Monday, October 31, 2005

Sense of the great British public

The Great British Public have once again shown their true sense in political decisions, at least according to a Mori poll, which shows they aren't too keen on spending £500 each on a Trident replacement (which is, as Anthony Wells says, at the upper end of the cost projections, but when have defence projects come in on budget?), and they aren't took keen on using nuclear weapons even if fired upon.

Will the Metropolitan Elite listen? I very much doubt it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Monstrous bosses

This is rather unpleasant.

Taxiing Issues

I got a black cab last night and it had a TV set in it! You can't get broadcast TV but it had clips of the Office, news stories, holiday programmes etc, and not much advertising (though it appear, obvioously, that is one of the ideas). It was quite good, nothing like those appalling TVs in London buses. We truly live in a golden age.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Taxing issues

As readers will be aware this blog yields to no man in its admiration of David Davis, and the hope that he will triumph against Charlie Cameron.

The Telegraph made me laugh though.

The Davis team is trying to capitalise on what it feels is Mr Cameron's vagueness on tax policy


Good idea. Don't want Vagueness. What will Decent Dave do that Dodgy Dave won't?

Mr Davis, whose pledge would commit his party to "spend wisely, cut taxes, generate growth", raises the prospect of slashing the basic rate of income tax by eight pence to 14 pence in the pound. Alternatively, the cuts could be shared out by allowing inheritance tax, stamp duty and capital gains tax to be abolished completely.


Well you can't say he's vague, can you? To be honest this sounds like a Telegraph wish list rather than anything DD would really do. What happened to reducing borrowing?

I suppose we should be grateful that unlike the two millionaires, he's not planning a middle-class destroying flat tax.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Workplace smoking ban

The government has announced its plan for a smoking ban in workplaces, and there's a reasonable debate on Harry's Place about it.

The government's compromise, which is to exempt pubs that don't serve food, is clearly silly, as it is completely at odds with their own rationale for the ban, which is to protect the health of pub staff.

It's obvious (and the government is basically saying) that it is just a short-term political fix, with the idea that once the public are used to and happy with the ban, it will be extended to all pubs.

The enforcement of the ban seems odd. Patricia Hewitt today said that the Police will be empowered to issue on the spot fines. Well we'll see, but surely it would have been better to make it a condition of the licence, and thus the licence holder's responsibility? In fact I'd have thought that must be the case too.

On whether it's a good idea, I am in two minds. That pubs are workplaces is a strong argument, as I support a workplace ban. However the civil liberties argument, which basically is that if adults want to go and smoke indoors with other adults whilst drinking, they should be allowed to, is also persuasive. However there are a host of legal regulations already governing that, for instance what times you can drink.

Indeed rather fascinatingly you will now be able to drink, but not smoke, in a pub between 11am and 11pm, and then smoke, but not drink, between 11pm and 11am.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bloggy donations

Various bloggers from time to time attempt to offset the costs of blogging by asking for donations from readers, which seems a sensible thing to do. Does anyone know what the tax situation would be with respect to these gifts?

ps Ross, Dan, Anthony, Peter & Richard, don't worry I am not about to start.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hitler/Saddam

I'm genuinely not sure if David Aaronovitch actually realises there were trials of Nazi leaders after world war II (represented by US and British barristers), some of whom didn't accept the authority of the court, others who argued that the Russians and Stalin's judge were hardly well-placed to try anyone, and even that one of the counts against the leaders who have indicted Churchill. Anyway read it all, I suppose.

It's not clear what he is trying to say really. Hitler committed suicide, I suppose he's aware of that, in May 1945. If he hadn't have however it's likely he would have been tried, much like his on-off Deputy Herman Goering was, in 1946, by a specially convened court under the jurisdiction of the Allies, rather than the German people, as is (replacing German with Iraqi) the case with Saddam. Such a court is I think what the people Aaro is trying to have a go at have argued for, which rather means his attempt at historical comparison is the wrong way around. But as I said I'm not sure if he knows what actually happened.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Davis camp alleges dirty tricks.

The campaign hots up, with Michael Howard's office now being blamed for the story that Davis might quit before the party members vote, and the press and BBC blamed for boosting Cameron too much (incidentally a few week's ago the BBC were being blamed for trying to get Ken Clarke elected; boosting Cameron would be an odd way to go about it).

