Saturday 28 February 2015

A tale from Lloyds Bank

Just had an executive of Lloyds Bank ring to tell MPs about their latest results. Good idea. He said they're out of the hole. I said bonuses are still too high and that they were lending too much n mortgages and not enough on SMEs. He said SME lending is up whereas for the rest of the banks it's down
That's good news but I had to tell him that when I wrote to Mervyn King the previous governor of the Bank of England to complain that local SMEs couldn't get bank investment he recommended t hem to go to Handelsbank not the British banks!

Can't help thinking we need a people's bank like the Kiwibank Labour set up in New Zealand .This has been a roaring success and increased the competition in the banking sect or we need

By the way our PAC session on HSBC has been postponed until 9 March and I was heavily overruled in my plea that we should call Lord Green who was chief executive  and then Chair in the crucial periods. Being a bit deaf I'm not sure  whether we couldn't call him because he's a Lord, a saint or a Tory or because we thought he wouldn't come  but since the committee, like me, has not four more weeks to live we're going to leave him alone to count his money.


It's amazing how much the approach of an  election can change Government policy. After four years of austerity and telling us spending had to be cut they've begun to splurge. After four years of increasing centralisation they've suddenly discovered the joys of devolution in this over centralised country.

More powers to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and now DEVO-Manc  combining 12 local authorities  into a super city with a £6 billion NHS budget and an elected Mayor. 

Unfortunately it looks like just another week in the continuous process of meddling with local government the Tories have given us.
First. They create the Metropolitan counties under Peter Walker. Then they abolish them under Margaret Thatcher. Now they're trying to bring em back, along with Humberside which they also abolished.This is hokey-cokey not local government reform and in any case it's a mistake to start building the Northern Powerhouse on the wrong side of the Pennines!

This is tinkering not a real transfer of power. You can't have asymmetrical devolution. It creates a patchwork quilt not a structured hierarchy of power. It leaves huge areas and lots of smaller towns like Grimsby York or Peterborough out in the cold:the garden sheds of power

If you're to hand powers down from London, as we should, you need firmly based and strong structures to hand the, to and if you're to have democratic control you can't have it through coalitions of 12 local authorities such as the one in Greater Manchester,so Labour ,which has been wrong footed by Osborne's opportunism  should revert to proper regional government with the planning regions as a base

Why not start with Yorkshire and Humberside with a population as great as Scotland's? Combine Leeds and Sheffield the old rivals in a Yorkshire region with its own elected government and give it control over local government budgets, transport, housing and the NHS give it a proper budget and tax raising powers and let the people decide their own spending and what weight they want to give to each function.

Don't force this on anyone else. They can watch and wait but when it succeeds they'll be wanting their own I'll bet. 

Thursday 26 February 2015


This election is a choice between a Labour Party which will invest and spend to grow the economy but dare not say so, and a Tory Party which won't because it wants more austerity but has to pretend to do so to win while a series of "noises off" parties  abuse the two main parties while secretly hoping to go into some kind of coalition with one of them .

This exercise in hypocrisy in front of a howling press pack of media monsters all keen to destroy any politician who steps out of line in any way, savage any mistake however minor made by any politician and tear to pieces any policy they don't like.This isn't the bias against understanding John Birt wrote about its a bias against mental health and sanity

Poor Natalie Bennett,torn to pieces because she stopped to think in a interview is the first victim but Ed Milliband is savaged every time he opens his mouth or eats a bacon sandwich, Clegg has been turned it o a clown and Alec Salmond is portrayed as a MacHitler taking over the poor defenceless English while Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind have been given assisted suicide by Indignitas. Every TV interview becomes a harassment by highly trained attack dogs,every proposal for change is torn to pieces before it's even announced and Twitter pours half baked shit over everyone.

This is politics at the end of its tether with abuse driving out thought, sense and strategy. It's not a happy prospect. Particularly when it all points to a second election made necessary by the fact that no one won the first.Will anyone be able to form a government strong enough to deal with the mess this fed-up country is in.?


