Archive for the 'Budget' Category


How the papers are treating Sunak’s pandemic budget

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Sunak’s leadership hopes rest on his massive financial gamble coming off

Inevitably there is a split between what we used to call the tabloids which focus on the meal deal while the Guardian the Telegraph and the Financial Times highlight the big overall worries for the economy.

There are two big areas for concern summed up by the Guardian’s focus on possible job losses and the FT’s emphasis on the huge amount of borrowing that will be required. The Times notes that the pandemic support plan now exceeds the annual spend by the UK government on the NHS which really put this into perspective.

Another huge Sunak gamble is with his plans to boost the hospitality sector. Getting people back to work is clearly a key objective but what happens if this acts as the catalyst for more people to be affected by the virus? One thing is for sure Covid19 has not gone away and incentivising people to get into situations where they could be affected might not with hindsight prove to be smart.

On the betting market Sunak remains as second favourite to be next PM with punters rating his as a 17% chance.

Mike Smithson


With all the questions over TMay’s future punters it a tad less likely that she’ll be out soon

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

But it’s still a 67% chance that she’ll cease to be PM before Brexit

There’s little doubt that just about the worst thing that Theresa May has done during her short Premiership was the broadcast to the nation five nights go when she appeared to blame Parliament for the problems in getting her  brexit deal approved. It was that apparent denial of the democratic process that has angered a lot within the House and outside.

More and more people are commenting on her robotic style and her complete lack of flexibility when faced with a massive issue that will impact on the nation for generations.

As to whether she is going to have an early exit  that requires the near unanimous view of her cabinet to ask her to go. Even then, knowing Theresa May, she might just stand firm.

So the next few days are extraordinarily hard to predict and we have tomorrow morning the cabinet meeting when, if last night reports are to be believed, she is going to be confronted by her ministers. I’ll believe it when I see it.

What is dawning on people is the fragility of her situation particularly in view of her own health issues. That she’s able to carry on in the way she does in many ways is amazing but worrying.

Mike Smithson


Hammond’s budget: the tabloids react

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

The budget – at least its been a break from Brexit

My guess is that the Tories will not be too unhappy about the coverage of the budget. Mostly the papers are positive or neutral and he has managed to avoid horrors of the past like George Osborne’s pasty tax.

So initially job well done and some prominence for the Chancellor who is nothing like a high profile as his predecessor George Osborne, who was sacked by Theresa May just after she became leader.

I just wonder whether Hammond might be back in the frame to succeed Theresa May assuming there won’t be any contest before the Brexit deal has been agreed and has been implemented.

He does not get the attention of other possible contenders but as John Major’s 1990 experience shows that can be no bad thing. A big negative until now has been that he has firmly been in the remain camp. After Brexit that might not matter as much and if things go wrong then could be a real positive.

Mike Smithson


The budget spread bets – how many times will key words be mentioned?

Monday, October 29th, 2018

At 3.30pm the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond will rise to set out his latest budget. I must say that I am still not used to this taking place in November and on a Monday. Throughout my adult life budgets have happened in March or early April and never on a Monday.

We are where we are.

I like the different approach to budget bets taken in the above Sporting Index set of markets. How many time will certain things happen or be said.

I’m attracted by “Brexit” which surely will be said more than fibe times. The length of speech is always an interesting gamble. When Gordon Brown gave his last budget I “sold” the number of minutes and found myself cheering him on whenever he began to talk fast.

Have a good afternoon.

Mike Smithson


Best of luck today Theresa – you are going to need it

Friday, July 13th, 2018

With the American President, Donald Trump, on the second day of his visit to the UK the Sun is carrying an extraordinary interview with the President in which he gives his views on how Mrs May should tackle Brexit.

Views of the occupant of the White House are so negative in the UK that I wonder whether this sort of bombastic approach might just attract a lot of sympathy to Mrs May as she seeks to steer a course through one of the most challenging situations for a prime minister that we have seen in decades.

The Trump approach appears to be to “stir shit” wherever he goes and it is hard to see how the US, or the Western alliance benefits by this.

This biting Tweet is from Robert Reich who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Here is another extraordinary Tweet coming out of the Trump visit – From ex-deputy PM Nick Clegg.

Mike Smithson


For the first time since GE2017 consecutive polls have Corbyn’s Labour behind

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

His ambivalence over Brexit impedes LAB on the biggest issue

Two Westminster voting intention polls in the past 24 hours have both got the COM in the lead and of course LAB in second place. This is the first time since the general election that consecutive polls have showed this.

