Thursday, February 28, 2019

Energy consumers raped post Brexit?

Where you have a bunch of crooked energy companies ripping off consumers for a decade or more you really do need to have recourse to a body with bite, such as the European Bureau of Consumer Affairs. The UK ombudsmen laughable in its effect and whilst the energy regulator has got its head around connecting consumer rates to the cost of production did not rebase the rate level to take into account the decade of rip-off prices. It should have looked at the cost of gas and electric ten years ago, compared it to today's cost and then worked out how much consumer prices should have risen over that period. Then used a multiple of energy prices, decreasing over time, to rebase the rates consumers pay before allowing any increases.

Absolutely no chance of any of that post-Brexit when lack of effective consumer rights will allow energy companies to rip people off left, right and centre... the latest scam is upping standing charges - akin to printing money for the energy companies - despite a need to reform the industry to reward low energy users not penalize them with ever higher standing charges. 

Nationalizing them a waste of public money but shutting them all down in favour of a new system, worth thinking about - after all, these scammers don't actually own the grid that supplies electric and gas, nor do they directly own the companies that produce energy - all they do is sit in the middle, taking meter readings and employing vast numbers of people who don't seem to actually do anything worthwhile. A new generation of smart readers that let you pay with a debit card in your own home and then sends that payment direct to the grid owners would eliminate a whole, parasitic industry and give consumers a huge reduction in pricing, itself an ideal moment to get rid of standing charges and rebase the rates to encourage minimum usage.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

21 months extension...

The EU should offer the UK an extension up to the end of their fiscal period, 21 months, but let the UK leave at any point up to that date, the remaining period being then a transition period or managed no-deal period, the same money paid into the EU regardless. It sort of gets the UK away from a cliff edge exit and keeps the EU in easy money for an agreed period. At worst, the UK just pays what it would pay as an EU member for access to the single market. The problem of the UK not having any MEPs would have to be fudged with some agreement between all parties - the general public could not give a shit about MEPs, as they are seen as being powerless in comparison to the bureaucrats and leaders of individual countries.  Being still in the EU we would have a veto on all the important stuff.

The ERG and DUP, as soon as they solved the Irish border issue, amended the withdrawal agreement to suit, could then get us out of the EU. Meanwhile, because the backstop is so interlinked with the trade agreement, everyone else can use the 21 months to finalise the trade deal without actually singing off the withdrawal deal - takes power away from the EU but about bloody time! Once the trade deal is done and dusted the backstop doesn't really matter as a trade deal that allows frictionless trade is the only option to keep the Irish border open.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Heat Turned Up...

Beautiful day cut by a sharp breeze of reality... Mrs May has decided to allow MP's to vote on whether they want No Deal if they reject her deal and then vote on whether they want an extension... that is going to make the EU stand firm on the backstop, not sure how the ERG will then react - looking like we may yet escape Brexit via a second vote. The EU still has a card to play, offering a better deal than they offered Cameron, especially around a strict residence test (as described in previous posts) to make freedom of movement acceptable to Leavers. I keep banging on about this and expect to get a Knighthood for my efforts when the politicians finally take note. It would literally stop the country descending into anarchy, especially if applied retrospectively. Chances of remaining in the EU are now much greater than before...

Monday, February 25, 2019

Youth Vote Kicks Corbyn into 2nd Referendum

Labour now supports a second vote, May's deal versus remain, totted as a confirmatory vote, the amendment going down on March 12th. Fear of losing the youth vote to The Independent Group most likely the cause of this change of heart though Labour were keen to point out that it is already their policy. The timing is crap, though, because it takes things right down to the wire and the actual vote will be very close. If it was better timed then the EU could stonewall Mrs May and still have space to alter the backstop at the last moment if the amendment failed. Now it could stonewall and find that no deal is the result. On the other hand, the ERG might change their minds and go for Mrs May's deal regardless of the backstop just to stop the second vote, not sure where that would leave the DUP on a subsequent confidence vote, though. Mrs May is under pressure to take no deal off the table, both via an amendment this week and from her own cabinet. Anything could happen...

