Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Ok here's my attempt to show what swing is required from the challenging party for the Tories to lose seats at the next general election. Sadly, there are too many Tory seats with Labour in second place for the names to be visible, but I think you get the idea (Skegness is the most marginal, William Hague's RIchmond the least). Now obviously this is not very sophisticated, it doesn't take into account boundary changes, or turnout issues, and furthermore in both Lab and Lib Dem challenging seats it keeps the third party's share of the vote constant. However I still can't see how a 1% fall in Conservative support could see the loss of 40 seats. I may have missed something fundamental...

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

A few posts below I quoted the Guardian as saying 'To have even a small overall majority would require a 12% swing, but a mere 1% fall in their vote would see them lose a quarter of their seats.'

The first bit is so amazing (and the reasons why have been posted on this site before) that I accepted the second without checking. However having checked that I think it's wrong -- a 1% swing would lost them only 4 seats and it would require a 5% swing for them to lose a quarter, or 40 seats.

Income statistics

I'm always amused by how the newspapers' defintion of 'middle income' is so unlike everyone elses. Come budget time the FT will take about middle-income Britain as those people earning £50,000, or famiiles with incomes of £80,000. Of course this is nonsense -- a household income of £50,000 puts you easily in the top 25% of households, median (i.e middle income) for ALL adults is about £15,000 for men and about £7,000 for women. Median income for women peaks between 20 and 25, with about £10,500 a year, whilst for rmen it peaks at 35 and 44 at about £20,000. The most generous measure, full-time employees, median income is about £20,000 for men, £14,000 for women. Only 1.2m men and 0.2m women earned more than £45k in 2001.

Similarly interesting statistics from the US show that median (i.e middle) income of males aged 15 -65 was $30,951 in 2001 or about £20,000, for all males it was $29,000 with non-hispanic whites on $31,700 and blacks on just $21,000 or about £13,000. These figures are a little dragged down by the young, for those males between 25 and 65 the median looks to be about $35,000.

For all females it's lower still at just $16,614, or about £10,500. This isn't differentiated by race, and obviously is affected by non-working females more than in the case of males, but even hte highest group, the 45-64 year olds median income is only $24,000.

Thus in the US the proportion of males who earn less than $50,000, i.e. much less than £50,000, is 79%, of women it is 89%. Of $75,000 (i.e about £50,000) it rises to 90%. Middle income indeed.

It's all here.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Everyone's linking to this piece on the Conservatives misfortune, so I see no reason not to. It's pretty good although it does overdo it a bit -- if the Conservatives' electorate is not like the electorate as a whole then presumably that is true of the Labour electorate? Anyway what stuck me were the recommendations on how the Tories can win back support.

1.Always try to see ourselves through the votersí eyes.
2.Talk about the issues that matter to voters, (not the issues that weíre most at home with).
3.Use the language of people, not the language of politicians.
4.Tell people what we stand for Ėnot (just) what is wrong with Labour. Unless we give voters new reasons to support us they won't.
5.Remember Tim Bellís rule: Ďif they havenít heard it, you havenít said ití Ėso repetition is vital.
6.Respect modern Britain. If we seem not to like Britain today, the feeling will surely be reciprocated.
7.Donít be shrill or strident Ėthatís not how normal civilised people
8.Remember that whatever we are talking about, the most important message is what we are saying about ourselves.
9.Face the fact that we lost peopleís trust because of how we behave (and sound), as well as what we do.
10.Focus on the voters we have to win, donít preach to the converted.
11.Be disciplined and consistent.

This is almost the polar opposite of what your bog-standard normal Tory activist would want to do, and I imagine will be soundly (shrilly>) rejected by most right-wing bloggers.

Fascinating facts in today's Guardian on the plight of the Tory party

There have been 507 opinion polls published over the past decade, we were told. Of those, the Tories have led in only five - and those were all during the fuel insurrection of late 2000.

In some places they have been rubbed out. In 1983 Conservatives held 99 of 213 metropolitan seats (46% of the total), but by 2001 this was down to 18 of 198 (9%). In 1983 they held 14 seats in Wales, now it's zero. In Scotland in 1983, it was 21 seats, today it's maczip.

