The Chancellor’s magic money tree [Op-Ed]

magic money tree – The Sloman Economics News Site

The Chancellor is once again resorting to whataboutery around calais. It is important to point out new X-ray and infrared technology will cost in the millions. In comparison to the full government budget the Chancellor is looking around for trivial sums to try to create a gotcha moment over his £5 billion blackhole. 

If need be the additional expenditure can be retroactively corrected like the VAT error was. The statement in question did not claim no new funding would be needed and nor did it claim it could be done for free within the department. We’re not here to talk about Calais and the fact the Chancellor is still choosing to deflect and say “no but u” sums up his attitude to his job. 

The Chancellor’s central claim of the budget being £100 billion for Schools and only the Education budget only being £60 billion in 2014 remain false. This has already been sourced and this assumption that the Chancellor told the House that his spending decision was made has gone unaddressed and is wrong. This claim has been sourced previously and the Chancellor has not chosen to address this. 

Increases to the pupil premium are not capital expenditure. It is a permanent increase which requires day-to-day funding. 

Sen and EHC funding per pupil eligible being boosted is also a permanent boost which is not capital expenditure.

The Chancellor repeatedly talks about capital spending. However what was announced is not capital spending, so this means that the Chancellor is cutting capital expenditure for our education. He is funding day-to-day expenditure by slashing capital budgets so unless the funds are to be replaced they’d stop this capital spending indefinitely.

No one is claiming capital projects are done in perpetuity however the decision to cut capital budgets could very well jeopardise ongoing projects such as the construction of schools and leave the Department underfunded to fund genuine one-off initiatives. 

The figures that the Chancellor has provided for the Institute of government shows capital expenditure across the whole government, not just the Department for Education and what it demonstrates is that even if the Chancellor could utilise money underspent across the whole government he would still barely cover the costs of these new programmes which are structural programmes. 

There are not billions underspent in the Department of Education. Underspending is normal as departments face sanctions if they over spend. Unspent capital expenditure is carried forward to the next year’s capital budget and in the Department of Education this will only be millions of pounds in terms of the Education budget. Examples of underspending include academy schools not using their full budget however this money remains with the School.

The Chancellor himself admitted that carrying forward underspending would “prevent the accumulation of spending power over time”. If the Chancellor believes there was underspending specifically in the Education Department last year he should inform the House as to what this spending was, how much and if it will pay for the programmes announced. Underspending is not guaranteed but is something that can happen for an array of reasons.

The Chancellor’s very own Institute for Fiscal Studies report states the following:



Education spending turned out relatively close to plan over the period, showing neither a tendency to persistently undershoot nor overshoot plans between 1999−00 and 2010−11

Dismantling his claim. The Chancellor has shifted from there being lots of spare funds to underspent money to justify his claims. This isn’t a difficult issue and he is trying to confuse people and pull the wool over their eyes. He can not create money from thin air and such I will be voting contempt in the Chancellor when the motion is read later today.

This article was written by the Right Honourable /u/Friedmanite19 OM KCMG KBE CT LVO PC MP, The Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition

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Pressure piles on Chancellor to explain education numbers

11 Downing Street: why Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds do not live in  Number 10 - and charity controversy explained | The Scotsman

Opposition parties have signed onto a statement written by the Shadow Chancellor cody5200 which calls on the Chancellor to apologise and admit that the government made a mistake in assuming there was money spare in the Department of Education to spend on new projects.

The debate over this spending was sparked when the Education Secretary Inadorable outlined over £5 billion of additional spending to the House of Commons but stated that no new funding for the Department of Education was needed and no cuts needed to be made elsewhere in the Department of Education. The government argued there was spare money left and argued there was something known as “discretionary spending” which is traditionally a term used in America.

The Chancellor in his usual confident manner came to the debate doubling down that this money did indeed exist. His reasoning was that the Schools budget was £100 billion and was excessively higher than the Schools budget in 2014. However, the Chancellor’s claims fell to pieces as it was pointed out that Education funding covers more than schools and this spare money he thought existed does not.

The Chancellor thought the top row gave him room to spend money without making cuts in the DoE or providing more money because he assumed it was the Schools budget however the comparable figures on table 1 show that the education Department had £98 billion funding and in excess of £100 billion once adjusted for inflation.

Left with no defence the Chancellor insisted the money existed because NGSpy said so claiming he stands with “The Libertarian Party’s chosen man to write and implement the last budget. Former Education Secretary BrexitGlory had rubbished the government’s claims during the debate and another former education Secretary model-willem told the Telegraph that “The Government imagined the money for this statement, it doesn’t exist, the claims the Government are making are not funded in reality.”

Both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives signed a statement by the Shadow Chancellor calling on the Chancellor to u-turn and admit he was wrong about this funding. All eyes will be on Number 11 Downing Street to see if the government continues to ignore this issue like they did the debate. If they continue to ignore it, it will be interesting to see what opposition parties do next.

