A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


PMQs showed there isn't going to be much talk from voters about not being able to tell the difference between the main parties come the next election.

It's quite astonishing just how wedded to laissez faire the Tories have suddenly become, when the response to the downturn is broadly bipartisan in almost every other country.

This isn't quibbling about the details, they seem to have rejected any attempt to reflate the economy, beyond a gimmicky Council Tax freeze - rather meaningless when Labour Councils like my one in Hackney have frozen the Council Tax for several years running, and as Siobhain McDonagh has just told the PM, Labour Groups in places like Merton are proposing a £100 cut to their local Council Tax.

It was good to see the PM remind people of Cameron's experience in Government as Special Adviser to Lamont in the early '90s, when his "special advice" included raising VAT and trying to raise VAT on fuel to 17.5%.

Cameron was as usual polished and well-scripted but lapsed into petulance with his childish and patently daft comment that Brown should "do something useful".

Rather better was Brown's dismissal "I'm sorry I have to give him an economics lecture every week".

Cameron's mantra is now to repeatedly use the phrase "bombshell". This worked in 1992 because Labour was in opposition and no one knew what they would do in power. It won't work this time because by the time the election is fought, the PBR decisions will actually be felt in people's pockets and won't have been a "bombshell" - they will have helped people. By constantly saying "bombshell", Cameron is acting like the boy who cried wolf.


Anonymous Jules said...

You really are incapable of seeing out into the real world Luke. Try taking a deep breath, standing back and looking at things in a non-partisan manner.

12:41 pm, November 26, 2008

Anonymous Ben said...

Talking of Council Tax - Conservative Hammersmith and Fulham Council have just announced a 3% cut for the 3rd year running.

12:56 pm, November 26, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Yes but funded by slashing vital services, whereas Hackney's freeze has been combined with spending growth - acheived by Gershon efficiency savings at back office level and improved Council Tax collection.

1:00 pm, November 26, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hammersmith and Fulham cuts its communications budget to achieve most of its 3% cut.

This department produced propaganda material which no one read.

Hardly a cut to vital services.

1:45 pm, November 26, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

H&F Tory councillors gave themselves an 18% pay rise on taking office.

You can read all about what they are up to here: http://thecowanreport.blogspot.com/

1:55 pm, November 26, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't you missed something?

I seem to recall the economy is deep in the doodoo - the biggest deficit in our history.

And you're doing a Monty Python routine, "Always look on the bright side ... "

2:10 pm, November 26, 2008

Anonymous Secret Santa said...


Councillors don't get "paid".

A councillor should know better than to use that kind of jibe!


2:19 pm, November 26, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

OK they gave themselves an 18% allowance rise.

Personally I would have trouble explaining why an allowance that is paid through the council's payroll system, and notified to you by a payslip that says you are an employee of the council, isn't pay. Can you expain?

2:41 pm, November 26, 2008

Anonymous Matthew said...

Talking of Hammersmith, look at this:
"the Council issued UNISON with an official 'Advance Notification of Redundancies' affecting all 4283 members of staff!.

What this means is that we will all be dismissed and then invited to re-apply for our posts on worse terms and conditions."
From http://unionfutures.blogspot.com/

4:02 pm, November 26, 2008

Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

Oh dear, looks like Luke has swallowed the Labour press release.

Freezing council tax, cutting national insurance (when Labour will raise it), guaranteeing bank loans to free up the credit market - these solutions will do a hell of a lot more than a piddling decrease in VAT.

9:49 am, November 27, 2008

Anonymous Arnold said...

Face it Tories - your boy Cameron is a busted flush. Time for a leadership contest methinks.

5:03 pm, November 27, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Very good post Luke, I find myself agreeing with you stongly on this.

The tories seem to want to try a Japanese solution to the banking crisis, i.e. recapitialisation, refusal to nationalise the banks, atleast that is what Lord Lawson reckons. In Japan their economy turned from tiger to worm in the nineties as their government limped from pillar to post (is it really true they have a national debt of 90% GDP?).

I'm sorry to inform the Tories the rules of economics have changed, beating the "small government" drum is pure foolishness at a time when markets cannot deliver.

5:48 pm, November 27, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

The behaviour of the Tories over the past week has made me think very seriously about rejoining the Labour party

11:05 pm, November 27, 2008


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