Ed Miliband in power ‘like a turbine on a windless day’

So now that he is in opposition, and struggling with his ratings, I find it rather incredible that he can seriously pretend to want to do something for the hard-pressed energy consumers in this country, and I find it astounding that so many people are falling for his Wonga-like offer.

He says he will imitate the catastrophic policies of the emperor Diocletian, by imposing a price freeze on energy bills for the 20 months succeeding the election. And, er, then what? Well, then the energy companies will of course recoup their losses by whacking the prices jaggedly upwards again.

In the meantime, the Labour government would have achieved all sorts of undesirable outcomes. By their meddling jiggery-pokery, they will send out the worst possible message to anyone thinking of investing in this country, or buying shares in British businesses.

Worse still, perhaps, he will trigger all sorts of perverse behaviour by the companies – none of which is likely to be in the interests of the consumer. The energy companies will sullenly cut costs by laying off staff – so that you spend even longer waiting for a human being to answer the phone, and have to wait in all day for a repair man to come.

They will seize the opportunity to go slow on the investment that this country so desperately needs. According to Ofgem, there is an increasing risk of brown-outs – about one chance in four – and we are in the absurd position of having to ask some of our more energy-intensive industries to cut production in peak times.

And whose fault is that? Who was sitting there, luxuriating at the Department of Energy and Climate Change? It was Ed Miliband, whose sole discernible contribution was to continue the pointless desecration of the moors and dales and valleys of this country with wind farms. There they stand – wrecking some of the most gorgeous views in the world and producing derisible quantities of energy. He totally flunked his main task, which was to get on with building the new nuclear reactors that this country needs. Why do the French have lower energy bills than the British? Because 80 per cent of their needs are supplied by nuclear power. They are laughing at us.

Yes, we need to help bring down the costs of living – but you do that by investment, not by attacking the private sector companies that are indispensable to that investment. We need to help people with the cost of housing; but that means building hundreds of thousands of homes – homes for sale, for affordable rent, for private rent. But you won’t get developers risking their cash to build, if they are told they are vulnerable to Mugabe-style expropriations and a new mansion tax.

We need new transport infrastructure – and that means a government with boldness and vision, such as the one led by David Cameron and the Conservatives, not a Labour government that can’t make its mind up on the crucial challenges facing the country. Ed Miliband is against the third runway at Heathrow; Ed Balls is for it, even though it would be environmentally catastrophic and politically undeliverable.

We need a government with the guts to go for the real solution that will let this country compete with our neighbours – and help British business and consumers to fly to more destinations.

I know how hard it is to fight against a Labour Party that dishonestly pretends it can cut your costs. I’ve done it; and I know that in the end people see through the con. The public will go for the party with vision and ambition and sheer courage to take the big long-term decisions that will boost Britain’s competitiveness, cut costs and improve the standard of living for everyone.

What would Ed do if we were mad enough to put him back into office? What he did last time. Sit like a panda masticating bean shoots, or like a turbine inert on a windless day.

At last, we see Ed in his true colours, waving the red flag

And now, in an incautious admission, he has reminded us of his core beliefs – as the proud son of a Marxist academic. He wants to restore socialism to Britain. In spite of everything, the mission of Labour under Ed Miliband is to revive a political belief system that brought Britain to its knees, that blighted the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, that was responsible for untold murders and abuses of human rights, and that in the past 30 years has been decisively rejected across the planet in favour of liberty, free enterprise and market economics – a rival system that has lifted and is lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and servitude. Someone needs to tell Ed Miliband that socialism failed, and I have just the man to do it.

I happen to think Mr McBride is genuinely repentant, and I know that he is working hard for good educational causes in London. But if he is to achieve full redemption he needs to think about why he behaved in that way. What was it that legitimated – in his mind – this hideous trampling over all norms of decency? He smeared ministers who seemed to stand in his way, he destroyed careers, he wrecked family lives. It seems incredible that a highly intelligent man could act like this just because he adored Gordon Brown. No, that wasn’t enough: he justified his ruthless actions to himself in the same way that socialists have always justified their ruthlessness – that the end justified the means.

And that is the problem with socialism. It has always involved the use of revolting means to pursue an unattainable end. It has seen the rights and liberties of individuals trampled in the name of a collective good. Damian McBride is a small but interesting example of the mental contortions of socialists over the last century, when there is no abuse or tyranny – large or trivial – that has not been justified in the name of the people.

