Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Stuffing the Thickos

Talentless Balls thought it was a good move to ring up a Spectator blogger and tell him to take down a post calling him a liar. The lie, I need hardly say, has been established beyond dispute. Not that it needed establishing. We have now entered a strange realm where everything a member of the cabinet says is assumed to be a lie unless there is hard evidence to the contrary. This appear to be a deliberate government strategy. It was exposed in the greatest newspaper in the observable universe.
''We don't care if the commentators or the economists turn against us,' said one minister, 'This is all about shoring up the base in the northern heartlands which we lost in the European elections. We don't want or need them to understand the nuance of the argument. We just want them to hate the Tories again.''
The inhabitants of the 'heartlands' are, in Labour's eyes, too thick to tell the difference between a blatant lie and the truth so it's pointless worrying about such nuances. Lenin would be delighted. Meanwhile, I commend this article to you. Brown's apparent climbdown on the Iraq inquiry was forced by Blair's worries. But, of course, the climbdown doesn't matter because the heartland thickos won't understand. That's why he blithely climbs down on everything. Nothing matters because the voters are idiots.
Of course, politics is a dirty business. But has it ever been this dirty, this pathetic, this cynical, this mendacious? My best hope is that this is mere decadence. Labour, exhausted and corrupted by power, has slumped into its death throes. Soon it will be gone. My worst fear is that this is not decadence but rather a fundamental change in the nature of British politics.

22 comments:

  1. It is a worry. I think the reason for the lying coming to the fore is that Brown-Balls are in charge. They've always been totally unscrupulous liars, and vicious with it. The Lenin parallel is a good spot and, I would say, appropriate. Imagine how this pair would behave if unconstrained...

    For this to be a one-off we must hope they get their just deserts Old Testament-style pour encourager les autres. We must also hope the good sense of the British people is operational on election day.

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  2. On the narrow point of whether we should think about debt in absolute terms or in proportion to GDP, Balls is right.

    Right now I earn £20,000 and owe £500. If in a few years time I earn £200,000 but owe £2500, I'm supposed to be worried about that because debt has gone up in "real money terms" and although the ratio has fallen, ratios aren't 'real'?

    The national debt is only meaningful in relation to GDP, and anybody who thinks otherwise needs to revise downwards their estimation of their own financial literacy.

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  3. Yes, Luis, but the government can make up its future GDP projections and will do so to massage its debt ratio. They can say what they like in other words.

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  4. Even using a ratio, to state that 'national debt [is] coming down' is seriously misleading. It can only be true if you ignore the tense and choose a point distant enough in the future: I believe it to be 2014 on the Treasury's (probably over-optimistic) figures.

    I agree this isn't one of Balls' most egregious lies and his point about the use of ratios is justified. But this is the little truth that's used to mask a bigger lie, something of a speciality of New Labour spin doctors.

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  5. Labour failed to fool all of the people all of the time, but they had a pretty good run at fooling most of the people most of the time. Contrary to their concern about the Tory press, they had an overwhlemingly sympathetic media behind them. They've now deserted the NuLab cause.

    Everybody knows big changes are afoot - that we are living beyond our means. The Govt pretends otherwise, but has alientated most vested interest groups who suck on the public teat - from teachers to firemen to lawyers. However, I 've a feeling Cameron's attempts to reform our overblown public sector will have more echoes of Heath than Thatcher - we may become ungovernable for a while. If we got good government, we might not like it very much. As ever, we get the politics we tend to deserve.

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  6. The epicentre of the heartlands will be South Shields and its buffer zone to the west. Notable for being the last area of Britain to enter the nineteenth century, in 1995.
    Once the preserve of one Chuter-Eade, known as "that posh bloke you only see when he needs your vote", now the fiefdom of the gorilla Milly band.
    Were Beverley Allitt to stand as the next labour candidate she would be returned with a resounding majority.
    Telling any labour flavoured person that South Shields has fallen to the Tories would be akin to telling Stalin that the Romanov's are back.

    Curiously South Shields has a large middle class population or at least what is, in Geordie terms, middle class, that is anyone not unemployed.
    Its councilors famous for having built, at some considerable cost, a service lift, to ease the burden of carrying the booze upstairs to the hospitality suite.

    Balls cannot even lie effectively, his performance last night revealed a man who once thought himself invincible and has just realized that he ain't

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  7. I'm sorry to have become a bit obsessive about this lying/debt/spending cluster-f***, but it's going to be the dominant political and economic fact for the foreseeable future. We need to be sure we get it right, in terms of understanding how it happened and how we're going to get out of it.

    So here's a piece just posted by the heroic Fraser Nelson (the blogger referred to in Bryan's post) discussing this dismal future and how it was engineered for us:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/3729558/in-browns-debt.thtml

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  8. But Bryan, how is making up future GDP projections to massage the debt ratio different, or easier, than making up future debt projections to massage the debt ratio? I don't see how their ability to "say what they like" is changed by treating debt, properly, as proportion of GDP.

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  9. More: because it's debt/GDP wot matters, if you think the govt's projections of GDP are dud, then you're just saying the projections of what matters (debt/gdp) are dud. If for some reason you think projections of absolute debt are harder to fudge, that doesn't mean you ought to focus on absolute debt projections, because absolute debt projections aren't meaningful until we have some idea of what gdp is going to be. But it isn't the case that medium range absolute debt forecasts are somehow more reliable than GDP projection. Mr S&M has written about how hard that is to forecast before - his latest post is also on this topic: here

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  10. Luis

    That's all very well and technically correct, but you're doing Ball's work for him and hiding the bigger lie. When he starts comparing like for like rather than with whatever will make the Labour party look good, we might start giving him the benefit of the doubt on other matters, but you and I both know that he reaches for the lie as a matter of course and not just for expediency's sake.

