Friday, 9 August 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 9 August 2013

It has been another surprisingly busy (for the summer holiday season) week, so this week's digest might be quite long. I'll do what I can to keep it manageable...

Chuka Your Money At Him

That's what Guido found that the Emiritus Chairman (whatever that is) of the Gala-Coral gambling/bingo group had been doing for Labour's Chuka Umunna, who has recently rounded on that industry in regard to his own parliamentary constituency.

Despite Chuka's claim that it was only a 'personal donation', Guido's update at the same link shows that this does not hold water. Two-faced indeed...

Mudie Waters

The undercurrent of Labour's widespread discontent.with its present leadership continues to pop up into the public arena every now and then, the most recent being that from George Mudie MP, as reported in (among other places) the Financial Times' blog section. The primary complaint is what I mentioned a little earlier, which is Labour's shadow cabinet's almost complete silence in recent weeks.

This really is not good at this crucial time, less than two years before a General Election. My own thought (and there have been others who have reached much the same conclusion) is that they are concentrating on preparing for their party conference in a few weeks from now. That is fine for the party faithful and their supporters in the Unions and think tanks, but whatever it is will be unlikely to be more than preaching to the choir, as the saying goes.

Even with BBC television coverage, party conferences rarely make much of an impact on the wider public's thinking or voting, and the Labour event tends to be the most stilted and least interesting. Even when there is a spark of something a little different, such as Rory Weal a couple of years ago, it then turns out that he is from a wealthy and comfortable family with no genuine deprivation – completely negating the thrust of his speech to conference.

I think George Mudie and the others who have said the same are right. My suspicion is that Miliband and Co are very much fenced in by what their paymasters in the big Unions are prepared to let them say and do at this time, and where their time and energies should (in their eyes) be spent. This will not end well for Labour...

Zero Credibility

While we are looking at Labour's antics (and there is just so much from which to choose) and Guido's revelations, here's how they have found they were forced to deal with their 'zero-hours contracts' statements. Basically, they have had to back away from their original stance and try to find a way to suggest that such contracts were okay under Labour, but (magically) not now that the government has changed.

There is no back-story to support this, and it is clear that it has just now been invented in the face of unexpected publicity regarding the disclosure that they operated zer-hours contracts themselves, as did (and do today) several of their close associates.

This has been one of the worst forms of political hypocrisy, and their struggle to get themselves out of the hole they have dug for themselves has reduced their credibility still further. That certainly can't now be much above zero, can it?

For another example of Labour's zero credibility, do read Matthew Hancock's piece on their new 'living standards' line as also discussed by James Forsyth: they are both quite revealing, each in its way...

Forward Guidance

This idea of 'forward guidance' is being welcomed by the Chancellor and at least one (probably two) cross-party Select Committees. It looks to be a good practice, and will help to keep all the parts of government involved with the public purse more-or-less directly to pull in the same broad direction with a strong feel for the short and medium term at least.

The biggest outcome from the current exercise has been the intention to keep the base interest rate at 0·5% while unemployment is above 7% (it is currently around 8%, so not too far off). This is expected to be able to change in about three years from now, perhaps a month or two beyond.

Although this is not good news for savers (although they can always invest in overseas currencies or whatever) it is perhaps right that the base rate should be below economic and population growth rates to avoid making each of us nominally poorer. This is a bit of a subtle argument, so should not be accorded the same weight as the unemployment figure which is an important factor that we can all understand and (mostly?) agree.

Anyway, here is the correspondence between the Bank of England governor (whose letter is here as a PDF file) and George Osborne (whose response is here, also in PDF format), They are not overlong, and should take little more than five minutes to read.

Diversity or Bland Uniformity?

A controversy (that isn't really) has been triggered by the Twitter comments a local (i.e. Medway) Conservative councillor commenting on the story of a local car wash offering discounts to female customers. The local newspaper has the story.

Besides the fact that this is a purely commercial decision, along much the same lines as pensioners' haircuts at reduced prices (to which Cllr Chris Irvine himself referred) and many other instances of 'discrimination', the complaints from the professionally-outraged Lefties (invariably that's what they turn out to be) are they usual one-of-two-faces they have lined up in their repertoire of complaints/outrages.

Y'see, on the one hand they demand 'fairness' and 'equality', and on the other support and promote 'diversity', including different rules and attitudes regarding their preferred groups. One simple example in recent times has been the completely opposite approaches they (and the rules their party – Labour – put in place) between Muslims wearing the burka or hijab, as contrasted with a Christian wearing a crucifix. There are many other examples of discrimination when it suits them.

If the original complaint, about the car wash, is upheld, then I think this means we shall have to look at other age-based pricing such a child fares on 'buses and railways. A child still takes up a seat, so why should their fares be lower than the rest of us pay?

I wonder what the likes of, say, Mumsnet would have to say about that?

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