When the Securitate persuaded children to inform against their parents in Ceausescu’s Romania, they knew – at one level – that what they were doing was creepy. But they believed it was in the wider interests of the state, and therefore of the people themselves. When thousands of Soviet dissidents and bourgeois reactionaries were hauled off to perish in Siberian gulags, the authorities knew – with one side of their brains – that this was morally no better than Nazism; but they persuaded themselves that it was for the greater good, and that you could not make an omelette without breaking eggs. When the North Koreans shoot anyone who falls foul of their deranged and psychotic regime, they don’t blame their evil dictator; they think – or at least they assert – that they are protecting a system of government that is morally superior to that of South Korea and the rest of the capitalist world.

I don’t mean that Ed Miliband will try to import some new form of Stalinism to Britain, or that we will see the systematic abuse of human rights. British socialism has always been a much milder strain. But the fundamental impulse is there: to use regulation or coercion to try to impose an idea of equality, when the result is the exact opposite. Why has social mobility declined in the past 30 years? Why is it that there are fewer children from poor backgrounds who make it all the way to the very best universities than there were in the 1960s?

Because – in the name of equality – Labour politicians launched a war against the grammar schools and indeed against the whole competitive ethos in education. How is a dose of socialism going to help us improve our schools, or reform the welfare state, or get a better deal from the European Union? The most important political fact since the crash of 2008 is the complete failure of the Left to provide any realistic alternative to the free market economics that have been adopted across the developing world, and that have seen a huge rise in living standards for billions.

It has its chance to offer a new model – and we have heard nothing. Now we have Ed Miliband telling us that his plan is to go back to Brownite “socialism” – the over-borrowing and over-spending that got us in the mess in the first place. Why hand back the bridge to the very people who ran the ship aground?

Boris Johnson: ‘Economy has reached Costa Concordia moment’

Boris Johnson said Britain's economy has had its "Costa Concordia moment" and should continue on the course set by George Osborne.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors (IoD) annual convention, the Mayor of London said: "It's fair to say that the UK economy has finally reached its Costa Concordia moment.

"Because after two-and-half years of parbuckling the labour is complete and the rotation has been accomplished and though the damage is still I think manifest, and the caissons have not yet been entirely drained of debt, I think you would agree that the keel is off the rocks and at last we can feel motion beneath.

He also made comparisions between the Labour party and the captain of the Costa Concordia, who is accused of accidentally running the ship aground and abandoning ship while passengers were still aboard.

"I have no inclination whatever to hand back the wheel to the people who were on the bridge when we ran aground. And to claim to have abolished boom and bust, they were frankly only half right," he said.

Condescending Lord Clegg, the invincible loser of British politics

Many elderly pensioners would face a colossal annual fine of tens of thousands of pounds – in other words, ruin. He has not thought of the many families who are living in large properties, but whose outgoings mean they would be unable to pay the tax without unreasonable sacrifice. He has failed to take account of the way any such tax would bite disproportionately on London – where property values have inevitably been resilient throughout the recession, and where they are now surging again. As the estate agents Knight Frank have shown, he is above all being dishonest in his projections about what the tax would yield. In order to raise his target sum of £1.75 billion, he would have to hit houses of values much lower than £2 million – and once a tax of that kind was in place, we all know that the Government would keep coming back for more: cruelly taxing people for an increase in the value of their property. Indeed, they would be providing many homeowners – especially those on the threshold of being clobbered – with a weird incentive to reduce the attractiveness of their homes, perhaps by planting buddleia on the roof or artistically smashing the windows for when the inspector calls.

This tax is an utterly typical Lib Dem policy, in the sense that it sounds pleasingly populist – and many people will mistakenly believe that it will only hit “rich foreigners” – while being actually both impractical and irresponsible. But what really makes my blood boil is the tone in which the pronouncement is made. It’s the lordliness, the condescension, the sublime certainty that the Lib Dems are going to be in government, whatever happens. Here is a party that is currently on 9 per cent in the polls, and languishing fourth behind Ukip. And yet it appears to be the settled view of every pundit and psephological expert that they are once again about to hold the balance of power.

The two most likely outcomes – so we are constantly told – are a continuation of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, or else a new coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems. You can have any government you like, in other words, as long as it’s got yellow in it. The British constitution has turned into an ice cream van that sells only red-and-yellow lollies, or else blue-and-yellow lollies. Most of the punters don’t want either. They want blue lollies or red lollies – and yet there is nothing they can do about it.

