March 2009 Archives
As part of a political four-part special, Gone Green talks to Henri Murison, Labour Party councillor for South Heaton.
This blog has already highlighted fears of a new IMF bailout for Britain amid massive public spending and the crumbling economy.
And could that today have moved a bit closer? It is all to do with the Government failing to raise cash for it spending programme by promising to pay back investors with interest.
Government "gilts" have traditionally been as the most secure form of investment, but the markets are no longer willing to stump up as much as the Government wants.
The effect of this is two-fold. Firstly, it means the Government may not have the money to pay for its fiscal stimulus package.
And secondly, it suggests concerns about the stability and strength of the UK economy - raising the prospect of the credit worthiness of the country being cut.
That would massively raise the national interest rate bill, moving closely to an IMF bailout.
Click here for the Telegraph story on the issue.
I don't suppose this will please Bank of England governor Mervyn King, but a Cabinet Minister has warned existing measures to beat the recession "won't be enough".
Mr King yesterday sparked a "war" with Gordon Brown about his warning not to splash more cash that the country doesn't have in a desperate attempt to overcome the recession.
But speaking ahead of a visit to the North East, Skills Secretary John Denham told me an "active" Government is needed and promised support to develop a world-beating healthcare industry in the North East.
Billions of pounds have been spent bailing out banks and trying to encourage them to lend again to businesses and consumers.
Referring to existing Government measures, Mr Denham said: "What I have said is that won't be enough.
"We are going to have to do more than the measures that we have taken so far to stop the economy, the banking system collapsing, all the rest of that. We are going to have to do more than that.
"And this tour is focusing on the extra things we are going to have do even when we have sorted our way through those problems."
The Skills Secretary stressed the importance of public procurement and suggested buying British products was better than purchasing the "cheapest industry" standard made abroad.
"It is perfectly legitimate to say 'lets look for innovative solutions' and you are much more likely to find them on your doorstep.
"And that means the company at the moment may be one person with an idea can be the really successful company of 20 years time," said Mr Denham.
After lengthy campaigning by North East MPs, it has been confirmed that the Lindisfarne Gospels are set to return to the region.
A briefing was held for MPs earlier today in the House of Commons and they have got a major breakthrough from the British Library.
The proposal is to bring the Gospels back to the region for three months every seven years - with Durham as the ideal location.
And while that is not yet a permanent move, it a big step forward and the campaign for a full-time return goes on.
North Tyneside MP Stephen Byers does have a habit of making dramatic interventions at crucial junctures in British politics.
And the former Cabinet minister has done it again today with a dramatic article, warning that next month is "make or break" for the Prime Minister and his Government with the budget on 22 April following on from the G20 summit of world leaders in London.
Clear here for his article published on progress magazine online today. But see below for some of his comments:
"Contrary to conventional wisdom - and the opinion polls - I do not believe that the coming election has been won by the Conservatives, I believe that Labour under Gordon Brown's leadership can still win."
Mr Byers says David Cameron has not yet "closed the deal" with voters but warns Gordon Brown needs to clearly set out where Labour wants to take the country - and offer practical proposals.
The G20 summit is "too ambitious" with the immediate focus on getting the world through the immediate crisis.
He also reveals he has changed his mind on the VAT cut and questions whether it has run its course in economic and political benefit.
"The 2.5 per cent cut in V.A.T. may appear modest but it comes at significant cost. On its own figures it will cost the Treasury ÃÂ£8.6 bn between April and the end of the year.
"For this amount personal allowances for income tax purposes in 2009-10 could be raised by ÃÂ£1,520 to ÃÂ£7,995.
"This would bring significant benefits to all income taxpayers but perhaps most importantly it would take 1.7 million low paid workers out of paying income tax altogether."
Good afternoon Anna, I hope you're enjoying the sun.
Why not let your readers know that they can cancel the yellow pages and the BT phonebook to save the environment?:
"What is an environmental campaigner doing in a supermarket"? I can hear you ask.
I nearly did it. I had my finger all ready to click 'buy' and then I slumped back in my chair, unable to do the evil deed.
As regular readers will know I decided I was going to ease up on myself a bit and slack off on my zero tolerance policy for stuff.
Receiving no flowers after my operation (because that's what I had said I wanted!) left me feeling quite sad and I was determined that I'd try and be a bit less rigid in my ethical ways.
IT'S CONFESSION time folks.
To my eternal shame, I was 21 before I learnt to ride a bike.
It wasn't entirely my fault. My dad's method of teaching had a somewhat demoralising effect. No stabilisers for little Jonathan, oh no.
Instead, he gripped the back of the saddle and pushed me down the street at a run until we had reached roughly take-off velocity before letting me go.
DON'T know what it's like at your home or where you work, but just about everyone I know is cutting back. People are no longer popping into town for retail therapy - they're bringing their own sandwiches for lunch and filling water bottles. I even spied a Thermos flask on a desk the other day and several colleagues have abandoned the bus and Metro and are walking into work - at least when the weather's fine.
The credit crunch is making us all take a long, hard look at our spending. That new carpet will be forgotten, plans to replace the car cancelled and holidays put on hold.
I wonder if Gordon Brown has read the damning conclusions of the Nationwide building society about the role of "policy makers" in the economic tsunami now crashing against our shores.
To say the least, it is the point:
Policy makers must also share some responsibility. The fundamental economic destabilisers of unfettered credit and unconstrained house price inflation are economic aspects that government can exercise some direct influence over. Boom and bust is an inevitable feature of markets, the role of government is to try to mitigate the excesses of these cycles.
Click here for my story in The Journal from Saturday.