Monday, May 22, 2006

Neil's at it again

Neil Harding: The Mouth of NuLabourNeil Harding: the Mouth of NuLabour, Scourge of the Tories, Disseminator of NuLabour Propaganda, Peddler of Lies, Simpleton in Political Thought and Economic Moron.

Lucifer was the brightest and highest of all God' s angels but he became proud and arrogant and plotted to supplant the Godhead; he was thus cast down into the Pit, without hope of redemption. A bit like Neil Harding; for Neil too seems beyond hope of redemption acting, much like The Metatron, as the voice of his master.

One of the most irritating things about Neil is to total adherence to party politics; if you are against Neil or his NuLabour chums, then you are automatically a Tory, yearning fruitlessly for the days of the Demon Thatcher. It is an attitude so pointless and irritating, that few are willing to comment on his pronouncements these days; point out some iniquity of NuLabour, and Neil will respond that the Tories were worse in some way, even to those, such as Unity, who are Labour Party members. For Neil, there is no such thing as non-partisan politics; you are either pro-NuLabour or you are anti-NuLabour and the latter means that you must be—whether overtly or covertly—a filthy, hate-filled Tory, just itching to torture and enslave all those earning less than £50,000 a year. It is, to put it bluntly, an attitude born of pusillanimous bigotry.

It is an attitude that means that—in one of Labour's worst month's in power, on both the personal sleaze and the professional competence fronts—Neil's response is to post an article about supposed right-wing hypocrisy. Just because I'm in a shitty mood, let's have a look, shall we?
1. THE DAILY MAIL PROMOTING UNIVERSITIES OF CRIME: Unless you support locking up ALL prisoners for ever, it is too simplistic to rant about the crimes of those released from prison (also whether they are foreign or not is irrelevant).

Right wingers LOVE prison, they think it reduces crime. In the short term they may be right that increasing the number we lock up does reduce crime (we lock up more people than any other country in Europe) but in the long term it is also clear it INCREASES the crime rate UNLESS prisoners are rehabilitated before release. In most cases we know that people who go to prison come out even WORSE and are even MORE likely to re-offend. Prison sucks as a crime reduction tool and it is damn expensive to boot!

By their very nature, criminals are people for whom the thought of prison is, in a cost/benefit analysis, not enough of a deterrent. Personally, I am all for education to an extent—holding compulsory literacy classes for instance—but I am also in favour of making prison so fucking awful that the possibility of being caught and jailed weighs much heavier on the cost side when someone is contemplating committing a crime.

Furthermore, whilst prison may be expensive, it is considerably less so when one considers the damage, both fiscal and psychological, that crime taxes on society. The excellent Wat Tyler has written extensively about this.
In 2000, the HO estimated the cost of crime at £60bn. Others reckon it's higher, but let's go with the HO figure, and scale it up to £75bn in today's money. That's about 6% of GDP, or £3,000 pa for every household.

Britain records about 10,600 crimes per 100,000 population, but we have only 12 prisoners per 1,000 of those crimes. In Spain, they have four times as many prisoners in relation to the number of crimes, and guess what- their crime rate is less than a quarter of ours. And the same strong relationship can seen right across Europe: the higher the rate of imprisonment relative to the number of crimes, the lower the crime rate.

Since it costs about £40 grand a year to imprison someone, that implies £3.2bn pa extra. Well, that's what the total budget numbers imply, although the detailed establishment costings (see here) suggest some prisons can do it for much less.

But even if it is £3.2bn extra, that's chickenfeed against the £100bn pa cost of crime.

One might suggest having a little look around Wat's figures: I would say that they are pretty conclusive. But then, I'm just a hypocritical right-winger, eh? Hang 'em and flog 'em, eh? Well, I'd be in favour of anything that makes the streets safer to walk in, frankly.

Still, let's move onto Neil's second point, shall we?
2. THE TORIES AND POVERTY REDUCTION. The Tories drastically CUT international aid and tripled UK poverty when in power. Labour have increased international aid and have cut poverty by a third. Do I need to say more?

Well, yes; some figures would be good. You know, some raw data? Some indication of what measure of poverty you are using and whose figures you are referring to. After all, I could simply point you to this report that suggests that poverty has risen under NuLabour. I notice that you didn't comment on that one, Neil. Any particular reason? Nor did you comment on the lack of effect on income equality.