It was the Lib Dems who saw to that. They were so piqued at losing the referendum on AV that they betrayed all their principles and made it impossible for Parliament to reform the boundaries so as to reflect the population; and that makes it much harder for any Conservative government to get an outright majority. The whole thing is frankly an abuse of democracy – but it allows Cleggers to lounge back on the silken cushions of his harem, and wonder whether to click his fingers at the pouting figure in the red pyjamas or the one in the blue. He is the invincible loser, the Hans-Dietrich Genscher of British politics.

Or that, at any rate, is becoming the general view at Westminster. If he believes it, I reckon he is being much too complacent. Look at the polls in the past few months. It is not just that there has been a steady drop in Ed Miliband’s support, to the point where his personal ratings are becoming truly alarming to Labour MPs. Much more significant is the steady climb in David Cameron’s vote – and the huge lead he is now establishing as the best candidate to occupy No 10.

The closer the election gets, the sharper the contrast will be – between a Tory party that has very largely addressed and rectified an economic disaster, and a Labour Party that had a large share in causing that disaster. With just a few more points for the Tories, and a few less for Labour, we are back in the territory of outright majority. And then it won’t matter at all what demands the Cleggster makes now, as the price of his cooperation.

Just in case, though, I have an idea. I see that my old chum Jeremy Clarkson is thinking of standing against Ed Miliband in Doncaster. Right idea, Jezza – wrong seat. I hope fervently that the great man can be persuaded to stand against Cleggers in Sheffield, where his majority (unlike Ed’s) is very frail indeed. Come on, Clarkson! Stand against the Cleggster with his hideous turbines and mad new taxes. That should put the wind up him.

Boris tells opponent to ‘get stuffed’

The Mayor made the comment whilst being questioned by Labour Assembly leader Andrew Dismore over planned reductions to fire fighting services.

"How can cutting fire stations, cutting fire engines and cutting firefighters post not be a reduction in fire cover?" Mr Dismore asked.

"You've lied to the people of London," he added.

To which Mayor Boris Johnson replied: "get stuffed."

The Mayor was asked to withdraw the remark and apologised saying "it just popped out".

Milisecond (n): the time it takes Ed to do the unions’ bidding

You don’t have to delve far into Labour history to understand what has gone on: you just have to look at the election of Miliband minor to the party leadership in 2010. As you will recall, his older brother got more votes both from MPs and Euro-MPs and from ordinary Labour Party members. David Miliband won on the first ballot, on the second ballot, and even on the third ballot. He only lost on the fourth ballot, by 1.3 per cent, because of thousands of orchestrated votes from the likes of Unite and the GMB – which sent out ballot papers in envelopes marked “Vote Ed”.

The whole procedure was really a bit of a disgrace, and the result is that we have a party that is still financially dependent on the unions – Labour has taken £12 million from Unite since the election – and whose leader bobs pathetically on his strings. Ed Miliband’s handling of Falkirk shows that he cannot operate independently of the union barons – and that is potentially disastrous, since the polls show, even if by an ever-dwindling margin, that it is still technically possible that he could be prime minister.

Let me give an example of the kind of disaster I mean. Just 25 miles from where I sit, they are putting the finishing touches to a stupendous and brilliant project – a new deep-water port for London and the UK. With the help of colossal investment from Dubai, we will next month be opening the DP World port at Thurrock. This will begin to undo the damage that was done in the Sixties and Seventies, when union militancy and government hopelessness brought the London docks to ruin. We failed to invest, we failed to expand and to meet the challenge of containerisation – and we saw our business go to Rotterdam. The population of London plummeted; thousands of jobs were lost; the docks were turned into a wasteland.

Now all that is being reversed, and at breathtaking speed. Canary Wharf is bigger than the whole financial district of Frankfurt; Chinese investors are putting billions towards a third financial district at the Royal Albert Dock. With the DP World port, London will be able once again to handle the very biggest ships, and a huge logistics park is being created at the site. There will be about 27,000 jobs and £2.5 billion worth of growth.