    Labour’s real problem is that it is failing to have a clear distinctive voice that resonates with the vast numbers of Labour voters Who are strongly for remain.

Brexit is by far the biggest issue of the day yet Mr Corbyn seems extraordinarily reluctant to talk about it and exploit opportunities where the Conservatives appeared to be divided. An opposition leader worth his salt would have seized upon the divisions in government and be piling the pressure on now.

Last week at PMQs, it will be recalled, the Labour leader totally failed to mention what was then the biggest embarrassment for the government – the statement by David Davis earlier to a committee that there were no impact assessments as he had been talking about for months.

Today an opposition leader worth his salt would have really being tearing into the government over the comments made by David Davis which have now been seized on by other European leaders has reasons to delay proper trade talks.

Corbyn has two problems: He doesn’t really believe in staying in the EU which means he is very much out of line with party voters. Second is that he simply does not have the mental flexibility to seize issues that could embarrass the government and develop them.

One of the findings in today’s YouGov poll has Theresa May extending her lead by five points as who is the best prime minister. She was up and he is down.

How different it all looked in the summer when he made his Glastonbury appearance a week or so after the general election. Then we were being told that he had predicted that he would be in Downing Street by Christmas . Well it ain’t going to happen.

Mike Smithson


In defence of John McDonnell. Don Brind denounces the “interview as humiliation”

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

“If only we Germans had a word for it”.

The BBC’s comedy news programme The Now Show came up with an imagined quote from Chancellor Angela Merkel reflecting on how her failure to form a new German coalition government was being relished by her detractors.

Two alleged car crash interviews by the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also inspired Schadenfreude and it was probably not confined to Tories. Over the years McDonnell has rubbed up against plenty of his PLP colleagues who would no doubt have felt that joy at the humiliation of another.

The Shadow Chancellor’s first encounter with Andrew Neil on the BBC Budget programme had them salivating . The second, with Mishal Hussein on the Today programme produced a splash for the Standard (remind me, who is the editor?). It claimed McDonnell was “ridiculed today when he repeatedly failed to put a figure on Labour’s borrowing plans”

McDonnell is one of Team Corbyn’s best communicators but he was below par on his early morning outing. He nonetheless made a perfectly sound case for investment in infrastructure “Every infrastructure project you put out there immediately starts employing people, they start paying their taxes and as a result of that you cover your costs.

But he threw in a complaint about “the type of journalism where you go into an interview and someone asks you a question of a particular figure, is to be honest, a trite form of journalism.”

It came across as a whinge but whenever I hear an interviewer ask repeat a simple question and then complain the politician hasn’t answered it I hear echoes of the Jeremy Paxman’s signature Newsnight interview in which he directed the same question to the then Home secretary Michael Howard twelve times.

That 1997 interrogation was widely admired and emulated but it became increasingly clear that Paxman’s journalism stemmed from deep cynicism and contempt for politics and politicians. This was confirmed five years later when he authored The Political Animal. It was reviewed in the New Statesman by John Lloyd . I made his powerful critique required reading for my students when I turned my hand to teaching politics and journalism.

Paxman, argued Lloyd, sees politicians as “demented, empty, lickspittle bunch; indeed, many may be psychologically flawed.” and Parliament as a “pantomime”.

According to Paxman, MPs see the fact politics has moved away from the Commons to the studios as a “Bad Thing, since it deprives them of the opportunity to hold the government to account in the cockpit of democracy. They have yet to explain why this process can be done only in a converted chapel under rules of conduct, some of which date back to the 16th century.”

Lloyd concluded gloomily “Paxman – as an approach rather than an individual – has won. His style of journalism – the interview as humiliation, or personality clash – is now the preferred type

“Broadcast news and current affairs, for all its many splendours, is now an anti-democratic conspiracy. No one, it seems, can do anything about it.”

That’s undoubtedly an overstatement – I certainly don’t believe that McDonnell’s interrogators, Andrew Neil and Mishal Hussein, share Paxman’s cynicism and contempt. But when you hear a question repeated over and over it’s worth asking whether that question is aimed at enhancing understanding of a complex issue or whether it’s about making the journalist look good and showing the politician is a fool.

Don Brind


From YouGov: The budget in five charts

Saturday, November 25th, 2017