“The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the …” people “… he has around him …”

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We’re meeting because Labour thinks it can do better. As the Conservative Party descends into what is likely to be a scrappy and savage leadership contest, a Labour victory at the next election is starting to feel distinctly possible, perhaps even likely. Keir Starmer, if he does end up being prime minister, doesn’t know one end of a yield curve from the other. So Reeves, his economics Yoda and close political adviser, is auditioning alongside him to get us out of the acute mess we find ourselves in.

…..

“Her thinking has evolved quite considerably,” says a senior colleague from her Bank of England days, noting that her first pledge on becoming shadow chancellor was that Labour would buy, make and sell more in Britain. “I wouldn’t say she’s been a radical thinker — she’s not going to scare the horses. But she has a real command of the concepts and detail.”

…..

Starmer was advised by his Blairite counsellors to pick Reeves as a replacement, which he duly did last May. Since then the pair have become genuinely close. Starmer relies on Reeves for regular economics guidance but also recognises her political savvy, honed over 12 up-and-down years at the Westminster coalface.

“We developed a rapport quite quickly and he sought out my views on issues wider than my brief,” Reeves says. “We message pretty much every day. He says, ‘I forget who works for you and who works for me.’ ” The harmonious relationship between their offices is a strength for Labour, for it was not always so. “It’s different from my other experience of a leader and a shadow chancellor — Ed and Ed [Miliband and Balls] did not always work constructively together,” Reeves adds. “We’ve had none of that with me and Keir.”

Starmer is many things but a natural politician is not one of them, which elevates Reeves. “He lacks political experience and political judgment,” says the former Labour shadow minister. “Rachel offers him more than just numbers. He relies on her and others to make up for a lack of experience.

…..

“Coherent is definitely within her wheelhouse,” her Bank of England colleague says. “Compelling remains to be seen.”

Is Rachel Reeves Labour’s secret weapon?

“The choosing of ministers is a matter of no little importance for a prince

… and their worth depends on the sagacity of the prince himself.  The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the men he has around him.  When they are competent and loyal he can always be considered wise, because he has been able to recognize their competence and to keep them loyal.  But when they are otherwise, the prince is always open to adverse criticism; because his first mistake has been in the choice of his ministers.

No one who knew messer Antonio da Venafro as the minister of Pandolfo Petrucci, prince of Siena, could but conclude that therefore Pandolfo was himself a man of great ability.  There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the second appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others.  This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.  So it follows that Pandolfo, if he did not have the first kind of intelligence, at least had the second.  If a prince has the discernment to recognize the good or bad in what another says or does, even though he has no acumen himself, he can see when his minister’s actions are good or bad, and he can praise or correct accordingly; in this way, the minister cannot hope to deceive him and so takes care not to go wrong.

But as for how a prince can assess his minister, here is an infallible guide: when you see a minister thinking more of himself than of you, and seeking his own profit in everything he does, such a one will never be a good minister, you will never be able to trust him.  This is because a man entrusted with the task of government must never think of himself but of the prince, and must never concern himself with anything except the prince’s affairs.  To keep his minister up to the mark the prince, on his side, must be considerate towards him, must pay him honour, enrich him, put him in his debt, share with him both honours and responsibilities.  Thus the minister will see how dependent he is on the prince; and then having riches and honours to the point of surfeit he will desire no more; holding so many offices, he cannot but fear changes.  When, therefore, relations between princes and their ministers are of this kind, they can have confidence in each other; when they are otherwise, the result is always disastrous for one or the other of them.”

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

Further down the line, many in Labour can imagine Reeves — who has a strong support base inside the parliamentary party — as a future leader.

Is Rachel Reeves Labour’s secret weapon?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose … #LabourLosingWomen

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“Discrimination knows no party boundaries. A former chair of my local Ward Party berated female members about their not campaigning on issues like the equalisation of the pension age.

A little while later, he nearly had apoplexy when the party put on women only learning and development sessions to help them with campaigning and seeking election. The sessions were, understandably, on Saturday mornings and on site crèche facilities were provided.

He had, like I had, received through our work the sort of training needed to turn raw talent into campaigners and candidates. I got the impression he failed to grasp that.”

Another sorry chapter in the history of institutional misogyny within Labour?

That chap was very much Old Labour in the 1990s.

Today in 2022:

“It is perhaps stating the “bleeding obvious”, but Starmer needs to clean up Labour’s act on women’s rights. A leader who, at his own party conference, struggled to state clearly what a woman actually was, is now not trusted by a growing segment of Britain’s women, particularly those who are politically active. And, while Labour continues to support the politically-suicidal policy of trans self-id, that group will continue to grow.

If you are one of Labour’s many members and supporters who still firmly believe “this never comes up on the doorstep”, or “it’s not important, it will never swing anyone’s votes”, let me tell you two things.

First, you are probably a man. Women understandably find it hard to duck this one.

Second, please wake up: you are underestimating the potential of this single issue to provide a razor-sharp dividing line between Labour and Conservatives come the election (if it is not, why are almost all the Tory leadership candidates coming out against self-id, including Penny Mordaunt, so desperate to row back from her previous support that she outright lied about it?)”

