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03.09.13

A tale of two very different Guardian interviews: Darling and Burnham

I had this on Labour Uncut a few weeks ago.

Decca Aitkenhead reported this weekend on Andy Burnham telling her that Labour must shout louder or risk election defeat. Some twitter reactionsuggests that this would help Labour on the doorstep. As with Chris Bryant’s Monday morning Today appearance, we might wonder, however, whether it is content more than volume that is causing Labour to fail the Daz doorstep challenge.

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03.04.13

Labour will need both Darling and Johnson at the next election

I had this on Labour Uncut yesterday.

Unity should run through Labour like a stick of rock. Following David Miliband’s departure, we should reflect on what this might mean for figures like Alistair Darling and Alan Johnson in the general election campaign.

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26.03.13

Labour must be careful: Osborne wasn’t downgraded for cutting, but cutting the wrong way

I had this on Labour Uncut in February.

John Moody first offered credit rating services in the US in 1909. By this time, Dutch investors had been buying bonds for three centuries, English investors for two, and American investors for one century. Investors have, therefore, prospered for long periods without credit rating agencies.

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07.09.10

The challenge for the new shadow chancellor

I wrote for Labour Uncut today on the challenge for the new shadow chancellor.

The Labour leadership election will, finally, end on 25 September. But the identity of the shadow chancellor will be unknown until 7 October, when the results of the shadow cabinet election are announced. 13 days after this the new leader and shadow chancellor will lead our response to the comprehensive spending review. “It is”, as a leadership contender has said, “an incredibly tight timetable for the new leader and their shadow chancellor to map out a policy that might yet determine how we are viewed for the rest of the parliament.”

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29.07.10

Sorting the economics from the ideology

I had the piece below published on Labour Uncut on 16 June 2010:

The Daily Telegraph isn’t normally essential reading for Labourites. But yesterday it should have been, especially for Harriet Harman. Fraser Nelson set the backdrop to the politics of the deficit and the “emergency” Budget, to which she, as acting leader, will respond. This week’s report from the new Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) dramatically changes this political context. Nelson has been quick to realise this and, while our instincts differ markedly from his, we need to be equally fleet-footed.

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19.11.09

Green shoots?

Good analysis of the economy and public finances from Larry Elliott. He’s right to identify the struggles which some companies are still having in accessing finance as a key challenge as the pre-budget report draws nearer.  It must be a major worry that lending to businesses fell by £4.6bn in September – the eighth successive decline. What can Alistair Darling do about this?

Almost certainly less than the Bank of England may potentially be able to. “Inexplicably”, Willem Buiter convincingly argues, “the Bank of England has not made full use yet of the instruments it has at its disposal.” Interest rates may go lower still (to zero or even beyond) and quantitative easing, which has taken a markedly different form in the UK from the US, might be revised in the UK. The UK’s programme has produced, in round terms, £2bn of outright purchases of private securities and £169bn of Treasury securities. There is a strong argument that shifting the balance between these purchases would do more to get credit flowing to businesses.

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06.11.09

Tory arguments don’t add up

I know that the other day I again proclaimed the futility of negative politics, at least as far as the Labour Party at the moment are concerned. However, I was asked to comment on this letter from the Tory PPC for Copeland and couldn’t resist picking apart his arguments. I’d be amused at how weak they are, if the prospect of him being the MP for the seat where I grew up and where most of my family still live were not so appalling. This is what I had to say:

If David Cameron is so pro-nuclear, how is his close relationship with the avowed anti-nuclear campaigner and Tory PPC for Richmond Park Zac Goldsmith to be explained? Could it be that the Tories want to say one thing in Richmond Park and another in Copeland?

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06.11.09

Tory arguments don't add up

I know that the other day I again proclaimed the futility of negative politics, at least as far as the Labour Party at the moment are concerned. However, I was asked to comment on this letter from the Tory PPC for Copeland and couldn’t resist picking apart his arguments. I’d be amused at how weak they are, if the prospect of him being the MP for the seat where I grew up and where most of my family still live were not so appalling. This is what I had to say:

If David Cameron is so pro-nuclear, how is his close relationship with the avowed anti-nuclear campaigner and Tory PPC for Richmond Park Zac Goldsmith to be explained? Could it be that the Tories want to say one thing in Richmond Park and another in Copeland?

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20.08.09

Bonuses: The way ahead

Recently Hector Sants, head of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), said:

“The question of the size of individual payments is not one for financial regulators. That is one for politicians and society as a whole. If politicians wish to take a view on that, then they should say so, but they should not be asking the regulator to carry out a pay policy”.

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10.05.09

Where now for Labour?

The Sunday Mail reports that support for Labour has fallen to 23 percent – the lowest since opinion polls began in 1943. If Labour polled this badly at a general election, the party would lose 200 seats to the Conservatives, who would hold a massive, carte blanche majority of 220. The survey was also the first to record that the majority of voters want Gordon Brown to stand down now as PM.

These are desperate times, indeed, for Labour and while the expenses revelations “will hurt the reputation of all politicians”, argues Andrew Rawnsley, “the damage is likeliest to be greatest to Labour at the next election”. Another poll supports Rawnsley’s view. There have been many highs and lows under PM Brown. But each low seems lower and more desperate than the last one. I didn’t think it was possible to go any lower than the McBride affair but recent days have probably managed it.

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17.04.09

A week is a long time in politics, but four years is a very short time

“A week is a long time in politics, but four years is a very short time”, as Michael Barber once told Tony Blair’s Cabinet in a misquotation of Harold Wilson. Alistair Darling will be hoping that the first part of this is true and that next week’s Budget allows the political focus to move on from the Damien McBride-affair. This affair has undermined the momentum that Gordon Brown built at the G20 conference and Darling will attempt to recapture this.

However, he might reflect upon the second part of Barber’s observation, as he draws up his Budget.

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03.12.08

The UK's world "role" under Cameron

Professor Michael Pettis offers a persuasive global economic overview. He notes China’s status as the leading current account surplus country. Ultimately, fiscal expansion, such as that recently taken forward by Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown, in deficit countries, like the UK, can only be “a temporary measure aimed only at assisting the transition among China and other major current account surplus countries from an over-reliance on exports to absorb capacity”. He, therefore, continues to be haunted by John Maynard Keynes’ nightmare: surplus accounts. Where does he think we will end up if these surplus accounts go uncorrected?

“The world cannot support indefinitely continued debt-financed overconsumption on the part of the US, whether this consumption takes place at the private or public level, and it cannot support continued growth in Chinese capacity without more rapid growth in Chinese consumption.  To continue in this way almost certainly means little more than to postpone a larger and more difficult adjustment on the part of both countries, and will probably eventually lead to a collapse in international trade”.

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