The electoral system itself is a disaster for them. To have even a small overall majority would require a 12% swing, but a mere 1% fall in their vote would see them lose a quarter of their seats. Then there is the demography. At the moment, the party is polling third among voters under 35. "What we don't yet know," said Ben Wegg-Prosser, "is whether these young voters will become Tories as they get older." If a lot of them don't, then the Conservative vote will, quite literally, die. So they need to change in a big way, and to embark upon this change soon

Sunday, April 27, 2003

This is of the 'today I washed my hair' style of blogging, but hey-ho.

May 1st is the day I have to start paying 2003/2004 council tax (I overpaid last year so no April payment). It's gone up by 15% to £1671.75, which is almost enough to make me join the Conservative Party, except for the fact that I remember all too well the mess they made of local government finance each time I buy anything with VAT on.

To be fair to Camden, they are the 'Council of the year', so I suppose they need a lot of money. And they collect the bins three times a week. And they've only put it up by about 10%.

But what about the Greater London Authority? They've hiked their share of the bill by about 1000%, and I have no idea why. I thought the congestion charge was raking in money. Or is that different?

All in all I think this sums up the problem with local government finance -- I'll grumble for a few weeks, then set up a direct debit and forget about it when the elections come.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Poll update

Labour are clearly back in front, by 12 points compared with 6 points. This compares closely to Mori's latest using their 'only those certain to vote' measure, which has Labour on 43, the Tories 29, the Lib Dems 21% and a slightly larger other.

Labour 42% (+4)
Conservatives 30% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 21% (-3)
Others 7% (+1)
Lead: 12% (+6

The rest of the poll is quite dull. Only a couple of things stood out -- IDS is more popular with 'C' or 'DE' voters than 'AB' voters and a majority of voters think that Scotland will be independent in 20 years,

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Below I quote two different measures of GDP, the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) measure and the market exchange rates measure. The two measures are essentially the same for the developed economies, but differ quite a lot for developing economies, particularly China and India.

A very quick guide to what they mean. Every country in the world calculates Gross Domestic Product in essentially the same way, by adding up the value of everyone's everyone's value-added (or income or consumption, they should all be the same) and coming to a total figure, taking care not to double count (ie only count the value added by each person, not the total product). Now obviously this will be measured in domestic currency, so you get $12,000 bn for the US, £1,210for the UK, 450,000bn yen for Japan, etc etc.

When comparing internationally the problem is then how to convert these figures into the same unit. The simplest, and most obvious way, is to use market exchange rates and convert them all into US$. So for the UK you take today's exchange rate of $1.57 to £1, and work out that £1210bn is $1,900bn (these are only rough figures).

The problem with this measure is twofold. First it means that large currency movements seem to imply large changes in comparative GDP. For example, when sterling fell out of the exchange rate mechanism it fell by about 20%. This would imply that vis-a-vis Germany and France the UK's economy suddenly got 20% smaller, which is clearly nonsense. More recently, the rise in the pound pushed Britain's economy above that of France, the recent fall threatens to make it once more smaller. Clearly there are ways around this problem, such as taking the average exchange rate for the last 3 years.

More fundamentally exchange rates can get way out of line with 'fundamentals'. When comparing countries' output one is implicitly assuming that prices are generally the same for the same goods. Otherwise the comparision is misleading. Imagine for example that Switzerland produces 100 apples a year and so does Britain, but according to market exchange rates Swiss apples fetch $10 and British ones only $1. That would mean Swiss output was $1000, British $100, even though they have the same output.

In a free-market world this situation shouldn't arise, as Britain would export apples to Switzerland, thus seeing Swiss francs flow out to Britain, and the Swiss exchange rate fall, thus bringing the international price of their apples down. This is known as the 'law of one price', i.e. goods should cost the same all over the world.

However, particularly in the case of developing countries with currencies that are rarely traded, or as in the case with China, where exchange controls and other government intervention prevent market mechanisms working, this situation does not arise. Even with freely floating currencies exchange rates can get out of line as many goods, such as services (e.g. haircuts) are not traded, so even a huge imbalance in price between the UK and Switzerland would be unlikely to be corrected. (For more information see The Economists' Big Mac index).

Anyway, economists have therefore come up with Purchasing Power Parity exchange rates, which simply attempt to find a 'correct' exchange rate between countries to equalise the price of a basket of goods. For reasons outlined above, for developed countries these tend to be similar to market exchange rates, but for developing countries they can be very different. Noticeably both in India and China the price of goods is much cheaper than in (say) the US, and so market exchange rates make them seem poorer than they 'actually' are. Thus on a PPP basis China's GDP is about $6,000 per heard, on a market exchange rates basis it is about $1,000 per head.

