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2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - So we've had NHS, poli... · 12 replies · +1 points

There is sometimes a need due to size of classes. Teaching Assistants are essential if we are to integrate special needs pupils into mainstream schools. They are also invaluable when there is a small village school ,teher are number of year groups in one class

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - So we've had NHS, poli... · 1 reply · +1 points

Increasing money provided to all secondary schools to £5000 a year is actually not that big a spend.

There is a question over priorities here. A large number of authorities – with Kent heading the list of shame – are not providing enough places for Special Needs pupils. Might not addressing Special Needs be a better use of scarce resources?

There are advantages in pupils with special needs being in mainstream schools – although this can put pressure on the schools. (Teacher Assistants are essential in such circumstances.) The cost of a special needs pupil in a mainstream school will be much higher than a non-special needs pupil.

There are a number of points one might take from the failing KCC.

It is difficult to be sure how bad the problem is – there seems to be a degree of false accounting going on. For example, a couple of years ago the Cabinet Member for Education authorised a Special Needs unit at the CoE Primary in Nonington. KCC website was claiming 9 Special Needs places at Nonington when the Unit there was visibly closed.

Second there might be significant savings from developing resource in a number of mainstream schools. One Canterbury boy who was at Nonington is now in a private school providing special needs support at great cost to KCC.

Third the system KCC uses to make payments to schools with special needs pupils is complex beyond belief. No doubt KCC will say that it is necessary to account for every penny of public money and to make sure everything is accounted for. This is a dangerous obsession resulting in extra accounting staff being employed and making schools reluctant to take special needs pupils.

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - "To literally feel ter... · 0 replies · +1 points

Like the Canterbury hospital, there may be all sorts of benefits from extra prison places; but fiscal neutrality requires that (1) these benefits either reduce spending elsewhere or increase tax revenue and (2) the positive contribution of (1) equals the cost to the Treasury of the project. There are many scenarios in which there would be some fiscal benefits from 10,000 new prison places but I doubt if there is any scenario (certainly not yours where you include private benefits which I agree are hugely valuable to victims) in which the full cost to the Treasury is matched.

This is not to say that some fiscal relaxation is not necessary - but as Paul Goodman signals and I emphasis in my comment there is a limit to the fiscal deficit the economy can sustain..

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - "To literally feel ter... · 4 replies · +1 points

“If Johnson somehow survives the autumn without a general election, or wins one with a majority, a further question will arises about all these spending plans – namely, whether or not they’re consistent with the traditional centre-right commitment to fiscal stability.”

Your suggestion that the incompatibility of increased spending with fiscal stability will only arise after an election is won is naïve.

First, the electorate is not as stupid as you assume. In 1974, Wilson and Healey unleashed a spending boom to win the October election. They expected a majority of 30 and got one of 5, partly because the spending increases were so clearly putting the pound and the economy under pressure.

An excessive regard for veracity is not one of the Prime Minister’s vices. George Washington could never tell a lie. Lloyd George could never tell the truth. Johnson looks like someone who cannot tell the difference. The electorate is likely to conclude that Adolf Hitler was not the only politician on being asked how he intended to deliver on a promise replied “Who compels us to keep the promises we make?” They will rightly view with suspicion what G K Chesterton described as “Lies of tongue and pen/All the easy speeches/That comfort cruel men”

The markets are likely to react much more quickly than in 1974 by pricing in the risk that Johnson will be returned and will spend as he promised. The availability of huge quantities of computing power has made economic modelling very much more sophisticated than it was in 1974. The emergence of AI means that many players in the financial markets have set up systems that make instantaneous decisions and implement them, making markets far more volatile. In 1968, Wilson gave the satirists a field day by blaming the pound’s problems on “the gnomes of Zurich”. In 1992, George Soros and others forced the pound out of the ERM – humiliating the Major government. The scope for dramatic events in 2019 is much greater than in 1968 or 1992.

The pound has recently fallen substantially. I was ticked off by the great Michael White for suggesting that SOME of the fall might be due not to fear of No Deal but to relaxation of the fiscal stance. I stand by my assessment – some of the relaxation in the fiscal stance will have been priced in; but every extra spending commitment increases the risk that speculative trading in the currency driven by economic modelling and often implemented by AI will cause a sterling crisis weeks before any election date. Politically it would be even worse if the pound collapsed shortly before polling day.

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - "To literally feel ter... · 3 replies · +1 points

“The Money may not be available”

In this article, you may this point about funding 10,000 new prison places.

But there really is a problem about the money being available for funding the demands of the NHS. And social care which Johnson has promised to address next. And education if he means more than a token increase.

The No 10 press release setting out how the £1.85Bn is to be spent is clearly an attempt to deal with this, and to allow the PM to move on. But the 20 projects have caused disappointment among those who are left out. Will not more money be needed for the NHS? And what will that mean for social care?

Take Canterbury. Anna Firth, the new candidate, and Helen Whately (whose Faversham seat could be at risk from the LibDems) are splashed across the front page of the Kentish Gazette with the words “We’ll make Boris back new hospital” and a picture of a serious looking Johnson. Kent was not allocated a penny of the £850M for new projects.

Anna Firth is calling on the Treasury to release £350M for the hospital. She is also calling for a new Southern bypass, which is integral to the hospital plan as it i8s to serve both Ashford and Thanet. So Anna Firth and Helen Whately are calling for £500M and have done so in a way which makes it probable that if the money is not forthcoming Canterbury will stay Labour and Faversham go Lib Dem. (The £350M is AFTER taking into account the offer of a new hospital building by a local developer in exchange for permission for 2,000 new houses)

Substantial spending in East Kent is badly needed. There is an alternative plan – which is appealing to Damian Green’s Ashford and Roger Gale’s N Thanet and Craig Mackinlay’s S Thanet – that requires only £275M.