Furthermore, Labour have not achieved anything without making the vast majority of people clients of the state: and it is not just the poor that they have reduced to this. The fact that a household earning £50,000 can receive child benefits is a fucking joke, frankly. As is the derisory rise in the Personal Tax Allowance, which has not even risen in line with inflation, let alone earnings. The increases in Stamp Duty have made houses even more unaffordable, the 1% NICs increase (which is actually 2%—1% paid by employee and 1% by employer) is destroying competitiveness and ensuring major job losses—for example Peugot, who claimed that each car made in Britain cost £286 more than in any of their other factories (at a time when worldwide car sales are in the doldrums). And let's not even mention Motorola, MG Rover, etc.—energy prices are astronomical and the economy grew by a mere 1.6% last year, half what Gordon Borwn estimated.

But, obviously, NuLabour are doing a bang-up job poverty-wise; after all, who cares about the thousands that have lost their jobs when you can ensure, by fiddling the figures, that no one really notices. And, as you add thousands more to the list of the unemployable through an education system so bad that 1 in 5 young people are still illiterate when they leave. But, as long as they are clients of the state, who cares? Because they will always vote to keep you—the nice, generous NuLabour Party—in power. And with people like Neil to trumpet your achievements and keep reeeeeeal quiet on the failures, what more do you need?

Neil's third point is pretty nonsensical, actually.

Here are a few home truths for Master Harding:
  1. Cutting taxes does not necessarily mean cutting public services. It does mean making those services more efficient. If people have fewer resources to spend, then they will spend what resources they have more wisely. See my Drive for space post for a technical parable.

  2. Cutting taxes does help the poor. If you cut the taxes that the poor have to pay, then this will make them better off. If you cut the marginal tax rates that penalise the poor for working harder, then they will be better off.
    Here’s a question: Take a married couple with two children under 11 and pre-tax earnings of £200 a week. If they get a better job, raising their earnings to £300 a week, by how much does their net income rise?
    £60? £50? £40?
    Nope. £8.52.
    Yes. £8.52. That’s a marginal deduction rate of 91.5 per cent.

    It is also a fucking disgrace. Remember, by supporting NuLabour's economic policies, Neil Harding endorses this ludicrous state of affairs. He endorses a lack of economic and social mobility.

  3. When Lawson cut the top rate of tax from 60% to 40%, tax receipts rose in absolute terms (the rich did not bother to try to find so many loopholes). Thus the Tories were able to spend more on public services. Hence, cutting taxes does not automatically mean cuts to public services, quod erat demonstrandum.

  4. In situations such as those above, cutting taxes does, demonstrably, help the poor: again, quod erat demonstrandum.

Wait! Neil has yet more for us (and yet still no mention of that poverty increase report, strangely).
4. THAT SOMEHOW SPENDING MORE ON SOMETHING MAKES IT WORSE. What nonsense. Average waiting times in the NHS are now 9 WEEKS compared to 18 MONTHS under the Tories. How can more nurses, teachers and doctors be a bad thing?

Well, it rather depends if you can hire them for more than a few months without having to fire them, eh? We are all well aware, if only from reading Dr Crippen, that the waiting times are a lie (I'm not even going to ameliorate this with a word like "fiddle").
I drew your attention last month to the government achievements of reducing the waiting list for MRI scans, by creating a waiting list for the waiting list, only the waiting list being counted for government figures. Got that?

No one, apart from the most dribbling, slavish devotee of NuLabour could possibly believe anything that come out of the government as far as the NHS is concerned, for it is still a failure.

Spending more on the NHS has made it worse, or has certainly made it no better, as the National Audit Office found a little while ago, when it reported that, despite a massive increase in funding, productivity had increased by 0% to -1% (can't find the link at present—Allan, can you help me out? It was on Politicalog). Again, see my Drive for space post. Neil is right, of course; spending more doesn't necessarily make something worse: that only seems to happen in the public-sector. But that, of course, is to do with the source of the money and who's spending it.

Neil's last point is about gun crime.
5. LEGALISING HANDGUNS REDUCES CRIME. Believe it or not, some people seriously claim this. The truth is gun deaths in the UK have halved since the handgun ban. The rise in gun incidents is down to the use of less lethal LEGAL weapons such as replica guns. Increasing the availability of something obviously increases its use.

I neither know nor care about this, particularly; I'm sure that someone will enlighten me. All I know is that our Olympic shooting team cannot practise in this country: they have to go to Switzerland. This seems fucking stupid, frankly; I am also interested to see what kind of exemption will be granted in order that the government can recognise its Olympic dreams. Prepare for confusion on that score.