Intolerance

The Times has been supporting David Cameron since the off, and its editorial in May makes interesting reading. Given it's now been five months, and there must have been corrections suggested, I'm wondering whether it actually did mean 'intolerant' here:

The successor must be able to articulate the need for tax cuts, and yet to appear intolerant on issues such as immigration.


Also, it's come to my attention that David Cameron was not an MP for most of April...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cameron cures cancer; announces free ponies

Well it's possible. He's already seen off Gordon Brown!

New Iraq poll - 45% support attacks on British troops; 1% believe forces responsible for improvement in security

In today's Telegraph:

Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lack of awareness moment

Scott Burgess in a post titled:

Unsupported Assertions, Unabashed Spin, Unmitigated Nonsense

It is, of course, a central tenet of the liberal mentality that those who commit crimes should be understood rather than punished.


Hilarious!

David Cameron

Not on drugs this time, but his views on Iraq. Chris Brooke does some excellent sleuthing, and can't explain why he is now so hawkish.

Friday, October 21, 2005

PCRS XIXI - It's David for me!

Many people have been asking me, "Who will you be voting for in the Conservative leadership election". My answer is always the same, "David". Let me totally clear on this, I am a David man. Nothing will change my mind. I support David, and have always supported David.

Why? Let me explain. There are those who say that he lacks of experience. I say how wrong can you be! David has been a minister under John Major, a leading shadow cabinet figure since we've been out of power, and has a wealth of experience as an MP since 1987! Let me repeat that, 1987!.

Then there are those who say he lacks charisma. They weren't in the conference hall in Blackpool when David when that fantastic speech, without notes! It was a moving occasion, showing David's natural rapport with the media.

Others criticise David's posh background. I say, who are you talking about? David grew up a council estate and was in the SAS. Then there are those who say he is just another in a long list of leaders who failed to see we needed change. I say David is the epitome of a modernising Conservative, with his trendy London friends.

Then there is the issue of drugs. David couldn't be clearer, insisting that no-one who has taken drugs recently could be Conservative leader. He's also been admirable in his refusal to bow to press demands.

What about his mandate from the MPs? David got 146 votes, nearly 3/4 of the parliamentary party. What more mandate do you need? I forecast now that David will win the ballot of the party members.

Indeed so impressive is David as a candidate that it's almost like having two of them. And with that, who can doubt it's time to go back to your constituencies and prepare for government.

Friday Rant

When you're on a tube train and the driver announces that instead of going through as a Circle Line it is going to terminate at Edgware Road as a District Line would, why do some people feel the need to 'tut' very loudly? We're all annoyed, we all know we're all annoyed. Now you're making us more annoyed. Stop it. If you want to vent your anger, get a blog. Worse still, often a loud enough 'tut' will set off other people in a kind of 'Mexican Tut' throughout the carriage.

I suspect those that do this are the same people who, when in the theatre, delight at making incredibly loud 'shushing' noises if one poor person has just whispered to their friend something, so loud that the 'shushing' drowns out the sound of the actors.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Davis still in it

So Cameron won the second round with 90, Davis second on 57 and Fox last on 51. This means Davis lost 5 votes, Fox gained 9, and Cameron gained 34.

Cameron therefore did very well, it looks like of Clarke's 38 votes he got almost all of them and with it by far the best total ever in this leadership style contest.

Davis, unless he decides to quit, appears to have done enough to make a ballot of the members not a walkover. Cameron didn't get half of the votes and indeed if there was a next ballot of MPs and all of Fox's votes transferred to Davis he would win.

Of course there isn't a next ballot of MPs, so it's now up to the blue-rinse brigade. One has to assume they'll go for Cameron unless something happens.

Congratulations to Ross, with his comment-box prediction of 81/65/52, almost spot on with Fox and not to far off for the others, and so he wins the prediction contest and thus the copy of the ginger maestro's "Stars" album.

More Tory election

There's a new YouGov poll in the D.Telegraph of Conservative party members which shows Cameron has an overwhelming lead. It also shows that the drug allegations are widely believe to be by the Davis camp, or that Davis has deliberatedly not distanced himself from that, and that this has widely rebounded on Davis.