There is a real risk that come October those denied their hospitals by No !0’s pre-emptive list of approved projects will have to be placated if an election is to be won. And if they are placated a huge hole will be blasted in the public finances.

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - How Johnson could play... · 0 replies · +1 points

Actually the EU has said that it will consider any proposals that the government puts forward albeit with a warning (which seems reasonable given the difficulties in making a change by 31 October) that the Withdrawal Agreement iiself cannot be changed. However they are open to additional protocols and discussions on what comes next. This means that there is real scope to agree something that might get through Parliament.

The government has said it will not talk until the EU unlaterally drops the back stop,

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - How Johnson could play... · 1 reply · +1 points

Partyloyalist seems to think Bojo was telling the truth. I recommend an early consultation with a psychiatrist.

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - How Johnson could play... · 0 replies · +1 points

“speculation about a recession might lend Boris Johnson more political cover for his clearly-signalled intention to turn on the spending taps. What might once have looked like vulgar pre-election bribes can now be recast, or at least spun, as prudent investments to bolster the economy at a crucial moment.”

Tax cuts and benefit before an election have been tried before. Rab Butler 1955 and Heathcote Amory in 1959 both produced give away budgets. Although promptly followed by take aways, politically this worked. The 1974 Wilson-Healey spending spree gave Labour enough seats to hang on until 1979.

It may be that we are about to have a give-away budget in early September. However so far the relaxation has all been on the spending side (the biggest item being No Deal preparations) and not much if any is going to go into the voters’ pockets. With the present high levels of employment and a dip in the numbers becoming 18, the promised boost to police numbers may add to the problems of the productive sector of the economy.

Allowing hospital trusts to spend £1bn they already have on maintenance will help to offset a decline in construction as in the medium term will the new money for 20 hospital projects. It is not clear how quickly this will flow through – probably not enough and not soon enough to produce an instant effect. Funding increased pay for teachers and possibly more teaching assistants would produce a boost as soon as this took effect. A big injection into social care might again produce a quick stimulus – assuming that a boost was spent on more employees and paying them better.

The projects that some Conservatives are talking about are unlikely to have any short-term impact (except possibly in adding to downwards pressures on the pound consequent to relaxed fiscal rules). For example Anna Firth, the new candidate for Canterbury, is calling both for a commitment to £350M on a new hospital and for diverting the A28 south of the city on a new bypass (uncosted but must be a £100M size project). Add in her calls for rail improvement and she is asking for £500M, but none of this can be spent quickly. Her actual words appear to have been that she and Helen Whately, MP for Faversham, will “convince Boris Johnson to back” this. The Kentish Gazette has predictably reported in front page headlines this as “’We’ll make Boris back new hospital’”.

This may all be “spin”. We can be absolutely certain that whoever is Chief Secretary to the Treasury after an election will find at the top of the In Tray a memorandum strongly advising that all such projects be put on hold at once.

A pre-election giveaway is a huge gamble with the future of the Conservative Party. Even if a fairly orderly Brexit takes place on 31st October the country can only benefit from it if there is huge investment in developing new markets and replacing EU imports. This requires a strong pound and low corporate taxes. This is not remotely compatible with a giveaway budget to stoke up consumer spending or feckless promises of essentially non-productive investment.

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Johnson bypasses the b... · 0 replies · +1 points

This is in essence an updated version of a Prime Minister broadcasting to the nation.

However when Prime Ministers broadcasted, the following day the Leader of the Opposition had a slot to broadcast as well. An unregulated social media – especially if the broadcast is promoted by huge targeted advertising - raises questions over how a Prime Minister is to be challenged.

Incidentally, Wilson’s pipe was more than a prop. It was accompanied with a noisy lighter. When Robin Day started on a difficult question, Wilson would lean forward towards the microphone and light the pipe. The hissing of the lighter drowned out much of the question. Wilson would then say what he wanted to get across.

2 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - A Government of nation... · 0 replies · +1 points


Corbyn doubtless hopes to benefit if everything goes wrong. He may calculate that he will be in No 10 within weeks if not days if Kent is reduced to a parking lot, if manufacturing companies have to announce temporary closures, if there is a mass cull of sheep and cattle and if the supermarket stores empty.

Corbyn in No 10 in such circumstances is unlikely. An overwhelming majority of MPs know that Corbyn and McDonnell are very nasty pieces of work. Further if a hard Brexit leads to serious problems, there will almost certainly be such a severe financial crisis that there cannot be a general election.


The precedent of 1931 is relevant. When Macdonald went to King George V to resign, the monarch summoned representatives of the Conservative and Liberal parties to meet with the prime minister and bluntly told them “Stop buggering my people about”. Both Baldwin and Lloyd George would have wanted an election, but were unable to attend, and Neville Chamberlain and Herbert Samuel recognised the force of the monarch’s point and committed their parties to a national government. Following a disastrous Brexit, the situation would be different in that Johnson would obviously not be an acceptable prime minister and Corbyn would also have to be excluded, so the model of the national government could not be replicated. However the precedent of 1931 is clear: the monarch can summon leading members of political parties represented in the Commons and tell them they have to work together. The politicians could ignore the monarch – but being literally torn limb from limb by a very angry populace is a painful death.