Knifonomics (part 36): Scotland v the UK

This post is a bit of a double header. The first part is to bring to the attention of anyone interested a quite remarkable bit of presentation and exposition by Scottish businessman Kevin Hague (AKA @kevverage on Twitter). Hague has been a major thorn in the side for the numerous SNP fantasists who are either too thick, deluded or malign to admit that the entire Nationalist economic ‘strategy’ went up in smoke a long time ago – the main reason they lost the referendum, as the public aren’t daft. He seems to do this stuff in his spare time, and it is quite brilliant in both content and execution. His Chokkablog is great reading. Any teacher or lecturer could learn from the clarity of his thinking and his use of evidence. The video is worth 8 minutes of anyone’s time, particularly if you live in Scotland. See what I mean:

You could probably rename that video ‘why Scottish independence is dead in the water, whatever you may hear to the contrary’. The point is that besides Hague’s narrative and logic skills, he is a genuine practising economist, ie: a succesful businessman who sinks or swims according to his decisions. This is compared to current Finance Minister John Swinney – nice guy but a politics graduate who has always lurked in the public sector – Alex Salmond, who bafflingly claims to be an economics guru because he worked for RBS aeons ago, despite his lies/ramblings over the years, and Nicola Sturgeon, a lawyer who has only worked briefly in that area, then the public sector. In fact the SNP have still not provided any factual and coherent assessment of the Scottish economy. Who would you trust with your dosh?

Cross the border and head today for Westminster, where (history graduate) George Osborne knocks out a budget that is economically cautious and safe, but politically astute. No Eck-like lies or wild claims. The initial reception is remarkably good, both from fans and enemies – as the Guardian says: a dish of Conservative and Labour ingredients seasoned with the promise of economic competence. Both Osborne and Hague frame their message around evidence freely available to the public. Plausibility and pragmatism.

The Knife, as an interested observer, makes no claim to economic expertise, but I’m happy to pay  homage to Hague. The standard of debate in Scotland has been so poor at times, he stands out like a beacon of common sense and reasonableness. When it comes to Osborne however, four years ago when the Osborne hatred and the cliched omnishambles claim were really building up, I invented PWUGO (People Who Underestimate George Osborne), in response to the now utterly defunct DUEMA (I lifted Iain Martin’s witty joke). PWUGO appears to have a rapidly declining membership now.

The point is that Osborne always struck me as having genuinely thought things out carefully, developed a long term plan accordingly, and stuck to it. This was greatly helped by Cameron’s refusal to sack him, despite a clamour which reached a peak in 2012, aided and abetted by Ed Balls and serious political commentators alike**. Nobody knows anything, as the saying goes.

My conclusion: you don’t have to be likeable (Osborne struggles) to make it. You do have to be serious, plausible and authentic. Both Kevin Hague and Osborne in their different ways demonstrate this. Salmond and his cronies, along with the two Eds, have proved that the alternative approach always ends in failure. Deservedly.

There, but for the grace of God, go I
There, but for the grace of God, go I

**It’s amusing to read Peter Oborne, one of the guilty parties, drooling a bit over Osborne now

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The Boris Johnson/left wing cabal is still with us

Bizarrely, it seems that Boris Johnson, the bien pensant left from various parties and the Scots Nats all share the same political philosophy. To quote Boris:

“My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.”

I see this all the time, because I’m a standard middle class professional, who pays a huge whack in taxes, and I work in the public sector, where I’m fairly well paid. The thing is, I’m not complaining.

I have various colleagues – not as many as you might think, as NHS surgeons tend to be realists, not fantasists – who bang on about Thatcher (stepped down twenty five years ago), Tories (I am not one, by the way) and ‘unfairness’. Oddly enough none of them actually claim the NHS is being privatised, because it’s manifestly not.

All these people, and many many more, including some of my relatives, rant on about Michael Gove (the most polite bogeyman ever), Osborne and Cameron as if they’re devils incarnate. Strangely, rich middle class politicians like the politically late Vince Cable, Ed Balls, even the monstrous hypocrite Alex Salmond, get a free pass. Same for hacks like the ridiculous and wealthy Polly Toynbee, Will Hutton, James Naughtie and the rest of the BBC cosa nostra.

My theory is that in the privacy of the polling booth, quite a few of these people probably voted Tory. There was an interesting breaking of lefty ranks when the mansion tax absurdity looked like it might become reality, and various dopey showbiz types realised that Ed Balls actually did intend to rob their bank accounts, if given the chance. I’m pretty sure that the Guardian editorial conference finds someone like Dave far more congenial than they would ever admit to in print. However, none of these people would ever relinquish their right to complain in public but benefit in private.