Which one is better? It might look as if the PPP one is better, and it does provide a better indication of living standards within a country. When looking at international clout now market exchange rates are probably more useful. After all, imports are paid for in real dollars, not PPP dollars. Over time though PPP might be a better guide to the way things are heading -- one would expect China's exchange rate (if it were freely floating) to rise towards its PPP level as China got richer (note however PPP exchange rates as a guide to exchange rate forecasting are notoriosly inaccurate).

John Howard calls for reform of the Security Council. Bizarrely this involves booting France off (presumably because they didn't agree with him) and leaving the UK one.

One of the saddest sights during the current international crisis has been the right-wing British media following their US counterparts down the 'let's abolish the UN route', seemingly oblivious to the fact that the US will have a veto (legal, practical or whatever) in any new international body that replaces the UN whilst the UK almost certainly won't.

Now it is of course not necessarily the case that there a) needs to be a new body, b) that anysuch new body will need every country in the world as a member and b) any such body will require veto power. I'm not going to argue the case for such a body, but I think world history has shown it helpful, as for membership, if you don't make it universal then you need to decide on criteria, and the difficulties of this tend to take you back to universal membership. On the veto, if the body is to have any power a veto is clearly necessary, otherwise the US won't join.

Which countries deserve a veto?

An important criteria must surely be population. This would go China (1.3bn), India (1bn), the US (.3bn), Indonesia (.2bn), Brazil (.17bn), Russia (.14bn), Pakistan (.14bn), Bangladesh (.13bn), Nigeria (.13bn), Japan (.13bn) in that order.

Economic strength is another. This depends on how you measure it. Fixing the US at $12tr, in PPP terms you have the US ($12tr), China ($7tr), Japan ($4tr), India ($2.7tr), Germany ($2.5tr), France ($1.8tr), the UK ($1.8tr), Italy ($1.7tr), Russia ($1.5tr), Brazil ($1.5tr) and Canada ($1.1tr). In real money terms it's a little different, US ($12tr), Japan ($4.7tr), Germany ($2.6tr), the UK ($1.9tr), France ($1.9tr), Italy ($1.6tr), China ($1.5tr), Canada ($0.9tr), Spain ($0.9tr), Mexico ($0.7tr).

Military spending is another one. This is for 2001, 2003 figures would have the US up in the high $300bns.US 281.4bn, Russia 43.9bn, France 40bn, Japan 38.5bn, UK 37bn, Germany 32bn, China 27bn, Saudi Arabia 27bn, Italy 25bn, Brazil 14bn.

And so on. Ability and willingness to use military force might matter more than military spending, but is hard to measure and is rather self-reinforcing, the UK and France both use military power more than other countries because they are permanent members of the UN security council.

Let's play a game. Try (without cheating) to guess who Peter Cuthbertson is talking about in his latest rant:

"This treacherous fifth columnist is not British ... I am not a very religious person. But like Peter Hitchens, I desperately hope there is a hell, despite my high chances of going there. Such a place deserves to exist precisely for people like X. What a divine feat of cosmic justice it would be if this appeasing monster were truly to be made to pay for his evil"

Monday, April 14, 2003

Poll update

Labour 41%, Tories 29%, Lib Dems 22%, others 8%.

This is from Populous in today's Times. Populous's polls have (much like YouGov) been more volatile than the more traditional firms, but this was a telephone poll, not an internet one.

The Times suggests Tony Blair has had a bounce from the successful military campaign in Iraq. This seems about right, and thus may not be particularly significant for the local elections. According to the BBC Labour aren't even standing that many candidates this time around, a sure sign that things aren't going too well.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Some people questioned my assertion (always a good idea) that US defence spending is 1% of world gdp (both higher or lower) so I did a little chart . The pink line is using $ gdp, the blue one PPP gdp. If that means nothing to you then just choose one or the other. The 1950s and 1960s data involved quite a bit of extrapolating so I wouldn't base life or death decisions on them, but it's pretty accurate otherwise.

Friday, April 11, 2003

A few thoughts on the budget.

The press have reacted angrily, accusing the chancellor of getting his sums wrong. To the most part this appears to represent anger about how little they can really attack Labour for its macro-management of the economy.

