Saturday, October 10, 2009
There is a good case that advertising was not created by God to keep the free market working. It has been a business model that allows broadcasters, newspapers & indeed Google to work without being branches of government but it works purely because advertisers want something fairly close to maximisation of audience size & will pay for it.
But there may be other business models which could deliver a quality service without all those ad breaks.
One is state funding of government appointees, which is pretty much what we have in Britain & results in a BBC which is willing to lie & censor to promote any government propaganda whatsoever from trying to induce hysteria over a global warming scare they all know to be a lie, to lying to assist in war crimes, mass murder, racial genocide, the sexual enslavement of children & the dissection of living people to steal their organs. Compared to that advertising is the preferable option.
Here is another one:
Keep the licence fee. As there is no such thing as a free lunch there is no such thing as a free service paid by advertising because in the end the advertisers pass the cost back to us.
Give it to a new controlling body, BBC Management, whose job is to measure viewers per programme & hand over the licence money in proportion to the number of viewers. This body would also conduct an open auction of airtime. Thus anybody could bid for any programme slot, or series of slots weekly and if their programme proves popular would make a profit. Independent companies wouldn't have to pitch their ideas to BBC executives they would just have to rely on their own judgement (or for start ups their bank manager's). This dramatically lowers the barriers of entry, far more than in any conventional commercial TV channel & throughout economics we see low barriers to entry of any business as being in the consumer's interest.
I suspect even I could afford to broadcast a debate on global warming at 4 AM in August, something which no conventional broadcaster in Britain will even think about. Thus not only would we get better programmes, at least in the viewer's opinions, but we would greatly increase access to the media by non-official views thereby making Britain a much freer country.
A Beeboid recently got a certain amount of stick for the last part of this:
'If we didn't all think differently, have different ideas of what works and what doesn't, wouldn't our lives, and more importantly, our TV screens be less interesting? We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn mindedness, left-of-centre thinking.'This neatly encapsulates the problem. By "left of centre" what the BBC actually means is more big state controls, regulation, taxation etc. which in turn shows the very sharp limits of what sort of idiosyncrasies they are interested in broadcasting.
Real "peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn mindedness" would certainly flourish under an open access regime - so much so that it would, in time, come to be seen as "open mindedness, individualism & dedication".
3 amendments to the pure system which I would suggest.
Firstly a system of prizes giving a fixed sum &/or percentage bonus to programmes high quality. I would have 2 separate panels making awards - one of the "great & good" & one of a citizen jury. It would be interesting to see whose judgement held up better over time.
Secondly I can see a case for some loading for any educational programme including News & Discovery channel type material.
Thirdly, because I am so soft hearted, I would wish the current BBC structure to get a 40% loading in the first year declining by 10% in each succeeding year. If they only had to bid 60% as much as competitors to keep a particular programme slot they could keep anything they really wanted giving time for the current organisation to slim down to its useful parts.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Your speech yesterday does contain worthwhile ideas.
You are quite right that it is dishonest of Brown to make new spending promises when he knows he can't fund what he is already spending & that he is increasing our debt by £500 million each day.
You are absolutely right about the need to "tear up the rulebook" of the Health&Safety bureaucracy. Since such rules cost society 20 times as much as they cost government to make this 200,000 strong bureaucracy destroys the productivity of 4 million workers.
Regarding the EU I agree with you that it is wrong of the Labour/LibDems to say "when it come to how you are governed, how your country is run you can't have a say". It is disgraceful that those parties, having made specific manifesto promises to support a referendum have proven their promises to be total & brazen lies. I understand your reticence in promising such a referendum in all circumstances while doing so would give the Czechs & Poles a reason for inaction. The corollary of that is that if the constitreaty is ratified before the election we will indeed be entitled to have a say.
I was very pleased to see you holding up the example of Germany cutting Corporation Tax by 9% as a good thing. For many years I have pointed out that Ireland's cut of that tax to 12.5% was the prime factor in it achieving 7% annual growth. If Britain cannot go beyond Germany's cut instantly I hope Mr Osbourne will promise that if the take on that tax rises, as the Laffer curve says it will, then we should keep cutting to Irish levels - that would certainly stimulate growth.
On education I agree entirely with Conservative policy of allowing schools to maintain discipline & of a voucher system. Labour's refusal to do both of these is a great cruelty to all those children deprived, because their teachers are prevented from teaching, of a good education.