It's difficult to remember a time when people were more fed up than they are at present but the discontents appear different depending on whether you're talking about the North or the South. UKIP benefits from both but in different ways which make it Britain's first two faced party -as distinct from the Lib-Dems who had 18

In the North the problem is the collapse of old industries and the dismantling of the comfortable world of full employment, steady growth, rising wages, and steady betterment through public spending.which makes the discontent more of an older working class phenomenon

In the south it's the squeezed middle  who're oppressed by rising house prices forcing them out of London to face ever rising commuter costs . They feel themselves oppressed by big organisations like banks and multinationals cheating their tax obligations and serving their own purposes .They're worried that their country isn't their's any longer and that their comfortable middle class existence is threatened

UKIP exploits both sets of discontents but that means that it's more of a threat to Labour in the North and to the Tories in the South though it's confused cacophony of policies can satisfy neither. The choice facing the country is one between austerity and stimulus, Hayek versus Keynes but UKIP offers only a mixture of bar room populism, barrack room negativism and a barrage of Farage. God bless 'Im.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Letter to Independent on Sunday Editor, Lisa Markwell. Wednesday 25th February 2015

Dear Lisa,

William Gore, your deputy managing editor, has sent me a transcript of my interview by Jamie Merrill  though not the second part which I would also like please.

I'm grateful to you for this. I should have been told that I was being recorded as a matter of practice and courtesy, I wasn't but at least this part of the tape indicates what I did say though the wording remains curious to me "sex pedophiles" isn't a combination I'd use and I don't know what reservations were made later.

But this isn't the point of my concern. What I said was not a Natalie Bennett moment but a joke. It was clearly intended as a joke and something no one who knew me or was in their right minds could or should have assumed to be true. My intention was clearly to make  a point which a rather obtuse reporter didn't seem to understand that UKIP isn't going to win Grimsby, can't win Grimsby, and shouldn't be puffed up as if they might win Grimsby.

I won't go over all the reasons again though I did to Merrill but it is surely not responsible journalism to take an illustrative orbiter dicta and inflate it into the article because his original argument that he set out to push has been destroyed. By projecting a joke as my view and then feeding it to the candidates to react with shock and horror he has defamed me, made the Labour Party look cynical, and damaged Grimsby's reputation, as well as that of our new candidate

Let me make it clear. I have never believed or acted on the view that Labour can just select anyone and win. I have never felt the disrespect for Grimsby's electors that that view implies. On the contrary I have always treated them, as Tony Crosland did, as the real England, the salt of the earth, and people to be treated with respect and fairness. Their interests lie with Labour which offers more hope of growth, expansion, and betterment than do the Tories but they haven't been fairly treated by any party and there is a fed up proportion as a result.

For the purpose of sexing up a half baked thesis your reporter has damaged me, my relationship with Grimsby, and Labour's prospects. A responsible paper would give me the right of reply to make this clear.

Yours sincerely, 

Austin Mitchell MP
Chair, NUJ parliamentary group 

Tuesday 24 February 2015


It's hardly surprising that the Daily Telegraph is continuing it's war against Parliament. We don't advertise in them and it's so much easier attacking us than attacking, say HSBC who might withdraw their ads. But two things do amaze me.

One is the gullibility of MPs, particularly the self important ones who've been ministers of Pomposity Flatulence and Fawning. They'd turn away a beggar that approaches them in the street with a request for a quid to buy a cup of tea and tell him to get a job yet when a mysterious sheikh or Chinese  or Indian approaches them with an offer of thousands a day they hold out their hands and offer to start work next day. I'll bet if some entrepreneur approached lowly backbenchers with an offer of jobs at a drive in brothel cleaning the cars they'd all get wash leathers.

Second is the greed of the Parliamentary elite. They've all got jobs and good incomes as MPs but they want more more more preferably in foreign bank accounts for working perhaps a couple of hours a week. It's always excusable for the rules are pretty flexible  but it's all  off putting and certainly damaging to the reputation of  Parliament. Their time is stolen from their constituents. Their greed is all their own.


There's something funny going on with the great Galileo programme which (of course you'll remember) is the EU's very own satellite guidance system to give us a system which the Americans give us for free already. It's running several years behind schedule and the government is reluctant to give away any information about the costs. I asked a series of questions which took five weeks to answer and then only referred me back to an answer given in July 2013 about expenditure from 2014 to 2020

Nothing at all on the question I want answered.  How many millions have we wasted so far? The waste still going on is estimated at 7 billion euros of which we pay "around"12.5%.There was a "launch anomaly" in August last year  and when it's eventually finished one "open service" will be free to the end user. Just like the American system we've been using free for years.

