… This is the half-truth that sustains the myth.

UK public sector net debt

“But mild imprudence is not profligacy. We can see that by looking at another chart, for the debt to GDP ratio. Profligacy would imply a rapidly rising ratio, but this ratio before the recession (37% in 2008) was below the level Labour inherited (42% in 1997), and below its fiscal rule figure of 40%. No profligacy there.”

More prudence would not have helped because, “as Vicky Pryce, Andy Ross and Peter Unwin state in their book ‘Its the Economy Stupid: Economics for Voters’ (which I happily recommend, and which in its initial chapters covers much of the ground of this series): ‘The elimination of the UK’s structural deficit [under Labour before the recession] would not have been even a sticking plaster in the face of the haemorrhaging of the finance sector’s jugular’.”

The professor also adds that the Tories argued for less financial regulation before the collapse, and opposed Labour’s measures to moderate the recession in 2009.

In addition, this blog can add a recent response to a commenter, which ran thus: Labour didn’t ‘recklessly spend money we don’t have’ [as the commenter had claimed]. Labour ran the economy very well – as reports from such leftie strongholds as Oxford University have shown.

The global economic crisis that started in the US subprime housing market affected the UK deeply, and the Labour government of the time was forced to take action to prevent a run on the banks that would have deprived most people in the UK of their bank account savings – including people criticising Labour now.

The narrative about Labour profligacy is a fairy tale made up by the Conservative Party … in order to fool voters into supporting that party so it could win the 2010 election. Even then, it didn’t work and the Tories had to go into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. They anticipated this, and hedged their bets by making a deal with the Lib Dems in March 2010, two months BEFORE the election (this information is from Five Days To Power, a book on the subject by Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East).”

The issue is not Labour profligacy; it is Conservative (and Liberal Democrat) dishonesty.

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‘The SNP’s Tory-LibDem second term’

Big Mouth strikes: Stewart Hosie was desperate to wrongly lay blame for the economic crisis on Labour. Now he's being told that every vote for the SNP could help enable a Conservative-Liberal Democrat second term.

Big Mouth strikes: Stewart Hosie was desperate to wrongly lay blame for the economic crisis on Labour. Now he’s being told that every vote for the SNP could help enable a Conservative-Liberal Democrat second term.

SNP mouthpiece Stewart Hosie should have known better than to try to score political points with information from Oxford’s Professor of Macroeconomics.

After Professor Simon Wren-Lewis (author of the Mainly Macro blog) confirmed to The Conversation that Nicola Sturgeon’s claims about austerity* were correct, “with no qualifications” (meaning he would not correct her on any aspect of it), Hosie spouted the following in a press release:

“Professor Wren-Lewis reflects what many other experts and indeed members of the public know all too well – that Tory/Lib Dem austerity has done deep harm to the country’s recovery from the Labour recession.” [Italics mine]

Here’s the response from Prof Wren-Lewis (bolding mine):

“Oh dear – ‘the Labour recession’. That would be the global financial crisis that originated with US subprime mortgages! Calling this the Labour recession is just stupid, and is something I would never say. It is very unfortunate (and I hope it is just a misfortune) that Stewart Hosie appeared to suggest that I had said or implied that. Whatever the intention, it indicates that at least some in the SNP are still in the business of making highly misleading statements to advance their cause.

“While on the subject of the SNP and this election, let me make one final point, just in case any prospective SNP voters read this. In the quite likely event that the Conservatives get more seats than Labour, but less seats than Labour and the SNP combined, in a situation where either side would need LibDem support Nick Clegg has made it clear he will talk to the Conservatives first. That will almost certainly lead to the current coalition government continuing. Clegg’s reasoning for doing this makes little sense, but the SNP cannot influence Clegg’s decision, and I suspect nor can his party even if they were minded to.

“If that comes to pass, then every vote for the SNP rather than Labour that loses Labour seats becomes a vote to continue with the current government. That is not an opinion, but a factual statement. So, to be consistent with his own logic, I think Stewart Hosie would have to call this election result the SNP’s Tory-LibDem second term.”

If we’re honest, this means Nicola Sturgeon really does need to ask England and Wales not to vote Tory, as this blog stated a few days ago.

Any questions (or indeed squeals from the SNP cultists in our readership)?

*She had said: “In the last five years, austerity has undermined our public services, lowered the living standards of working people, pushed more children into poverty and held back economic growth.”