Looking back over the last 25 years the most easily defendable claim about the UK economy is that our relative performance compared with other western economies has improved. This is why Gordon Brown can get away with all his comments about how much better off we are than other economies -- this is how you rate the UK economy these days. And certainly he is correct that -- in large part thanks to his economic policy -- we have weathered the global downturn better than most of our trading partners.

Brown has made two good decisions, one deliberately and the other luckily. By design was Brown's decision in 1997 to give the Bank of England independence. As Brown noted, the previous Lamont framework delivered low inflation but not low inflation expecations. Today inflation expectations for the UK are lower than the US or Europe, a remarkable achievement for the inflation prone UK economy, and much to Brown's credit -- no Conservative prime minister ever dared.

More lucky has been his fiscal Keynesianism stepping in to provide growth when the private sector has run out of steam. . It is remarkable how many commentators believe fiscal activism is the correct policy for America, but not for the UK, and believe Brown should cut spending at this difficult time. Has nothing been learnt from the last century? It's not as if Britain has a debt problem (well at least a public sector debt proble), despite the furore over his rising borrowing forecasts. Even if they prove too optimistic it is testament to Labour's restraint between 1997 and 2001 that the outlook for the UK public finances is so secure. A return to the banana-republic deficits of the Major years seem unlikely.

Indeed what is remarkable about the past 25 years of British economy policy was how bad macro-policy was for much of that time. If you were to rate the Conservatives' economic policy you would give a B- to their micro-policy (good, but poor education & skills achievement and probably too dependent on foreign investment), but a D or worse to their macro-policy. From monetary targeting, to exchange rate targeting, it was all over the place and failed either to tame inflation or unemployment. By the time Thatcher left office inflation was almost 11%, by the time Major left office unemployment was still way over 2m. Brown has managed to achieve both low unemployment and low inflation.

Where Brown does deserve criticism is his micro-management of the economy. Here every budget seems to bring new credits, taxes, vouchers etc, without any tangible benefit. UK productivity growth remains lower than most of its economic partners. Of course much of that is the flip-side of high employment growth, and its arguable that a high employment, low productivity economy is preferable to the reverse (ie France). However given the time and effort Brown has invested in increasing productivity for such little result clearly a rethink is in order.

Thanks to my friend James for pointing me in the right direction, but it's a good one.

Stephen Pollard in today's Independent notes in an article on NHS spending that;

'In other words, spending on the NHS will then amount to 0.35 per cent of the entire planet's measurable GDP. That Mr Brown considers it desirable, or even possible, for one man to sit at a desk in Whitehall and be responsible for assigning 0.35% of world GDP is almost beyond belief. '

Is this the same Stephen Pollard who revels in his role as neo-Conservative, and who belives it is desirable and possible for Donald Rumsfeld (who he refers to as 'the great man') to sit at his desk at the Pentagon and assign its budget of just under 1% of the entire planet's measurable GDP?

Quick thought. If the Americans and British fail to find any WMD in Iraq, or the ones they do find are as real as the Iraqi purchased of uranium from Niger , surely that will be pretty disastrous politically for Tony Blair, and pretty good for IDS? The Quiet Man can truthfully say that he has to go on the intelligence the PM tells him, and therefore loyally supported him in what, for the Iraqi people, was a successful war.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

I meant to post this yesterday but was too ill. As I am still off work ill it will be rather indulgent in length.

Admist the fall of Baghdad (ok...I got it wrong on the timing) and the budget it's perhaps not surprising that no-one remembered it was the 11th anniversary of John Major's 1992 general election win. I remember the day very well -- I had my driving test in the morning. It was (at least in Cambridge) a beautiful sunny day, a fact that many commentators later attributed to Major's surprise win -- it just seemed too nice a day to vote that nice Mr Major out of office.

The election campaign was easily the most exciting of the four I can remember well, simply because it was the only one where the result hadn't been know for months. Indeed during the last week it looked most likely that Labour would win, their campaign was slicker, the opinion polls tended to put them ahead, and the Tories were finding it hard to agree on a common post-Thatcher view of the world.