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  11. At Today's PMQs the PM has said in reply to Cameron's question that spending will continue to grow at 0% from 2013. Brown and Balls are proof that you can be too clever by half.

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  12. Recusant,

    well I don't know about that; as I said, I'm just making a narrow point.

    With his little homily about how clear-thinking people think about debt, Nelson is making a fool of himself.

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  13. i believe one thing will change very quickly when the Tories get in power - hope will disappear. As far back as i can remember people would grumble about the Tories and hope that Labour would get in and things would improve. i recall the general jubilation when Nu Labour came into power; it lasted a few years among the many-headed, but by the time of the Iraq War it was understood by most people that Nu Labour were even worse than the Tories.

    No one know seems to really expect much from the Tories - people remember too well the wearied disgust of the 80s and early 90s; the most optimistic verdict i've heard was: "I just want a change, even if they're as bad as Labour".

    i predict that when the Tories are shown to be as bad as Nu Labour - to be only interested in control & encouraging chavvery by hugging hoodies & giving them candy & crack, all hope will be lost in the major political parties. No one in their right mind would think "if Labour get in everything will be better" - not now. The Lib Dems are just more of the same; so i predict that people will then either stop voting en masse or vote for fringe parties - perhaps the Greens or BNP, depending on whether one is a natural Communist or Nazi.

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  14. I think decadence, but then I'm an optimist.

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  15. I thought Peter Mandelson was running everything now, so it doesn't really matter what Balls - or even BROWN - says does it? Every situation is subservient to that loathesome man's lust for a properly Federal Europe. Cameron MUST come out and promise a retrospective referendum whose result will be adhered to even though Mandelson thinks he has pushed through a "fait accompli"!

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  16. You can see the hate coming out of Gorgons mouth, the idea of losing to the etonians will probably destroy him totally...but in the meantime he will plan to hand to them as much poison and bile as he can, all payed for by the unborn.

    I was in the heartlands today as it happen, in sunny Barnsley (first time in 8 years pity it was not 80) and believe me, hate is not something they are short off.

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  17. Elberry- i kind of agree. But I don't think the Tories will spend much time placating the liberal left once they're in power. People don't really care too much about policy, they just want a change.
    I predict the Tories will quickly go back to their default position on crime (along with other things) which can't be anything worse than Labour's befogged crime policies. Though I have a feeling the Tories will initiate stratospheric cuts, which may prove fatal and even end up with Labour back in ( although i doubt it).

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  18. philip wallingJuly 01, 2009 7:51 pm

    People are fed up with being governed by liars.
    Labour lied to get into power (Blair was clearly a liar from the start, but necessary for them to be electable) and is incapable of telling the truth about anything.
    The nearly 200 year old experiment in the universal franchise has led to what we are experiencing now and it is coming to an end because it doesn't work and isn't true.
    We don't want fourth rate people who will lie their way into power (the best want nothing to do with it if they have to lie to survive) and would be happy if this silly experiment of voting for some party sponsored low life who shouts the loudest were to come to an end.
    That's the revolution that's going on now.

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  19. I think the problem is one of altered perception and emotional immaturity more than anything. There's far less corruption now than in the past, but we're probably much more aware of it thanks to the 24/7 media.

    What you don't know can't annoy you. If the flow of information has increased faster than corruption has declined, then we feel more annoyed than our ancestors.

    It's the same with issues like fox hunting; the row was probably as hysterical as the C19th debate over the abolition of the slave trade, but far more trivial. We remain just as emotional over ever smaller things. It's Freud's narcissism of small differences isn't it? The public are at least as much to blame as politicians.

    I think we need to address two (related) things:

    1. The problem of exclusion ie people need to stop emotionally and intellectually excluding the preferences of others and accept the subjectivity of value judgement, accept that there is a broad spectrum of possibility in most policy areas and moderate people can disagree without being mad, bad or stupid. Policy can't be all things to all people, but it can let people feel that they have been listened to, that they are not just irrelevant drones and that there are reasons why they can't have their way.

    2. The problem of inclusion ie peoples tendency to try and have it both ways in various regards: they want diversity and they want a cohesive common identity, they want individual freedom and they want equality between those individuals even though their different abilities make for inequality if they are empowered to exploit them. They want equal public services and they want excellence too, even though the imposition of equality by central diktat will inevitably render the system mediocre.

    Both politicians and voters need a more mature view of things, they need to assess things with more maturity and discuss things with more civility, otherwise we're on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.

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  20. If he can make his ghastly strategy work he may be right of course. There non so stupid as those in need of a lie....

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  21. I dont know what i think.. confused a little bit..

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  22. Jean d'EauJuly 07, 2009 9:04 pm

    Luis and Gaw

    Have you ever studied what GDP actually means? GDP includes the economic activity that results from debt. In other words, the UK's GDP is swollen by all the economic froth made possible by the borrowing over the last decade in particular. The debt has to be repaid eventually so over the long term it might be regarded as neutral, but as we have been surfing on a rising tide of debt for the last few years our GDP appears much larger than it actually is.

    Also I believe there is a question of whether the debt is owed to foreigners or a country's own citizens. It makes a big difference. Ours is owed to foreigners.

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