Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Brown's 'Sellit & Soon' New Year Sale

Brown is planning his own New Year sale of the last few state assets at a knock-down price, in his bid to claw back cash and head off fears of vote-losing tax increases. 

Ministers are quietly forming a new firm of Sellit and Soon, as they make the dash for cash from the attic. 

Today's ComRes opinion poll for The Independent explodes the myth of a Brown bounce as no more than a blip. In a month, the Tories are up two points at 39 per cent against Labour at 34. But if the Conservatives pledged lower public spending with no tax rises, that rose to a staggering 49 per cent for Tories, 32 per cent for Labour. And that would lead to a Tory landslide.

Time and again New Labour politicians and supporters, obsessed with clinging on to power for as long as they can, quash any talk of an early election. But political strategists suggest time is running out for Brown and the gang. 

Brown's promise to spend more on public services, then raise taxes is hardly an election winner. Pulling troops out of Iraq and riding on the back of Obama's visit won't be enough to sway public opinion. To survive with any chance of winning, the government needs to pull an economic rabbit out of the hat.

That economic miracle swindle was laid bare last week when the sale of the government's remaining share in the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) to an American company was sneaked out without telling parliament, in the hope it would get buried, as MPs broke up for the long Christmas hols. 

But equally disturbing was that the AWE share went for an undisclosed sum. No figure has been made public for the sale of this public asset. 

With the sale of the AWE share, the Orange Party warned this was the thin end of the wedge and other state assets would follow. With the High Street slashing prices up to 60%, in times of economic hardship, these public owned assets too are set be sold off at a bargain price. 

What has become clear is that ministers have formed a Sellit & Soon firm (the Operational Efficiency Programme) as part of the sell-off strategy, with details buried in the Pre-Budget Report (p119). Few choice plums remain. There really isn't much left to sell-off in the recession fire sale. 

The Met Office is a prime target and ripe for a sell-off, followed closely by the Forestry Commission, the Westminster Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, the Covent Garden Market Authority, the Royal Mint, the Tote, buildings owned by British Waterways, British Nuclear Fuel's stake in uranium enrichment company Urenco and the Oil & Pipeline Agency. 

Come the New Year, the Tories will finally get their economic act together with a much simpler and less confusing economic message strategy, with less attacks on Brown's reckless borrowing plans and higher taxes, more on driving home a Tory manifesto promise of a real alternative. 

As the government flounders over the economy, just putting the blame on global this and that has worn thin, Brown as saviour of the world is a joke, which only Mandleson seems to see the funny side. 

Setting up the new firm of Sellit & Soon is the only option, as the government tries in vain to convince voters, struggles to make ends meet and avoid the election suicide note of tax increases. 

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