You have to be nearly my age to remember the benefits that Thatcher provided for all of us, not just Tory voters. No-one would ever go back. The Guardian and the Mirror rapidly copied Murdoch’s new production techniques that lead to the famous Wapping strike. Everyone takes easy access to communications for granted – phone, post offices etc – believe me, it wasn’t like that in the 70’s. There are hundreds of practical, everyday examples.

The SNP are possibly the most hypocritical of them all. Here is the incisive Iain Martin, who understands the Nat psyche far better than most of the other London based hacks, on ‘Full Fiscal Autonomy‘:

If the Nationalists complained about getting such a deal, with full fiscal autonomy, because the collapse in the oil price will leave a massive black-hole in Scotland’s finances, there would then be the beautiful spectacle of the SNP complaining about the Westminster Tory-led government wanting to give the Scottish parliament too much power. In such circumstances, God help Scottish taxpayers.

It goes further. At every election/referendum there are always a few public figures so far up their own backsides that they issue proclamations about leaving the country if they don’t like the outcome. The most delicious of these is naturally Paul O’Grady.

This is a professional Scouser of limited talent, who made a fortune by playing a professional Scouser drag queen whilst tapping into the anti-Thatcher zeitgeist from 1978 onwards. He now doesn’t wear a dress, but the act is the same, and naturally, given he’s on the BBC a lot, he’s a publicly funded multimillionaire. As Paul said:

“I can’t live under this bloody Government any more. I am going to get a house on the Lido in Venice. I have paid a fortune in tax and I will say ‘you can have that mate’. What I am going to do in a house on the Lido in Venice when I can’t speak Italian and hate pasta, God only knows. But I can’t live under this Conservative Government, this Coalition. That is why we have to vote Labour, we have to get Ed in, we have to make changes.”

At the time of writing, he seems to still be here.

Similarly, as everyone knows, if you genuinely want to pay more tax, as opposed to lofty declarations about the desirability of such a course of action,  then HMRC will gladly accept your cheque. I’m making enquiries, but it seems that the anticipated flow of money from North London to the Treasury has yet to start.

Really, all these idiots should publicly thank all the voters who stopped Miliband et al getting in, because  they are the major beneficiaries. And in their heart of hearts, they know it.

O'Grady
O’Grady…
...and an airport.
…and an airport.

#GE2015: no love among the ruins

Twitter is a strange place, you tweet sarky stuff about Tommy Sheridan, George Galloway (before he blocked me and a million others) and Polly Toynbee, and they frequently go and retweet it. It’s not like James Delingpole or Dan Hodges gleefully retweeting hardcore bile directed at them, it seems to be the enduring delight of seeing one’s name on the Twitterfeed, mixed with a large quantity of egomania.

However, all three lefties named above, despite their manifest flaws and mad arguments, have undoubtedly added to the gaiety of the nation, and very occasionally can be right, sort of. In Polly’s post-election ‘long dark night of the soul’ piece, here, she stated:

A leader’s fall always has Shakespearean echoes, and the Miliband brothers’ drama has epic tragic elements. Today Ed stood at the cenotaph like a man at his own funeral. Decent, well-liked, his warm intelligence in private rarely showed itself in his awkward public appearances. He never learned those essential thespian skills for the television age: no use his friends comparing him to Attlee. Davidites may gloat, but there’s no evidence he would have fared any better. He had different strengths and defects, another north London geek they’d soon have said was the wrong brother too.

Which I paraphrased on Twitter with:

*
*

Polly retweets it and a bunch of lefties join in. Which brings me to my main point – there is no problem (outside his own household) for which David Miliband is the correct answer. The intermittently sensible lefty types seem to concur. This point was made sharply by the possibly reformed Damian McBride, in his response to DM’s typically calculating tweets:

*
*

which lead to:

Picture3
*

Which makes the point that I would have thought was obvious from the fresh election result. The public of any political hue are sick of numpties like either Miliband who radiate a sense of entitlement, whilst studiously avoiding plain speaking, in case it might undermine their own self-obsessed strategising. McBride was absolutely right. When it comes to the faraway Miliband, preening in New York, The Knife wrote this more than three years ago, and it seems to me it’s as true as ever today. That piece, written when various New Labour luvvies were plotting against Ed, finished with:

So, to my friends in the Labour Party: go ahead and have your coup. Mili-D won’t lead it, not until he’s had his spine transplant, but he’ll be waiting in the wings for the call. Never before  has someone with such obvious limitations been touted so relentlessly for the top job. A man with the same sense of entitlement as Gordon Brown, and the same qualities of leadership as the captain of the Costa Concordia.

