Monthly Archives: April 2009

Jim Pickard

There was some surprise in the Tory ranks after Gordon Brown pledged in PMQs that – as part of MP expenses reform – there would be changes to “grace and favour homes”. This was a reference to his proposal that ministers with free London homes would no longer get the second home allowance. Read more

Jim Pickard

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. The Liberal Democrats never win Commons votes. Opposition day motions always fail. Those are the Parliamentary conventions*. Read more

The quality is often poor, the number of viewers is usually low, but there can be no doubt that some of Gordon Brown’s best moments are captured on YouTube. We’ve compiled a top ten here, based on the strict criteria that they are funny or cringeworthy, and found on YouTube. They are in no particular order. (We spared you the nose picking incident.) Bagehot has a thoughtful take on what this all means.

1. Brown saves the world Read more

Jim Pickard

Sir Peter Viggers, the veteran Tory MP, was quoted yesterday saying: “As only one in seven cars are made in the UK, the government is effectively spending £7,000 for each new UK car sale.”

The Treasury select committee was also told  – by government officials – that the scheme would fund the purchase of 300,000 new cars. But two-thirds of these purchases would have taken place anyway. Read more

Whatever is left of Gordon Brown’s attempt to reform MPs’ expenses is about to be dealt a heavy blow.

The powerful standards and privileges committee, which represents four parties, will table an amendment on Thursday calling on Gordon Brown to allow an independent review of expenses to conclude before passing reforms. Read more

With the European elections fast approaching, eurosceptics will again be claiming that nothing good  comes out of Brussels. I’ve been leaked a document that conclusively proves them wrong. This proposed apple-pie-directive, which has been doing the diplomatic rounds, is quite special.

Some of it will mean nothing to those of you who are not immersed in the comfortingly odd habits of Brussels. But some of the insights are hilarious. My hat goes off to the Eurocrat who wrote it. Read more

Jim Pickard

The new 50p top rate of income tax is hugely significant. Read more

Jim Pickard

It is a gift for the Tories. And the timing is bizarre.

The International Monetary Fund has made its global economic predictions and the results aren’t too pretty for the UK. Read more

Two thoughts on the politics of the 50 per cent tax rate.

1) Alistair Darling has given the Tories a ticket out of tax raising jail  Read more

There is a grim chart on page p36 of the Budget showing national debt “on a declining path”.

Unfortunately it only goes up to 2020, so it is impossible to see exactly when the Treasury expect the debt to return to 40 per cent of national income. I’ve made my own clumsy attempt (see below) which sheds little light on the matter, other than to show that it will take a very long time indeed. Read more

Jim Pickard

It was only a small promise but gives some insight into how the government works.

Darling promised £50m on housing for the armed forces, with a grandiose pledge: Read more

The Budget scorecard (see p10) is far from clear in outlining the full extent of the raid on high earners. But the footnotes give a rough guide to how much extra the exchequer will be collection from people earning more than £100,000.

In 2012/13 the Treasury expects to be collecting about £7bn a year. Most of that is from people earning more than £150,000. About £1.5bn comes from the removal of the personal allowance, £2.4bn from the new 50 per cent rate, and £3.1bn from cutting tax relief for pensions contributions. Read more