And what is the response of Unite members? Are they celebrating the good news for working people? On the contrary, they are picketing the site, jumping on cars and hurling abuse like something from the Seventies. Unite has done nothing to bring this investment to Britain. It didn’t think of it. It didn’t promote it. Yet the union somehow believes that it has a right to be a partner in the running of the port, and that the owners should be compelled to deal with it rather than with their employees. McCluskey wants to run the place, just as he wants to run the Labour Party, and he threatens exactly the same madness that brought this country to its knees in the Seventies – the strikes and the militancy that drove investors away, and that cost London its port.

With the right employment conditions, and the right infrastructure, I have no doubt that London is going to lead the rest of the UK in an astonishing commercial and industrial renaissance. But the global competition is intense, the margins are small, and if vital facilities are in the hands of men like McCluskey, our chances are much diminished. Unite cannot bully this Government. Whatever he claims at Bournemouth on Tuesday, Miliband is a different story.

What is the definition of a milimetre? The distance between the positions of Miliband and his masters in the trade unions. What is the definition of a milisecond? The time it takes for Miliband to do their bidding. What is a Miliband? A rubber band that is twirled between the fingers of militants. The Falkirk debacle has exposed the reality of Labour’s relations with the union barons. If Ed ever got through the door of Downing Street, he would have McCluskey barrelling in first and plonking himself on the sofa. It is a disaster we cannot allow.

The delayed attack on Syria is good for Britain – and the PM

That delay is a huge tribute to the Prime Minister. It is a recognition of the role he has played in leading the response to the atrocities of Assad of Syria. It is also, frankly, a reflection of the quandary we all face. It seems overwhelmingly likely that the forces of the Syrian regime have indeed used chemical weapons, and killed hundreds of civilians in an act of utter savagery. I wrote in this space a few weeks ago of my deep anxieties about our getting embroiled in Syria — and I still have them.

But to use gas for mass murder is a crime that we cannot allow to go unpunished. It is no use saying that we let Saddam get away with using chemicals at Halabja: so we did, but doing the wrong thing once is no justification for doing it again. Nor is it relevant that the Americans used defoliants and napalm in Vietnam. Even if you accept the moral equivalence, one form of barbarism does not legitimate another.

This was a peculiarly nasty attack on innocent people, and the most likely account seems to be that it was perpetrated by Assad’s sinister brother, in the belief that it would teach rebel communities a lesson they would never forget – and that the West would never get round to a response. As the debate in Parliament showed, there was some shrewdness in that view. It is thankfully very difficult to get democratic politicians to vote for military action. They require hard facts, and there are still many questions to which the answers seem vague at best. There are some who say that the gas was unleashed not by the Assad regime, but by rogue elements.

You will find plenty of seemingly authoritative reports on the web — mainly emanating from Russia or Iran — that suggest the chemicals were in fact in the possession of the rebels, or had been supplied by the Saudis. There may still be some who are puzzled as to why the regime was so arrogant and insouciant as to use chemicals when they knew the weapons inspectors were nearby. All these questions can no doubt be answered — and perhaps already have been — but you can see why Obama would want them properly masticated in a debate.

Then there is an even more difficult question: what does the “strike” consist of, and what is it meant to achieve? Is this a slap on the wrist, or six of the best? Or is it regime change? The world needs to hear how Obama’s plan will be commensurate and effective — and that discussion will now take place in Congress. If the President can articulate such a mission, I doubt that US legislators will stand in his way.

There is one British figure that excites the unanimous scorn of all American politicians, and that is Neville Chamberlain. The Americans have a horror of appeasement and the notion of failing to stand up to dictators. After due consideration, I bet Washington will endorse a limited and punitive strike against Assad — provided it can be shown that the intervention will not escalate and provided there is no hint that it will lead to boots on the ground. By then, too, the evidence against Assad may have solidified.

The UN will have had longer to report. If there is new and better evidence that inculpates Assad, I see no reason why the Government should not lay a new motion before Parliament, inviting British participation – and then it is Ed Miliband, not David Cameron, who will face embarrassment. The Labour leader has been capering around pretending to have stopped an attack on Syria – when his real position has been more weaselly.

If you add the Tories and Blairites together, there is a natural majority for a calibrated and limited response to a grotesque war crime. I predict that by the end of this episode it will be Labour that looks divided, and David Cameron who looks the statesman. In the meantime, the West has longer to weigh up the two evils – doing nothing and doing something. That is a delay for which we can thank the British Parliament, and proof (if you really needed it) that Britain matters a great deal.