Something smells somewhere. I'll keep digging.

I'm very upset about the Independents use of a joke of mine to indicate a contempt for electors. In a phone interview I gave them my view that about a third of the electorate were fed up with both main parties because their world of rising wages, full employment good benefits and steady growth had been destroyed. Here, I argued was a section Labour had to work hard to win back particularly in one industry towns where the industry had been destroyed. UKIP will win some of these voters while others will abstain but while they make the election less predictable they don't mean UKIP will win Grimsby. It won't .We have a good candidate fighting well and she'll win.

All true. But in  the parting moment to illustrate the point I made a joke about anyone could hold Grimsby for Labour to reinforce my point that UKIP aren't going to.This was a joke. It was clearly made as a joke and belied all the rest of the interview. I said it was a joke not a quote. Yet the interviewer wrote up the joke as the story and  fed it to the candidates who were predictably horrified. This has been damaging and annoying for me It has produced loud abuse on that friendly banter facility Twitter,and creates a quandary.Apologise or not.?

I certainly apologise to Grimsby.My joke can be interpreted as contempt for the electorate and in 38 years of serving Grimsby and its people I've never felt or shown that. Vox populi,Vox dei  so far as I'm concerned. Crosland regarded his constituents as the real Britain,the voice of common sense. So do I. Grimsby has always had good MPs and has a very good Labour candidate now.So it's clearly not true that anyone can defeat UKIP. Grimsby wants and gets the best from Labour and every other party.It needs a Labour victory and a Labour government to stimulate jobs ,grow the economy and restore the damage caused by austerity .It would be unforgivable to endanger that.

I hope I haven't.But I've given up making jokes for Lent and jokes to journalists forever.

Monday 23 February 2015


In elections as closely fought as this politics drives out truth. No party dares to tell the truth least it frighten voters off. Lots of noise about peripherals. Not a word about looming disasters,tough measures or any thing that might require major changes

So the parties don't fight about the major issue of re powering the economy to grow through present difficulties or about borrowing more for investment  but lots of noise about who can close the deficit fastest and whether every promise has been carefully costed. Escapism is the best form of electioneering.

What are the major problems? First we have an alarming and growing balance of payments deficit, currently 6% of GDP, which we have to borrow and sell off assets to cover.This indicates that the pound is substantially overvalued and has to come down.There won't be a word of this in the election.

Second. We can't pay for all the social welfare and local government services a modern society needs. There will have to be an increase in taxation, particularly on wealth and high earners. Not a word

Third. You can't expand the economy and boost employment without more borrowing and spending to boost demand and investment. Borrowing is very sensible now interest rates  are so low. No one dares say so

Fourthly. New industries and jobs don't just spring  fully armed out of some entrepreneurs head.They need government encouragement and support ,an industrial policy and a regional policy to attract jobs to the deprived regions. All that will be difficult with EU rules on state aid. Silence again. Ferme ta bouche

Elections are a brief escape to happy land amidst the gathering gloom.Enjoy.


I've spent a lot of time over the last week explaining to people that UKIP isn't going to win Grimsby. Grimsby needs Labour and the public spending and development Labour will bring because Grimbarians are less well off than other parts of the country their interests lie with Labour. We have an excellent Labour candidate who's winning the debates and doing well. So why not concentrate the effort going to Grimsby on next door Cleethorpes which is much more marginal but which we need if we're to form a government.

There is one problem common to both that's the Fed up tribe which feels that both parties have let the, down and destroyed their comfortable world of steadily rising wages and living standards, welfare employment and a mixed economy. About a third of the electorate have turned against both parties and politics and they'll either abstain or vote UKIP which voices their discontents.Their interests lie with Labour not negativism and its Labour's job to win them back to reality by a nationalist policy of rebuilding Britain's strength.