Written by Press persona

A Sit-Down with Labour Leadership Contenders

With the resignation of Labour leader Youma, the leadership contest to head one of Britain’s great two political titans is underway. However, this time any future leader will be under pressure. Despite being in two successive governments the party has continued to drop in the polls now ending up the 4th largest party in the Commons. It has been supplanted as the traditional home of the left by the rising Solidarity and their path back to power seems doubtful if not impossible. Thus the Telegraph has interviewed the leading contenders in the upcoming leadership race. 

Imaredditaccount5

First have imadearedditaccount, former Leader of the Scottish Progressives, and current SoS for NI. Though to new Labour they are a veteran operator, especially in the devolved nations. 

First, please introduce yourself and tell us why you want to be Labour leader?

I am Avery, current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Labour peer and leader of welsh labour. I’m running to be labour leader because quite frankly labour needs someone who is willing to step up, revive the party and produce results.

While the other candidates are great for example viljo has been in party leadership throughout our decline, Rohan having led Scottish labour also through a decline and also a lack of experience and I cannot comment on maro. I on the other hand am a fresh voice who has produced results by leading the Scottish progressives to a record result and streamlining how welsh labour is run which I believe I can replicate in the national party.

What makes you the most qualified to be a leader? Aside from you the other candidates seem to be more senior and experienced so why are you the best choice?

Well as mentioned before I have a lot of experience particularly in leading the Scottish progressives who I grew from a party with very little presence in Scotland to a major party with a big voice in government. I have also been part of government leadership in westminister during the Phoenix coalition where I served as leader of the house and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In addition to this I also led the IPP in Northern Ireland and served as deputy leader of the SDLP after the merger.

I want to state that I have the utmost respect for all the candidates and all would be great leaders in my opinion however again as mentioned before most have some flaws such as viljo who has been in leadership through a record election defeat and a nose dive in polls, Rohan who isn’t very experienced in leadership and has led Slab through another poll free fall although one could argue this was inevitable.

Now in government with solidarity the government has had a number of controversies: mishandling the nationalization, leaks such as the Osaka accords. What is your response to these events especially the leaks, and if you become leader how will you improve the party and governments functioning ?

As a member of the government I have to say I was disappointed both at the leaks and at the response. I don’t think deleting cabinet minutes was the right way to go about it at all as it sort of just made it seem like we had something to hide which to my knowledge we did not. I believe it’s important to grow trust both between leadership and cabinet and between the government and the public. In my view this means further transparency on both accounts as well as better communication and such. It’s important leadership shares plans and ideas with cabinet as soon as it is practical and it is also important that any plans are made public as soon as possible.

Did you ever express disagreement at the move to delete cabinet minutes?

I believe it’s important labour step up and take a more active role in government. With recent polling it’s clear not only are the public noticing that solidarity are pulling a lot of the weight but it is also clear the public are turning away from the government because of this. In the beginning my first action will be reaching out to labour members of cabinet and working with them to accomplish the goals set out in the programme for government in regards to their portfolio. Mainly it’s just a matter of getting the labour frontbench motivated.

Labour despite being in government for two terms has continued to fall in the polls, where do you see the future of Labour and what plans do you have to turn the party around?

I see the future of labour truthfully as a third party in British politics. I personally think it’s unrealistic to aspire to be first place again at least for the foreseeable future however I do believe that if elected I will be able to turn around are free fall. 

I believe first of all that it’s important to not pile work on people. Less is more and if an mp or frontbench member has too much to do they simply won’t do it and get burnt out. We need to start spreading the workload away from a few key people at the top and get lower members involved. 

This is tied in with my plan to both make labour a more transparent party and also to make labour more decentralised as atm most of the power is vested in leadership rather than other key party officers such as the chief whip or the press officer. I also hope to revive our press game by assisting in bringing back labour weekly.

Soldarity has had a great rise in popularity and now you are junior partners to them. Seeing their success should Labour turn more to the left ?

You already said that you see labour as a third party,  so where is the future of the solidarity Labour relationship going, is Labour resigned to be a junior party in governments now?

As someone solidly on the left of the party I do think turning towards the left would be something I believe would be beneficial however it is important that we don’t go to far. I believe strongly in the values of compromise and working together for the greater good as can be seen by my coalition with the tories in Scotland during my time in the Scottish progressives. With solidarity on the left and pwp towards the centre it is important for labour to occupy that middle ground between the two.

I wouldn’t say we are resigned to being a junior party. However it is quite clear that at the moment solidarity is immensely more popular with the British public and I believe it’s fairly rational to assume we will be the junior partner in any government with solidarity for at least another term.

That’s not to say we expect to remain so forever and a lot can change in a few terms as we saw with the rapid rise of solidarity in the first place. 

Labour was also a third party last term and still led a government so it’s entirely possible that is on the table also.

Labour has been blamed for having a string of poor leaders who have left abruptly and have largely failed to revitalize the party, how would you be a more effective leader ?

