Can’t make it up

They say timing is everything and this advert from the Conservative Party is about as bad as timing can be. Did their campaigns department not notice that such a theme was a bad idea right as a gambling fraud investigation was kicking off?

For content gambling companies are obliged to report suspicious betting patterns, and in this case it was a huge spike in bets related to a July election the day before it was announced. In short the suspicion is the gambling equivalent of insider trading although the laws themselves are targeted at match fixing.

So far four Conservative staffers are being investigated — in other words the sort of people who if they did not know about an imminent election they really should have. In normal circumstances this would be very embarrassing but after all the Covid-era rule breaking this points towards endemic malfeasance within the Conservative hierarchy.

The advert itself could be put down to apathy-related carelessness. Such is the fatalism among Conservatives there are reports that candidates are being diverted from campaigning in their northern seats to seats in the south. With a week and a half to go all the talk is now what will be left of the party.

Posted in UK, UK Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Can’t make it up

Taxes will rise

Labour have matched the Conservative party by promising not to increase National Insurance, Income Tax, VAT, Capital Gains tax, VAT, or Corporation Tax. Together these account for a shave under three-quarters of all government revenue and as a result I expect this pledge will be broken, either literally or via some fiddled that are a rises in all but name.

Tricks like fiscal drag are to be expected so by ‘fiddle’ what I have in mind is changes to the scope of taxes, such as removal of exemptions/reliefs and reclassifications of which tax things fall under. Reducing the number of things that attract lower rates of VAT and moving some things from Capital Gains to Income Tax seem the most likely targets.

With national debt interest payments already at 10% of government spending there is not much scope for extra borrowing, and history has shown that savings from things like fraud crackdowns never materialise. With the economy being stagnant since 2008 extra revenue from growth in GDP is complete wishful thinking. Significant portions of new money will only come from upping tax rates.

As for spending there are some big ticket items in the pipe-line. Like it or not the government will have to pick up the tab for the railways and Thames Water because they are bankrupt, the Horizon and Hepatitis C compensation payouts will both be multi-billion, councils going into Section 114, a huge maintenance back-log, and the gorilla of the health budget is exploding.

This is not specifically about Labour. The Conservative manifesto talks about reduced spending but the only way to cut that steeply is to abolish entire departments overnight Javier Milei style, which clearly they will not do.

Posted in UK, UK Politics | Tagged , | Comments Off on Taxes will rise

Halfway gone

It has now been 3 weeks into the 6-week British general election campaign and so far it seems that the Conservatives are doing everything that is likely to push their support base towards Reform. The campaign got of too a very bad start with some bad missteps but it is tuning into downward spiral of completely crushed morale. I still think things could well tighten up in the next week or two but so far everything is in the opposite direction.

Rishi Sunak skipping large portion of the D-Day memorial in Normandy turned what should have been an easy trip into an unmitigated blunder on a monumental scale, and the dust was barely settled when Penny Mordant admitted “taxes had risen to a record level” under them. This was the first time I thought that a Canadian-style wipeout was more than wishful thinking from the British left.

A manifesto centred around £17billion of tax cuts funded by the usual suspects of smashing welfare and cutting civil servants was a damp squib because it had zero credibility and was clearly written in a state of panic. The few bits in there that actually target people outside of the Conservative party faithful really look like afterthoughts.

It looks like the SNP are in no fit state to run a proper campaign so I no longer consider Scotland a possible wild-card. For them this is an existential election and if they really do end up losing two-thirds of their seats Scottish independence will be firmly off the agenda for a very long time. They were the only thing I thought could stop a big Labour win.

The real killer is the Conservatives now talking about a Labour landslide, most notably with Grant Shapps talking about trying to stop a “supermajority” which is something that is not a concept in British politics. Maybe they are hoping that a lot of Labour support does not bother to vote, but that is Last Chance Saloon tactics.

Posted in UK, UK Politics | Tagged | Comments Off on Halfway gone