The real work for Keir Starmer starts here

Reforming or weakening, depending on your perspective, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 is only popular with Labour Party members and 18 to 24 year olds.

It is not a wedge issue, but a Tory General Election steamroller.

Odds on, the next leader of the Tory Party will say no woman has got a penis whilst the current leader of the Labour Party is giving the impression he thinks some men have got vaginas.

How does that credibly advance the cause of trans-rights and improve Labour’s chances of winning a General Election?

If transwomen were women they would not need discreet rights and services.

They would just need to campaign for enhanced rights and services for women.

That is patently absurd.

Transwomen clearly do need discreet rights and services for which they needs must identify as transwomen.

Labour is brave enough, it seems, to advocate GRA reform that is unpopular with almost every group of voters, but will not advocate electoral reform, deals with other parties and softening Hard Brexit to “build a coalition of voters to win an election” as Rachel Reeves says is necessary, because those policies would make Labour unpopular with some (Tory?) voters.

Labour currently seems to be doing its level best to give the finger to every group from which it needs to draw voters to build that necessary coalition.

By the way, 51% of the electorate are women.

I gather the concerns that many women have over self-id are not a big issue for Tory Party members.

I wrote this passage a while ago about Team Corbyn.

To be fair to Team Starmer, there are many more women amongst their number than were in the ranks of Team Corbyn.

Many of the women in Team Starmer are middle class, some of whom say Labour needs to (re?)connect with socially conservative voters to win a General Election …

“The vast majority of those with a stake in formalising trans rights for transwomen want a solution that establishes those rights without subtracting from or trampling on the hard won rights of women.”

Smouldering skip fire of misogyny and the intolerance of extremist activists

As I see it, only a tiny, tiny minority of transwomen want to dismiss the legitimate concerns of women.

A minority of blokey blokes within a minority group think the world should revolve around them and that they should be free to trample over hard won women’s rights.

The fact that group of blokes does not empathise with those concerns rather suggests they have not transited much, if at all, because if they had they would not surely be so dismissive?

That at heart, they remain blokes?

Is it too much to ask that the leader of the Labour Party advocates seeking a solution that satisfies the vast majority of those with a stake in this matter rather than speaking up for a vociferous, intransigent minority within the trans community?

“There is one important subject I do not want to pass over, the mistake which princes can only with difficulty avoid making if they are not extremely prudent or do not choose their ministers well.”

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“There is one important subject I do not want to pass over, the mistake which princes can only with difficulty avoid making if they are not extremely prudent or do not choose their ministers well.  I am referring to flatterers, who swarm in the courts.  Men are so happily absorbed in their own affairs and indulge in such self-deception that it is difficult for them not to fall victim to this plague; and some efforts to protect oneself from flatterers involve the risk of becoming despised.  This is because the only way to safeguard yourself against flatterers is by letting people understand that you are not offended by the truth; but if everyone can speak the truth to you then you lose respect.  So a shrewd prince should adopt a middle way, choosing wise men for his government and allowing only those the freedom to speak the truth to him, and then only concerning matters on which he asks their opinion, and nothing else.  But he should also question them thoroughly and listen to what they say; then he should make up his own mind, by himself.  And his attitude towards his councils and towards each one of his advisers should be such that they will recognize that the more freely they speak out the more acceptable they will be.  Apart from these, the prince should heed no one; he should put the policy agreed upon into effect straight away, and he should adhere to it rigidly.  Anyone who does not do this is ruined by flatterers or is constantly changing his mind because of conflicting advice: as a result he is held in low esteem.

I want to give a modern illustration of this argument.  Bishop Luca, in the service of Maximilian the present emperor, said of his majesty that he never consulted anybody and never did things as he wanted to; this happened because he did the opposite of what I said above.  The emperor is a secretive man, he does not tell anyone of his plans, and he accepts no advice.  But as soon as he puts his plans into effect, and they come to be known, they meet with opposition from those around him; and then he is only too easily diverted from his purpose.  The result is that whatever he does one day is undone the next, what he wants or plans to do is never clear, and no reliance can be placed on his decisions.

A prince must, therefore, never lack advice.  But he must take it when he wants to, not when others want him to; indeed, he must discourage everyone from tendering advice about anything unless it is asked for.  All the same, he should be a constant questioner, and he must listen patiently to the truth regarding what he has inquired about.  Moreover, if he finds that anyone for some reason holds the truth back he must show his wrath.  And though many suppose that a prince may rightly be esteemed shrewd not because he is so himself but because of the quality of those there to advise him, they are undoubtedly mistaken.  For this is an infallible rule: a prince who is not himself wise cannot be well advised, unless he happens to put himself in the hands of one individual who looks after all his affairs and is an extremely shrewd man.  In this case, he may well be given good advice, but he would not last long because the man who governs for him would soon deprive him of his state.  But when seeking advice of more than one person a prince who is not himself wise will never get unanimity in his councils or be able to reconcile their views.  Each councillor will consult his own interests; and the prince will not know how to correct or understand them.  Things cannot be otherwise, since men will always do badly by you unless they are forced to be virtuous.  So the conclusion is that good advice, whomever it comes from, depends on the shrewdness of the prince who seeks it, and not the shrewdness of the prince on good advice.”

