I’m sure most of you will have already played with the the FT’s online deficit buster.  So too has Adam Boulton, but when he asked Mandy to give some of his own brutal preferences, he got a prolonged smackdown, culminating in the undeniable “neither the IFS nor the FT are standing in this election”.

The point being …. what?   If I said, say, “The intergovernmental panel on climate change says the world is warming up” is this refuted by “the IPCC is not standing in this election?”  The FT and the IFS are calculators, and what Mandy seems to be saying is that ‘we don’t have to accept mathematics if we don’t want to’.  Labour’s strategy: to find a new kind of mathematics – perhaps based on restaurants?

I have banged on about this for ages – I even used ‘Elephant in the Room‘ in October.  Against this, how great a compliment is it that (via Flanders) the Liberal Democrats are the Least Bad?

In today’s report, the IFS estimates that the Conservatives would plan to cut spending by £57bn a year, in today’s money, by 2015-16. The Liberal Democrats would cut by £51bn by 2016-17, and Labour would need to find cuts amounting to £47bn by 2016-17 … None of the parties has revealed more than a fraction of what this would involve. True, the IFS thinks the Liberal Democrats are “slightly less bad” than the other parties in the amount of detail they have provided to the voters.

But in addition to this compliment, Chris Giles reports that “the IFS clearly likes the Liberal Democrat tax plans the best, calling their plans “far-reaching” and praising the reduction in distortions.”  This is precisely the point I was trying to make to Dan Roberts in the podcast – it is not about how difficult it is for analysts to work out the winners and losers from a tax change, but how easy it is for the users to use the tax system.  You and me, not the IFS’s eggheads, who love a challenge anyway.

Maybe all the parties are relying on Lloyds and RBS quintrupling in share price?  So far so good.

Finally, I don’t trust the look of the BBC’s swingometer – it only allows you to swing one thing at a time.  So I am beginning to build my own – see the link below.  Quick observation – is everyone listening – this voting system seems really unfair! I mean, so many of my bold inputs get a Lib Dem seat number of, say, 80, despite 28% of the vote.   Someone should be told!

Download beta spreadsheet

(seriously, this is very beta.  Allow macros.  Tell me of obvious howlers.  it has only Lib Dem COnservative Labour seats from 2005, no boundary changes.).

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16 thoughts on “Online calculators rule

  1. Try looking at this analysis before putting too much work into your swingometer: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/04/labour-danger-uniform-swing.html

    Besides, I’m sure at least one of the 3D swingometers on offer must be up to scratch…

    The IFS clearly likes the Liberal Democrat tax plans the best, calling their plans “far-reaching” and praising the reduction in distortions.

    Someone should tell the Sunday Times – they did a James Murdoch-inspired hatchet job on our tax policy in their leader: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article7107216.ece

    1. Oh, it’s not work, it’s play!

      I don’t trust others work. Am likely to drive myself into an early grave as a result of notbeing ableto delegate.

      Ta for the SundayTimes link; James Murdoch should be the first up against the wall, forced to eat museli, when the revolution comes

    1. I will try to do that too! It is all possible on Excel. Though mine is way uglier

      (thanks for the link Shilpa)

  2. Now I wish I’d saved my Keynes quote for this post!

    If people–especially rich people with secure jobs who work for the FT or the IFS–want to cut the deficit, then I have two suggestions: 1, start taking out loans and blasting money up the wall; 2, convince businesses to start spending some of their profits on investments (this will probably also require some of 1).

  3. I’m a great supporter of PR (or more-P R, ie STV) but I think we need to be aware of what FPTP is – which is 650 winner-takes-all small elections, to which a party that claim the loyalty of more than half forms a government. Hence there’s no reason why vote share nationally should equate to anything seat-wise. That is has done sort-of in the past is really a fluke, or perhaps more than you can always fine a geographical split for two parties (ours based on class/income).

  4. Interestingly, the overwhelmingly vast majority of voters aren’t “standing in this election”, so by Mandelson’s logic, Labour should ignore the voters too.

    Oh wait… that’s what the last 13 years were about.

  5. The FT’s figure for the war in Afghanistan is wrong. It’s closer to £5 billion per year rather than the £2 billion figure the FT has.

    1. Though that figure is not as the bad as the nef guy who was just on Newsnight who thinks he can raise an extra £50 billion in taxes “relatively easily” – clamping down on tax avoidance or something I think he said!

      1. I just saw that! ‘nef solves the budget deficit: “It’s easy” says Simms’

        On page 2, “nef sends a man to the moon, using milk bottles”.

  6. Do note that the report Simms was relying on was written….by Richard Murphy.

    Commissioned by the union to which most tax officers belong. The conclusion of which was that lots more tax officers should be hired and many more powers given to them (including “don’t worry about what the law actually says just obey the spirit of tax law and we’ll tell you what that spirit is thankyouverymuch”).

    ‘Nuff said.

    1. Of course, it should be pointed out that UKIP have a similar problem with £50 billion: Nigel Farage claimed in their PPB earlier that they would help cut the deficit by getting rid of £50 billion of waste.

    1. Get your blood-drenched scythe away from our government’s penis.

      Normally, I would assume such a reply as yours was done with tongue firmly in cheek, but this is UKIP, a party with a strong loon component, and so I’m going to assume that you haven’t identified any specific areas of “waste”, and the £50 billion of “waste” is just you guys winging it.

      And presumably, once you’ve taken 10%, then you can still find another 10%, and after that, another 10%, etc, since “you can take 10% off the top of anything”. So why announce £50 billion of savings from waste, when clearly your logic indicates all government spending is waste?

  7. Having actually seen the PPB last night the claim doesn’t seem to be “£50 billion in waste” but “£50 billion in things Govt currently does and which Govt shouldn’t be doing”.

    Which is how you cut budgets. Not just salami slice everything but atually review what you’re doing and decide to stop doing some of them.

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