Yet if not obvious at the time, in hindsight there were signs that Labour had blown it. The impact of the Sheffield rally is played up by ex-Labour cabinet ministers, and played down by professional polling experts, but I for one remember vividly the news beginning with Neil Kinnock shouting what sounded like 'Well, Roy...well, Roy' as if he couldn't find Roy Hattersley in that huge arena (it later was revealed he was actually shouting 'We're alright'). That clip has been shown repeatedly, but it wasn't a one-off -- earlier in the campaign when Kinnock was asked how it was going he noted 'We're strutting'. Not a good idea.

The John Smith (hang on...I forgot the obligatory tears at his name) budget is now seen as the main culprit for the Labour defeat, but at the time it didn't. I lived in the safest Conservative seat in the country and no-one seemed that concerned about it -- the famous Conservative 'double whammy' posters I remember being seen more as a part of the rough & tumble of campaigning, not actually an accurate forecast of what a Labour government would be like.

Overall at the time it seemed the Conservatives had won for two reasons. First, the electorate didn't particularly like Neil Kinnock, especially in Conservative marginals. Second, Conservatives still enjoyed a post-Thatcher, post-Gulf war boost and the electorate felt the new government needed more time to prove itself.

John Major's reputation is nowadays in tatters, but it shouldn't be forgotten just how bad a situation he inherited. Much is made of how quickly his government lost public support after the 1992 election, but a similar situation happened with the Thatcher government of 1987. The story is pretty simple, two things went wrong. Most important was the poll tax. Accounts I read now of the late 1980s fail to recreate just how important, day-to-day, the poll tax became as a political issue, defining the third Thatcher term like no other (incidentally one of the best books on not just the poll tax but the whole British political system is David Butler's 'Failure in British Government: The politics of the poll tax. It's out of print but should be in any good library. I only wish Tony Blair had read it). What accounts also fail to make clear is how much the poll tax was a Cabinet and party policy, not Mrs Thatcher's alone. Certainly the damage it did to party's poll standing was clear, in fact the 30-32% the party is stuck on today first appeared in 1989 when poll-tax fever was at its height.

The second issue was the economy, where a combination of tax cuts and far to loose monetary policy had created a familiar British story of excess demand, at the time manifesting itself in the form of higher inflation and a huge trade deficit. Nowadays the true-believers argue that it was all Lucky Lawson's fault for not letting the pound rise, but that was never seriously contested at the time given the Tories desire to avoid a repeat of the high-pound induced 1980s recession.

These two errors resulted in our membership of the ERM. By 1990 external confidence in Britain had collapsed due to the huge drop in the Conservatives' support, riots in central London and the failing economy. The issue now was a weak pound exacerbating soaring inflation (the economy didn't tank until later -- when Thatcher left office inflation was at 10.9% but unemployment was about 1.6m I think, which was good for her), hence interest rates were jacked up to 15%. This was further eroding the Tories support, and given Thatcher's belief in four yearly elections, she only had about a year to turn it around. Howe and Major told Thatcher that the only way in which interest rates could come down would be if the pound strengthened, and the only way this could be achieved was to talk up the prospects of ERM entry at a rate higher than the current rate. This was done and indeed the pound strengthened. Of course the big problem was you can't keep talking it up without actually joining the ERM. Again Thatcher was told that the credibility this gave to the pound would allow rates to be cut, and so facing a leadership challenge (not announced but inevitable given Sir Anthony Meyer's challenge a year earlier) she agreed to join. Interest rates were duly cut by 1%, but of course it was not enough to save her premiership the following month.

Clearly there's an element of 'so what' about all this, but I think as this gulf war ends, and attention will return to domestic politics it is helpful to be reminded of what has happened before. The problem I have is I can't remember much about the year and half between Thatcher's fall and Major's win. I do remember the discussion about what would replace the Poll tax, and the almost inevitably of it being a property tax with the only question how much of a single person advantage the Thatcherites could keep. Other than the gulf war the only other thing I recall was the day-to-day monitoring of the exchange rate, and constant concern that it would remain within its ERM band.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Looking at some of the recent polls about non-war issues a few things stand out. First, Gordon Brown remains very popular -- one poll gave him a 63% for, 29% against approval rating, far higher than the PM. Second, the Lib Dems have had a bad war, Labour a good war. The YouGov poll for March 26th, Labour 40%, Cons 33%, Lib Dems 20%, compaed with the same poll for Feb 25-26, Lab 35%, Cons 31%, Libs 26%.