I look forward to the day when Neil can discuss politics with a modicum of maturity rather than slinging around party labels like the NuLabour apparachik that he so patently is. Unshackle your mouth from Toni's cock, my friend, and join us out here in the non-party political blogosphere...

UPDATE: Now we know Neil's price: all we have to do is to persuade SpamCam to buy the man a pint and he'll be a true Blue till the next round...


Katy Newton said...

"Unshackle your mouth from Toni's cock, my friend"

Next you'll be asking him if he feels like meeting up for a drink and a debate...

AntiCitizenOne said...

More + Cheaper Prisons.

Move to abolish Income tax through raising the zero tax band to infinity.

Neil Harding said...

Nice one Katy! You know what they say about these Eton boys, he does have a way with swearword imagery doesn't he? Is this what public school education gives you nowadays?

First, the party politics thing. Yes, I am open about my party allegiance. That does not mean however that I slavishly support Labour (I disagree with most of their policies), in fact I make no secret of the fact that under a different electoral system (which I campaign for) I might not vote for them.

However the choice is a Tory government or a Labour one. Which is better? I think we all should be open about this. The Lib Dems and all the other parties can almost say what the hell they like because they will not realistically ever lead a government (not in our lifetimes).

In this situation not only is it valid to point out that the Tories are worse than Labour, it is imperative to have a position on this. Just slagging Labour off all the time and not also regularly pointing out that the Tories are worse can only lead to one conclusion. You ARE a Tory.

Next, Prison DOES act as a deterrent and it does reduce the crime rate (in the short term). I don't deny this. But unless you are in favour of locking people up for ever (which none of you seem to be), you are just storing up trouble for the future. The more prisoners we have, the larger the army of career criminals when they are released. Prison will have made them worse and cost us a lot of money in the process. Lets spend the money on rehabilitive measures that are proven to reduce crime (it is much better value).

Wat Tyler's figures are rubbish. Since different countries have different ways of measuring crimes and police recorded crime depends on all sorts of factors it is difficult to draw comparisons and conclusions. Also why Spain? Could it be that the low crime rate is why they have a high prisoner/crime ratio, not the other way round? According to these figures Spain has recently seen much faster rises in crime than the UK.

Why not look at homicides which CAN be compared internationally as the definition is the same and look at the US where they lock up 2 million people? Is it because your little theory then falls out the window?

Homicide in England & Wales is 1.61 per year per 100,000. The US figure is 5.56 per year per 100,000.

Your link on IFS poverty figures contains this;

"The IFS does not argue that the government's policies to reduce poverty have failed. Rather, it says simply that measuring changes in spending is a useful additional tool to find how many people are poor."

As we have no similar figures from the IFS for the Tory years there is nothing to compare these new spending figures to.

However we can compare the income figures. The facts are that income poverty has fallen by a third under Labour and it tripled under the Tories. The strange stuff blog backs these figures up, showing that the gini coefficient shows a more equal income distribution than in 1997.

Inequalities always grow more slowly under low periods of growth and inequality can even fall during recessions. Perversely this helped the Tory figures look less worse and the Labour reduction in relative poverty through periods of high continuous growth is even more impressive.

As for all your stats about job losses under Labour, you are having a laugh. There are more people employed now and unemployment is a third of what it was under the Tories.

As for schools, IQs are rising amongst children (although IQ is not the same as intelligence)and 'illiterate' to me means people who can't read or write. The actual illiteracy rate in the UK amongst school leavers is about 1%, much less than it was for their parents. Things are actually pretty good in this country.

"Cutting taxes does not necessarily mean cutting public services."

DK, you are prone to wishful thinking. The evidence of the last Tory government suggests the Tories were worse managers of our money than new Labour.

"If you cut the taxes that the poor have to pay, then this will make them better off."

Not if you cut the taxes of the rich even more which any cut in income tax inevitably does. Anyway the Tories never cut taxes for the poor, only their rich friends.

Also poor people benefit from public spending more than anyone. The NHS, education, public transport, welfare etc benefit the poor the most. The small amount they might get back in tax does not compensate for this. Be honest DK, it is not the poor who concern you. I would have more respect for you if you said 'fuck the poor', I want my swimming pool.

Anonymous said...


You are wasting your words on this idiot male Pollyanna. Labour are pissing away billions on illusory schemes for creating a better Britain. The cash bonanza inherited by Brown has everything to do with the previous Government's economic policies(btw Brown voted to join ERM so drop that one). Wealth creation in this country and by extension funds available for the common good happens in spite of Labour not because of it. Thats all you need to know. The rest is irrelevant.

chris said...

