It is astonishing to behold Gordon Brown tearing up all the rules by which he spent more than a decade swearing. The Chancellor who used to eviscerate the Tories for reckless fiscal 'black holes' has transmogrified into the Prime Minister who now hails unfunded tax cuts as the 'fiscal stimulus' that will save the world ... The man who once swore that he would stick to his rules on borrowing, come sunshine or showers, now declares that the never-never is the new prudence. This is a stunning inversion of what were once all the basic axioms of New Labour.
It is absolutely breathtaking. But the breath that has been most taken away is that of the Tories. They simply cannot comprehend how the Prime Minister can be getting away with it. Dazed and confused, they search for a goat to scape.
I'm not George Osborne's biggest fan, to put it mildly. But if even Vince Cable can't nail Gordo, what chance does Osborne have - in the short term ?
This crisis has yet to run its course - IMHO we're only at the start. Gordo's bounce will probably deflate. Although there is the (to the Tories) dreadful possibility that things will get really bad, and the worse they get, the more we'll cling to him.
In the light of the new BBC campaign against saying nasty things about da youth, a link to the origial 'chav hunting' video, and the wonderfully po-faced BBC commentary thereon.
David Green in the Times on the welfare state and its disincentives to work and marriage - or even coupledom :
Worst of all, low-income couples with children – precisely those who can make ends meet only by combining their efforts – are discouraged from living together. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, if a single mother earning £10,000 was contemplating living with a boyfriend earning £25,000, the pair would be £5,473 per year better off if they told the government they lived separately – a bonus of 22% for doing the wrong thing.
Many single parents live with a boyfriend or girlfriend despite such financial pressures. A survey for the work and pensions department in 2004 found that 23% gave up benefits to “re-partner”. Their decision to live together was a triumph of romance over economics and we can conjecture that, without powerful government incentives to live separately, more people would marry.
We now have a big problem with welfare dependency. In 1960 all social security benefits cost 5.5% of GDP. In 2006-7 the cost of “social protection” was 13.4% of GDP. The solution is not to harden our hearts and invoke a crackdown. It is to put the welfare state on a new footing: reciprocity.
The Jersey children's home murders turn out to have been a mass outbreak of moral panic - Richard Webster at spiked.
L’Obama, ossia L’Avvento del Messia
Opera in Tre Atti
And a magnificent film review by David Cox in the Guardian, of all places. Think he'll be asked to do any more ?
Hunger, the much praised and garlanded Britflick hagiography of Provo hunger striker Bobby Sands, didn't quite do it for me.
It began by laying bare the supposedly brutal treatment of Republican prisoners at The Maze. I'd been under the impression that standards at this facility were carefully maintained, if only because the cunning Brits were keen to fend off international protests about their dubious judicial arrangements. This wasn't, however, my problem. That lay elsewhere. Far from being shocked at seeing the inmates roughed up a bit, I found myself wishing they'd been properly tortured, preferably savagely, imaginatively and continuously.