Having served under lily as a junior coalition partner and under youma as a labour frontbench member I can say both were excellent leaders who deeply cared about their party however I recognise the argument could be made they didn’t go far enough. As to how I would be more effective well as said before I believe transparency, reviving our press, good communication and ensuring not to overload people with work will go a long way in revitalising the party for the better. This has worked for me before both in Scottish progressives where we saw rapid growth in the polls and members who genuinely enjoyed working for the party and welsh labour where we have curbed the drop in polls and also have an ms and frontbench team who enjoy being in the party and don’t feel overwhelmed with work.

Any final message or anything else you want to say?

Yes. This labour leadership election is one that could make or break the party and it is absolutely vital that membership elects the person they think will be able to lead the party out of this dark time. Obviously in my opinion that person is me but ultimately it is up to members to decide who they think will be able to do that. It has been a pleasure speaking with you.

Rohanite

Rohan is a new face to Labour but has had a rapid descent up the party ranks, currently serving as the leader of Scottish Labour and the party’s press officer.

First, please introduce yourself and tell us why you want to be Labour leader?

Hi, I am Rohanite272 but just call me Rohan, I am currently the leader of Scottish Labour and the Press Officer for the Labour Party. I am running for the position of Leader of the Labour Party because I have a positive new vision for the Labour Party and will try my hardest to return it to its old levels of success and I represent a new generation of Labour members.

What makes you the most qualified to be a leader? Aside from you the other candidates seem to be more senior and experienced so why are you the best choice?

Whilst I may not have been around for the same amount of time as other candidates I believe I have proven myself as qualified, I have written a large number of bills for Scottish Labour and have been doing a lot of debating for Scottish Labour in the Holyrood. And yes, whilst Scottish Labour has been falling for the past few months, the damage hasn’t been nearly as bad as it could’ve been, I believe that the decline could be much worse and that I have managed to control it. Now on Labour’s press, it is true that our press hasn’t been as active as it could be but part of that is that the rest of the party has been quite busy over the last few weeks, as have I, which means that we haven’t been able to produce as much press as I would’ve liked.

Now in government with solidarity the government has had a number of controversies: mishandling the nationalization, leaks such as the Osaka accords. What is your response to these events especially the leaks, and if you become leader how will you improve the party and governments functioning ?

On nationalisation, that was a mistake by the government that I would make sure wouldn’t happen again. With the Osaka Accords, that was something carried over from the previous government which we are only just starting to look at and try to fix. Leaks are also obviously hard to control and are a risk to national security so there really isn’t much I can realistically do to stop that, however I will try to do my best to control them. On party functioning, there are various things I will do to help with that, like redoing the parties discord to enhance communication and various other things.

So with the Osaka Accords, when you say you trying to fix it, why do you think it was it leaked before it was fixed, is this a sign of unhappiness with the accords and govt ?

No, it’s not a sign of unhappiness throughout this govt, it could suggest that one person might be unhappy but that is there problem, and if they want to risk national security for that then that’s there prerogative but they are not free from the consequences of leaking and risking national security.

So it was leaked from the government but it was just one person Not a reflection of the whole cabinet or government.

That’s my understanding yes

If you were to be leader how would u steer labour in govt and the direction of the govt as whole?

I would try to keep Labour as the left wing Social Democratic Party it is now whilst having a re-examination of some of our more specific policies, I would also try to change the parties internal view of itself from thinking that we are one of the two major parties, which we aren’t anymore but people in the party still talk about the party like that, to we are a large party that needs to focus on growth.

Labour despite being in government for two terms has continued to fall in the polls, where do you see the future of Labour and what plans do you have to turn the party around?

The Future of the Labour Party, isn’t necessarily going to be us becoming one of the two largest parties again, but one where we are kingmakers and influence policy, I will work to do this by encouraging new and old members to become active in Labour and stay active through a new updated beginners guide and by making it easier to talk to those of us higher up in the chain

Soldarity has had a great rise in popularity and now you are junior partners to them. Seeing their success should Labour turn more to the left ?

You already said that you see labour as a third party,  so where is the future of the solidarity Labour relationship going, is Labour resigned to be a junior party in governments now?

Yes and No, we fit within the niche of the centrist lib dems and the left wing Solidarity, we need to appeal to both left wing lib dems and more right wing Solidarity members

Any final message or anything else you want to say?

I may not be the most senior candidate, but I believe that I have shown that I can do the job well and can put Labour into a strong and sustainable king-making position, and I will fight hard for a responsible progressive vision for the future of the country.

Maro

Last is Maro, Leader of the House of Lords.

First, please introduce yourself and tell us why you want to be Labour leader?

I am Maroiogog, current leader of the House of Lords, and long time Labour member. Things I may be known for include being a former Deputy Leader of Labour, Turning Point Surrey and having been Northern Ireland Secretary during Sunrise.

What makes you the most qualified to be a leader? Aside from you the other candidates seem to be more senior and experienced so why are you the best choice?

