Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The puzzling polls

The opinion polls have been fixed on a tie for both main parties for a few months now. Both Labour and the Tories are stuck on a range of 31 to 35%. It's quite puzzling that nothing is moving the polls. Debates, manifestos, policies. Nothing has changed a thing.

As someone of the right, I also find it disturbing that anyone can think of voting for Ed Miliband and his naive policies which would wreck the economy in slow chunks.

But there have been a few chinks of light in the polls to give us some direction. The polling outliers, which we nearly always discount, show that when UKIP goes down, the Tories go up, and vice versa. I believe this is what the Tory election machine sees too. They are throwing everything at the Labour/SNP possible government in the hope that it will influence the UKIP waverers into going back to the Tories.

There's anecdotal evidence that this is beginning to cut through. No matter what Labour say, the SNP is their only way of getting back into Government and electorate knows it.

All the campaigns have been a bit weak so far, and I don't believe the electorate believes much of what they are told. They also know that the manifestos are only wish lists now, and not a promise. The surprise though is just how weak UKIP are performing. We expected Nigel Farage to steal the thunder of this election, but it's actually Nicola Sturgeon who is performing this role.

The questions I want answering now are:

- Are the Tories promising to build one house for every one they sell in rent-to-buy, or is it just a hope? What happened to the garden cities?

- What will be the level of Labour deficit at the end of 5 years?

- How does Labour know exactly how much the mansion tax will raise, but not what level they will set the tax at or any details?

- Which programmes are Labour going to ditch following their zero-based review?

- Do the Tories have any plans for Education at all?

- Where is Boris?

- If UKIP has the EU referendum and the electorate chooses to stay in, what happens to the rest of their manifesto? Is it just trash?

- What planet are the Greens on?

- When Labour says that they will do cuts, is there anything above piddling millions to contribute to the deficit reduction? And they say growth will help, do they expect higher or lower growth than current plans given their increased tax programme?

- Will the Tories make English Votes for English Laws a red line?

I know, just like Andrew Neil, that I wouldn't get any answers to these questions - but you can always hope for clarity!

Anyway, we are going to have another 2 weeks of this....


Lewis Hamilton has the beating of Nico Rosberg

After four races it's now Hamilton 4 - Rosberg 0 in Qualifying and Hamilton 4 - Rosberg in races. I think it's fair to say that Hamilton now has whip hand at Mercedes. Rosberg is looking more and more like a good number 2. Maybe his best chance to be World Champion has already passed.

Now Lewis Hamilton can focus on being a triple World Champion.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Anti-business, anti-aspiration, anti-Britain: Ed Miliband's your man

The opening weeks of the election campaign have confirmed one thing. Ed Miliband hates success.

If you want to be successful, don't try to do it in Britain.

The Labour party has announced in the last few months that they would introduce:

  • the 50% upper band for anyone earning over £150,000 per annum
  • a 'mansion' tax on any properties worth over £2 million
  • reduction of tax allowances on pension pots
  • 'abolition' of non-dom status for people non resident in the UK
  • an increase of 1% in corporation tax
At each point, when the policies have been argued, the Labour party representative has argues that they wouldn't expect it to change any behaviour and so not have a detrimental effect on our economy. But taken together the above policies represent a comprehensive attack on any kind of aspiration, business or successful person. 

We know that tax changes behaviour. Otherwise why put tax on alcohol, cigarettes and fuel? The Labour party policies will deter many people from investing in Britain, living here or setting up successful businesses. The message is clear: Ed Miliband prefers the politics of student bar envy to a entrepreneurial economy creating jobs, employing thousands, paying wages and creating a wider tax base. He would prefer to take money from the well off rather than increase the tax take.

Ed Miliband laughs in the face of Arthur Laffer and his curve!

My worry is that people will fall for it. It all sounds so nice to put the 'burden on those with the widest shoulders'. In 2006 the top 1% paid 24% of the UK income tax take, last year that had increased to 27%. I want to know at what point have the rich paid their fair share? 30%, 35%, 40%? 

How much longer can we continue to soak the rich before they take their pots of money away and the burden then falls on the poor? How much longer will the golden goose lay its eggs? Not much longer if the leader of the Labour party has its way. 

Let's hope that the people of Britain see sense.


P.S. on another note - I hear Ed Miliband is as decisive as Gordon Brown. Oh God, don't take me back to 2007-2009!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Blog of 7 way leader's debate

Here's my blog for tonight:

Live Blog Leaders Debate - 7 way

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Leaders Debate: Cameron vs Miliband part 1

Here's a live blog:

Live Blog Leaders Debate 1

Sunday, 1 March 2015

F1 testing roundup

The 2015 winter season has ended, it's now just two weeks until the first Grand Prix in Melbourne. So what have we learnt?

The cars are going to be quite a bit quicker than last year. They look better in 2015 and may even be a little bit louder. But what about the competitive order? Not much appears to have changed.