What I was trying to show was that the Gini coefficient for post-tax incomes is exactly the same now as it was in 1987, the height of Thatcherism. The post that I link to gives the reason for this, that New Labour's extensive use of indirect taxation cancels out any redistribution that they attempt. This attempt at redistribution being ironically the reason that poorer people face such huge marginal tax rates that keep us poorer than we could be, as well creating the need for such large amounts of indirect taxation that hits us disproportionately hard.

Serf said...

But unless you are in favour of locking people up for ever

For the real bastards? I don't see why not.

unemployment is a third of what it was under the Tories.

At which point? When we were clearing up the mess left by 40 years of nationalisation?

What about the fact that 1.5 million people are "unfit to work", a massive increase. Or the fact that all the new jobs created (net) have been useless public sector ones?

Anyway the Tories never cut taxes for the poor, only their rich friends.

Only in your parallel universe. Its Gordon Brown who fails to raise thresholds in line with inflation.

The evidence of the last Tory government suggests the Tories were worse managers of our money than new Labour.

What fucking evidence? Labour has shovelled cash at the public services as if it grew on trees, with little to show for it.

No-one denies that public services were less than perfect under the Tories, but we didn't have to forfit out life savings and still get nothing for it.

The NHS, education, public transport, welfare etc benefit the poor the most.

Bollocks. The Middle Class know how to get more out of the system than the poor. Meanwhile the poor struggle to fill in the forms to claim their benefit, and in millions of cases lose their entitlement.

Lets face it, New Labour is a complete joke, and everything they have done is a mess.

chris said...

I.Q. isn't supposed to be a measure of education, but a level of educational potential regardless of if they have reached it or not. And as the article Neil links to states it's average has been going up for the last 75 years, that is since before the introduction of the Welfare State. Despite this 20% of the UK population are functionally illiterate.

Gonnae No Dae That said...

Oh Neil, you poor, poor boy. You are beyond help. I came out of school during the Thatcher years and have worked hard since with no help from any Government and let me tell you as a better educated person than most schoolkids I see today who can hardly join a coherent sentence together, I was better off then than I am now. This government robs us blind, and whilst doing so people like you might as well just bend over and get arse raided at the same time. We are not better off, the schools are a joke, the NHS DOES have a waiting list to get on another waiting list. I can't say anymore because I am still shaking my head in disbelief that someone who is obviously of good intelligence such as yourself can be that....naive! Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

I've just read more than I have the time to comment on as of yet, but regarding education I can say the following.

A good friend is a secondary school science teacher in Warwickshire. He has told me the threshold for a Grade C at GCSE science now lies at 26%. Grade A is 60%. A* is above 60%. He cites one of the reasons for this being pressure to meet targets for School League tables.

He also regularly gets criticised by his school's head for advising pupils to leave the 6th form whom he doesn't think need to be studying for A-Levels. Given that some of the students he's given this advise to typically want to take up hairdressing as a career, I think he's got a point.

His take is that the current Government want to encourage as many people to stay in full-time education for as long as possible, not as a noble gesture, but more as a way of fixing the unemployment figures.

I found that quite interesting, coming straight from a worker in a sector that Bliar claims to have improved under his 'wise' leadship.

The Moai said...

I wonder if Neil is going to blog about this, as many of the rest of us are.

DK, you're going to blow a gasket when you read this, old chum. so take a deep breath before you click on the link.

The Moai said...

Apologies, I see you're already there! I skulk back to my cave.

Bishop Hill said...

Also why Spain? Could it be that the low crime rate is why they have a high prisoner/crime ratio, not the other way round? According to these figures Spain has recently seen much faster rises in crime than the UK.

Huh? Why would having a low crime rate lead to a higher propensity to lock people up? You think maybe they add a few extra years onto the sentence to keep the prisons full or something?

Neil Harding said...

Chris, why 1987? Is it too uncomfortable for you to admit that society is more equal (in terms of income) than it was in 1997 after 18 years of the Tories widening the income gap. In 1987 Thatcherism had only just cut the top rate of tax from 60% to 40% and the poll tax and a further rise in VAT were still a twinkle in Thatcher's eye.

There are a number of things that have made the job harder for this Labour govt.

Although Labour is tackling income inequality, there is still widened wealth inequality lagging from the accumulated wealth to the rich of the Thatcher years.

Labour have presided over continuous higher growth levels, which makes it more difficult to lessen income gaps.

