Monday, 24 January 2011


The outgoing chief of the CBI, Sir Richard Lambert, has had a pop at the Coalition. I doubt the Daleks or the Ogrons looked up from their world domination plans. One person who did comment on it was Ed Balls, the new hope of the Official Opposition. I'm not sure I can raise a proper sentence.

Sir Richard Lambert appears to be upbraiding the Government of some other country, the one where society actually is considered before big business. "Politics appears to have trumped economics" apparently, according to the eminent Sir Richard, presumably knighted for making Britain a better place to live. Reading between the few lines I can keep my eyes open for, it would seem the pace of de-regulation is a major thrust of his complaint. According to Nick Robinson at the Beeb, he 'fears that the government's cap on immigration could stop firms hiring the workers they need. He's worried by ministers plans to scrap the age at which people are forced to retire, ministers' unwillingness to expand London's airports, proposed anti bribery laws and much besides' adding the Lambert quote "It's hard to see anything much has happened" 'on government promises to cut Whitehall regulation'.

Enter Ed Balls. He feels, apparently , that Sir Richard Lambert agrees with the labour line. Well, no, Ed, he doesn't and why oh why are you claiming he does? There are economists galore willing to oppose Coalition policy, why does the Labour party feels the need to rope the CBI into its cohort of supporters? Ah yes, because Balls got us here, helped pave the way for the rampaging Tory invasion of our way of life, the deluded champion of market forces as market forces swept away our place in the world and helped settle the CBI, big BIG business and free market fruitcakes into the corridors of power. Ed Balls probably thought Sir Lambert Richman owed him.

There comes a moment in all the great Dr Who episodes when a trusted aide turns out to have been in the pay of the opposition all along. Hopefully Ed Balls is going to feel the betrayal. If he does, perhaps he'll come clean about his own past and lead the fightback without the baggage of denial. Until he does, let me catch up on sleep, its going to be a rough old year.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Alternative Vote

Somehow, in the shadow of the increasingly dark clouds of western economic gloom, the LibDems are sticking to the plan of campaigning for the Alternatve Voting system. This, for those who neither know nor care, is the compromise to proportional representation that the Daleks have allowed the Ogrons to champion at a national referendum. Like so much about the coalition, it's almost unbelievable that such a half-cocked vision is allowed the time of day.

The rest of us are watching the death of social politics, of any sort of pretence that society is more important than money. While the Ogrons are printing their leaflets, the reservoir of right wing Dalek resentment is building up behind the coalition dam.

Here is a quote from Tim Montgomerie, the editor in chief of Tory website ConservativeHome - "If Cameron keeps appeasing Clegg, he risks killing off the Tory party". Or this from Mark Pritchard of the 1922 committee about the rumour that certain individuals want to permanently cement relations between the two parties - "There are fundamentalists among them who are this very moment straining their political sinews in a misguided attempt to try to supplant the very heart and soul of the Conservative party itself – a clumsy attempt to try to deconstruct the most successful political party in British history,"

Tories are apparently incensed, the grass roots are ready to march. It needs to be considered because the coalition, which has all but killed off my party, is now being blamed for poisoning the Tories. To which I have to retort that if what we are now staring at is a compromise wildly out of kilter with Tory aspirations then the coalition is an evil which none of us should endure. It is hiding an ideological battle for the soul of the country which is going to come out sooner of later.

The Alternative Vote will be soundly rejected should any referendum ever be put before the British public. None of us want it, it is too little or too much. What I want, and what we need, is an alternative vision, a break from the spiralling cost of fulfilling market greed. The Labour party is hampered by its complicity in creating the atmosphere where de-regulation thrived. The real Tory party is waiting for the chance to realise its free market dream and the coalition is just cover behind which the troops can form up. I'm not sure there is anyone left to fight for my vision but as I listen to the daily news bulletins I honestly can't believe that everyone out there is unaware of the chaotic lack of leadership and the paucity of thinking that has brought us to this sorry state.

When Daleks rule the world, what is the point of Humans?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Happy New Year

My daughter has been thrilled with Wii Just Dance this Christmas. 20 seconds into a neck and neck competition wrecking the front room to 'Cotton Eye Joe' or some such ditty I was forced to cede the dance floor to the four year old while I removed my fleece, high energy barn dance being beyond my limit these days. To my surprise I continued scoring points, the act of removing my garment only slightly less successful than my previous attempts at dancing.

Most people would laugh or perhaps complain about the accuracy of the game but a metaphor leapt out at me as soon as it happened. My daughter and I had exposed the Monetary Policy Committee. There was she, Mervyn King lets say, wildly waving her control, piling on the points with a deft shimmy and knee bend and there was I, more Andrew Sentance, grabbing the odd headline with an off kilter spin and there was Just Dance, for these purposes the British economy, carrying on with the barest nod of recognition. While we're 'dancing', we look like we're in some sort of control but as soon as we stop the truth is self evident - whatever we do is largely irrelevant.

Interest rates are now 0.5% and yet the effect of such a rate on the economy is imperceptible. Inflation is up because the things we buy are affected by global supply and demand not by interest rates. Unemployment is up because we no longer have enough meaningful jobs to offer our citizens, whatever the Bank of England does. Goods now queue to come into our country and money floods to leave it and mucking about with the rates is small change in such a disastrous balance.

For those of you not familiar with Galbraith, the main thrust of 'The Affluent Society' is that the time to manage an economy is when it is doing well. The wise men at the Bank of England and the wise men of New Labour presided over such a period and let the economy off the leash. With notable exceptions they preferred to take the plaudits for overseeing a credit led housing boom every bit as damaging as the de-regulated asset stripping of the eighties. There is another great metaphor for this in 'Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs' (another of my daughter's favourites) as the obese calorie addicted Mayor floats off to sea on an edible raft. The final frames have the Mayor sinking as he eats the last of the vessel, too fat to help himself avoid the inevitable. In the film it's funny, in fact the film is genius but then it's a cartoon entertainment, not real life.

Well Happy New Year everyone. My prediction is that this is the year the recession bites because this is the year that those being told to tighten their belts turm out to be the same people who sold their belts long ago and bought a shiny all in one silk catsuit on credit. They don't rent council houses or live with their parents, they own houses and pay mortgages and car loans and credit card bills, many of them because they were told to do so and many more because property was the only show in town.

I don't mean to sound miserable, although I'm more upbeat than say The Mail, but it's important to set out the back drop to my opposition to the Coalition because carols and a festive hangover or two have hardened my resolve. If you can't even out jive a four year old dancing to 'Kids In America', you have to have something or someone to blame - why not  make it Nick Clegg?