Firstly, I have plenty of experience being in Leadership from the few months I was in Leadership during Sunrise, which was undoubtedly one of the more traumatic times for our party and difficult to manage. I had a crucial role in managing the after effects of that going in GE13. I have proven in the past that I can lead the Party successfully.

Most importantly though, I have not been involved with the running of the Labour party for slightly more than a year now. In that time I have had the time to observe, talk to people, explore things and gain valuable experience from sides of politics that I had not explored or understood in the past. I think it is now appropriate for me to put this experience I have gained to good use.

Now in government with solidarity the government has had a number of controversies: mishandling the nationalization, leaks such as the Osaka accords. What is your response to these events especially the leaks, and if you become leader how will you improve the party and governments functioning ?

Yes there have been. In general I will try to be present and aware of the bigger picture of ongoing discussions in the cabinet and the departments. Communications could be made better between people and between departments and I would try and see how my colleagues feel about changing some of the arrangements in our communications systems so that more people can see more things and be more involved.

I think some of the bumps there have been on the road so far would’ve been hard to avoid, of course I very strongly think leakers should be nowhere near the cabinet but catching them is a lot easier said than done. Making sure everyone is happy with what is going on seems to be the only real preventative measure.

As for internal to our party I want to streamline processes and remove unnecessary barriers to participation that we have put in place. Anyone should be able to have their say and contribute to our press output, to our policy and to our legislation output. I want our party culture to be more tightly knit and one where people are encouraged to focus on what they really like within politics, which could be legislation, local campaigning or one of the devolved assemblies. It is a lot easier to do things when you actually enjoy doing them.

Is the leaking a sign of unhappiness in Labour over being in a govt with solidarity ?

No, especially cause we don’t know where it’s from and we think there are different leakers.

So you think there’s multiple leakers in cabinet?

I suspect so.

Labour despite being in government for two terms has continued to fall in the polls, where do you see the future of Labour and what plans do you have to turn the party around?

I think most of it is down to our inability to translate our energies into concrete action. For example, last term we only managed to pass one bill. I think that is a tremendous failure for our party. My main goal as leader would be to see Labour become a party that gets stuff done again, a Party that has a tangible impact on the legislation, on the press and in the chambers of parliament.

Personally, I would much rather be remembered as the party leader that managed to pass important left wing reforms that our country so desperately needs rather than a leader that managed to gain a few points in the polls. I strongly believe that if the country sees in us an energetic force that gets things done they will be interested in voting for us.

In terms of how I would do it my plans are relatively simple, I plan to overhaul our bloated internal communication systems and simplify our party structure somewhat. We have lost members, we are a smaller party and we need to adapt to that whether we want to or not. This means everyone needs to have a say in things like our press, policy and legislation output and get involved with it. Parties with small memberships succeed when they are efficient and hard working, that is the ideal party Labour should be right now.

Soldarity has had a great rise in popularity and now you are junior partners to them. Seeing their success should Labour turn more to the left ?

You already said that you see labour as a third party,  so where is the future of the solidarity Labour relationship going, is Labour resigned to be a junior party in governments now?

I think Labour should turn more to the left yes, but this belief of mine is not caused by what Solidarity is doing, I simply stand to the left of where our party has stood in recent times. 

I hope the Solidarity-Labour relationship keeps going forward as strong as it has been so far. I believe Solidarity is our natural partner and our alliance has been a very fruitful one so far. There have been some hiccups along the way but I can honestly say working with them has been pleasant and I would be fully committed to continue this Government.

I do not know if we are resigned to be a junior party in perpetuity. Of course I hope not, and I will do all I can to ensure we are not stuck in this predicament, but the answer to that question is only determined by Labour’s leader to a certain extent.

What I can say for sure though is that I do not have any hard feelings nor any desire for a “revenge” of sorts on Solidarity. I wouldn’t have in mind the particular goal of becoming the highest polling left wing party again. At this moment in time we are blessed with very strong and favourable allies and I would like it to continue this way. 

Labour has been blamed for having a string of poor leaders who have left abruptly and have largely failed to revitalize the party, how would you be a more effective leader ?

I am not here to point fingers. I know for a fact every leader we have had recently has put a lot of honest work into this party and my sincere thanks go to them. The personal reasons why they left were also out of their control, so nobody should hold it against any of them.

I agree our party needs to be re-energized. I believe the first thing a leader should do at the moment is lead from the front, which is why I have taken the initiative, helped negotiate large sections of the coalition agreement, took up a cabinet spot and have written a couple of bills thus far this term. That will very much be my style of Leadership: active, present and visible in parliament, in cabinet and in the press. If we want an energetic party the leader must be the first person to be energetic.

Having experience having already administered the party in the past I am confident I can hit the ground running and start doing so quickly.

Ohprkl

Ohprkl the current Party Chairman and apparent frontrunner in the race did not respond to a request for an interview. 

Written by Tres Commas special reporter.

