Friday, 28 May 2010

The First Test

No, not the Bangladeshis at Lord's, where idle will repair at noon for that quarterday in a chap's social life - Friday lunch at the Lord's test.

No, the first test for Cameron. Two tests rolled into one, if you like:

Does he have the mettle to stick to his word with the Liberals and pursue his iniquitous tax-grab on CGT, despite the principled and intelligent opposition to it from his own backbenchers, formidably marshalled by Davis and Redwood?

Or does he wake up, face a blast of fresh air, and come to his senses - and realise that Conservative principles on tax are based on logic and common sense rather than envy, chippiness and venality?

As Colbert said, "the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing".

Well, the 50% income tax rate, higher National Insurance, increased VAT, IHT, ludicrously high duties on petrol, alcohol and tobacco - all this he already has. There has been much less hissing than I think he deserves, frankly.

Capital Gains Tax, remember, is levied on gains in capital THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN TAXED. It has been saved and put to a good use in most cases - providing equity to the wealth creating enterprises that depend upon it. This, I submit, is a better thing for the country than buying a giant plasma screen telly imported from Korea for your study or childrens' playroom.

Furthermore, the government can double-dip or triple-dip on CGT, as assets inevitably get turned over every few years. Taper relief used to prevent re-taxation, but taper relief went when the rate was reduced to a bearable 18%.

I could go on, but actually there is only ever one question to ask about any change to any tax: will it make money?

The answer, as your intuition told you, is that raising CGT rates results in lower revenue. We all know our Laffer Curve, do we not? The graph here relates to America, but the point is made.

Cameron is simply going to have to get a grip of this. We didn't wait 13 years for sensible Conservative fiscal policy to end up with this crap.

David Laws, who is obviously a Tory at heart and far brighter than Osborne, might be the man to break it to Cleggy and Compo-Cable: posturing as a Man of the People, when following stupid and counterproductive policies, is no way to run a railway.

The guiding light to all of this shower should be the Redwood Dictum:

"We didn't get into this mess by not taxing people highly enough, we got into this mess by spending too much".

Cut hard, cut soon; you will be doing it into a modest economic upswing. Disregard the socialists who say it will harm the economy - it won't. Impose a public sector hiring freeze and the state payroll will reduce by 300,000 each year. Impose public sector pay freezes and tell them they're bloody lucky not to be facing an Irish haircut of 15% of pay and benefits. Identify the white elephants and cut them completely, right away. Climate change guff for starters; quangos; overseas aid to nations with cash surpluses; ban civil service bonuses immediately; set up a Royal Commission for public sector employment - what do they all do, and why? Digby Jones, who worked for Brown's government and then resigned, said that he never came across a single government department or team that couldn't have done its job with half the personnel. It has the ring of truth about it.

PS Christ, the Dissolution Honours and Working Peers list makes one weep. Sir Ian Blair, for chrissakes. Paul Boatinglake. Prezza, the prize twerp. Quentin bleeding Davies. Jeesus. Dissolute Honours, more like.

Chesterton, as ever, had it right:

Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword
To see the sort of knights you dub--
Is that the last of them--O Lord
Will someone take me to a pub?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

Here are two pictures taken of a politician in Norway. Which one is Cameron? And which one Quisling?

One of them, you will remember, is a byword for a traitor who serves as the puppet of the enemy occupying his or her country.

The other one is Vidkun Quisling.

ps I do not mean to say that Cameron is a traitor to his country. But for 'the enemy' I mean socialist LibDems, for 'country' I mean party. The cost of LibDem support to the Conservative Party will be to shaft the Tory middle class voters in a way that even Brown would applaud, were he not a dishonest unpleasant dog in the manger.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Polecat Update

Norman is like Marmite - few are ambivalent about him. Idle, of course, considers him to be a brave and principled man of great common sense and no little understanding of the working man. Like his doughty Prime Minister, he came from humble stock, worked hard, was a public servant and patriot far beyond the call of duty, and deserves huge credit for doing so much of the heavy lifting of the 80s and early 90s which allowed Blair and the disastrous Brown to pump up the bubble we so recently saw burst.
You might be surprised that he sees more to agree with than not in the Grand Coalition Five Year Plan. I think he articulates it pretty well.
One thing he does not mention is liberty, though it is never far from his thoughts, arch Eurosceptic that he is. Then again, the agreement doesn't shed much light on the subject. But we do know, because they have said so, that both Con and Lib agree that hundreds of petty interfering unenforceable laws introduced by the intolerant and fascistic Blair and Brown might get cut in a big repeal bill. Well, let's hope so. Mark Steyn, who writes so well on this subject, puts his opinion here. If the Cameregg government claims to sense the public mood, they will deal with this idiocy. Nick Herbert's appointment as police Minister, with his appetite for reform, is a good step.
It's not all bad, this coalition. Into each life a little rain must fall, and after the biblical deluge of the past 13 years, we must try not to be too discouraged by the drizzle that a soft-left ConLib government promises us. There may even be sunny intervals, during which idle proposes to score many Gower-like runs at the crease and then celebrate with rosé or good ale. I wonder if I can reproduce a moment as memorable as THAT catch last year?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Sunday, 9 May 2010

And Cameron Must Score! He shoots! He........

....... Well, you know the rest.

Tempted as one is to vent one's spleen over the whole bloody disaster, I will try to limit myself to a few observations and point you in the direction of those who have been energetic enough to write down their reactions on Friday and Saturday.

Idle went through the night with a dozen good friends a few miles up the road. We drank good champagne in anticipation of victory, thinking we deserved it, and drank it again at 5.30am when it became clear that the Great Cameron Liberal Appeasement Gamble had failed - this time, we needed it. At 6.15 I went home, showered and shaved, and climbed not into bed, but aboard a London train. Bloody Marys and beef 'n horseradish sarnies at the Cavalry Club revived me, and after making a poor fist of a meeting with a plutocratic property man, returned home. What struck me was that I don't remember hearing anyone laugh all day.