There's a slightly interesting quirk in the voting that if Fox faced Davis in the run-off he would win, but Davis scores better against Cameron. Anyway it's Cameron all the way.

I think my concerns are similar to Jamie's, which is that Cameron is basically a media-figure, he's worked in the media, he has a lot of friends in the media, and his rise has been essentially media driven. So if things go wrong, and clearly this could be policy-driven or personally-driven (or photographically-driven), his descent could be as rapid.

On the subject of drugs, I don't really understand why the press haven't asked him questions about his view on the issues as a matter of public policy, for example "Do you believe jail terms should be given to middle-class users of Class-A". This surely would be harder to refuse to answer? Also, the poll asks about use as a 'student'. This seems quite specific, given the man worked for years in the meejda.

Update: David Davis has now said he won't discuss even drugs policy for the rest of the campaign. What a decent man. Of course his supporters are a liberty to do what they want. I was wondering, if Cameron does become leader, will any MPs resign the party whip? Surely Andrew Rosindell, who demanded Kate Moss be sacked as "It gives teenagers completely the wrong impression when someone who they look up to is caught taking hard drugs and is able to carry on regardless", and "zero toleranace", could not carry on?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cameron leader on Friday

If Cameron beats Davis into a distant second place (with Fox in third) it looks possible that Davis may stand aside, and allow the party to do another Michael Howard-style coronation.

This is clever stuff. If the members won't let you change the rules, ignore them. Hopefully Cameron will agree to do the same in the unlikely event he doesn't come first.

More Nick Cohen in 2001!

...If alleged rogue states need to be controlled, they can only be controlled by international agreement between regional powers, as Iraq was before American arrogance alienated Russia, China and much of the Middle East. Bush is destroying international agreements and pushing potential rivals who fear American military dominance of the planet through the militarisation of space into a new and unnecessary nuclear race...

...The British political class adores America. Like a sad old man who fears his young wife will seek her pleasures elsewhere, our élite will give the United States whatever she wants if she will only massage the fragile national ego...

...If Britain had a fair voting system… No sooner was the question out, than the hall realised Britain doesn't have PR and relaxed...

Ken Clarke

If history repeats itself the Tory party will dump Cameron and come calling for Ken Clarke on the 30th January 2008.

Cameron campaign derailed by new allegations

The BBC is reporting that Sir Malcolm Rifkind plans to support David Cameron in the next round of the Tory leadership election.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Meal after meal

A friend of mine has just been to a dinner at one of the Livery company halls in the City and had a three course meal (starter, main, then dessert) then got served mini scotch pancakes with bacon and friend quail's egg. Then coffee and chocolates.

Has anyone ever heard the like? What's this course called?

The winner is the loser

Unless Davis is right in his claims of 'tactical voting', it appears likely to me that having failed to even get his public supporters to vote for him, his support will now collapse, and we're going to get Fox v Cameron. Cameron will have the momentum, but Fox will have the head-banging credentials.

Incidentally why does the Tory party not just have one round, with the top two going through? I read the system was designed to stop Ken Clarke in his heyday, I don't really see why having more rounds would do that.

ps Incidentally as we here how good a leader this man or that man will be, it is worth remember the Telegraph's words on the election of IDS, which sound eerily similar to the things Tories are saying today:

Closely in touch with his colleagues in the House of Commons ...Although it helped Mr Duncan Smith to have the backing of Lady Thatcher during his campaign, he will find that he is the first of her successors not to have to define his leadership by being either for or against her...Substance and seriousness will be more in demand, and Iain Duncan Smith has both


It's also worth remembering what happened in 2001. Here were the results on the first ballot:

Michael Portillo: 49
Iain Duncan Smith: 39
Kenneth Clarke: 36
Michael Ancram: 21
David Davis: 21

The important point here being that Portillo won, but nowhere near as much as was expected, and IDS did much better. The tie between Ancram and Davis rather comically was not forseen in the rules, and a recount was held, which remarkably saw both Ancram and Davis go because they both scored so pitifully. In the second ballet Portillo managed to come last (Clarke won), widely believed to be because some of his supporters backed Clarke to ensure he made the run-off (which then Portillo would easily win).