The clearest, most savage polemicist of our day, Brendan O’Neill, puts it perfectly in his election aftermath piece:

The most revealing moments on TV and Twitter last night, as the exit-poll results were unveiled and the first results came in, involved the utter incomprehension of liberal observers and Labourites. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. ‘But the opinion polls said we would do well’, they all said, confirming that these politicos and observers no longer rub shoulders, or anything else, with the masses and have thus become completely reliant on opinion pollsters as a kind of conduit to the little people: modern-day tea-leaf-readers who might reveal what They are thinking. The Twitterati — the time-rich, mostly left-leaning set, consisting of cultural entrepreneurs, commentators and other people who don’t work with their hands and can therefore tweet all day — were especially dumbfounded by the results. Boiled down, their pained cry was: ‘But everyone I know voted Labour.’ They know nothing of the world beyond Twitter, the world outside the Guardianista colonies of London, out where people work rather than tweet….

…What the election has fundamentally exposed is the existence of Two Britains. No, not a Labour Britain vs a Tory Britain — that old divide has been flagging for years. Not poshos vs workers, as Labourite commentators like to fantasise. And it’s not even England vs Scotland. Yes, that divide will undoubtedly be the source of instability in the coming months, but even it is merely a strange expression, an accidental byproduct, of the real Two Britains. Which is, on one side, the Britain of the moral clerisy, which is pro-EU, multicultural, anti-tabloid, politically correct and devoted to welfarism and paternalism as the main means through which to govern the masses, and, on the other side, the Britain of the rest of the us, of the masses, of those people increasingly viewed by the cultural elite as inscrutable, incomprehensible, and in need of nudging, social re-engineering and behaviour modification. Those people whose votes, whose temerity in rejecting Labour, made so little sense to the observing classes. This is the true story of the shifting map, the geographical shrinking of Labour, and the shocked response of opinion-makers to the results.

Galactus inspects the Labour Party
Galactus inspects the Labour Party

Planet Ed

Terry
Terry

Damian Thompson recently compared Ed Miliband to Smiffy, from the Bash Street Kids. I have to say that it is uncanny how he meets the Beano’s own description of Smiffy (“not exactly the brightest kid around”).

I quote their website:

Smiffy’s as bright as a coalmine at midnight

Smiffy sees things in his own unique way and that means sometimes people think he gets things wrong….that’s because he really does get things wrong. Quite a lot!

But he’s happy in his own little world! ‘Planet Smiffy’ is probably a strange (but nice) place to live!

Sadly it rings true, despite Ed’s plaintive request to be considered ‘more intellectually confident’ than Dave.  That didn’t work out.

Ed
Ed

However, back in 2010 The Knife identified Ed more closely with another comic character, Viz’s Terry F***witt.

Consider this:

(His) regrettable flaw is that he continuously mistakes situations, objects and people for things they are not. He is cross-eyed and has wirey black hair in a style resembling dreadlocks, and wears outdated 70s platform shoes. …. He lives with his parents, both of whom despair at his stupidity, and often make unsuccessful attempts to get rid of him. In one strip he responds to an employment advert that states, “C*** Wanted”. Upon realising that he has done something stupid, Terrence usually exclaims, correctly, that he has “shit for brains”.

To be fair, Ed doesn’t have dreadlocks.

Smiffy: I'm sure of this one
Smiffy, I’m sure of this one

 

 

 

Why are these thieving thieves trying to thieve from me?

This article, by Andrew Lilico, is so good it should be a mandatory read for any school pupil studying economics, philosophy, history, politics, sociology, psychology, the lot. It cuts to the very heart of nearly all political debate and manoeuvring in the UK (and elsewhere).

It’s not a long piece, and I’ve just pinched the first couple of paragraphs for an accurate taste of Lilico’s clear-sighted argument:

It appears to be all the rage to have opinions about how wealth is distributed, debating for example whether billionaires should ‘get to keep’ their money. I consider that impertinent, offensive and sinister.