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Tory economic policy has cost every household at least £4,000 – and aims to take more

Bottom of the class: George Osborne based his 'Long-Term Economic Plan' on a spreadsheet error by American economists. [Image: Gaianeconomics]

Bottom of the class: George Osborne based his ‘Long-Term Economic Plan’ on a spreadsheet error by American economists. [Image: Gaianeconomics]

If you’re thinking, “That headline isn’t news”, you’re right.

It is, however, the main point troubling Professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his latest Mainly Macro blog article. He states that Tory chancellor George Osborne started out in a similar position and with a relatively similar policy to Labour’s Gordon Brown, but caused huge damage to household finances, whereas Brown did not.

“The answer, of course, is that the … contexts were different,” writes the learned professor. “Osborne’s austerity happened when the economy was just starting a recovery from a deep recession, and interest rates were at their then Zero Lower Bound (ZLB) of 0.5%… When interest rates are at the ZLB, monetary policy cannot counteract the negative impact of fiscal austerity on output.”

In other words, with austerity shrinking the economy, nothing else Osborne did would have stopped your wages from shrinking too. It is entirely possible that Osborne was perfectly aware of this.

This is how George Osborne probably looked after the fire in his pants caused by his incessant lying about the EU’s £1.7bn bill burned away the rest of his suit. Note that his briefcase is still empty of policies and all he has to offer us is the carrot of false promises [Image: Kaya Mar www.kayamarart.com].

George Osborne: His briefcase is still empty of policies and all he has to offer us is the carrot of false promises [Image: Kaya Mar www.kayamarart.com].

Yet he is planning an even bigger austerity squeeze on your incomes if the Conservatives form a government after this year’s election.

Professor Wren-Lewis dismisses the possibility that Osborne does not understand what he has been doing: “A much more plausible explanation for his actions were that the macroeconomic risks were understood, but were put to one side for political and ideological reasons.

“First the possibility of hitting Labour with a populist concern about the deficit was too great a temptation to resist for a Chancellor for whom political tactics are everything. Second, austerity was a means of implementing an unpopular policy of reducing the size of the state by the back door.”

He adds: “Now you may cynically say that in a contest between economics and politics/ideology, politicians will always choose the latter. However much that is true or false, when that choice costs each household at least £4,000, it would be very strange if that politician survived the judgement of the electorate.”

Perhaps so – but he and his party are banking on the electorate being too ignorant of the facts to realise this. That’s why I put it in the headline.

Campaigning in the centre of a small Mid Wales town yesterday, This Writer asked one group of young people (in their twenties or thereabouts), who quite clearly had limited means, which way they were going to vote. They ignored the question and walked on for several paces, then one turned around and, raising his fist to the air, yelled, “Conservative all the way!”

George Osborne is relying on people like this for his party’s survival.

We have to foil him by educating them.

It is a task that won’t end after the election; in fact, it is a task that may not end in our lifetimes.

But it is the only way to protect ourselves from continual exploitation by an entitled class of layabouts who expect us to do all the work while they have all the privileges handed to them on a plate.

Please share this article if you agree.

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The recession would have been worse if the Conservatives had been in power

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‘Killing Britain’s interpretation of Mervyn King’s comment on the recession.

… That’s the opinion of Simon Wren-Lewis, writer of the Mainly Macro blog.

It’s his response to the oft-asserted claim that Labour crashed the economy; he can’t deny it altogether because Labour’s failure to regulate the banks does make it partly true, in his eyes (we’ll skate over the fact that the banks had a certain responsibility in that area themselves. Now we know they’ll never behave responsibly it makes the future a little easier to navigate – or at least, it should).

Professor Wren-Lewis writes: “That is I guess why Ed Miliband seemed to respond to this accusation by saying something like: “yes we did get financial regulation wrong, but …”. That may be an honest reply, but it is not very effective, because many will read it as admitting Labour caused the recession.

“A better reply would be: “Everyone knows that the recession was caused by the global financial crisis and insufficient regulation, but the recession would have been worse if the Conservatives had been in power.”

“As Mervyn King says, “the real problem was a shared intellectual view right across the entire political spectrum and shared across the financial markets that things were going pretty well”, a view which he of course shared.

“I think the claim that the recession would have been worse if the Conservatives had been in government can be justified on two grounds. First, the Conservatives did accuse Labour of too much financial regulation, not too little. Second, they were against Labour’s fiscal stimulus in 2009.”

Why is it important that Labour combat this charge effectively? “When it comes to a contest of macroeconomic competence between the last Labour government and the current coalition, Labour wins hands down.”