Having preached this sermon for months I preached it again for a journalist from the Independent since he didn't quite seem to understand I added as I rang off the merry quip that there is no need to be so obsessed with UKIP, anyone could hold Grimsby for Labour. I exaggerated because the electorate are now more choosy than in the days when voters for both main parties could say "I'd vote for a pig if my party put one up" This was a joke, not for quotation and certainly not a criticism of our candidate. Indeed it ran against the whole trend of my argument which was Labour has to work to win back voters it's disappointed

But ill advised to joke with.the stupid. The sneaky bastard probably recorded the interview (without asking) and even sneakier made that his main report. With his original news story shot down he opted for the easy way out of stirring up trouble by making summit out of nowt. What did the candidates think of my view "Monstrous" What did the electors think.? "Insult" What did the Tories think? "Labour takes people for granted" and the pedophiles?"insulting to say we'd vote Labour" etc and a whole storm,of the twitterati descended on my head  plus television news demanding clarification.Thus the whole point was lost.Daft being obsessed with Grimsby and ignoring the real marginal: Cleethorpes

There's a foretaste of the election to come .No great issues. Parties deadlocked. Let's just start rows over nothing. It works too.I bought a copy of the Independent on Sunday for the first time in years.If this is the standard of their journalism  I won't need to again.

Friday 20 February 2015


IDS and the Tories promised in 2010 to reduce the housing benefit bill by 2 billion pounds  by this year. In fact calculations by Joe Halewood of Liverpool show that  the bedroom tax, the overall benefit cap, the local housing allowance cap and the shared accomodation rate cap,the four policies used to reduce housing benefit have in fact increased the housing benefit bill by 230 million pounds a year.

This happens for several reasons. One is  the fact that the number of private rented sector claimants is increased by 132,413 and they receive 21-17 more in HB than tenants in social rented housing. This is a huge subsidy to unregulated private landlords and accounts for 146 million pounds more a year. 

Another is the fact the number of in work claimants, over a million of them, has increased by 443,841 a year. Again a huge subsidy to low paying employers amounting to 5.5 billion pounds a year.

A third reason is that LHA caps have driven people out of Central London to outer London, a diaspora which increases the housing benefit bill.

To conceal all this IDS and his  Freud chicken team have resorted to terminalogical inexactitudes and claims that the number of bedroom tax eligible tenants is down b y 200,000. We don't know where they have gone but if it is so, the saving in bedroom tax would be 362 million pounds a year- yet IDS says it would cost a billion pounds to abolish it while Freud and the chickens claim the tax saves 480 million pounds a year. Whit cant either
The only important figure is the overall spend on Housing benefit and this has increased QED.  
Thanks to Joe Halewood.


British recession and the Euro folly strangling the weaker European economies have combined to produce a reversion to folly and mysticism  which threatens the prospects for both improvement and social democracy. In the EU the Social Democratic parties who were responsible for growth and the good societies which have emerged are now discredited and failing because of their adhesion to the Euro which is ruining the Mediterranean nations and being supplanted by radical parties of the left and right.. In Britain Labour has been battered into caution yet the media and business leaders still portray its policies as bringing ruin and failure. Everywhere the necessary tools of improvement:growth,investment, industrial expansion, full employment and higher wages are discounted or portrayed as disastrous.

Folly Rules. Not OK Just look at what's offered-
Russell Brand tells the young not to vote. An abdication when Labour needs their votes to offer a better future. Abstention is futility sanctified.

SNP offers romantic escapism and the surge in its support threatens the loss of seats Labour will need to form a majority government with the power to rebuild and grow.

Tories offer an appeal to middle class masochism and more austerity to come after a brief shot f the spending they've told us was impossible for four years conscious of the fact that the middle class loves sado-discipline For other people.
Greens offer naive idealism which is all very nice except that it will divert voters from Labour which for all its faults is the only party which can advance improvement in power.

UKIP offers Euro escapism. The EU has gone a long way to discredit itself and become the low growth unemployment blackspot of the advanced world. Britain has little to gain from it and will need to loosen ties which damage but to spend the first years of any government in a debilitating row about Europe ruins the prospect of rebuilding.

The Lib Dems desperately ply for hire and offer themselves brakes on anything;more austerity or corrective measures though for specific policies it depends on which head of the hydra you hear,  Cable or Clegg

The Antediluvian Band of Blairites take time off from money making to urge Labour to pull its own teeth and accept the need for wealth creation. Particularly theirs

Vested interests, Finance and big business howl with pain before they've even suffered any and having caused the crisis by their irresponsible rick taking and tax perks portray and attempt to deal with either as harbingers of ruin, socialism and increased body odour.