Your wealth (and note carefully that I am discussing wealth, not income here – the issues with income are slightly different) is your property. Property is private. Your house, your car, your TV, your share portfolio – they are yours, just as much as your hair or your intelligence or your skill at tennis are yours. Suppose someone said: “I believe the distribution of hair is unfair, so we are going to take some of your hair away.’ You would think that a monstrous violation of your personal liberty, of your privacy. But would it really be any different if someone said: ‘The distribution of toys is unfair, so we are taking some of your children’s toys away’ or ‘The distribution of televisions is unfair, so we are confiscating yours’?

This is not really party political, as they all get this fundamental issue wrong at times, but clearly Ed Miliband’s entire economic policy, if you can call it that, is based on taking other people’s wealth, and the Lib Dem’s ludicrous ‘mansion tax’ is another fine example.

Where do we get these people from?

They used to hang you for robbery in this country
They used to hang you for robbery in this country

Mili E: A warning from (recent) history

In 1997,  coincidentally when New Labour got in to power, there was a fine TV documentary on the Nazis called The Nazis: A Warning from History. I always liked that title. The very brief synopsis was “…how a cultured nation at the heart of Europe allowed Hitler to come to power”. Not that I’m for one second comparing Labour to the Nazis.  Genuinely. I want to avoid Godwin’s Law.

However, the shocking thought is that today, just over a year till the general election, Ed Miliband, Balls, the whole rotten crew may be looking good to get back into power. I say ‘may’ because of the polls, which may be narrowing, but  it actually seems incredible to me given the damage that they wrought that they’re still not locked up.

Here is Iain Martin in the Telegraph, with a neat and scary summary:

 …(the) Labour leadership’s growing confidence that the Tories are stuffed and Miliband is on course to win the next general election. The party has a poll lead. While it is not impossible to envisage the rough positions of the two biggest parties (38 points to 32 points) being reversed if the economy booms and Cameron has a good campaign, it will be very difficult for the Tories to pull it off.

With 14 months to go, Miliband and his team see victory looming only six years after Labour presided over the biggest economic disaster in seven decades, which hit Britain particularly hard because of calamitous mismanagement based on the insane idea that boom would never turn to bust. That fatal, hubristic miscalculation meant that it was regarded as somehow fine for Britain to build an epic pile of private debt and expand the banking system from 143 per cent of UK GDP in 2000 to 450 per cent of GDP by the time of the crash. It left the UK especially badly exposed when the inevitable downturn came. From the ashes of all that, the country may well get an Ed Miliband premiership. You have to hand it to him. In the circumstances it is an achievement even getting this close to power. Quite extraordinary really.

Ed Balls on left. Keble college book pictures
Ed Balls on left. Keble college book pictures

 

Ed Miliband: intelligent and honest?

Just now, it’s frustrating in the extreme that Ed “F******” Miliband’s outrageous and ignorant behaviour as a cabinet minister is not being plugged on every news bulletin that raises the subject of energy prices.

As with fuel, the public are being deceived as to how much of the cash that they have to hand over is going directly to the government. Cash cows, dressed up as noble “environmental” causes.

Well, Christopher Booker, a hero of our times has a nice turn of phrase:

One thing that marked out Miliband during his brief spell as energy and climate change secretary was that he was so naively obsessed with the “climate change” bit of his job description that he seemed completely to overlook the “energy” bit. Not once did he show any understanding of how electricity is made or how we are to keep our lights on. He could never have begun to explain in practical terms how we could hope to cut carbon emissions to their lowest level since the early 19th century without closing down virtually our entire economy – let alone how, in the short term, we can comply with his Climate Change Act without doubling and trebling Britain’s energy bills.

All Miliband demonstrated last week, as he made that mindless little bid for electoral popularity, which promptly knocked £3 billion off the energy companies’ shares, was that he is as little fitted to become prime minister as any other politician can have been in history.

Ed, lad...it's not a real certificate
Ed, lad…it’s not a real certificate

The two Yins: there is no “right” Miliband

When people claim that Labour picked the “wrong” Miliband as their leader, it’s worth reflecting that this is not, in today’s cliche, a ‘zero sum game‘. There is no such thing as a “right” Miliband. Far from being Yin and Yang, they’re both Yin, defined handily thus:

Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive

Seriously, how accurate is that?

In several posts (1, 2, 3, 4!) , The Knife pointed out a while back how utterly crap Mili-D was in reality, despite the hype. The classic politician who’s never had a proper job, mastering bullshit and grabbing whatever he can for himself. Politicians with a bizarre sense of entitlement are a very British problem.