I very rarely follow Scottish politics, especially since devolution. However obviously they can impact on British politics through, among other things, Scotland's (overhefty) allocation of seats in UK general elections. Hence I was amazed by an article in the not-prone-to-hysteria Financial Times which opened with this:

"The Scottish Nationalists have overtaken Labour in opinion polls north of the border for the first time ever, raising the possibility of full independence for Scotland within the next four years.Two opinion polls carried out since Friday have put the SNP narrowly ahead of Labour in campaigning for the Scottish election on May 1. John Swinney, SNP leader, has promised a referendum on independence within two years if his party wins power."

Now I'm not sure how seriously to take all this. Scottish independence is a bit like nuclear fusion, always about to happen but actually never does. However if this is right then some obvious questions come to mind: would the Scots vote yes? do the English & Welsh have a say? what would it mean for Northern Ireland? What would it mean for Labour in a UK general election (bad is the answer there)? what would it mean for Britain (down to the world's sixth biggest economy for a start)? What would it mean for the euro in Britain?

Monday, April 07, 2003

There's some really good stuff on the blogosphere this morning concerning the war? Normally I would try to comment on each article but basically they're all on Kevin Drum's site so read it all, especially are US soldiers wearing civilian clothes to attack Iraqi positions?, and why is David Blunkett going on about the possibility of not finding WMD in Iraq?.

Of all the problems the current UK assualt on Iraq will cause this country in the longer-term, possibly the greatest is the end it signifies to our having any semblance of an independent foreign policy. This could hit home sooner than we think if the hawks in the US get their war and take the War on Terror to Syria, Iran, Saudia Arabia or Egypt (see below).

Say (and here 90% of the Conservative party, most of the right-wing media, and almost all right-wing UK bloggers will get very confused) our foreign policy goals are not EXACTLY the same as the US? Would there be anyway in which we could dissuade the 'Old' Adminstration, Cheney and Rumsfeld, from attacking these countries? Make them go to the UN Security Council? Not a chance. We've clearly stated we don't believe that is necessary to invade another country. Form an alliance with France and Germany? Not a chance. We've clearly dismissed their opposition to the Iraq invasion and self-serving and short-term.

In short, the derogation of UK foreign policy to the Bush administration has left us estranged from much of the foreign policy tools and allies which we have called upon, with great success, throughout the second half of the twentieth century. While our foreign policy aims are the same as those of the US (which arguably they were in Iraq) this will only cause minor problems. Once they diverge...

Friday, April 04, 2003

Could Egypt be the next destination on the War Against Terror? I genuinely didn't expect that one.

1030: British Prime Minister Tony Blair writes a letter to the Iraqi people pledging that post-Saddam Iraq will be run by Iraqis and that UK troops "will not stay a day longer than necessary".

Is this anything like his letter to David Trimble during the Good Friday negotiations? Iraqi people be very afraid...

Very slowly, in between impersonating a Reuters terminal and working, I am adding a links list. So far there are only 3 -- the Virtua Stoa because I like it and Chris Brooke kindly gave me the code for the links page, Brad De Long because his blog was the first I ever really looked at, back in the days when it wasn't even a blog (his home page used to get updated daily, so if it looks like a blog and acts like a blog...) and DSquared because it's very funny and as a small payment for the wondeful SSDB.

Sorry this is turning into some god awful lets-impersonate-a-Reuters-terminal-blog. But I thought this story was quite touching -- the Royal Marines losing at football to an Iraqi team. Whatever the merits of the US and UK armed forces (and it seems that in engaging the locals without using F16s we are somewhat better), you can't really imagine a local Iraqi team playing US football, can you?

Jacques Chirac has apologised to The Queen over the graffiti on British war graves.

"The president said he was "appalled and deeply shocked " and said the "defacement" was both unacceptable and shameful."

John Reid replaces Robin Cook as leader of the House of Commons. Interestingly the BBC speculates that John Denham, who quit his job in charge of homeland defence over the invasion of Iraq, might just be given the job again once victory is secured.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Jack Straw says the UK will not attack Syria or Iran. Prepare for cries of anguish from pro-war bloggers.

The Administration of George W Bush has failed in so many areas that one often forgets some of the more obvious disasters. One of the most obvious is the federal budget position, which almost every reputable economist agrees has been ruined by Bush's excessive tax cuts. The ever-expert Paul Krugman comes up with the definitive numbers.