I agree with you that young people should be able to aspire to their own house. Without government restrictions modular housing units could provide almost unlimited housing at 1/4 the current cost & I look forward to the Conservatives removing Labour's restrictions which alone are responsible for the shortage.
I agree that there is something seriously sick about a society which uses the welfare system to actively force 2 million people to avoid setting up as part of a family. Anything you do in this direction is to be applauded.
However I wish you to clarify what you said about climate change (previously known as global warming until the globe started cooling. You said
It doesn't matter whether you look at the snows of Kilimanjaro, or the melting Greenland ice sheet, or the fact that closer to home the Thames barrier meant to be lifted once every six years, is now being lifted six times a year.This is simply untrue.
This is a clear and present danger to our country.
The reason for the retreat of the Kilimanjaro ice cap is because of deforestation around its base leaving less moisture in the air to settle on the cap. "“Although it’s tempting to blame the (Kilimanjaro) ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the more likely culprit.”
Forests at the base of Kilimanjaro have been steadily disappearing for decades. “Without the forests’ humidity,” Mason reports, “previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”
Ice is coming off the edges of the Greenland ice sheet while new rainfall settles inland which in turn glacially slowly flows to the edges as it has been doing for at least 600,000 years. However there is not a substantial excess melting while ice is definitely increasing in Antarctic, where 90% of the world's ice is. "Scientists in the United Kingdom have produced a study which shows ice has grown by 100,000 square kilometres each decade in the past 30 years." while North pole ice is also "increasing at a record rate".
Finally far from the Thames Barrier being overwhelmed by rising sea levels such rising, or more properly the sinking of London, is actually much less than it was designed to counter. "London is less vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by global warming than experts realised, according to a new analysis.
Experts at the Environment Agency said the Thames Barrier will protect the city for decades longer than engineers thought, with a six-year study revealing that the barrier's original designs overestimated the threat from climate change.
Rather than becoming obsolete by 2030, as its designers thought, the barrier will not need to be replaced until 2070, the agency said today" according to the Guardian, not well known for scepticism on alleged catastrophic warming.
That being the case it is clear that you should issue a statement correcting these inaccuracies. If you, or your advisers, have any actual evidence of alleged catastrophic global warming I would certainly appreciate hearing of it. If your advisers do not but still say we should spend hundreds of billions fighting it you should arguably seek other advice. In either case I look forward to your response.
Since I am publishing these criticism on my blog I confirm that I will certainly be willing to publish your defence.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Virgin Galactic announced a $280-million investment in the company by Aabar, a sovereign wealth fund based in Abu Dhabi. The deal valued Virgin Galactic at about $875 million, an impressive amount for a company that has collected about $40 million in customer deposits to date.Now that is good news for the human race. People with real folding money think commercial space is worth investing in. Such financial maneuverings remind me of The Man Who Sold the Moon, a book which, 20 years ago, I & everybody else thought something Heinlein, as a libertarian had got wrong because space development could only be funded by government. In fact things are better than in that book because there are several different consortia working on this worldwide.
That an institutional investor—with shorter timescales and higher expectations for a return on investment than a typical angel investor—would invest in a suborbital spaceflight company is not necessarily the “Netscape moment” that many in the industry have been anticipating for years. However, it does suggest that the business plans by the companies in the field are becoming sharper and more attractive to investors whose primary interest is not in opening the space frontier but getting a good return on their money.
Note that we are seeing space development not merely being a non-government activity but a non-western one as well. It seems likely that in the near future Abu Dhabi, which like Singapore is building its own spaceport, is going to have greater access to space & thus potentially a greater influence on the future of humanity, than all the governments of Europe put together. This is a historic change signaling the end of western, let alone European world leadership.
The X-Prize has not done everything on a $10 m budget. It has certainly made things happen faster & more importantly provided an example. Virgin Galactic in this form exists because Rutan won the X-Prize. Without the prize he would certainly still have been interested in space but would, at the very least, have taken longer & had to spend more of his time to find backers.
I doubt if NASA would have offered a $1.5 bn outside contract to Musk for a resupply of the ISS but, reversing all previous practice, without the very good example of the X-Prize.
The Bigelow orbital prize has not succeeded but the prize for achieving orbit at 250 miles was $50 million. That wouldn't buy you a Renaissance painting & simply wasn't enough. A $1 billion prize would have worked.