It is clear that, if governing Britain for the term of the next Parliament was going to be a thankless task in any event, doing it with the LibDems tying your shoelaces together and balancing buckets of water above the door into the Cabinet meeting room was hardly an improvement. They are an unprincipled and childish lot, who have never displayed a shred of consistency. Clegg is, I believe, inclined towards the Conservative Left and I see no reason why he should not eventually convert; St Vince, on the other hand, is a muddled old lefty who has flip-flopped like a freshly caught mackerel at almost every opportunity, whilst radiating faux sagacity and claiming foresight over almost everything imaginable. He, I think, is much more in tune with LibDem voters, who are well to the left of New Labour and (even) less pleasant. The point I am trying to make here is that Cameron should go it alone. He needs only to pass a budget, followed by a Queen's Speech in November. I reckon that he can get the Ulster Prods and Frank Field and Kate Hoey and one or two others to back him on this. Now that Labour is discredited, the sane ones can ignore the Brown thugs who call themselves Party Whips and vote with impunity. There are at least a dozen of them who will put nation before party.

Yet, it seems obvious that Dave is intent on building a coalition. It is becoming clear quite early on what is up for grabs. He surely cannot offer PR to Clegg, particularly in the light of Clegg's disastrous final week of campaigning and the damp squib of a loss of seats despite a marginal increase in his vote (which, given the Brown factor and the utter uselessness of the Labour government, eclipses even Cameron as Worst Result of the Night).

Low carbon mumbo-jumbo is IN, despite its cost and irrelevance (Delingpole writes less well when he is this angry, but I can see why he's fuming), whilst the ONLY good policy the tories had in their manifesto is in danger of being thrown OUT. I watched the estimable Michael Gove being interviewed by Marr this morning, and he appeared to have thrown in the towel; he agreed that if the price of coalition was his own job at Education, he'd give it to David Laws. Christ!

Europe will become a major consideration, despite its strange absence from the election campaign. The implosion of the Euro will be yet another feather in the cap of Thatcherism, yet another argument conclusively won. The Clarkeites and Howeites and Brittanites were in her own Cabinet, remember, and anything less than the iron backbone she displayed would have delivered this country to the European Central Bank and an economic fate that hardly bears thinking about. I have in mind a performance closer to Ireland's than Germany's, you understand.

The new intake of Tory MPs is, we hear, broadly Eurosceptic. The new boys might lack the cojones to defy the whips, but the government will recognise that the task of riot control over loss of sovereignty to Brussels has become much harder. Bill Cash and a handful of other patriots will be defeated on European issues, because Labour and Liberal alike will back any European stitch-up, but they will gain revenge when other crucial votes depend on every last Tory backwoodsman making it through the lobby. John Major thought he had his "bastards" - well, Cameron will have his, as well.

Psephologists are in heaven, with all the inconsistency of swing. Making sense of it all depends on one's pre-election prejudice, it seems. Those who like Cameron will demonise UKIP, and tot up the number of seats 'lost' to the UKIP vote. This is an impossible argument, given how difficult it is to judge how many Europhiles stuck with the Tories because of its 'safe' line on Brussels.

The most depressing statistic of them all is the 65% turnout. I was at a dinner party a week before the election, where a reasonably intelligent and pleasant woman told me that there would be a huge turnout. I asked her what figure she had in mind and it was clear that she didn't know what a normal turnout was. She had a stab at 80% for this election and I was able to strike a bet at 'below 70%', which I knew, of course, was a winner. Not a bet worth collecting.

So, we remain where we were in 2001 and 2005 - all those voters who have ceased voting. They have never had such a wide array of choices from the minor parties, so we must conclude that they want an identifiable Big party of the Left, and the same for the Right. Not, as presently exists, three parties trying to get into the same telephone box.

It might start happening on one side at least. John Cruddas wants to take his party back to antediluvian Proletarian Socialism, and may even get his chance now that Brown is dead and the favourite to take over is an effete North London would-be intellectual social-angst merchant (that'd be YOU, Miliband senior).

There is, of course, no hope for a recognisable Conservative party for a while yet. Had Dave failed on a bigger scale, and the Clegg march towards 80 seats taken place, there would now be schism in the Tory party, and after a short but bloody war, a strong party of the right would form and prepare itself for government in 10 years time. For now, we must hold our noses and mutter small thanks every now and again that Dawn Primarolo and Ed Balls are no longer ministers of the Crown.

This country is in a pickle of its own making. The idle and feckless proportion of the white working class with its welfare dependency is culpable, as is the spineless centrist voter who knows that the medicine must be taken yet cannot bear to see the poor and disadvantaged having to swallow the vile stuff. No blame, it seems to me, attaches to the Right over our current mess, with the possible exception that they are still blamed for administering the medicine in the 1980s. Yet after the horrible Right had finished forcing the bitter unguent down the craw of the populace in the 80s, 14 million voted for Major in 92, more than Blair ever got - he won in 2001 with 10.7 million and 2005 with 9.6 million.

The least worst option this time was a Cameron victory, but being held to account, because of his small majority, by proper Conservatives within his party. Instead, he will be stretched between Redwood and Fox at one end of his coalition, and Hughes and Teather and his wife at the other. If you find this uncomfortable, too bloody bad, mate. If you campaign as a liberal democrat, it seems only fair to have to govern like one. You will discover the contradictions of the situation, if only because the markets will make them clear to you. Happy appeasing, old bean. What sweet irony that Boris is STILL the most powerful Tory in Britain. I dare say he is whistling in his bath, and with good reason.