The Tories perversely had the benefit of 2 recessions, lower levels of growth and a much more equal base (1979 was high water mark of equality). Income gaps lessen during recessions and lower growth and this has masked some of the damage that the Tories did.

Anonymous said...

EU Serf makes some very valid points, but the one that strikes a chord with me is the rather dodgy unemployment numbers. True the number of people drawing Unemployment Benefit has fallen, but there has been a suspicious rise in the number of people claiming disability benefits at the same time.

Now of course, one explaination could be because working life under Labour has become so much more dangerous and stressful. Or it could be that staff at the DHSS and all the other number fiddlers on the public nickel have been "encouraged" to shift people off the unemployment role and onto the disability one.

Perhaps we should campaign for the measure used to be changed. Instead of using one that can clearly be manipulated, let's start quoting the percentage of working age adults actually working.

Surely that would be a far more honest number to give the public. The debate could then centre on whether the non-working percent were too ill, too unfortunate or too lazy to have found a paying job.


Oh and in response to Niel's add hominem anti-gun comments mentioned in the post. Perhaps he should answer this:

In the US in jurisdictions with lower levels of gun control household insurance is generally lower than in equivalent areas with high gun-control. It is fairly logical to suppose that the increased risk of being shot reduces the number of burglaries in these "wild west jurisdictions" and hence drives down insurance costs.

The persistent challenge of the US gun nuts to the GFW's who benefit from this bonanza is that they should at least be honest and put a big sign on their front lawns clearly stating that the household is Gun Free.

Surprisingly, to date there have been no recorded cases of GFW's doing this. Under the same circumstances, would Neil have the courage of his convictions and advertise to the criminal fraternity that his house was more burglar freindly than others in the area? Or would he cravenly pocket the dosh so generously handed to him by his gun toting neighbours?

Devil's Kitchen said...


Dear God, what the hell is your obsession with "income equality"? No, wait, let's call it by its real name shall we: redistribution. What is your problem: who gives a fuck if someone is vastly richer than I am? As long as I can afford to live and have the opportunity to become richer, I couldn't give two shits what someone else is earning (apart from a vague jealousy, but -- hey! -- it just spurs me on).

Although Labour is tackling income inequality, there is still widened wealth inequality lagging from the accumulated wealth to the rich of the Thatcher years.

Who cares if someone at the top earns £200k a year, as long as I myself can afford to live? Who cares about income inequality as long as everybody is getting richer (which they are)? We are richer now than we've ever been at any point in our history (it's only a few thousand years ago that the best that one could hope for was a dry cave and a nice sharp stone axe).

Labour have presided over continuous higher growth levels, which makes it more difficult to lessen income gaps.

Hmmm, but only because the Tories -- I hate to admit this, but Ken Clarke was actually not a bad Chancellor -- left a healthy economy. Growth is slowing and Gordo is responsible.

The Tories perversely had the benefit of 2 recessions, lower levels of growth and a much more equal base (1979 was high water mark of equality).

Well, I think that that makes my point for me, and far more eloquently than I could. It was the memory of 1979 that kept Labour out of power, even when the Tory government was so patently failing in 1992. 1979 was a pile of shit (actually, the entire '70s was an economic disaster zone as far as Britain is concerned); the government was effectively bankrupt (as was the rest of the country), the unions were holding the entire country to ransom (the dead were, quite literally, going unburied) and, as my father vehemently and bitterly puts it, you could not only lose your job for not belonging to a union, but also for belonging to the wrong one.

So, yes, 1979 was the high water mark of equality: everyone was equally fucking broke. Redistribution merely makes everybody poorer.

(Oh, and while we are about it, my grandfather was one of these doctors that you constantly bleat about -- an eminent cardiologist and, at this point, the head of Cardiff teaching hospital -- and was paying 98p in the pound tax. So, yes, he was considerably poorer too; it was hardly worth his while to get out of bed. Luckily for the good heart patients of Cardiff, he had a -- sadly, these days, all too rare -- sense of duty.)

Anyone who wants to read about the "high water mark of equality" can do so here: Neil, you might want to cast your eye over that article to see what a real government fuck up looks like.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps Mr Harding might consider reading Mr Hayek and consider whether or not he is an individualist or a collectivist - a far better label than simply Nulab or Tory. Then perhaps he might consider the evidence as to how collectivism can only work as totalitarianism and get back to us which we should vote for.

dizzy said...

Awesome flame war, and awesome first post DK.

I do have two penneth to add, but it will just increase my blood pressure if I have to debunk the historical revisionism that permeates the intellectually bankrupt nuLeft doublethink.

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