Fraser Nelson takes up the theme, following this weekend’s Marr interview:

If you were to make a talking doll of David Miliband, it would come out with the kind of guff he divested himself of today. He seemed to speak in pre-packaged cliched: “one day in government is worth a thousand in opposition”, “in the end, it’s the right place for centre-left parties to be”… “in tune with the modern world” etc. And he had a new cliche: “If you over-calculate, you miscalculate” – evidently the lesson he has drawn from the past few years. “Don’t over-calculate,” he advised Marr a second or two later, “because you miscalculate”.

And then came the sub-David Brent platitudes. “Never lead your life by looking through the rear view mirror,” he advised viewers. And as for losing to his brother? “You have the Murrays who win and the Djokovics who come second.” So he’s not a loser, he’s a Djokovic. He made big play of rejecting the “conventional assumptions” about the next election – he dares to think that a majority government is less likely than a coalition. Except that IS the conventional view: the bookies have the shortest odds on a Labour majority, and a Tory majority is second-favourite. Odds on another coalition, of any variety, are very long. So even Miliband’s unconventional views were actually conventional.

This post, though,  comes not to praise Ed, but to still bury him. Along with his brother.

..really...where do I start?
..really…where do I start?

 

Miliband update: no change

Two and a half years ago, The Knife pointed out just how cretinously bad Ed Miliband was during an interview – before the Labour leadership elections – on the generally sympathetic BBC Radio 4. He was truly dismal.

Well, nothing’s changed for the “waffling Left-wing weirdo, son of a Marxist professor” as Littlejohn has acutely dubbed him in the Mail. He couldn’t even cope with a mild grilling by the blatantly pro-Labour James  “nochtie”  Naughtie, without collapsing in a heap of irrelevancies. None of this should be construed as praise for his equally bad overrated brother.

The bizarre thing is that he could quite feasibly become PM by default (although I lack the imaginative reach  to see it actually happening), such is the weirdness of the British electoral system. Every Labour supporter that I know thinks he’s useless, and they’re right. Although a number of lefties are getting quite enthused about the next election due mainly to the mathematical difficulties of securing an outright Dave majority, more cautious voices are still in evidence.

To repeat a quote from an earlier post, from one of Labour’s own:

“One shouldn’t really judge people on their appearances, but I think we can make an exception in the case of Ed.

Prime ministerial...
Prime ministerial…
..and Ed
..and Ed

Red Ed, Red Ed, Red Gordon, Red Tony…

The kindest way to view the antics of the Labour Party when in government, particularly since the Year Zero of 1997 when the Brown/Blair Terror really kicked off, is to regard them as a bunch of unprincipled opportunists, thirsting for power , for power’s sake.

That’s being kind.

The alternative would be to actually take at face value the drivel about moral compasses, political philosophy, caring socialism etc etc that they all trotted out, which in a way makes their catastrophic mismanagement of virtually every part of the British state an even more heinous business. To this day, the two Eds, like their mentor Broon, claim a spurious philosophy, or merrily lie to pursue a failed economic concept.

Happily for them, when in years to come they are inevitably propping up the House of Lords and writing their memoirs, I have the

Vote Labour!

ideal quote to sum  up all this relentless malfeasance:

The necessity and the inevitability of (our) struggle represented our bet with history. Well, we lost that bet, and our isolation and defeat are the price we paid for having defined reality by abstract theories which oversimplified it, for having concentrated the social reasons for change in an instrument unable to express it, for having diminished our own force and capacity for change and isolated them in an absurd and futile project.

Perfectly put.  The author however is Antonio Savasta, a repentant Italian Red Brigade terrorist, active in the quite horrific terror campaign of the 1970’s , and quoted in Michael Burleigh‘s magisterial and indispensable history of terrorism, Blood and Rage (available as a free e-book here), the only difference is that he was referring to an armed struggle. One of several other parallels is the tendency for ageing terrorists and politicians to survive the consequences of their misdeeds, and embark on a gratifyingly bourgeois and lucrative old age, as the Irish writer Colm Toibin pointed out recently:

I was brought up by terrorists and that it was never a problem because they always become very conservative in the end, when they get certain things given to them. They become fine upstanding members of the community.

Burleigh’s book is a fast-paced revelation and should be essential reading for all those in government, and oddly enough, Dave claims to have read it, when he was a mere MP.

That aside, the failure of leftist terrorism is remarkably similar to the failure of attempts to implement and sustain left wing economic policies. They both inevitably lead to disaster, hence the broad utility of Savasta’s concise confession.

Perhaps I should send a copy to Ed Balls.