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Monthly Archives: July 2009
Lord Myners gives short thrift today to Tory plans to kneecap the Financial Services Authority and transfer many of its powers to the Bank of England.
Paddy Power, the bookies, have put the Tories at 1:25 on to win Norwich North in Thursday’s by-election. Labour are right out there as rank outsiders at 10:1.
Many former Labour voters are genuinely unhappy about the way their MP, Ian Gibson, was treated over his expenses. The party is broadly disliked at a national level. And now it emerges that the party candidate has gone down with swine flu.
Expect several front page headlines on Tuesday morning about HMRC’s plunging tax receipts in 08/09 – laid bare thanks to an NAO report. Astute readers of this column will already know about the £20bn-plus fall in tax take – you read it here - because it was flagged up on Budget day in the red book small print. You’ll notice that the coming year is set to be even worse, according to the Treasury’s own predictions.
The real nasty today was another £10bn-plus of unpleasant news, including £3bn of uncollected tax and £7bn set aside for legal claims by taxpayers. The bulk of the latter – a staggering £4.8bn – stems from a single landmark case concluded early last year over VAT repayments. HMRC admitted today that they have already paid £1.5bn as a result of this “Fleming” test case. That’s an awful lot of helicopters or MRI machines.
There are many good lines in the Ken Clark interview: privatising Royal Mail, dismantling BIS, his fitness regime, his admiration for Mandelson and so on. There were also some striking remarks on the timing of a spending review that are worth highlighting.
After consulting the highly regarded US counterinsurgency field manual, I’ve turned armchair general and definitively calculated how many extra troops are needed in Helmand.
Forget the debate about sending an extra 700 or 2,000 — for the campaign in Helmand to meet basic counterinsurgency doctrine, we’d need to double the number of US, UK and Afghan troops in the province.