If a general election happens any time soon and Labour supports remain, expect them to wipe out both The Independent Group and the Liberal Democrats - they will lose some pro Brexit, working class seats but with more than 60 percent of the electorate  wanting to stay in the EU the numbers are going to be on their side. Labour restrained by EU laws a lot more palatable than a Labour post-Brexit that can do anything it likes to businesses and individuals. 

The Nasty Reality Party...

Gordon Brown cleverly made so many people dependent on the State via welfare and tax credits that it is very hard for a right wing Conservative government to get enough votes to win an election. Hence Mrs May's insistence on the centre ground and big State. Corbyn and Co would love to make everyone dependent on the State, ensuring that the Tories could never win an election again, at least until the UK's economy implodes from a ruined currency after endless printing of funny money. The Left has already convinced itself that Gordon Brown didn't all but bankrupt the country and doubling or tripling government spending is the way to solve all the country's problems, ignoring the reality of what happens to every full-on socialist country. 

Interestingly, and hopefully, this removal from reality is most deeply embedded in older Labour members rather than youth, who at the flick of a finger on their smart phones can view what is happening in Venezuela - the Left, of course, blame the USA for blocking trade rather than socialism for that country's fall from grace. You have to laugh, or should that be cry? Reality back in the UK is that the absurdly generous welfare budget is eating up all the money that should be spent on schools, hospitals etc, and no party is openly promoting this view because too many people are addicted to "free" government money, seen now as a basic human right.

So where does that leave us post Brexit? Whether or not May gets a deal, now delayed to March 12th, the reality will be falling government revenues over the next five years but absolutely no plans for an emergency budget to take 50-100 billion out of government spending, which if not done will send Sterling spiralling downwards as the BOE has no stomach for getting ahead of the game by  upping base rates to above inflation. Tariff free imports won't produce lower prices if Sterling falls dramatically and exporters don't seem to benefit that much from the ruined value of the pound...

How will the new centre ground, wannabe party, The Independent Group, address these fundamental problems if Brexit happens. Whilst happy to produce dire warning about the consequences of Brexit my guess is that any upcoming manifesto will completely ignore them! I don't think they would be impressed by the idea of naming themselves The Nasty Reality Party.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Managed Decline...

The Left, when talking about the plight of the poor, always goes on about the UK being one of the richest countries in the world, conveniently forgetting the debt pile that Gordon Brown built up which the Conservatives almost doubled in trying to get the deficit down to sane levels without crashing the system - a very soft austerity. Without that debt - and its ever increasing servicing cost - current deficit and spending would be quite reasonable but in the context of the actual debt is still far too hight. 

With Brexit about to happen, the only way the UK is going to survive in the big, wide - highly competitive - world is to cut the government back much further, taking a much needed opportunity to roll back a highly intrusive State (and councils), ensuring that the power of politicians over the populace is much diminished rather than their current power grab from Brussels. The alternative to a much smaller State is a ruined currency and managed decline, with ever higher taxes thrown away on wasteful government projects that only serve to bolster the incomes of the political class and their ever expanding retinue of lackeys.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

New Policies for The Independent Group...

1. Make Freedom of Movement acceptable to Leavers by having a very tough residence test, 5-10 years before any access to benefits, social housing, welfare etc and possibly the personal tax allowance. Exceptions allowed for frontline personnel such as nurses. The residence test period would be non-continuous so that Brits born here who have gone abroad and come back would not necessarily be affected. Applied equally to Brits and EU citizens then EU permission would not be needed. Probably a step too far but could be made retrospective.

2. Burden of tax shifted from individuals to companies, council tax to be phased out and replaced by a turnover tax on business – hugely popular with the electorate. This turnover tax expanded to replace business rates and employer NI, rebalancing taxes paid by high street and online companies. Turnover tax much harder to fiddle than profit numbers.

3. Simplified tax system with employee NI integrated into income tax rates (pensions and benefits then based on residence rather than NI contributions), new tax rates starting at 10 percent through to 40 percent, angled at improving net income of those earning less than 25000, whilst tax reliefs for pensions and charity would be restricted, tax rollovers abolished. Capital Gains and inheritted money treated as income, not so popular but does emphasize new fairness in the tax system. 