Mercedes appear to be out front again. They have completed the whole of testing on one engine, and have been quickest when they chose to show their hand. They completed the most number of laps and have some great reliability. Williams seem to be in a similar position to last year as best of the rest, half a second behind the Mercs.

Red Bull are a bit of a puzzle. They seem relatively quick, but may have dropped back from last year, but their testing is better than last year. It's possible that they have a very good car, but the Renault engine is down on power and they will have dropped back.

The Ferrari looks much improved. The engine appears to be much better, the aerodynamics look better and their times might show them as the third best team. The car looks like it will suit Raikkonen better so expect him to be closer to Vettel than Alonso last year.

The McLaren looks like a much improved chassis with reports that it is much more predictable, something that Button particularly needs. The installation with Honda has been problematic though, and they have had a multitude of reliability issues, meaning that they haven't been able to do enough laps and demonstrate their true pace.

Force India turned up for the last three days of testing after issues of 'build problems' delaying them. When they did turn up, though, the car was good and extremely reliable. With reports of money worries, let's hope they can build a great season.

Toro Rosso have also run a lot of laps, and the car looks reasonable, but the Renault engine may let them down. The young Verstappen looks impressive.

The Sauber looks much improved. On top of having a better Ferrari engine, the chassis looks more stable especially around braking. Tey have put in fast times, though I suspect they have been show-boating a little.

We hope to see Manor/Marussia on the grid, though I suspect its still touch and go. They will run with a 2014 engine so will be uncompetitive, but they have to make it to the end of the year to continue with the payments from FOM.

It looks like it will be Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg again as champion, with Mercedes as constructors champions. I'm still looking forward to it though.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A new chapter in Greek mythology

The final act in Greece's struggle with the Euro has started, in what will surely go down as a new story in Greek mythology.

Since the election of Syriza on a platform of ignoring debts, hoping people will lend money with no expected of being paid back and staying in the Eurozone whilst insulting the Germans, the new Government is demonstrating amazing hope over expectation.

The way the negotiations are going does not really bear out any likelihood that a deal will be done, though many commentators do expect a rabbit to be pulled from the hat. I don't think so. The Greek Government has got itself - quickly - into a position where by to pull back will be a humiliation. They have even asked the German Government to pay reparations for the second World War. Not bloody likely, and insulting to the people who have lent loads of money to the Greeks over the last few years.

The screws are being tightened on Greece whilst they raise the minimum wage, re-hire public sector staff that were laid off, re-open the public broadcaster, and scrap any privatizations. The European Central Bank has closed down a facility for providing liquidity to Greek banks, meaning that funding will have to come from the Greek central bank - that won't last long. In the mean time the stock market is plummeting and withdrawals from Greek banks is continuing at a steady rate.

It will not be too long, possibly the end of the month, by which Greece starts to feel some pain. It will need an emergency loan, and I don't think anyone, other than maybe Russia, will oblige. From there it will be a game of brinkmanship. Will the Greek Government give up, or will the German Government? I think the stakes are higher if the Germans give in. It then paves the way for Spain, Portugal and Irelend to start throwing debt repayments to the wind, and I don't think the EU will countenance Spain leaving.

I therefore think that Greece will be in a full blown crisis by the end of March, with runs on the banks and capital leaving the country. They will shortly have to leave the Eurozone, the return of a new Drachma and then major inflation and pain for the whole of Greece. It will then quickly turn itself around, and maybe Spain will be interested to go it's own way in the end anyway!

And it will be down to some short term choices, just when Greece had started to rebuild.

Let that be a lesson in not to fall for short term gimmicks, sometimes you need to just face the pain.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

F1 will eat itself

It's the end of the first week of testing in F1 2015 and we can draw a few conclusions.

Firstly, Mercedes are continuing where they left off. They have concentrated on reliability and so we cannot be sure of their performance, but rest assured that they will still be the team to beat.

The surprise is Ferrari, who seemed to be genuinely quick and reliable. Maybe they will be in a position to challenge this year, but possibly leading the second pack. Sauber seemed to have a much better car this year, and although I think their speed was deceptive (using low fuel loads) , in a much better position than last year.

The new McLaren looks like a better car, more refined and tightly packaged. But they were running well off the pace, with multiple issues surrounding sensors and the new Honda engine. It looks similar to the Renault problems from last year. If they can be resolved maybe they can challenge Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams for best of the rest.

The biggest disappointment has been from the meeting this week which refused the restarted Manor/Marussia from using last year's car. Apparently it was Force India that voted first and they refused. There is the little matter of Marussia's prize money of £30m being split equally amongst the other teams if they do not race. It could come down to greed.

F1's ruling structures are crazy. How can it be that teams get to vote on their competitor's rights to race?! Surely it should come under the FIA to determine. I guess it's because they are asking to race last year's car, and need the others to agree. But F1 has lost so many teams in the last few years and the competitors should put the sport before themselves. I understand Ron Dennis and Christian Horner were going to allow Marussia, so good on them!