Prizes work far better than normal government procurement methods. Here is the US army saying that by offering $3 million in prizes the achieved a target that "would otherwise have cost over $100 million".
Comparing like with like I suggest that had X-Prizes been available to match NASA's budget of $18bn a year the entire solar system could have been settled. There is no particular reason why that may not yet happen though the budget may come from Abu Dhabi rather than the USA or Europe.
All that is required is that there be X-Prizes in the billions rather than 10s of millions. There are enough billionaires wanting to create a legacy, let alone governments able to do it that it is close to certain that somebody or group will put up that much. The advantage to nations & indeed cultures that are the early developers of space cannot be underestimated. Elements of that advantage will last as long as the human race does.
Also mentioned by Jerry Pournelle
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
“…that there be no council flats and no welfare benefits available to unmarried mothers under the age of 21. Instead they will be placed in ‘mother & baby homes’. Here they will receive academic education as well as parenting classes, plus courses covering all aspects of their social development. The homes will be run by ‘matron’ type figures.”As the Mirror described it
Defiant Gordon Brown unveiled a bold new manifesto yesterday as he warned the next general election would see Britain facing "the biggest choice for a generation".Oops my mistake - though this is indeed the policy of Labour the actual phrase I gave came from a previous BNP policy. The BNP are, naturally, amused at Gordon "jobs for British workers" Brown once again being caught stealing their policies.
When first put forward the Mirror said
Unmarried mothers are next in the line of fire of the BNP maggots.Of cfourse the difference in press coverage may be biased by other policy differences between Labour & the BNP parties. One is guilty of supporting Nazism by committing war crimes & appointing known criminals as "police" & sending them to carry out massacres, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the sexual enslavement of children & dissecting people of "inferior" races, while alive, to steal their body organs. The other is the BNP. I strongly disagree with the Mirror's claim that to be opposed to Nazism & genocide is "deranged" but I guess that is what is to be expected from such corrupt propagandists.
The warped racists are now out to persecute lone parents be they white, Asian or black...
All lone parents under 21 would be put in a home under 9pm curfew...
The extremists will discuss this barmy idea at their annual hate-a-thon in November.
The more I learn about the BNP the more nastily deranged it becomes
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Courtesy of Al Fin & Next Big Future I have scooped the entire UK media. Clearly not that difficult to do.
I have previously discussed the mass production of small scale nuclear plants designed by Hyperion. Well one of the factories that will be mass producing small nuclear plants for the whole world will be in Britain:
Hyperion Power Generation plans to build a small reactor manufacturing plant in the United Kingdom within the next two years. The firm says it plans to use the existing UK supply chain to build its 70MWt (27MWe)*, self-regulating reactor and that the UK will be its ‘launch pad’ for the European market.
“This week we’ve made the decision as a company to commit to building a manufacturing plant in the UK. Our commitment is to use the UK as a launching pad for Europe and to use the UK supply chain,” Hyperion Power Generation CEO John (Grizz) Deal told NEI in London on 30 September.
Hyperion has chosen the UK to be its European manufacturing hub because of its active nuclear community, trained staff and existing infrastructure.
“We’ve got so much demand that we need to go ahead and start planning our manufacturing facilities,” he said.
“We have customer commitments for over a hundred units already. We’re going to be very busy! In fact, we’re now scheduling deliveries out to 2018-2020 even though we expect to go to market in the 2013-2014 timeframe.”
Hyperion plans to build three manufacturing facilities: one in the USA to support the North and Latin America markets, and a third in Asia, probably Japan. Although the firm hasn’t made a decision on where its UK plant will be located, it’s likely to be near existing nuclear facilities, which are clustered around the Sellafield site in Cumbria, northeast England...
Hyperion has had several enquiries from people who want to use its reactor as a source of baseload power for wind projects... Basically putting up a windmill with government grants & then selling the nuclear electricity at multiples of the cost because it is windpower. There are a bunch of windmills a mile from Hunterston nuclear plant. I wonder if they have thought of buying them up & reclassifying themselves as a windmillery with nuclear back-up ;-)
Hyperion expects to submit its design certification application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‘within the next year’. It also plans to get its design licensed in the UK.
“We understand the process in the UK and we have sufficient customer demand. We will be applying to the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. We’ve not had conversations with them formally because you need to get your licence application together but... within about a year or so we will be going to the NII and talking to them about the generic design assessment process.”