The hack Media vilify Miliband, Labour and everything it stands in order to portray Dodgy Dave as the supreme statesman, the Churchill of our times. 

The purpose of this cacophony of crap is to create enough confusion and doubt to stop Labour winning a majority big enough to govern and tackle the crisis.
Living in an age of confusion is no excuse for abandon ing reason and chopping down the old signposts to a better future.  The only answer to Britain's problems is economic growth, investment, higher pay and more jobs and an industrial policy to boost manufacturing.

Keynesian economics still work,witness the USA. Austerity doesn't,witness Greece and Britain's lost years of it. Labour has been and is being too cautious and anxious to be respectable to say all that .Yet for all their caution and timidity Labour  remains the only party to offer any of it. Don't let the retreat from reason obscure that crucial central fact.

Thursday 19 February 2015

My thoughts on Stephen Green

Our government of Toffs has a very different attitude to fiddles,  depending on whether they're perpetrated by the poor or the powerful. It employs far more people tackling social security fraud and sends people to prison as a result. It imposed over a million sanctions last year on job seekers and claimants for quite trivial things like failing to make an appointment or losing a phone number, sentencing them to a week or a month without money and forcing them to depend on food kitchens. 

But when it comes to tax fiddles and the tax avoidance industry it is slow to act and punishes lightly. Money laundering for drug barons by HMC has been met by massive fines on the bank in the USA. Using Swiss bank accounts through HSBC to avoid taxes has led to legal proceedings against that bank in France, Spain, Belgium and Argentina.

Here the man in charge of the bank  at the time of the fiddles Stephen Green has been sent to the House of Lords and made a minister and not only has no action been taken against his, or any other bank but millions of tax payers money has been rushed in to RBS and HBOS when their irresposible risk taking brought the banks to the verge of collapse. 

One law for the rich another for the poor. HMRC cracks down on small businesses and jobbing builders and has forced several in to bankruptcy. The former chief executive and chairman of HSBC on the other hand is allowed to preach ethics in business and tell reporters "I will not comment on the business of HSBC, past or present,as a matter of principle" Some principle. Some excuse. I hope the police never accept such a reply from anyone accused of crime. 

Which poses a problem for us on the Public Accounts Committee. We're anxious to deal with the tax evasion revealed by the HSBC papers and after interrogating HMRC on why it has been so lax we'll be calling the bank back. But should we interrogate Lord Green to try and discover whether he was so Godly he never knew about the dirty deals his bank was doing in Switzerland, or should he be called to account for the dirty dealings done under his watch. Or should we just read his religious tract "Serving God? Serving Mammon?" to try and discover whether he was in fact serving either or just his own back pocket  when he called for "a culture of ethical and purposeful business throughout the organisation" and, presumably among the customers it helped to dodge their contribution to hospitals education and public services in Britain by paying their taxes. I'm for calling him. We'll see who isn"t.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Renationalisation Urgently Required

What a cheek this Tory government has.They privatised the utilities  to generate competition Now they tell consumers they've got to do the work of producing the competition by shopping around and changing suppliers to get lower price deals. The power companies merely want to exploit the market by milking their loyal customer base through high charges then competing to attract new customers by lower charges but only for them. 

Competition is a striving to serve the customer. That imposes a requirement to reduce charges for all existing customers not just new ones. A government which believes in competition would (and should) do that by forcing the companies to reduce charges for all, particularly now  the price of fuel is falling

Make the power companies compete by tougher regulation or renationalise them to serve the public !

Who should you vote for?

A lot of people are pissed off with our two party system.Young people  want more exciting choices. Idealogues say they're much the same as each other. Many people think both have failed while others don't want to be shoved into one of two unattractive boxes and a few who can't make their minds up but want top be right all the time will vote Lib-Dem. I can't even say I'm a hundred percent happy with it myself; anyone of intelligence is bound to feel some reservations about some aspects of a party's policy and there aren't many people left who say "I'd vote for a pig if my party put one up" though there are many who have the opportunity.

Yet for all its faults the choice between two parties able to form a government is the basis of our democracy and even if we were able to give a more nuanced vote through proportional representation one of the two majors would still provide the core of government the other the core of opposition.

So there's no escape from the two government providers the big party.We have to vote. Not to do so is an abdication; no vote no voice is correct. Only twitter is left to twits.  To vote is to choose and that we all must. Which party suits us? Which best serves our interests? With which do we have the most affinity? Neither brand can satisfy us in every respect,  but which satisfies most?