4. Energy tariffs to be realigned to encourage low energy usage - standing charges will be abolished and the first £20/month will be set by the government at half the current rate. Each company then allowed to set a single rate for higher usage with the same discount for online and direct debit payments, making it simple to compare offers. Once this has settled down the top rate to be limited by a multiple of the actual energy cost, over time that multiple would decline to force efficiency into the system. 

5. Solar panel and heat pumps to be removed from the tax and tariff system to lower prices. New installations to have smart meters that run backwards so the owner is always credited with excess energy produced (which will be used by industry during the day) so that they will have a radical drop in energy costs. No other incentives then needed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Gang of Eleven

Three Conservatives have joined eight MPs from Labour to bolster the Independent Group, the whole lot of them coming over as intelligent, honest and capable - something of a rarity in modern politics. They are doing okay in the polls but I suspect that is down to their pro-EU stance and call for a People's Vote. Beyond that they have put out a rather vague statement of intent which few sane people would disagree with. Meanwhile, the LibDems make conciliatory noises but look like they are creaking at the seams, Sir Vince taking on the aura of a tired B-movie extra rather than someone who is going to save the country from Brexit. 

The LibDem's have the machinery of a political party but a lot of their members are out to prove a point, that they are more left wing than Corbyn, salivating at the prospect of confiscatory wealth and land taxes. In their hearts they know that is a non-runner electorally so tolerate a more centre-left leadership and MP's, who are still dogged by the coalition detritus where they ended up described as Orange Conservatives. However, the IG are expecting the LibDem MPs to cross the floor to join them rather than the other way round.

Presumably, the IG are hoping that the 60 percent of the populace who want to stay in the EU will be so outraged by Brexit that they won't need to be prodded by the electoral machinery to vote for the new party and social media will hum with a song of hope. Or something. 

Just a thought, Ken Clarke - a moderate but ultra loyal Tory - has been very quiet on the new party but he could possibly finish off the Conservatives by crossing the floor...

Helping Honda Swindon's workers...

Swindon is well located with regards to transport links, especially rail along the Bristol to London route. Its role as a commuter town for those working in London, though, is ruined by exorbitant rail fares if you so much as think about travelling towards London - a complete and utter rip-off. So maybe the best thing the government can do is give Honda's workers a five year rail pass that would let them shoot around the country looking for work and commute in for free when they found it?

Careful what you wish for...

Every time the government gets tangled up in an immigration scandal its poll rating goes up a bit, much to the annoyance of whining LibDems and Labourites. Thus the Home Secretary's shocking decision - given the past history of the government letting known terrorists live on benefits - to revoke the citizenship of Shamima Begum will come as a welcome surprise to most of the British populace who were half expecting her to be flown home at the tax-payer's expense and lavished with benefits. Hopefully, an investigation will be made into the parents to see if they aided her on her way to Isis...

Post Brexit, expect to see the government acting in a similar hard edged way to recent immigrants, or their children, who are aiding or becoming terrorists; each click up in the polls will encourage a hardening of the government's stance. However, post Brexit individual rights will be weakened because it will be government bodies, rather than external EU courts, that determine the validity of their rights so whilst clearing out those who are aiding terrorists is to the good, it could easily become the first step on curtailing the rights of people whose only sin is being a bit different to the unholy mass of the populace.

The Great Honda Disappearing Act

I suspect there are two possible reasons why Honda is closing down its Swindon factory. The first is technological, the UK's program to make it the place for battery design and manufacture is already out of date compared to what either Japanese government or Honda's research have discovered. This ties in with Nissan's decision to not build an electric vehicle in the UK and arch Brexiteer Dyson to move his operations to Singapore. Battery tech is the key to winning the electric car war but Honda is also the world's biggest manufacturer of motorcycles and a step-change in battery design would be even more important to them.

The second reason could be diplomatic. The Japanese government has gone from enthusiastic about a free trade deal with the UK to lukewarm. Given the crassness of the UK's government's Brexiteers it is not beyond the realms of possibility that one of them grievously insulted either a member of the Japanese government or a high ranking executive at Honda Japan. The Japanese would have smiled politely, only to go into a rage once back in their own enclave. What better way to teach the British a lesson than closing down the jewel in their crown that a month ago was described as producing the best quality cars in Honda's network and assured that they would not be affected by Brexit?