In terms of cost the reactor itself will cost approximately $30 million Deal says that the firm is committed to generating electricity for less than 10 cents/kWh. “If you look in terms of reactor cost, plus plant size it comes out to be $2000/kW....
This, on a smaller scale, would work like the proposal I made that Britain should, investing the money the Luddites want to waste on decommissioning, create a national industry as the world's major supplier of full size off the shelf nuclear reactors. The Hyperion design is not that & indeed at 10c a unit is not competitive with full sized reactors, though reading between the lines many such reactors sited together would be much cheaper & more than competitive with most British power generation.
Hyperion is doing something very clever: They plan to get their design licensed in the UK, to allow UK production and international delivery. This bypasses the exorbitant US licensing fees for new reactor designs.When you consider that Britain is heading for blackouts by as early as 2012 purely because of the anti-nuclear Ludditry of the British government it should be a matter of some pride that, idiots as our politicians certainly are, there are moments when they aren't quite as destructive as some foreigners.
*MWt is the amount of heat released, MWe is the amount of electricity making this a creditable 40% efficiency. MWe is the important figure.
Monday, October 05, 2009
It seems commonly agreed that the Conservatives are going to win the next election. Even that Labour aren't really interested in winning. While for the LibDems getting more votes than Labour is what they hope for, losing a lot of seats is what they fear & the way the polls are going both together is not impossible.
In which case both parties are positioning themselves for the election after next. The Conservatives should do the same. Losing an election is often good for a party - it allows them to shake out the dead wood, reassess their policies & come roaring back.
Such a Labour recovery is quite possible. The Tories aren't winning this election because of their popularity, Labour are losing it because of their making a mess of it. If the Conservatives don't fix the economy it will no longer be Labour's mess, it will be theirs. The big problems I see are:
The Economy: We are in recession despite massive borrowing. That borrowing will have to stop, which will make it worse; be repaid which will make it worse; & lead to higher interest rates which will mean serious numbers of house foreclosures. The answer is to have a successful, growing economy, which in fact, with a bit of gumption, as I have previously described, we can easily do.
Electric Power: This is a problem that makes recession look nice. Even the government have acknowledged that we are going to have blackouts by 2018 & that is an optimistic forecast assuming that our power use doesn't grow (ie the recession lasts) & taking no account of the closure, under EU emission rules, of much of our coal power in 2015. This, again is entirely the fault of a Labour government who have been worse than negligent in actively preventing the building of new working power stations & instead promoted windmills which they know simply cannot, being intermittent, provide any part of baseload power. To be fair the LudDims have worked hard to be even more irresponsible on this than Labour & the Tories have been not much better. The answer to this is to publicly acknowledge exactly how disastrous the situation is & to allow the immediate building of as many new nuclear plants as the market wants. If the Conservatives soft soap this now they will not be able to evade responsibility when it happens. A plant can be built in just over 3 years which would mean the power starting to come online, if we do very well, in winter 2013/4. By comparison energy trader Inenco says we face blackouts by 2012 which seems likely to me. Brown has commissioned a report which says we need to be getting 35-40% of our power from nuclear. Since nuclear is cheaper if we want a successful economy we should obviously be willing to let the market supply more but that demonstrates the scale of the problem.
Whatever they do the Conservatives have to tell the truth on this now. I am sure that if they do so the population will support immediate action. If they lie & drift as Labour have they will, correctly since hypothermia kills real people, be strung up.
Electoral system: The Conservatives have always supported the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system since it provided a cosy relationship keeping the Labour/Conservative coterie in power. Because people move faster than they used to Labour constituency electorates are shrinking & Conservative ones growing. Also in Labour constituencies more people simply don't vote. This means that to beat Labour they need to be as much as 10% of the vote ahead of them. Labour won the last election on 36% of the vote but even with their current vote collapsing the Conservatives need about 40% to win. Answer is that, with Labour promising a referendum on the Alternative Vote system (not really proportional but a bit better) the Conservatives should promise one quickly on the properly proportional top up system we have in Scotland & if won (I'm sure it would be) bring it in before 2013.
The BBC; The BBC is institutionally a state funded part of the civil service. As such it has an institutional bias, not necessarily on party lines, towards big government & thus nanny statism. The answer is to privatise it.
Postal ballots: Before the last election Labour refused to act on the quite obvious corruption revealed in the Birmingham postal ballot trial where the judge said "short of writing "steal me" on the envelope it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands". The cabinet decided to do nothing, allegedly because it would be electorally disadvantageous. The answer is to go back to the old system where postal ballots are not easy to get.
