I think magicians call this ‘misdirection’

April 23, 2008 at 9:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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At first I was surprised by the honesty in CBI boss Richard Lambert’s acknowledgement that the ‘bonus culture’ in banking encourages people to take massive risks with other people’s money – normally when challenged on the extravagant sums these folks earn you receive the bog-standard “but we contribute so much to the British economy. In fact, we’re as invaluable as nurses. Worship us, paupers!”.

Then I noticed what he wasn’t admitting to, namely that a slight increase in government regulation on both sides of the Atlantic might’ve stopped them playing fast & loose with other people’s money in the first place. So it’s not ‘we’re so wrecklessly irresponsible that we can’t possibly be left to our own devices for five minutes’, but ‘oh what a silly lapse, we’ll be more grown-up in future.’

It’s pretty much the equivalent of a guy in a pinstriped suit giggling ‘Gosh, we seem overdone it somewhat on the champers’ whilst doing the limbo under the boardroom table.

Yes, you have overdone it. But how come we’re the ones who have to suffer the hangover?

Gordon Brown’s “sole focus”: the economy

April 14, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Posted in British Politics, New Labour | 1 Comment
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This should be a sign to both disgruntled Labour backbenchers and the opinion-makers penning his obituary that Brown has no intention of stepping aside as Prime Minister. By staking his Premiership on the economy he might buy himself until the next election, but he also lives or dies by how successfully we navigate this ominous economic climate.

If, by the time of the next election, he’s able to show that Britain’s fared reasonably during the ‘credit crunch’, he gets to champion himself as a safe pair of hands; an unflashy achiever who is competent in a crisis.
If not, it will reinforce every negative impression that’s been written about him and will undoubtedly end with David Cameron in Downing Street. Let no one ever say that there are no high-stakes games in politics.

In the intervening months and years, it sounds like a very definite ‘hands-off’ to any would-be challengers. Gordon Brown was one of the most successful Chancellors in modern history and he seems more than willing to play on that record. Only time will tell if he can pull it off.

A complete teacake

April 10, 2008 at 9:56 am | Posted in Idiot Hall of Fame | Leave a comment
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Calm down people, the human abacus has spoken! Alistair Darling insists there are ‘grounds to be optimistic’ about Britain’s ability to survive “the largest financial shock since the Great Depression”, despite the fact the IMF has dramatically downgraded our growth forecast.

So there’s nothing to worry about, right? Errm, much as I’d love to share the optimism, when our finest minds make mistakes like this, there’s no wonder people are a little worried:

The UK Treasury is facing a £3.5m bill, because of VAT wrongly imposed on a Marks and Spencer teacake, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

Customers paid VAT for 20 years before the authorities accepted the product was a cake, which does not command VAT.

In case you’re wondering, yes, we’ve just lost £3.5 million over this:


Oh my.

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