Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Taxi for Freud - The David Cameron Confidence Indicator Updated

"David Cameron has full confidence in...."

Survivors (so far)
Jeremy Hunt
Full confidence declared 28 June 2010
Full confidence declared again 24 April 2012
Reshuffled from Secretary of State at DCMS to Secretary of State for Health 4 Sept 2012
(Considered a promotion, so confidence still holds)

Theresa May
Full confidence declared 7 November 2011
Full confidence declared again 20 April 2012
Still in office as Home Secretary at time of going to press.

Francis Maude
Full confidence declared 2 April 2012
Still in office as Cabinet Office minister at time of going to press

Lord Freud
Full confidence declared 4:13pm 15 October 2014
Still in office as welfare minister at time of going to press

Confidence - and job - lost.

Maria Miller
Full confidence declared 13 December 2012
Full confidence declared again 2 April 2014
Still in office as Secretary of State for Culture at time of going to press

Stephen Green
Full confidence declared 23 July 2012
"Retired from government" 10 December 2013.

Andrew Mitchell
Full confidence declared 12:16 24 September 2012
Resigned as Chief Whip 19 October 2012

Caroline Spelman
Full confidence declared 28 June 2008
Replaced as Conservative Chairman 19 January 2009
Finally sacked as Secretary of State for Environment 4 Sept 2012

Andy Coulson
Full confidence declared 11.25am 21 January 2011
Resigned as Comms Director 11:37am 21 January 2011

HRH Prince Andrew

Full confidence declared 8 March 2011.
"Stepped down" as trade envoy 22 July 2011

Chris Huhne
Full confidence declared 16 May 2011
Full confidence declared again 2.14pm 20 January 2012
Resigned 10:50am 3 Feb 2012.

Liam Fox
Full confidence declared 8 October 2011
Resigned as Defence Secretary 14 October 2011

Baroness Warsi
Full confidence declared 27 May 2012
Reshuffled 4 Sept 2012 to 'Senior' Minister of State at Foreign Office
(Demotion, so confidence lost - quit 5 August 2014)

Andrew Lansley
Full 'support' declared 15:13 7 February 2012
Full confidence declared again 14 May 2012
Reshuffled as Secretary of State for Health to Leader of the House of Commons 4 Sept 2012
(I consider this a demotion, although still Cabinet level, so consider confidence lost)

Lord Freud joins the ranks of confidence men and women, with the clock ticking on his survival. 71% of those who receive a public declaration of support end up leaving the stage. If more comes out tomorrow, he could be gone within 24 hrs.

Miller took 482 days to go after the first confidence assurance, but just seven days after the second assertion. We now have an average of 193 days if we count from the first guarantee of confidence and 111 from the second vote of confidence.

The record is likely to remain with Andy Coulson, who took just 12 minutes to lose the PM's confidence. Jeremy Hunt holds the record for the longest survival after confidence was first declared, which took less than two months of being in office. Andrew Mitchell also holds the record as the Cameron's only government Chief Whip not to have lost a parliamentary vote. His successor has not only lost a vote, but lost two MPs.

The truth here is that no minister should have to have the PM's confidence in them stated publicly.

The very fact that it is an issue indicates that the minister is on a slippery slope....

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Always jam tomorrow

Cameron's speech to close the Tory conference today was a decent one, although he is hardly an orator to match his predecessors. It has received a better press than it deserves, although you can hardly blame the Tory faithful for clutching at any straw as the chance of a Tory majority in 2015 sinks below the horizon. It was not the Gettysburg Address or JFK's inaugural.

The centrepiece promise of tax cuts in the next parliament was an example of chutzpah of the highest order.

Remember that Cameron promised to end the deficit by 2015 - a target that will be missed. He promised a rebalanced economy - but we now have growth based on a revival of the volatile services sector and one far too focussed on the South East and London. We'll set aside the pre-election rejection of a VAT rise or the many other broken promises.

Today, he made another promise - that sometime in the 2018 fiscal year (just in time for the run up to the 2020 election) - he will be able to deliver hefty (and non-progressive) tax cuts. The IFS clearly demonstrate that these tax cuts will benefit the wealthy significantly more than those less fortunate - 69% of the cut will go to benefit those in the top half of incomes, with just 15% going to those in the lowest income groups.

The value of this tax giveaway is worth some £12 billion according to the IFS, although the Tories reckon on £7 billion a year - perhaps suggesting that they don't think it will actually be that transformative.

But all of this comes with a cost. They have been clear that they won't seek to raise taxes, but to reduce public spending. This isn't about tackling the deficit, but going beyond that into surplus. As we know that Osborne and IDS plan to continue their attack on the poor (well, someone has to pay the price and the poor are easy targets), social security will continue to be eroded.

The NHS budget looks set to be maintained, so the cuts are going to have to fall on other departments. If you start protecting education and overseas aid as well, that would suggest cuts of around 30% could have to be delivered. The government have been touting a figure of 3% as an amount to be cut, but that's based on total government spend and an awful lot of spending lines are committed or protected. Including these tax cuts, Osborne and Cameron are going to be seeking about £50 billion of spending cuts to bring the surplus required.

From where I sit, a lot will depend on the strength of the Secretary of State and the department. I'd expect Defence to put up a good argument for no further cuts - the military can't really be expected to be combat ready with any further reduction in spending. On past form, Eric Pickles will only too happily offer up councils to take a share of the cuts and that terrifies me - and it should worry you. Putting money back into the pockets of those with the broadest shoulders not only means that the poorest will suffer unfair cuts in income, but that the services on which they depend will also take a kicking.

What is perhaps even more surprising is that the Tories have welcomed these unfunded commitments. Only a few weeks ago, the Tory parrots were out in force:
Karl McCartney MP has condemned Labour’s pledges over the summer for £21 billion more unfunded, inefficient and ineffective spending. New analysis has revealed this would cost working households £1,235 each – totalling a cost of £1.5 billion for working households across the East Midlands. This would all have to be paid for by higher taxes or more borrowing, making hardworking taxpayers, and future generations, worse off.
He was joined by Gavin Williamson MP, candidate Spencer Drury, even Aidan Burley took a break from organising stag parties to repost the CCHQ line.

So these are unfunded cuts