The reason? “The coalition made such a bad mistake with austerity… Losing the equivalent of at least £4,000 per household is a big deal.

“Even if we were prepared to forgive this as a genuine mistake, to plan to make exactly the same mistake again either suggests a complete inability to learn, complete incompetence, or a duplicitous pursuit of ideology over social welfare.”

Read the full article on Mainly Macro. It is plainly written and even shows how you can measure up the Coalition’s performance against Labour’s for yourself.

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Ignorance could lumber us with another Tory government

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Why do people still believe the Conservatives are more likely to raise their living standards than Labour, even though they understand that they have become worse off over the last five years?

Why do political commentators brand Ed Miliband a “useless” leader, when even former Torygraph stalwart Peter Oborne has admitted he has been responsible for extraordinary successes and has challenged the underlying structures which govern Westminster conduct?

Let’s look at the first claim, courtesy of the latest Mainly Macro article by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis. He makes it clear from the start that people are being denied the facts; otherwise the economy would be the Conservative Party’s weakest point in the election campaign.

Look at the evidence: Since 2010 we have endured the weakest economic recovery for at least 200 years, with a steady fall in real wages (masked in average figures by the huge pay rises awarded by fatcat bosses to themselves). “The government’s actions are partly responsible for that, and the only debate is how much,” writes the Prof. “Living standards have taken a big hit.”

He continues: “There is no factual basis for the view that the Conservatives are better at managing the economy, and plenty to suggest the opposite. However this belief is not too hard to explain. The Labour government ended with the Great Recession which in turn produced a huge increase in the government’s budget deficit. With the help of mediamacro, that has become ‘a mess’ that Labour are responsible for and which the Conservatives have had to clean up.

“The beauty of this story is that it pins the blame for the weak recovery on the previous government, in a way that every individual can understand. Spend too much, and you will have a hard time paying back the debt.”

It’s a myth; the facts disprove it easily – so the Tories avoid the facts at all costs.

But why be concerned, if Ed Miliband is such an awful excuse for a Labour Party leader. Didn’t David Cameron describe him as “weak” and “spineless” to Scottish Conservatives only a fortnight ago?

Not according to Peter Oborne. Writing in The Spectator, he has praised Miliband because he “has been his own person, forged his own course and actually been consistent”.

Oborne praises Miliband for “four brave interventions, each one taking on powerful establishment interests: the Murdoch newspaper empire, the corporate elite, the foreign policy establishment and pro-Israel lobby… There is no doubting Mr Miliband’s integrity or his courage.

“Opposition is an essential part of British public life. Oppositions have a duty to challenge government and to give the electorate a clear choice. Ed Miliband has done precisely this and yet he has been written off. Does this mean that no opposition dare offend the big vested interests that govern Britain? Is this really the politics we want?”

It’s the politics the Conservative Party wants.

Professor Wren-Lewis notes that Miliband’s opinion poll ratings are low “because most people just see unglamorous pictures of him and note that he does not have that Blair appeal.

“That could be changed if they saw him in a one on one debate with Cameron, so there was never any chance that the Conservatives would let this happen. The debates last time had huge audiences, so no one can dispute that democracy has been dealt a huge blow as a result of what the FT rightly calls Cameron’s cowardice.”

He goes on to say that Cameron’s refusal to debate one-on-one with Miliband is “a key test” for the media, with Cameron counting on them letting his spin doctors dictate what people are allowed to see.

If that is true, then it seems Cameron has miscalculated.

Broadcasters have said the three TV general election debates planned for April will go ahead, despite Cameron saying he will take part in only one.

“It means Mr Cameron – who has rejected a head-to-head debate with Ed Miliband – could be ’empty-chaired’,” according to the BBC. Perhaps they really will put a blue chicken on the podium, as was suggested on this blog yesterday!

John Prescott has suggested that if David Cameron does not turn up for the TV debates, this should be placed on the empty podium.

John Prescott has suggested that if David Cameron does not turn up for the TV debates, this should be placed on the empty podium.

Perhaps the broadcasters were provoked by Cameron’s claim that they were the ones responsible for what he called the “chaos” surrounding the TV debates, when it is clear that he has been responsible for delays and indecision.

The end result is the same. Cameron has denied himself the chance to stand up and defend his record against an Opposition leader who is increasingly starting to come through as The Better Man.

Will the debates be enough to change the mind of the general public and mitigate against the mass ignorance nurtured by the Tory Press?

That will be up to Mr Miliband. If his performances in recent Prime Minister’s Questions are any indication, it should be a walkover for him.

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