ALEX BRUMMER: Labour’s Rachel Reeves steals Tory clothes
- This would allow the Labor chancellor to follow Rishi Sunak with a furlough scheme
- The Labor Registrar still has the ability to make his own decisions without consulting OBR
- Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme selected
Labor used the anniversary of Liz Truss’ explosive mini-Budget to glorify the role of the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Unlike austerity, the creation of the independent OBR is a George Osborne initiative that Rachel Reeves can support.
The Shadow Chancellor promises to bring in legislation that will make “permanent tax and spending changes” subject to OBR scrutiny.
What Reeves failed to mention was that the OBR actually offered a rapid assessment of Truss-Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax and spending obligations, but the proposal was rejected. The Tory right believes the OBR is the Treasury in disguise. Truss and Kwarteng didn’t want it marking their homework.
The refusal to give the OBR insight was one of the reasons government bond yields soared, triggering the crisis that led to the sacking of then-Chancellor Kwarteng and the rapid resignation of the Prime Minister. None of them (including, one suspects, the OBR) could have imagined that pension funds would have become casinos by selling British bonds, one of the safest assets in the world, into derivatives called Liability Driven Investments (LDIs). would have converted.
Planning: Rachel Reeves promises to legislate that “permanent tax and spending changes” are subject to OBR scrutiny
Reeves says Labor will commit to a single budget by the end of November each year, giving families and businesses time to plan before the financial year begins in April. The idea that this is a radical new deal must be rejected.
This is precisely why her Labor predecessor Gordon Brown invented the concept of the pre-budget report in November. When Brown announced a huge, unplanned increase in spending on the NHS (later to be paid for by a 1 per cent surcharge on National Insurance), the main aim was to target Sir Tony Blair.
The word “permanent” is crucial to Reeves’ point. This would allow a Labor chancellor to follow in the footsteps of Rishi Sunak with the Covid furlough scheme and Truss with its energy subsidy after Russia’s war with Ukraine. A Labor chancellor will still be able to make policy decisions without consulting the OBR.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme selected.
Microsoft boss Brad Smith appears to have finally overcome legitimate opposition from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to the tech giant’s £60bn takeover of Call of Duty gaming company Activision Blizzard.
The breakthrough came when Activision promised to sell its cloud streaming rights to French gaming rival Ubisoft. A victory for Microsoft may now be in sight, but Smith has won few friends by his public attack on the CMA and Britain.
His exaggerated criticism of the British process was an own goal and cost Microsoft millions of pounds in legal fees. In opposing the original deal, the CMA and its chief executive Sarah Cardell raised broader concerns about Big Tech’s desire to dominate the world.
Previous acquisitions in Silicon Valley have often been a substitute for new ideas and an attempt to dominate markets.
There are still questions about Ubisoft’s agreements and whether it makes sense for so much power over the gaming world to be in so few hands. Fear that open architecture would be destroyed stopped Nvidia from buying Arm Holdings. The EU is cracking down on Google for allegedly abusing advertising technology to dominate the advertising space.
The Microsoft deal threatens to stifle a young creative company and weaken the ability of game innovators to develop markets.
Microsoft won a narrow victory. In doing so, Smith and the company caused significant reputational damage.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF likes nothing better than a slugfest – as we saw when its LIV golf franchise waved dollar bills and effectively took control of the US PGA Tour.
It now has its sights set on wrestling and mixed martial arts champion Ultimate Fighting League. The chosen weapon is the smaller Professional Fighters League (PFL), into which $100 million has been poured. As with golf – which was created by Phil Mickelson – a Saudi-controlled PFL could transform the economy by luring big-name fighters with contracts beyond the dreams of greed.
The appeal of mixed martial arts lies in the relatively small number of participants of less than 1,000 participants, which enables dominance.
Let the fight begin.