NGSpy to help Chancellor repeal one of his own flagship policies

HM Treasury single departmental plan - GOV.UK

Written by Harry Johnson for the Telegraph

 On the 25th November when NGSpy was taking Chancellor MQ’s he told the House one of his top priorities was implementing dividend imputation. 

“I shall seek to freeze the current tax increases on the lower bracket of tax as a top priority, as well as implementing other policies in the Phoenix Coalition agreement such as dividend imputation and the corporation tax rate.”

This was several months before any budget deal was announced with the Libertarian Party. Whilst Mr Chompsky would like to claim this was a Libertarian policy and that that is no u-turn from NGSpy the facts do not stack up in his favour. Dividend imputation was featured in the phoenix coalition agreement and NGSpy had even asked Friedmanite19 to consider the policy when the LPUK Leader was Chancellor. 

On September 10th NGSpy asked the following question to the then Chancellor Friedmanite19

“Will the Chancellor inform the house of the government’s policy in regards to getting rid of double taxation caused by capital gains tax and corporate tax taking effect on the same profits in cases of dividends?”

This seems to directly contradict the current Chancellors stance that double taxation is not a problem. Friedmanite19 told the Telegraph that “Dividend imputation had been suggested by NGSpy, it was one of his key policies and I was happy to work with him to achieve it, it’s a shame to see him roll back on his economic principles and kowtow to a Chancellor who is keen on destroying the legacy of the phoenix budget” 

It is also unclear whether the government even acknowledges the existence of double taxation at all with the Chancellor claiming that double taxation is “Double taxation is a misleading buzzword with zero economic literacy.”, despite their now Chief Secretary making the issue of double taxation a focal point of his economic policy whilst he was Chancellor.

It is clear that Labour have ceded control of the Treasury to Mr Chompsky allowing him to trample on their flagship policies with the Chancellor arguing that dividend imputation picks winners and losers and that double taxation is a buzzword with no literacy with their previously dissenting deputy nowhere to be found.

Cabinet Sources describes Opposition’s anti-China positions as “anti-communist” and “racist

Following the leak of the Osaka Accords to the press there has been many questions regarding the documents and the future of British foreign policy. Once the news broke the Osaka Accords came under scrutiny and criticism. Other parties quickly highlighted the bureaucratic nature of the organization which mirrored aspects of the EU and UN, the spending requirements, and the democracy index which relied on the Economist’s rankings which would see several key founding members being downgraded. To gain more clarity on the Accords, Tommy2Boys of Coailtion submitted an Urgent Question on the subject to Parliament. 

Despite the criticism of the Osaka Accords, Foreign Secretary, ARichTeaBiscuit, stood by the accords saying that “I am currently in the process of formalising the agreement” and “I believe that the Osaka Accords will provide the world with a valuable tool to use to strengthen democracy and fight back against the tide of authoritarianism. I think it will strengthen the rule of law and Britain’s place in the world and I hope that the Conservative Party will come around to support it.”

However, now statements from a senior government member suggest that there is unrest regarding the accords from inside the government. When asked their thoughts on the Accords they answered  “I think that the Osaka accords are mainly one: counterproductive.” They acknowledged the threat posed by China and the need to combat them but dismissed the Osaka Accords as the right way to do that saying “The People’s Republic of China is a nation that has committed countless crimes and countless breakings of human law. However, pushing China into a corner won’t help – pressure only spawns counterpressure.” The solution they proposed instead rest “relaxing the relations to China to establish productive cooperation of our nations,” and instead we should use trade embargoes and work with NGOs to “fight of a democratic and socialist future for China.”

They blamed the Tories and other parties saying that they didn’t “care about China’s human rights abuses” and said “the Conservative party and certainly a number of other parties like it, the current Regime would be replaced by just another right-wing libertarian, capitalist and possibly authoritarian government. The Conservatives don’t care about China’s authoritarianism; they care about China’s socialism and how it is a seen threat to the current way of life in Britain.” The Osaka Accords they said was a product of this belief and that “The Osaka Accords are an effort to emphasize the struggle between “democratic” capitalism and “authoritarian” socialism.”

They said they believed the anti-China sentiment was rooted in “in a fervent anti-communism, but also in racism.” When asked what the UK should do instead they answered that we should not support “right-wing groups like Fulan Gong and but instead larger populist movements.” Also, they said the Osaka Accords should be stripped of its military aspects and just focus on trade and cooperation with NGOs.” They finished by saying they didn’t support the Accords and if given the chance would vote against it. It would seem despite Foreign Secretary’s support for the Osaka Accords internally government support for the Accords is in doubt.

Written by Tres Commas Special Correspondent for the Telegraph

Chancellor proposes blackmailing Lib Dems in shock leaks

Written by Harry Johnson for the Telegraph

After a tough week for the government and questions being raised about whether the government is serious about governing the country, a series of transcripts have been leaked to the Telegraph illustrating the complete and utter turmoil in the cabinet at the time. 