Monday, October 17, 2005

David Cameron did not crack

Well that'll be a relief to his campaign team, though whilst advising Norman Lamont I think he could have been excused anything:

Alice Thomson, a close friend and holiday companion, wrote in her Daily Telegraph column: “He did not crack when advising Norman Lamont during the exchange-rate mechanism [ERM] debacle.”

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Micheal J Totten is not a spy

Spread the word.

His trip to Lebanon appears to be stumbling under these untrue allegations, which is making the country look "barking mad":

How about all my Lebanese readers tell their friends and family that accusing every foreigner they see of being a spy is only funny the first 29 or 30 times that it happens. After that it’s stupid. After that it’s offensive. After that it makes your country look barking mad.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Associated Newspapers

According to Political Betting via The Guardian, (and I've heard it from an even more reliable source) the Associated Newspaper group are straining every sinew to do David Cameron in this Sunday.

I have little expectation, but I hope Conservatives who in the past have been staunch supporters of the Daily Mail, and indeed Cameron himself, remember this behaviour in years to come and indeed, learn from Stanley Baldwin, who in Ross McKibben's words, did: "never take any notice of the Daily Mail and, when stuck, publicly abuse its owner"

Update: One supposes the Davis camp is behind much of this, with David Davis today oddly saying that any "recent" users can't be PM. I guess we'll find out why he said that, but it's not something you can take back, so if all these hints are true presumably this statement rules him out of any Shadow Cabinet position under Cameron.

Gerard Baker is shrill

Gerard Baker, a slighty right-wing Times columnist who has spent much of his time there defending Bush, now sounds rather shrill:

And yet, the Trouble with Harriet is much larger than any of this. It is not just that she is so obviously unfit to hold the office of associate justice of the US Supreme Court, though she is certainly that. It is the simple, depressing lack of seriousness demonstrated by the White House in coming up with such a candidate, the sheer cramped and occluded smallness of the thinking that now seems to characterise the Bush Administration’s approach to governing. It is hard to overstate the mood of demoralisation among conservatives in America. The rising tide of disillusionment is ready to break the dam of loyalty.



Of course he still defends the vision, and indeed parrots the standard line from the Bushies/Decents that if the theory was good enough, the disastrous reality can be forgiven:

The grisly ineptitude of the conduct of US policy in Iraq has been forgivable — just — because the cause was right and the vision, a democratic Middle East that shakes off centuries of despotic decay, remains an inspiring one. The cavalier attitude towards the public finances reflected a disturbing callowness but could still be tolerated as a messy outcome of awkward political realities. In both cases, soaring idealism in concept has been undermined by woeful execution.


but I suspect it's only a matter of time before he gives up on that too.

Ian Gilmour on the Tory leadership election

Did The Times really support IDS with quotes about Archer?

1980s nostalgia

The Ft's coverage of Mrs Thatcher's 80th birthday bash annoyed me.

First:

...the guest list certainly had a whiff of 1980s revivalism about it. Among those invited were Rupert Murdoch...


Oh yes, Murdoch. Whatever happened to him?

Then, and this isn't the FT's fault, this absurd Michael Howard birthday greetings:

"What Churchill did in wartime, Margaret Thatcher did in peacetime. Her political will and her iron courage saw off threats to our way of life that Britain faced in 1979."


Why the silly reference to Churchill? If you believe Mrs Thatcher's premiership was fantastic, say so, and on its own terms, not by comparision with something 60 years ago. If I was Mrs Thatcher I would have found that irritating.

Finally, a quote from bloody Sinjan Forsley, or however you spell it.
Why? Why?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Is Mr Snuffles dead?

Regular readers of this site will know there is no celebrity figure in Britain I dislike more than Andrew Marr (with the obvious except of David 'Bablylon' Grey). Nevertheless credit where it is due, it appears he may have got over his period of madness, in which he pretended to one million people a day (at least) that he was his children's guinea pig called Mr Snuffles, and is back writing a column. It's not a good column, but it's a column nonetheless.

Oliver's finest

I've not read any Noam Chomsky, so I've also never read any of Oliver Kamm's posts on him. However today's caught my eye as it is called 'Chomsky's Finest', and is about an interview [sound clip] in which Chomsky talks about the 2004 Presidential election.