It could be a combination of the above, the offer of innovative battery technology and payback for some perceived diplomatic insult. The UK government has a notorious history of wasting tax-payer's money on auto related projects that come to naught and the current mob don't inspire much confidence, do they?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Real Labour Party

A paltry seven escapees from the Labour Party formed something called The Independent Group, six MPs I've never heard of and the mildly charismatic Chuka Umunna. They mostly came over as working class kids who made good and could easily have been fronting the grittier end of the Conservative Party but they were die-hard Labour, of course, who claimed their views had never changed - always a bad sign - and that Corbyn led Labour had mutated into something they did not recognize, rife with anti-Semites and vicious put-downs of those who dare criticize the leadership. Tony Blair did not pop out of the woodwork, though all seven want to remain in the EU. They have yet to form an actual party... I initially thought The Classic Labour Party might be a suitable moniker but maybe Real Labour might work better. Or given our electoral system perhaps Hard Labour!

Meanwhile, as predicted on this site, Honda are indeed shutting down their Swindon factory at the end of 2021, along with a Turkish offshoot. Nothing to do with Brexit, they say, just consolidation of all their manufacturing into their massive Japanese factory, the flip-side of singing up a free trade deal with the EU and doubtless later on the UK - no tariffs, no need to manufacture abroad. Guess they also had one eye on a future Labour government's ambition to take ten percent of the wealth of all large companies. Or was it Mrs May's penchant for telling foreign companies what they want to hear and then doing something completely at odds with that reassurance?

Auto-workers who voted for Brexit on the back of not wanting the country overrun with foreigners and ending Freedom of Movement may eventually work out - tick, tock - that the result of ending of FOM is that they have locked themselves out from all those well-paying auto jobs in the EU!

Expect Labour activists to go into a frenzy in Swindon as such massive jobs losses will leave the sitting Conservative MP's an easy target. Unconfirmed rumours already circulating that the drawings of the Morris Marina have been dusted off with the intention of converting it to an electric vehicle so that Labour can promise to use the factory for a new nationalized car industry, a socialist fervour doing the rounds that everyone in the country will exult in equality by being forced to drive the same car! This will also revive the bicycle industry because each car will need a bike in the boot for when it breaks down and the driver has to take the battery to a charging point. The cost of the car will not matter because no-one will be allowed to actually own one.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Love the EU March...

If those "striking" kids wanted to do something actually useful, they could have had a march from all over the country into Westminster to promote staying in the EU. The government and police would not know how to deal with a mass child protest, any form of restraining them would be political suicide and letting them run riot over Central London would cause total chaos. Fun Times.

On saving the planet, each child born does huge ecological damage compared to a whole fleet of diesel cars so the kids are the actual problem... not something they can get their minds around, I think. On the other hand, the melting polar ice is already going to f..k us over...

Friday, February 15, 2019

Voted Down Again

Last night Mrs May lost yet another vote on affirming support for her strategy. The Brexiteers, and others, abstained. Much angst and bed-wetting by the reporters but this is all down to Mrs May not moving forward on removing the backstop and some worries about no-deal being taken off the table. She goes around telling people what they want to hear, adding up to a set of promises that are not compatible with each other. Arguably, this strengthens Mrs May's hand because it is clear that some fudge will not get through parliament, so the EU will need to do something radical if they want a deal and no hard border in Ireland.

Meanwhile, the Labour leadership looks pretty useless, reflected by the latest polls which show the Conservatives nicely ahead despite their basic incompetence at doing Brexit that requires a fundamental downwards shift in government spending and intrusion into people's lives. The Brexiteers get that but don't have enough support for a very British coup.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Brexit and energy...

The absolutely disgraceful way, over the last decade, that consumers have been treated by the energy companies  and the government looks likely to deepen post-Brexit. Individuals will have less redress, losing the ability to report energy companies to the EU bureau of consumer affairs rather than the largely toothless UK ombudsman and there will be no change in the way energy companies are allowed to make a five percent return on capital... a crooked set-up that encourages them to increases costs and prices so they can justify ever increasing turnover and hence a bigger profit.