Within the transcripts, members of the cabinet have resorted to derogative comments, calling the Leader of The Opposition a “self-obsessed manchild”, in addition, with  the Business Secretary claiming that “the centrists aren’t stupid enough to vonc us” and the Prime Minister  agreeing. Some ministers have also argued that it’s best to “ignore them”, showing a lack of respect for the C! And Liberal Leaderships.

The transcripts also indicate that at the time of the nationalisation the government believed the Conservatives supported nationalisation of the OneWeb system, despite the Defence Secretary claiming they did not. Alarmingly the leaks indicate that the government willingly nationalised the OneWeb company believing that they could simply get away with it, thinking the Conservatives would back the initiative and that the Libertarians would not choose to move a vote of no confidence.

Even more alarming is the fact that the Chancellor  suggested blackmailing the Liberal Democrat leadership ““if they are going to flip we need to make it public”  in what appears to be an attempt to force them to back the Britconnect initiative despite questions being raised about the scheme’s viability. The Chancellor also said that “allowing people to shank us is not a good precedent”, implying that they have every intention of making private conservations with party leaders public should they not back government policy. The extent of the blackmail material possessed by the government is not known at this time, but anyone doing business with the government and the Chancellor would do well to avoid sharing confidential information if these threats are to be believed.

The Liberals are not the only people on the Chancellor’s bad side however  as there also appears to be a conflict brewing between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister with the duo being allegedly split on FTPA repeal and now the Chancellor pushing for private conversations between the Liberals and the government to be used as bargaining chips, with the PM disagreeing claiming that it would be “terrible precedent”. 

Questions have also been raised about the competency of government Ministers behind the Britconnect initiative as they appear to have thought that the network, which currently has no military value whatsoever and is unlikely to ever will. In effect the government has spent close to half a billion pounds on a civilian internet network, thinking that they were purchasing navigation and intelligence satellites. 

With the government being accused of ignoring Parliament and these leaks painting an even more unfavourable picture of the government it may be high-time for Parliament to ask itself whether it wishes to see this sort of governance continue…

The Government’s new Satellite program will send only one thing Skyrocketing: Costs. – opinion

Soyuz-2 - Wikipedia
Written by Harry Johnson for the Telegraph

Regardless of how you feel about the government’s ideology, it is becoming clear that very little research is done when they put their policies into action. The most recent example of this, ‘Britconnect’. As soon as the starting gun had fired on this new initiative, the Government was wading from problem to problem. First. the Secretary of State for Business made the reckless claim that the Government would seek to nationalise OneWeb, integrating it into the United Kingdom’s Space Agency (UKSA), only to wind this commitment back, buying half of the company instead. Yet semantics and economic mistruths before Parliament are only half of the problem with Britconnect as, under the veneer of this fully automated luxury (space?) communism being offered by the government, there are real geopolitical and even technological hurdles that the government has so far failed to even acknowledge.

To begin with, is the issue of how we get these satellites into orbit. The Prime Minister has confirmed that there will be no funding for the launches to be carried out in the UK, implying that OneWeb (perhaps soon to be renamed as UKSA-web?) will be carrying on with its current launch regimen of launching its satellites using Russian Soyuz 2 rockets from sites on Russian territory. Perhaps this would not be that big of an issue if these were commercial satellites launched by a private entity, but the government themselves have confirmed that these satellites will effectively become the digital backbone of modern Britain and, more alarmingly the government also envisions these satellites being utilised for military purposes with the satellites being touted to have Public Regulated Service (PRS) capabilities akin to those of the Galileo network. In short, these satellites are supposed to be the single most important national security and foreign policy asset in the British arsenal, and yet the government seems all too comfortable outsourcing its launches to the Putin regime. and its allies.

Delivery aside, is it even possible to turn a swarm of small Low Orbit satellites into the veritable swiss army knife of Satellites? 

The government is claiming that it is, but the experts seem to disagree. Even if all the fancy scientific systems were to be dropped from Britconnect and the government wished to have dual-use internet and navigation systems it is still going to be near impossible to do it. As Inside GNSS points out, navigation and internet satellites operate not only in different parts of the atmosphere, but also operate on different frequencies. They also lack the space to contain multiple atomic clocks, which are integral to having an accurate navigation system. This arguably kills the idea of turning the OneWeb constellation into a viable and independent GPS system as we would have to rebuild the British navigation infrastructure from scratch, something no Government or private entity is likely to do when working alternatives already exist. 

This question perhaps pales into insignificance compared to the question of how you are going to fit a large array of other scientific, internet, and potentially military systems into a single hull. Moreover, how would you meet the power demands of such a large satellite when the Arrow satellite was designed with a much smaller and less power-hungry array of systems in mind? The Prime Minister has claimed that it is possible with minor adjustments and that UKSAC will devise a white paper to that effect, so it may be too early to pass judgment on this, yet on the surface, it seems to be about as plausible as the £60K  plastic homes policy the Government churned out last week – another ill-conceived, and under-researched Government program. Even if they could do it, one has to wonder how much would such a sophisticated assortment of satellites cost the taxpayer?