Listening to it I'm not sure I accept Oliver's description of it, but more worrying is this analysis. Oliver quotes Chomsky:

The most prestigious institutions that monitor public opinion came out with extensive studies related to the election. Right before the election, this October


and says:

Needless to say, Chomsky does not divulge the identity of the prestigious institutions that made this remarkable discovery, which remains a closely-guarded secret


which is weird, as I heard quite clearly Chomsky give the two names of the organisations in answer to a question asking for them, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and Programme of International Policy Attitudes.

I make no claims about the quality or reputation of either institute, but Chomsky clearly said them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Don't pay 40p for Nick Cohen's Standard column; read it free online

With Harry gone, Nick's reduced to recycling 13-month old columns.

Nick Cohen, New Statesman, August 2004
"Why it's right to hate traffic wardens"

In its small way, what has happened in Islington shows why "broken windows" theory is a nonsense. English policing used to be as much about order as law. Discretion was applied and trouble was avoided by the police moving people on rather than applying the law to the letter. There were quiet words rather than arrests, and extenuating circumstances were taken into account.



Nick Cohen, Evening Standard, October 2005
"Counting the cost of traffic tyrants"

Dull-witted conservatives say we want zero-tolerance policing. Well we've got zero-tolerance traffic policing [in Islington] and no-one likes it. English policing was once as much about order as law. Discretion was applied and extenuating circumstances were taken into account.


I particularly like the way he's changed some key phrases, e.g "broken windows" with "zero-tolerance policing" to make it seem different.

Betfair

I've not had a good relationship with Betfair, losing every bet I've ever placed. I could have got out of a bet on Blair resigning (due to his 'family problems') with a profit, but I held on actually for him to resign, and the selfish man didn't. On the General Election I managed to place bets on two things that were almost impossible to happen together, which was the Tories get more than 210 seats but not get some London marginals, but not impossible for them not to happen together, so I lost both.

Anyway the current odds on the Tory leadership election are:

Cameron 1.7
Davis 3.4
Fox 8.8
Clarke 10.5
Hague 170

Fox is the best value at 8.8, I think.

Could it happen?

Liam Fox appears to be moving into a comfortable 3rd place (though in these contests, with a secret ballot, MPs are often lying) with a non-formal endorsement from a right-wing grouping I've never heard of it.

That will mean David, David and Liam will go into the next round, where presumably the right-wing vote could go to Fox if David's campaign is considered irrevocably punctured. That would leave the party members voting on David or Liam, and though the membership aren't as right-wing as you would believe, they do like a bit of Europe bashing and Cameron only does that to a degree.

So Fox it is! Years of fun ahead.

Who is going to be your Shadow Chancellor?

I've followed the Tory leadership election probably a tad more than the average person, but two tads less than the average blogger. So I could be wrong when I say that none of the candidates appear to have said who'll be in their Shadow Cabinet. In American politics a lot of attention is paid to the choice of Vice-President, even if in reality it matters only sometimes. A parliamentary system is not the same as a Presidential one, and in a party of less than 200 MPs clearly there is not a great deal of uncertainty over who will fill the positions, if not perhaps the specific positions.

But any ideas? Presumably George Osbourne will be David Cameron's Chancellor*, though if he's got any sense above that silver spoon of his he'll look over the Despatch Box and choose someone less ambitious. But Ken Clarke's? Or David Davis's? Will they give Cameron a job? And where does John Redwood fit in?

* Politically however one wonders how this would play. Two very rich and privileged (Osbourne in particular) 30-somethings thinking of introducing a tax that benefits the rich and privileged at the expense of the 90% of the population strikes me as a bit of a disaster.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Trends

Richard Tomkins in the FT notes that the growing belief that cancer is becoming more common is at odds with the facts, similarly the view that more people are self-employed than they used to be. He suggests this is a general trend:

My small thought on this is that humans have a natural tendency to believe that phenomena of all kinds are increasing because, from the individual’s own perspective, they are. When you are very young you will probably never have seen or heard of anyone being afflicted with cancer but as your life progresses, you accumulate a growing number of such experiences, leading you to suppose that cancer itself is occurring more often. When you first get a job you will probably never have met anyone who has been laid off and had to become a free agent, but as your career progresses you meet more and more such people, leading you to suppose they are part of a growing trend.