The complete incompetence of government bodies supposed to impose some restraint on these companies has managed to knock out many smaller energy companies whilst constraining tariffs in such a way that there is no encouragement for low energy users. Such is the depth and length of the rip-off of energy consumers that a radical attack on tariffs is needed to rebalance the current outrageous state of affairs. All standing charges need to be removed, companies allowed a single tariff with discounts for fixed direct debits (the idea that people should allow energy companies to vary their direct debits a modern absurdity that emphasizes the contempt in which consumers are held) and, to encourage miserly energy use, the first £20/month should be at a fixed rate that is half the price of the current rate. And, post Brexit, low energy use would be zero rated whilst higher users would pay twice the current 5 percent.

A further benefit of Brexit, zero tariffs and taxes on solar panel and air-source heat pump imports whilst at the same time smart meters would be configured to run backwards to credit the consumer directly with any excess energy produced in the summer/winter. No other incentives needed, well insulated houses using heat pumps would probably overall be self-sufficient in electricity and not need gas, payback on (now much cheaper) solar panel installation then being measured in years rather than decades.

Post Brexit, all this would go down well with the populace and redeem the dreadful way the government has allowed energy consumers to be treated. At the same time, phasing out council tax in favour of increasing taxes on business would then radically reform the fixed costs of living in the UK, freeing up cash to keep the general economy ticking over.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

When the going gets weird, the weird...

Weird day yesterday. Mrs May, talking to Irish businesses, said she wasn't going to replace the backstop... WTF? The only way to get the deal through parliament is to replace the backstop... Did she mean she wasn't going to replace it but get it moved from the withdrawal deal to the trade deal? The DUP adamant that the backstop had to go, if she somehow got it through parliament with the backstop tempered by a codicil in the trade deal, the DUP would then kill the government in a confidence vote.

The Irish were adamant that the backstop would stay in the withdrawal agreement, as were the EU, but when you ask them what would happen if there was no deal and the PM kept to her promise of no hard border in Ireland they have no answer, only that the UK can extend or revoke Article 50 rather than have no deal... don't think so! Dr Fox reluctantly admitted that the zero tariff option was under consideration - zero tariff applied to all imports from around the world, that is. With the UK happy with an open border in Ireland how are the EU going to react to no deal, zero tariff products streaming into NI by the boat load?

Then Mr Tusk, one of many rule-loving bureaucrats in the EU, was so annoyed by the British character - which tends towards a dislike of excessive rules - that he opined there was a special place in hell for those who promoted Brexit without an idea of how to implement it. As said before, the EU has dug itself into a hole over the backstop because if they don't get rid of it, no deal looms which means they then face down their own contradictory positions - no border in Ireland and no access to the single market for non-members of the EU. 

The sad thing is, Mrs May still has not got her head around the strength of her position and still undermines herself by suddenly saying she is not going to replace the backstop.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

No respect for MPs...

Brexit has intensified the lack of respect that the general populace have for MP's. In a system where government and councils takes an incredible amount of tax off people and slashes many services there does not seem to be any democratic way to punish MP's and top civil servants for their ongoing incompetence - if there was a referendum on whether MP's and civil servants should have their income capped at 25k, guess how the result would go!

The bigger side of this is the incredible intrusiveness of the Big State and councils into people's lives at the same time as the contempt with which they are held by the people they think they are trying to help increases. The obvious conclusion is to roll back, as far as possible, both the State and councils, allowing them to concentrate on real problem areas rather than having an endless roll out of pointless laws, commissions and other annoying intrusions. However, telling those in power that they will have a lot less power and a lot less money to waste does not go down at all well...

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mass exodus...

The only way a no-deal Brexit is going to work is by a complete downsizing of the State and massive reduction in taxes for both businesses and individuals. The Singapore model is much touted but that won't work here because there is too much government ownership of land and housing in Singapore, the UK needs to be even more radical than Singapore! Unfortunately, politicians equate their success to the size of their departments and Mrs May's power trip includes an ever expanding State to cater to all the needs of the populace. Falling revenues post Brexit and an already massive debt pile means radical reform is the only way out of the mess that Gordon Brown made of things, one that continues to dog the country. 

Labour would double or even treble the size of the State, wasting trillions of then hugely devalued pounds, still enamoured of the Venezuela model and barely able to restrain themselves from sprouting Marxist mantras.

Between the incompetence of the current government and the prospect of a massive wealth grab by Labour, is it any wonder that companies and individuals want to fast exit?