The Starlink and Galileo project cost close to £10 billion each over multiple years, reaching over twenty times the purported cost of Britconnect, which again is supposed to do far more than either of those systems was ever supposed to do and is set to launch in less than a year.  Starlink and  Galileo used purpose-built satellites to achieve their capabilities, whereas  Britconnect is supposed to be composed of retrofitted internet satellites requiring potentially billions more in unspecified R&D costs and fundamental changes in our current infrastructure. Perhaps then it would be more cost-effective to just launch a dedicated navigation network using proven and available technology and leave satellite internet networks to companies like SpaceX, which already can provide us with the same capability without forcing the taxpayer to dole out on a white elephant of a government project.

All in all, this program is not fully costed – and the one thing that will surely be skyrocketing is the cost to the taxpayer, not the latest satellite network,

BritConnect – Will it make it off the launch pad? [Op-Ed]

The Secretary of State for Business and Economic Development has announced plans for BritConnect. If it happens it will represent a sweeping investment into both our nation’s telecom’s infrastructure and the nation’s space agency in order to blast satellites into orbit and propel our connectivity into the future. All of this through 648 satellites launched to orbit our planet, at great cost to the British taxpayer.

Through the lens of the government’s nationalisation campaign this endeavour represents a potential financial blackhole for the British public, certain to exceed estimated costs of £500 million.

Typical weather satellite can cost in the region of £209 million, a typical military grade satellite can cost another £100 million on top of that. The UK Military’s current Skynet 6 R&D programme is estimated to be on £6 billion. The concealed Zircon satellite project, secretly developed by GCHQ specifically for signals intelligence in the 1980’s was estimated to cost £500 million before it was cancelled, equivalent to £1.5 billion in 2019. The European Space Agency estimates the baseline total cost for a three-unit nano-satellite mission starts at £500 000. Reflect on those sums, and then look towards the £500 million being invested by the UK Government for 648 satellites. Remember that rocket fuel and space flight make for excellent television, but often sketchy investment for your money – space is the high risk, high reward, anything can happen table. If the government is refusing to seek input from the private sector, where will it source the inevitable shortfall to get this telecom’s infrastructure into orbit? Are the government’s plans financially credible, or are they a work of science fiction?

BritConnects next challenge will be retaining an established and skilled workforce of telecom’s engineers and our own version of the rocket scientist as those highly skilled, highly paid roles look towards foreign opportunities with nationalisation on the horizon.

The Department for Business and Economic Developments concludes there is real potential for the UK to export BritConnect in competition with the established Huawei – sponsored by the Chinese government – to recoup the costs, and reestablish our global position. It is true that China has employed that company to expand it’s interests and influence across the globe.

Huawei itself is a company with serious security concerns for western democracies, but that has weathered much sanction pressure, and still today is renowned for being competitive across the telecom’s market. It has made major leaps. The Chinese government has consistently indicated that it has no affiliation with Huawei, but it is evident that a partnership between that government and the telecom’s giant exists at an undisclosed level. The British government hopes it can provide a viable alternative without the innovation, enterprise and financial nuance of the private sector. Yet China itself doesn’t identify Huawei as a state instrument, but as a private sector company. This can’t even be an argument for the success of state controlled business. To compete with China, and to market BritConnect well it will need the private sector.

The blackhole in the finances is only dwarfed by the risk to democracy itself.

With wider security concerns about national infrastructure and Huawei, there has never been more scrutiny in the western world about telecommunications infrastructure. Whilst the Secretary of State has made much about what BritConnect’s impact ultimately might be on the world as a non-authoritarian alternative, locking the private sector out of this vital industry opens up the potential for abuse. Private sector involvement is an essential characteristic of freedom of speech. If this was the media industry, we would have grave concerns that the government was clawing into the essential infrastructure by which it functions with no private sector involvement. Not only is BritConnect unaffordable without private sector involvement, it’s undemocratic without accountability beyond government.

The prospects of a state owned, state operated, and state accountable BritConnect means that we step closer to models adopted by Russia and China than those employed by our allies in North America and Europe. Russia and China are known for censoring the thoughts of their own people, and employing their telecom’s infrastructure as a tool to that end. Is it potentially naive of the government to believe that Britconnect does not have the potential to be misused by future governments of varying political views?

The Secretary of State has already emphasised that state security apparatus will have greater capabilities thanks to BritConnect, and the pillar he leans upon in advocating the policy is one of trust. To trust his government to provide non-restricted, non-monitored access to the internet. One wonders how much the Russians and Chinese employed the ‘trust us’ argument when they launched their state owned, state operated, and state accountable telecom’s networks. Did they too – as our Secretary of State has emphasised with loss of signals intelligence capabilities after leaving Europe – also lean on issues of security and defence to implement a state controlled network?

I am not suggesting the government should step back and have no involvement in the future development of the nation’s telecom’s infrastructure, but it cannot be the sole participant of the enterprise. The private sector is a necessary partner to ensure this is both affordable and effective.