The classic case of this is crime, he says. The longer you live, the more you are likely to have been a victim of crime, or know someone else who is. So you find it harder to believe crime rates are falling.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Camden stuff

"Shake it! Feel the rhythm pulse through Black History Month", screams "CamdenLiving", the local borough's free monthly newspaper (their embolding).

Elsewhere they have an interview with Simon Mayo. About his wedding night.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sunday rants

Three things we (see point 2) feel the world needs to know.

1. Bus stop maps. Where have they gone? They've stopped putting local area maps on the windows of the shelter. These were always very useful to know where you were. Now they just have diagrammatic maps of bus routes, which don't really work in my experience.

2. Mirrors in clothes shops outside of the changing rooms. Where have they gone? This is BG's complaint btw, not mine.

and a less ranty one:

3. Went to the Tesco's Wine Fair on Saturday (at Lords, £10, all you can drink). Spanish wines from Toro, seem good value and nice. For example here and in Tesco's, obviously. That's as much as I can remember.

Stephen Pollard

It's always risky on a blog to take the intellectual high ground, and if you're Stephen Pollard even more so. He attacks, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, using his delightful and witty nickname "Yazzmonster":

Talking about Blair's dertermination [sic] to remain PM, she came out with this piece of insight:

Not since Thatcher have I come across a politician so committed to their legacy.

Er, yes, Yasmin. There's only been one other PM. Startling insight.


This says much about Pollard. He cannot conceive of a politician other than the PM. He cannot conceive of politicians in other countries.

Labour forever?

Niall Ferguson writes a column in the Sunday Telegraph in which I think he was told to 'think big', and by-and-large he succeeds. Today he suggests that the Labour party may be in power for a generation.

He first notes that around the world one-party rule for decades is not uncommon, classically Japan, but also Germany, Sweden, Israel, Italy and even for periods in the US (Congress was Democrat for most of post-war era) and the UK.

Obviously there are many counter-examples, and you can take or leave the data really. More interesting to me was his suggestions why it may be so for Labour in Britain. He gives four reasons, the first three specific to Britain:

1. The end of the cold war means defence is less of an issue.
2. Increasingly liberal social behaviour
3. Increasingly urbanisation.

All three are debatable, in the extent they matter and whether they really benefit Labour. The fourth point however is more general, and that's to do with the economy. Since 1990 economic volatility in all western countries has declined, at least in terms of GDP growth or employment. Furthermore people are more inclined to blame external factors, of the Bank of England, than the government, when things go wrong.

In other words governments really have to muck up to lose power. It's a good argument, though again clearly you can argue with some of the points. For instance we don't really know if people will blame the Bank of England for a recession, as there's not been one since it was made independent. Economic variability was just as low in the 1950s and 1960s (though it is true there was a long period of one-party rule).

Finally, I remember arguments that the Tory party would be in power for a generation in 1992.

Terrorism in France

Nick Cohen's latest column is almost the polar opposite of his famous 2001 column, in which he told us that:

Blair has turned himself from British Prime Minister to American ambassador and willingly accepted exhaustion and humiliation as he tours the world on the President's behalf. He has ordered British troops to stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with the US military. He has - and there's no point being prissy about this - pinned a large target sign on this country.


About the only point in common between the two columns is that its "liberals" to blame. Then they were to blame for refusing to accept the link between their actions and terrorism. Now they're to blame for making a link.

The weirdest thing about the new column is the argument about the risk of France being a victim of Islamic terrorism. France? Paris? Surely not? Who'd have thought it?

So why is Cohen ranting on about this now? I suspect he is positioning himself, in the realisation of a bomb on the Metro, so he can say that "liberals" said it couldn't happen, and therefore declare all their views are discredited. He'll probably add that the French government must be embarassed that their opposition to the war in Iraq didn't save them. And so on.

Flat taxes

I've been labelling the flat tax the 'middle class' tax. But perhaps instead it should just be called the '90% tax', as that's the estimate of Lombard Street Research on how many taxpayers would be worse off if it kept the same revenue.

Cameron surges

Sunday Times has a poll of Tory members which show massive support for David Cameron. This could be fun.

