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GUEST POST: TPA say UK heading for £2 trillion debt

By admin
July 31st, 2009 at 1:15 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

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Debuting on our blog, Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers’ Alliance highlights new research predicting Labour’s legacy of enormous debt, vast unemployment, and general misery…



Everyone knows that the public finances are in a mess.  Unfortunately, it looks like the Government still aren’t facing up to the scale of the crisis.  At the time of the Budget, many senior economists criticised their forecasts for being decidedly optimistic.  Now new research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research for the TaxPayers’ Alliance shows what could happen if things don’t work out that well: £2.1-£2.3 trillion in debt by 2017/18 and 3.2-3.8 million unemployed.

At the same time, the research shows that big tax hikes would have disastrous results for the economy the 50p tax rate alone will reduce economic growth by 0.4 per cent of GDP, increase public borrowing by £1.8 billion a year and increase the base unemployment rate by 0.8 per cent by 2020/21.

The answer has to be spending cuts.  Politicians need to do more to set out plans that could seriously bring down spending.  Even if the Treasury’s numbers are right the public finances are in a crisis, but if they’re wrong then they could be sleepwalking into another catastrophe.

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LAST CHANCE TO VOTE FOR LIBERAL VISION

By Julian Harris
July 31st, 2009 at 12:45 pm | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Yes yes, you know the score. Total Politics are running this poll and you must, to enter, submit your top 10 blogs by

MIDNIGHT TONIGHT

Go on, vote for us, you know you want to.

For your vote to be valid you must list a full ten blogs, in numerical order.

Send entries to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com

Rumours that Ziggy has voted Liberal Vision as Number 1 have yet to be confirmed.

Health Minister faces corruption enquiry

By Tom Papworth
July 31st, 2009 at 12:00 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

As the tawdry goings on in Westminster begin to recede into the distance, it is nice to know that we are not the only country afflicted with corrupt politicians.

According to CNBC news,

“Germany’s Social Democrat health minister [Ulla Schmidt] came under pressure on Sunday to explain why she took her official limousine, complete with chauffeur, on holiday to Spain where the vehicle was stolen.”

That’s going to take some explaining!

It would be easy at this point to make some easy philosophical point about the fact that the political system lends itself to corruption, and how taxpayers’ money being wasted is the third Inevitable along with Death and Taxes.

But it’s Friday.

Let’s just sit back and enjoy a good laugh.

Can the LibDems get more votes than Labour at the next election?

By Mark Littlewood
July 30th, 2009 at 10:43 pm | 11 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

The Labour Party’s continuing atrocious polling numbers and Nick Clegg’s increasingly impressive performance as LibDem leader raises the enticing possibility of us pushing Labour into third place in vote share at the next General Election.

Now, a few notes of caution are needed. Most polls still put Labour about 5% or 6% ahead of the Liberal Democrats. An awful lot could change – in Labour’s favour – between now and polling day. But, surely, the shot is on the board.

If the governing party staggers into the General Election with Brown still at the helm, their campaign could be a Michael Foot -style PR disaster. There’s also good reason to believe that Labour always ends up performing at the low end of its polling numbers.  All things being equal, I’d expect Nick Clegg to have a strong showing in the campaign itself. He is a  capable TV performer (by far the most important communications medium in modern politics) and the Brtish public will like him more as they get to know him more. There’s something of a myth that the third party always gains votes as an election campaign progresses – but there is some evidence that this is true when the third party has a leader fighting his first General Election. This is because, in the course of the campaign, the new Liberal leader moves from “vaguely heard of him” to “household name” in the national pysche. An optimist might conclude that if we enter the campaign just 5% behind Labour in the polls, this is a gap that could be bridged before polling stations open.

I still think it’s a bit of a longshot, but the prize is an enormous one. The SDP-Liberal Alliance nearly secured more popular support than Labour in 1983 and – despite only securing a couple of dozen seats – may have “broken the mould” if it had come second in vote share. Since then, under Chris Rennard’s strategic leadership, the Liberal Democrats have targetted aggressively, yielding a mammothly greater haul of seats than the Alliance, despite  lower overall percentage support. But this incrementalism may be reaching its limits. Liberal Democrats should ask themselves which of these two (very rough and ready) hypothetical General Election outcomes  they would prefer:

Conservatives 40% (360 seats) Labour 28% (205 seats) LibDems 20% (70 seats)

Conservatives 42% (380 seats) Labour 24% (195 seats) LibDems 25% (60 seats)

I’d prefer the second result, as I think it does much more to transform the political landscape. That is to say, at some ill-defined point, I care more about vote share than seats and would rather see us polling very impressively (but losing) in “moving forward” and “devlopment” seats than making a handful of tactical gains.

The implications for LibDem strategy could be huge – perhaps suggesting a shift of resources to nationwide communications rather than funnelling as much money as previously into marginals. It would be controversial too – and probably particularly unpalatable to incumbent MPs. But if we could beat Labour in vote share, that would be a quantum leap forward, even if it left us with fewer Parliamentarians than we might otherwise secure.

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So what on Earth is going on in Area 51?

By Mark Littlewood
July 30th, 2009 at 2:21 am | 3 Comments | Posted in Culture

mark-at-area-51-july-29th-2009On a day’s break from the poker tables of the Las Vegas strip, we took the $200 tour to the infamous secret American military base commonly known as Area 51 (alas, my modest performance at Hold ‘Em has precluded us from going for the $1,000 option where you actually  get to see the recovered alien spacecrafts and share a few beers with the greys!)

Even admitting the existence of Area 51 seems too much for the US authorities to concede, it is only referred to eliptically in a few scant legal documents. The base therefore lacks an official name – with the description “Area 51″  being derived from the site’s grid position on old Nevadan maps.

The obsessive secrecy has helped stimulate the wonderful myth that the base is the final resting location of the extra-terrestial bodies supposedly recovered from a crash in Roswell, New Mexico just after the Second World War.

Whilst such theories are encouraged by the locals in the nearby “town” of Rachel (population 98), the truth is, of course, much more prosaic.

The base is the testing centre for the most advanced, cutting edge American military technology – and is  where the Stealth bomber was developed.

The sombre warnings that lethal force will be used against those that cross the security line (reinforced by our tour guide), and the creepy presence of Men in Black arriving in 4 x 4s on the nearby hillsides as you approach the limits of civilian territory are strong and sinister confirmation that whatever is going on in Area 51, the US government don’t want you to know about it.

The peace dividend we were expecting when the Iron Curtain fell two decades ago has yet to materialise.  The dreadful threat of Soviet Communism may have been seen off. But the Western world has yet to heed the words of President Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Are we confident that the citizenry are alert and knowledgebale enough to keep this beast in check?

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