This latest policy direction by the government invites the question – Will the Secretary of States proposed BritConnect make it off the launch pad?

The Chancellor’s Collective Cabinet Irresponsibility – oped

Sir Lindsay Hoyle elected as House of Commons Speaker | Financial Times

Written by Harry Johnson

Collective Responsibility, while practically a requirement for a functioning government as evidenced by how disastrous its lack has been for the Rose and Phoenix governments can be suspended if need be. That was the case with the Check-ups bill, which was a PMB that the shadow cabinet that according to insider sources specifically decided to have a free vote on. 

The original purpose of CCR in its earliest days was to prevent the cabinet from being subverted by the Monarch through disagreements and internal spats being made public. In the modern-day, the point of CCR is to maintain the appearance of a unified cabinet The principle that members of the (shadow) cabinet must publicly support all decisions made by the  (shadow) Cabinet. Members of the LPUK shadow cabinet were elected on the same platform and as is evidenced by  Libertarian Shadow Ministers acting in line with the platform adhering to that very principle.

That’s why /u/dominion_of_canada was right to point that there is no CCR in the shadow cabinet in this context because it was resolved that the bill was a free vote and thus outside of the scope of any form of collective responsibility. The shadow cabinet operating within the confines of the constitutional convention had a free vote in line with existing precedents on the issue when Micheal Howard allowed members of the Opposition to vote freely on the Civil Partnership bill when shadowing the Blair Ministry

More examples of collective responsibility being suspended  include the 1975 EEC referendum with former Cabinet Secretary Sir John Hunt pointing out in his testimony that 

‘‘I would not regard the 1975 EEC referendum] as breaching collective responsibility because this was a decision by the Cabinet as a whole to waive collective responsibility on one particular issue for a limited time. It was not a decision which any Minister took unilaterally …’”

John Hunt

This is seemingly what sets Solidarity’s CCR scandal apart from the Opposition setting a free vote on the bill. In the case of Welfare devolution, the Chancellor and the embattled Agriculture Secretary both dissented from the Prime Minister’s and the government’s position seemingly unilaterally. In the case of Shadow Cabinet, the decision was left to individual MPs to vote with their conscience.

The National government’s agreement to differ on the issue of Tariffs in 1932 is yet another example when the cabinet opted to allow Ministers to dissent on tariff policy from the official line. Setting a new precedent in constitutional theory that operates to this day. It is sad to see the Chancellor and indeed a large part of the political commentariat not being aware of this historical precedent and the changes it brought to how we view the concept of CCR. For a government that prides itself on being a radical progressive alternative their approach to the constitution sure is stuck in the 1800s.

A similar mistake was also made by  C. C. Edwards who attempted to equate a free vote being held by the shadow cabinet to a collapse of collective responsibility. If this form of CCR were to be applied to governance then practically every cabinet and shadow cabinet since 1979 if not earlier would have been subject to this “chaos” rendering the convention of CCR effectively defunct. In fact, by their very own definition, the government has seemingly already collapsed into CCR mayhem as is evidenced by Ministers either abstaining or voting against the motion M560.

 Yet as is evidenced by the rather luscious legislative history consisting of thousands of bills, statutory instruments, and statements being brought before the House one can see that clearly this is not the case and that the system is working as intended.

Either way with a fragile government and a seemingly split  C&S partner it is clear that the supposed collapse of CCR within the Opposition is merely a smokescreen to provide cover for a weak and ultimately faltering minority government that not only can’t stand opposition but as was admitted by the Chancellor does not know the full cost and extent of its policies.

CCR breached as government give contradictory message on Welfare Devolution

Coronavirus outbreak in Edinburgh 'should see Scottish Parliament close' -  Daily Record

The Prime Minister appears to have lost control of his cabinet as they give contradictory signals on M562.  The motion, written by /u/Tommy2Boys, asks the government to rule out devolving anything against the will of the Scottish parliament. 

The Prime Minister motelbinds was quick to say he made it clear he would not devolve powers to the parliament with KalvinLokan backing him up,questioning if the motion was necessary.

However a few hours later the DEFRA minister spoke on the motion and contradicted the Prime Minister’s stance saying he would not support the motion. He argued that  “The Scottish government does not represent the will of the Scottish people on this particular issue as much as a direct referendum in which they said they wanted their government to have control over welfare. We also have to consider the will of the Scottish people within this parliament. The fact is, the majority voted for Solidarity. And we promised that we would fight for welfare devolution. It would be disingenuous for us to go against that promise.” and told the House that he would not his approval to the motion which urges the government to not devolve welfare which he labelled a “violation”.

It is clear that the DEFRA Secretary has a different stance to that of the Prime Minister and it is still unclear as to how the government will whip the vote on the motion. This is another moment which dents the government’s credibility given a breach of CCR so early on.  It will be interesting to see if the DEFRA Secretary resigns and the PM loses his first cabinet member of if they will be brought back in line. 

*Press Persona