Put together this would level the playing field for the next election. I also think PR would allow UKIP to compete with the LibDems for the3rd party position. Since they are largely a liberal party & almost entirely a sensible one while the LibDems are neither I think it likely they would take much of the LD's vote & supplant them. I also think that the fact that the FPTP electoral system allows Labour to keep far more seats than the LIbDems in a disaster (on a 40%/20%/20% vote Labour would get 156 seats & LDs 64) which is probably the only thing that would stop the party's meltdown in such circumstances. PR would therefore reduce the Conservative's socialist opposition & produce some real opposition on the "right". Since there will always be opposition that is the best long term opposition they could have.
Labels: British politics
Sunday, October 04, 2009
CAMERON'S CONSERVATIVE PROMISES
The Conservatives celebrate their reunion with the Sun by a Blueprint of 10 promises. Mark Wadsworth is writing negatively in detail on them. My opinion is positive. This may be because I had lower expectations or because I recognise this is a sales brochure & thus bound to contain a certain amount of fluff. The promises are in bold with my comments following:
1. We will work with councils to freeze council tax for two years - saving more than £200 for the typical family. Since it doesn't say how this is fairly fluffy. "How" should include cutting all the rules & advice central government imposes on them.
2. We will reassess 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit to see if they are fit for work. every out-of-work claimant capable of doing so will be expected to work or prepare for work. Everybody knows most of them are & that incapacity has been used by both this & the last government to hide unemployment figures. "reassess" & "or prepare for work" is not setting the bar high but it gives the potential to do so.
3. We will replace the Human Rights Act with a new British Bill of Rights to strengthen Britain's traditional liberties. I am in favour of this. The fact that Britain didn't have written constitutional limits on government has always been a potential weakness & an increasing actual weakness in recent years. The European Act is a mess of apparent good intentions extending state power. As always the devil will be in the detail.
4. We will cut the number of MPs by five per cent, and ministers' pay by five per cent and reduce the number, size, scope and influence of quangos. The first part is tokenism. Quangos do need to be drastically slashed & I am seriously disappointed that the promise is simply to "reduce" them & that it is the tail end of the promise.
5. We will honour the Military Covenant we have with our brave troops and make sure they are properly equipped to do their jobs. We will also introduce a free sports and entertainment Tickets for Troops programme. Who could be against this. It is up there with motherhood & apple pie. The free tickets thing should be done just by government telling the cinemas they should do it, not by any sort of subsidy, after all the marginal cost of a cinema ticket in a cinema that isn't full is zero.
6. We will cut corporation tax to create jobs, reform inheritance tax to encourage saving and build a stronger society by rewarding families in the tax and benefit system. OK admit it this is the one. I have been trying to persuade people on CT for more than 6 years. It, plus the cutting of regulations, is what got Ireland its 7% average growth rate. CT is the single most economically destructive tax since it targets investment & within that disproportionately targets the most successful businesses. It takes courage for the Conservatives to promise a tax cut to big business when the pressure will be upwards elsewhere. I would suggest to them that they do a 20% cut (5.5p in £)(cost £10 billion) in the budget immediately they come in, which can be sold as a better stimulus than the things they are going to have to cut & make a promise that they will not allow the CT tax take to rise above present levels. The Laffer curve suggests that any cut in CT leads to sufficient growth that the take rises to at least the same level. That plus the fact that recession artificially depresses the current take suggests that within the Parliament a reduction to Ireland's 12.5% would take about the same amount. Since investments now decided on will take a few years to show a profit that sort of cut would be nearly as effective as cutting to the Irish rate immediately, & much easier. I note that this, which is a new policy, has been put ahead of the promise on cutting inheritance tax which was previously their standard bearing policy (on the Marr show today Cameron promised the latter only "within the length of the Parliament". This means they are serious about CT.
Cutting Inheritance Tax does have an economically beneficial effect & encouraging married families has a beneficial social effect.
7. We will get to grips with national debt and public spending, to keep interest rates lower for longer and boost investment - this is vital for recovery. It is indeed vital & "get to grips" is not exactly a promise of success. However I would be happy to see the deficit grow if it meant cutting CT & thus achieving growth. Better both the economy & the deficit growing at 7% than that neither are, & I suspect easier too. If the economy were growing at that rate then lenders would be reassured & thus interest rates kept down. 6 & &, if taken together, suggest that growing the economy is indeed the priority.