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

Labour “will change rules on insurance, which are currently taken directly from EU regulations, to allow British pension savers to own and build British infrastructure.” One of those elusive #Brexit benefits, Rees-Smug?

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“Now we’re no longer a member we can change our domestic legislation as much as we want and sell new (financial) products to a market of 67 million rather than the 450 million in the EU.”

“Being able to change rules for our domestic market is very small beer and not a great Brexit benefit.”

Charlotte Moore, Twitter, 11th February 2022

The Labour Party has an especial obsession with buying, making and selling more in Britain and now investing our money in Britain.

This economic philosophy, if one may call it that, borders on autarky with a dash of mercantilism.

Labour’s obsession with buying, making and selling more in Britain is not unique to them. It is one they share with the Conservative Party.

The pledge set out in the title of this blog post was made by Sir Keir Starmer QC on Monday 4th July 2022.

“We will not seek regulatory equivalence for financial services as that could constrain our ability to make our rules and system work better.”

“Labour will use flexibility outside of the EU to ensure British regulation is adapted to suit British needs. 

As an example, we will change rules on insurance, which are currently taken directly from EU regulations, to allow British pension savers to own and build British infrastructure.”

Turn “toxic” Brexit around, says TSSA

Rachel Reeves has good friends in the City of London, if not future employment prospects there. Reeves once turned down an exceptionally good job with Goldman Sachs, she says to go into much less financially remunerative public service.

Labour’s proposed policy is actually one currently being pursued by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer as I discovered earlier this year on reading this informative and accessible blog by Charlotte Moore, entitled, “The government’s new piggy bank“, although, in December 2021, Reeves told City AM that Labour would “keep the City close to the EU post-Brexit”.

“Hot on the heels of Ian Duncan Smith’s suggestion that pension schemes should invest in unicorn technology companies came last week’s challenge from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor for institutional investors to participate in an investment big bang.”

“While the pensions industry made polite noises in response to …” a joint letter sent to them by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak “… it wasn’t hard to discern the frustration with the government’s latest wheeze to use pension schemes as its new piggy bank.”

“The letter says: “For example, over eighty per cent of UK defined contribution pension funds’ investments are in mostly listed securities, which represent only twenty percent of the UK’s assets.”

In other words, the government would like pension schemes to provide capital to those UK businesses which are not listed on an exchange. That would mean allocating assets to private equity and infrastructure funds.

It’s not clear why private equity companies would need a significant cash injection from UK pension schemes. These strategies are popular with other investors and often suffer from a dearth of investable companies.

The government’s new piggy bank

……………

“The letter also makes clear the government sees pension schemes as their new source of capital to fund the infrastructure projects needed to convince their Red Wall voters it can deliver on its promises of levelling up.

“It’s time we recognised the quality that other countries see in the UK, and back ourselves by investing more money into the companies and infrastructure that will drive growth and prosperity across our country,” says the letter.

This is not the first time the government has seen pension funds as a way to fund infrastructure projects.

In 2015, George Osborne announced the pooling of the local government pension scheme’s 89 separate funds in England and Wales to add efficiency and make infrastructure investing easier.

That pooling has now been completed with the 89 funds grouped into eight pools. This scale has enabled pools to negotiate better rates with investment managers and made them more professional.

But there has not been a material improvement in infrastructure investing. That’s because it is not a lack of capital which is holding this back.

Pension schemes around the world are thirsty for these projects – they have just the right kind of long-term income streams which match their liabilities. This is why, as the letter acknowledges, pension schemes from Australia and Canada, have invested in the UK.

The hold-up in infrastructure investment is lack of supply. These are highly complex undertakings which take years to implement and are frequently held up by planning headaches.

(Editor: Rachel Reeves wants to make procurement processes for major projects like HS2 more complicated to aid buying, making and selling more in Britain …)

It is also a question of risk management. While pension schemes like infrastructure as an investment, they want projects which have a guaranteed income stream.

They will not fund speculative developments. Often schemes want governments to take the initial risks and become involved later on. And that’s because a pension scheme’s primary purpose is its fiduciary duty to its members not a government’s economic agenda.”

The purpose of a pension scheme is to provide the best possible retirement income for its members. This fiduciary duty is the guiding principle of its investment policy.”

And even if a pension scheme were to decide to allocate to either private equity or infrastructure, it would not only be invested in the UK.

The government’s new piggy bank

Is it perhaps not insignificant that both Rachel Reeves and Rishi Sunak are graduates of Oxford University’s (in)famous PPE course and have strong links with Goldman Sachs?

Sir Keir Starmer QC freely admits he does not understand much, if anything at all about trade, industry and economics so he leaves all that to Rachel Reeves, “by far the best economics brain in the Labour party.”

Sir Keir Starmer QC just reads out what he is given to say, like Make (Hard) Brexit Work