First, the Spectator, possibly the single most obvious reason not to vote Conservative, praises Nick Clegg in fulsome terms:
They hate him because they can see he’s capable, plucky and politically shrewd. The house has strange ways of honouring talent.
Then I read that the Spectator’s praise is for quite a poor reason: insisting in PMQ’s that a Chocolate maker be owned by someone more recognisably British than looks likely
He wondered why the government hadn’t acted to stop RBS lending tax-payers’ money to Kraft which is about to sack Cadburys staff. That’s three bogymen in one. Nasty foreign asset-strippers. Feckless subsidised bankers.
Last night on Newsnight, I saw that John Redwood was delivering the best lines against similarly protectionist John Moulton. I have seen this crusty old character speaking on economic issues and he can be very old school – “we don’t do anything well in this country any more” saloon bar nonsense. A better analysis of the Cadbury question is on Redwood’s Blog:
The truth is that British managers and British shareholders have been known to close UK factories and switch produciton abroad when the figures show that is the right commercial thing to do. British ownership does not protect all UK jobs. Foreign ownership does not mean automatic closure. Nissan. Toyota and Honda have done much more for UK motor industry jobs than Britsh Leyland, Rover and the UK government did.
Then just I am about to go into “Redwood you may disagree with him but you can’t deny that he’s bright” mode, when I read this post about abolishing the MPC:
The MPC remit is to control inflation. They have failed to do this. They need to think again about why they have got it so wrong, and try to do better in the future. Who are they kidding with their current 0.5% interest rate? Have they not noticed that everyone else has to use much higher rates than their recommended rate, and even the government now has to pay a lot more for most of its money.
The spread between base rates and other private rates proves . . . . what exactly? And the State borrowing at 4% proves . . .. what, that we are overheating? Mervyn King thinks this is temporary. He probably understands the reasons Daniel Pimlott presented in today’s account. (Also: Lombard Street, and the excellent Jamie Dannhauser, point out how measures of inflation that are not affected by taxation or the £ are still weakening.)
Redwood is brighter than this. He is not Guido, urging us to buy beans and gold. Instead, hHe is jumping on a bandwagon launched by David Blanchflower but for the opposite, and wrong reasons. Blanchflower’s views, and I concur, are that if the MPC errs, it is to do with the recession, not ‘soaring’ inflation.
However, Blanchflower’s main focus is fiscal policy. Like the Liberal Democrats understands the importance of not getting the fiscal timing wrong, but the Lib Dems also understand that you need a plan. In a weird loop, we come back to Nick Clegg, now praised in the FT leader:
Indeed, the only national party that has publicly come to terms with the scale of the fiscal crisis is the Liberal Democrats. Last week Nick Clegg, the party leader, ditched all of his party’s spending commitments bar two because of the spending squeeze. The Lib Dems’ ambitions now match their budget more closely.
Where have I read that? And what should we Liberals think: Nick praised first for being protectionist about company ownership, then for fiscal hawkishness . . . All very confusing