The Telegraph says Cameron is so confident he is planning his first 100 days. Lots of really earnest brow-furrowing, I guess.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

In the newspapers

The Guardian, presumably somewhat mischeviously, has been talking up Liam Fox's candidature, here, and here (and elsewhere).

I think there's an element of let's have another IDS about this, though personally I think Fox would be a worse leader than IDS, a worse leader than Michael Howard, and even a worse leader than William Hague. My own choice, for what its worth, would have to be David Davis.

In the Telegraph Boris Johnson waxes lyrical about David Cameron, and as usual talks a lot of piffle.

But the Tories must never forget that millions of people are looking to them to save them from the depredations of the taxman - and those millions are by no means the richest in society, but the very poorest who pay grotesque proportions of their income in tax.


This is clearly rubbish. It is true that the poorest pay more in tax that I would like, but they do not by and large pay "grotesque" proportions of their income in tax, particularly not the taxes Johnson means, which are income taxes. Johnson believes they pay large amounts in income tax because either a) he was fooled by a roadsweeper into believing said roadsweeper paid about four times more tax than he actually did, b) he met a roadsweeper who was paying four times more tax than he should or c) he decided, before the general election, to invent the figures. He himself says it is b), which makes you wonder why he didn't offer to help the poor man pay the correct figure.

It is also true that the very poorest often face high marginal rates of taxation. This is an inevitable feature of a minimum income guarantee that doesn't cost tens of billiohns. However high marginal rates of taxation are a very different thing than paying 'grotesque proportions of their income in tax'.

And indeed a flat tax, at least in the form proposed by most right-wing groups, would reduce the income tax paid by the very poorest. It's a tiny amount however, probably about £350 per household if it removed income tax altogether from the poorest quintile. It would more importantly reduce the income tax paid by the very richest by an enormous amount, say about £5,500 per household if it halved their income tax bill (this is consistent with the 'cost' of the reform), and obviously this an average, much of the gain would go to the top 5%. If, as is likely, the tax-take was maintained, it would of course be the middle-class who would pay for it all.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Super Series Cricket

It is a slightly strange feature of work hours and the like that often cricket in Australia is more easily viewable on television than when it is England. And so it is with the Super Series, at least the one day games, which allows a nice two hour window before work.

So far it's been quite exciting. Gilchrist seems happier batting as an opener in one-day games rather than in the middle in tests, and Australia made a good start. Flintoff's bowling looked a bit rusty. So good timing there. Now they're struggling a bit, but the commenters seem to think 250 would be a good score.

What most caught my attention however was that they are playing indoors. The BBC has an article about this, noting one major problem is the ball gets caught up in the lights when it is in the air. Jonty Rhodes other complaints seem a bit odd though:

Despite the guarantee of a full day's play under a roof where games cannot be rain-affected, he does not think indoor one-day internationals will ever catch on in other parts of the cricket world.

"There aren't that many facilities around, and rain is part of the game. If a game is called off because of rain or you have to have the run rate changed that's part of the lottery of one-day cricket, especially.


The lack of facilities, and their great cost, is surely the main reason, coupled with the fact that you play cricket in summer, when it doesn't tend to rain much. Rain, or the risk of it, might be part of the test game, but you can't really say that it is an integral part of the one-day game. The lottery of one-day cricket? That doesn't seem right to me.

Furthermore if cricket wants to be a more successful sport in revenue terms it needs to think of its paying customers. Clearly over the last ten years this has been increasingly the case, but one-day games ruined because of the rain, or players going off because it's a little bit dark hardly help.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Notting Hill Tories

Brian Jenner, who may or may not be this chap, writes in this week's "The Hill" magazine on what the Tories can learn from Notting Hill:

Why can't everyone, like the residents of Notting Hill, aspire to be rich, beautiful and caring?


Presumably a joke, though aside from that which supports the existence of a decent God there is no evidence that it is.

Mr Snuffles

I note that when Andrew Marr fronts ghastly shows like this, he doesn't pretend to be his children's guinea pig.

Anyway you'll be pleased to know that I did the test and (oddly given I am only one person who had told them my sex), I was labelled, "Mr and Mrs Chiantishire".