Friday, 18 May 2012

Uppal lives! From the neck down

Good news, everybody! Paul Uppal - aka The Secretive Millionaire - has been found alive and well. Turns out he was merely in the cellars at Tory Party HQ, being manured and turned every few days in his vat until he was ready to ooze out some more planted questions, all on the same day.

What humdingers they are. First up:
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important that the Government are taking long-term decisions and looking at the long-term interests of UK plc?
At first glance, this looks like bog-standard grovelling of the kind Paul's made his own. But looking more closely, it's the sort of rather unpleasant propaganda which reflects an anti-human, anti-citizen agenda. The context is a discussion of Labour's astonishing local election landslide. Uppal's implication is that the Great British Public, and his constituents in particular, are morons incapable of taking a long-term view. The second implication - and one which exposes him as a fourth-rate brain - is that government policy can and does operate on behalf of corporate interests: 'UK Plc' is a despicable term which implies that a state should operate like a company. Of course, companies are run solely for the shareholders, not the wider community. They sack people to save money, they overpay those at the top, they take no wider view of society and see the world as a matter of winners and losers. The UK Plc discourse is cynical, selfish, greedy and intellectually moribund. Just like Paul!

This is, of course, Conservative and Liberal Democrat policy. Nice to see it so neatly explained, however.

OK, now we've established that Paul has the mental independence of a rotting mushroom and the socialisation of an angry wasp, let's turn to the next one, part of the Queen's Speech debate:
In difficult economic times, we should not be seeking quick fixes. It is important that we continue to build the foundations that are necessary for economic recovery. The solution to a debt crisis should never be more debt.
Let's not quibble about the fact that the recession was over when Labour lost power: the Tories have managed to plunge us back in twice now. Let's just point out that Uppal has no idea what he's talking about: his contribution to solid economic foundations was making millions in property speculation through his company, Pinehurst Securities. Goods exported: nil. Employees: perhaps a secretary. Tax paid: minimal, I suspect, thanks to the lower rates of capital gains and corporation tax - I strongly suspect Uppal paid himself in this way rather than taking an income-taxable salary, though I may be wrong.

As to the idea that 'the solution to a debt crisis should never be more debt': wrong. Firstly, we're heavily indebted because his friends in the banks went spectacularly bust, then ran to us for help. Paul thinks they should be bailed out, and we should pay for it, which is why he voted to raise student tuition fees from £3000 to £9000, why he's cut housing benefit, abolished the EMA, reduced benefits for disabled children and a swathe of other attacks on the vulnerable.

On the wider point he's wrong too. J M Keynes said this: if the private sector isn't investing or lending, someone's got to, or the whole economy will collapse. So the state should do it. This is why America bailed out the auto firms, it's why 1930s America embarked on a massive program of public works: dams, roads and so on: without investment from somewhere, we're all doomed. Additionally, now is the perfect time to spend taxpayer's money. Interest rates are historically low, and government bonds and gilts are offering 100 year returns of under 2%. This means that as a country, we're such a safe bet that we can borrow at ridiculously, historically cheap rates. So it's time to raise a load of cash, employ people to build more railways, wind farms, urban eco-housing and fix this place up, providing new skills and employment while transforming the country.

But we'll never persuade Uppal of this, even though he made millions by doing what he condemns: borrowing money to bet on the future.

He knows this really, because his final contribution actually contains some good sense (and largely contradicts everything else he said.
We need to ask the difficult question “Why are these cash-rich institutions not investing domestically?”
OK. It's a good question to ask. But now it gets confusing. Or confused.
The answer begins with the boom that preceded the recession. Unlike booms preceding earlier recessions, that boom was financed by public and private debt, which has continued to depress household borrowing and spending. The IMF’s analysis of advanced economies over the past 30 years concluded that recessions preceded by an unsustainable increase in household debt tended to be more severe and protracted. That is because as long as households pay down debts and increase savings, demand will remain weak.
So the first bit means he doesn't believe in credit-based capitalism. Odd for a Tory, especially a speculator, but God welcomes the prodigal son. But then he seems to be blaming households for paying off their loans and saving money rather than spending it on more stuff. Eh? (This is a true conundrum, by the way: we've been encouraged by the Tories to borrow money for mortgages, holiday, iPads, Rampant Rabbits etc on the basis that tomorrow never comes. Tomorrow has arrived and now Uppal's telling us off for leaving our wallets at home). Anyway, onward!
A solution to the problem would be the creation of a banking system that improved lending and the supply of credit. 
You what? Paul, you just said that debt-funded expansion (think Manchesters City and United) is bad. But now you're saying we need more lending. Make up your mind, man! He does also call for the separation of retail and casino banking: a huge reversal for a Tory, especially one wedded to the tired old tropes of deregulation.

But don't worry. In case you think little Uppal's becoming a thinking member of society, the last paragraphs reinstate the self-publicising fantasist we all know and love:
I would also like to discuss how investing in the UK should involve our work force today and the work force of tomorrow. On a personal note, I recently held a jobs fair in Wolverhampton. We had more than 1,500 young people attending and more than 30 employers. One conversation I had on that day still sticks in my mind. It was with a young person from Wolverhampton who said, “I want to thank you, Mr Uppal, for organising this. You’ve given me hope.” When the Leader of the Opposition stands up and says that there is no hope in the Budget or the Queen’s Speech, the effect is deeply corrosive. I know that the situation in places such as Wolverhampton is challenging, but to dismiss people and just wipe away their dreams so quickly and flippantly is very damaging. Sometimes politicians in this House need to think carefully about the terminology they use.
Now I know what you're thinking. You cynical gits. You're thinking that this forelock-tugging constituent must be imaginary, like all the other people Uppal finds who manage to say whatever he needs them to say, and like David Cameron's '40 year-old black man' who'd done 30 years in the Navy and hated immigrants. You awful, awful doubters. Who knows, this cringing yokel might in fact be real. If you are, come forward!

1500 people attended this jobs fair. How many jobs were available? How many people got jobs? Let's forget, for now, Uppal's desperately weak defence of the Budget and Queen's Speech: legislation cutting taxes for millionaires like himself while doing nothing for the unemployed, the poor or the economy. He just seems to think that any opposition at all is somehow treasonous.

Well done Paul: well worth emerging from under your rock.

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