8. We will help restore discipline to schools by giving heads the final say on exclusions. Our NHS is special so we will protect its budget. Absolutely. Bring back the belt too. Interesting that discipline in schools takes priority over the HNS. However I am disappointed that there is no specific mention of the Tories introducing the voucher system in schools which is one of their most radical & beneficial ideas & one which should be, on balance, popular. "Final say on exclusions" may be code also implying that they, not local authorities, decide that people can come there which is the voucher system.
9. If the Lisbon Treaty is not yet in force at the time of the next general election we will suspend ratification, hold a referendum and campaign for a No vote. More on this re the Marr show.
10. We'll double magistrates' sentencing powers from six month to a year and make sure knife offenders can expect to go to jail. And we will get more police officers on the street by slashing paperwork, including the stop and account form. More motherhood & apple pie but note that Labour did manage to greatly increase police paperwork.
So nothing I think silly, which alone puts them well ahead of Labour & LibDims & a promise to do the thing which, I have been saying for years, would fast track the economy & seriously raise our standard of living.
Compare this with my 16 point plan to get into maximum growth. They are promising the CT cut & less clearly the regulation cut. I would have liked some specific promises on cutting those regulators with negative economic benefit (elfinsafety, building planning, all the committees & reviews whose only function is to make buiding anything from reactors to golf courses slower & more expensive) & something about the need for getting on with nuclear building - however I can see why that is not shop window stuff. And yes I would like promises on the tech stuff as well but those are not for primary promises. I have noticed that in most of Palin's speeches & articles she mentions "economic growth". I think this is both tactically wise of her & shows she really gets it. I would like to see David Cameron doing the same.
While the party are now officially pro-nuclear they are not so with the necessary enthusiasm. Even the government have acknowledged blackouts are coming by 2018 & that assumes no economic growth. Labour have been officially pro-nuclear for 3 1/2 years though, while that is long enough to build a reactor, they have allowed nothing to be done. Nonetheless it means supporting it & promising real action, is hardly risky. Particularly against the LibDems this is something to mention because their policy of a "renewables revolution" at all costs, now quietly unmentioned, is grossly irresponsible & can be seen to be so.
Cameron Interviewed on Marr Show
This morning Cameron was interviewed on Andrew Marr's show.
He was questioned on the EU referendum (point 9) & interestingly finessed his position. He said that he was not going to say whether he would or wouldn't have a referendum if the treaty was ratified before the election because he didn't want to make it easier for the Czechs & Poles to choose not to delay it. Now maybe he is just whistling but the only logical way that works is that, if driven to it, we will have a referendum but he doesn't want them to rely on that. It also strikes me that if it is ratified before the election, which seems most likely, he will have to make a decision.
My opinion is that the Conservatives have little to fear from going for a referendum. Whatever ructions it would cause would be less than the damage to Labour/LibDems from the repeated reminding the voters get that both of them made manifesto pledges to support a referendum & cynically broke their word as soon as the last election was over. Voters don't like such contemptuous behaviour.
If the constitreaty is ratified the Conservatives should adopt the official LibDem policy of having a referendum on membership. Because it is, officially, LibDem policy it is difficult to call it extreme & they would be in a cleft stick. It should be a 3 option referendum - status quo with treaty / leaving / associate membership like Norway & Switzerland. I think the party should, as a party, be neutral & Conservatives, like Ken Clarke totally free to campaign as they wish. I would very much like not to put Clarke in a position where he felt he had to resign because he was a very able Chancellor who could, several times, have become party leader if he had been willing to curb his Euro-enthusiasm. I think he is on the wrong side there but politics is not overly endowed with people willing to put their principles ahead of their ambition & I respect that even when I disagree with the principles.
Cameron was quite clear that the economy was the issue & made a point of saying that current unemployment is 5 million (including those hidden on "disability" payment. This suggests he is setting a high target & serious about doing something. Marr harped on "how many jobs will your cuts cost" to which Cameron properly replied that he didn't accept the premise of the question. On this he is certainly right & Marr/BBC wrong. Marr suggested 2 million which is everybody added to government under Labour. This would certainly be ambitious & produce savings which slightly exceed the £180 bn deficit. However the point is that for every job "created" by government money 2 or 3 are destroyed by that money being taken out of the productive economy. This is simply fact & Conservative politicians should be willing to say so.