Pick it. Grit your teeth and vote for it. Parties will tell you that if you have doubts  you should join and change them.  Fat chance. Life is too short to try and change party policy. It'll change with time and circumstance but not for you. Labour has been pro common market under Wilson, then anti, then doubtful, now vacuously enthusiastic. All that will change it back is experience in office. The Tories believe in money and hope to get their hands on more of it but under Macmillan they put growth first then monetarism then when the banks betrayed them they toughed up on them  and will always put dosh before people

So it's voter give an honest curse. Defend the bad against far worse.That's a rational and sensible position between the passion of parrots and the abdication of abstainers. Both make more noise But you're right. Even if you're intending to vote for the wrong party ! 

Voting for a party  doesn't mean supporting every policy or agreeing with everything it says. A party that doesn't argue is dead and those who mindlessly support its every passing policy are parrots.

These days no-one is loyal to 100% of anything.  Not even spouses. All rational judgements are "on balance" judgements. Hundred percenters are discounted as fanatics or simple minded. Even unfashionable and boring. What could be worse than that?

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Guest Blog by Kelvin Hopkins MP


A substantial majority of voters have long taken the view that Britain’s railways should be restored to public ownership.  Privatisation has been an expensive folly and vast sums of public and fare-payers’ money are still being poured into the industry and into the pockets of franchisees, private corporate contractors and lawyers.

Sir Roy McNulty in his report commissioned by the last Labour government concluded that Britain’s railways were up to 40% more expensive to run than the publicly owned and integrated railway industries on the Continent of Europe.  These excessive costs have arisen since privatisation.

By contrast, the former, and much maligned and unfairly criticised British Rail had the highest level of productivity of any railway in Europe.  This was due in large part to the decades of under-funding by successive governments who believed the railways were in terminal decline and that the motor car was the future for personal travel.  A former railway regulator of the newly privatised industry said that British Rail had “worked miracles on a pittance” and that the railways had been handed over to the privateers “in good order”.  The Beeching cuts and a desperate lack of investment had savagely damaged our railways, but despite that the dedication of BR staff at every level had kept them functioning.

It has at last been properly recognised that the railways are a major transport mode for the future, not an historic relic.  It is time to rebuild an integrated railway industry in national public ownership, properly accountable to the electorate and to railway users through Parliament.

The emphasis on national public ownership is deliberate, because the greatest nonsense of all is that our railway services are now largely owned and operated by foreign nationalised railways, by foreign governments, so that British taxpayers and fare-payers are actually subsidizing continental taxpayers and railway passengers.

Railways are a vital national asset, but like equally vital roads they have to be funded to a significant degree by the public purse.  It is therefore illogical to contract out its operations and then use public money both to keep services running and also pay profits to these external organisations.  If the railways were commercial entities able to make profits without subsidy and were not a vital component of our national infrastructure, some kind of case for them being in the private sector might be made, at least by the Tories.  But pouring vast sums of taxpayers and fare-payers cash into the pockets of the foreign owners of our railways is simply stupid and driven only by dogma.

Despite the government’s feeble claims that privatisation has been a success, the railway infrastructure has already in effect been returned by stages to public ownership.  The disaster that was Railtrack forced Labour to establish Network Rail, and the Tory/Lib Dem coalition have recently put Network Rail’s debts on the public accounts.  The railway tracks are now in public ownership so are in effect nationalised.

The train operating franchises however are still “privatised”, although it has been explained above that they are largely in foreign public ownership.  The rolling stock is privately owned, by the so-called ROSCOS, which belong to the banks.  Rolling stock is thus leased to the train operating companies (TOCs) at exorbitant rates, another nonsense.

Transferring all the franchises to a new public railway corporation would cost nothing and indeed save large sums for the public purse.  This has been demonstrated by the East Coast Mainline franchise which has been in the public sector for several years, although now being reprivatized by the Tories.  The only cost of deprivatisation would therefore be the rolling stock, but the ROSCOS have made such profits out of the railway industry that only minimal compensation could ever be justified.

Labour should take the bull by the horns and commit to creating a publicly owned railway.  Such a promise would be sensible, economic and enormously popular with voters.  There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.