Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Please support my sister-in-law running the London Marathon to raise money for North Devon Hospice

This time last year I was preparing to run the London Marathon in support of a charity very close to my heart. This year my sister-in-law Clare Campbell is running it to raise money for the excellent cause that is North Devon Hospice.

Almost a decade ago Clare's husband David was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had an operation but the doctors have said his condition is life limiting. At first they thought he only had a couple of years but he is still with us and living life to the full.

North Devon Hospice have been supporting David, Clare and their son George ever since the original diagnosis.

Here are Clare's own words as to why she is doing this:

For those who know our family, North Devon Hospice is very special place for us...providing support, care and love since David was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2009. We help the Hospice where we can (the photo is from David and I marshalling the nightwalk earlier this year - we don't have matching coats - honest!) but this is the biggest thing that we can do to say Thank You to North Devon Hospice for the care that is provided to us and so many people in North Devon. I do believe this is a joint effort: I will be out pounding the lanes, but David will be at home with George and generally keeping me fed and watered. His contribution to this marathon is no less than mine.
The ironic thing about this whole brain tumour thing is that before David's diagnosis, David would have been the one doing the mad challenges and I would have been on the side-lines yelling encouragement (and keeping warm with a lovely hipflask - I am not a natural runner!) I don't underestimate how difficult that must be for David to watch and thank you David, for letting me do this and never getting upset about how our lives have changed xx
We are blessed to have a wonderful support team of friends and family who are there for us every step of the way; thank you for everything you do.

And here is a video recorded by the Hospice that was recently featured in the North Devon Gazette starring Clare and David:

Please donate what you can for Clare's run.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

The leaked Brexit report won't have any political effect

So an internal government report has been leaked that says whichever Brexit option the UK goes for there will be a detrimental effect on GDP. Depending on which form of Brexit we end up going for the range is from 2% of foregone GDP in 15 years up to as much as 8% of GDP in 15 years. Scary stuff.

Lots of people in the Remain camp seem to think that this is going to have an effect on the debate about Brexit now that the report is in the public domain. But I simply can't see how this will be the case.

For a minute let's just accept that what the report says is accurate. I know plenty of people will disbelieve it but I want to look at the effect on people who do believe it. Because if it does pan out the way the report says the effects of Brexit will be diffuse and spread out over many years.

Let's take the mid point. Let's say that in 15 years time GDP is 5% lower than it would otherwise have been. How are people going to know that it has happened and to quantify the effects on their lives?

Well what I am going to do here is a bit rough and ready but in 2016 (the last year we have relatively accurate figures for) UK GDP was 1,939 billion pounds. And in that year GDP growth was 1.8% on the previous year. So let's just hypothesise that for the next 15 years after 2016 growth ends up being 1.8% every year. That would mean by 2031 GDP would be:

1939 * 1.018^15 = 2534

That's 2,534 billion pounds in 15 years time. Or approximately 30.7% more than it is now.

Now let's factor in the 5% extra GDP that we won't get because of Brexit. So let's just say that growth instead across that period will actually only be 25.7%. Which means GDP will instead only be 2,437 billion pounds.

That is a big difference. It's nearly £100 billion that we will have foregone by 2031. That's roughly £1,500 for every person in the country.

However that is not how it will be felt. Let's reverse engineer this calculation to work out what the GDP growth figures would be on average in order to reach this lower number in 2031.

1939 * X^15 = 2437

Divide both sides by 1939

X^15 = 2437/1939 = 1.25683342

X = 15th Root of 1.256833419 = 1.01535641

In other words, instead of growth on average being 1.8% it will be 1.53%.

This is how it will be seen. In fact it is the only way it can be seen. In GDP figures.

The biggest hurdle is that there is no way of knowing for sure that growth would have been 1.8% without Brexit. That has to be taken on trust. But like I said even if you do accept it, what are people going to make of the fact that growth has been 0.3% lower than it would have been? You can't touch or taste it. It's just a hypothetical number in a spreadsheet. It will have almost no political cut-through for this reason.

If you doubt me, try this little experiment.

Find 5 people you know (who are not involved in politics or economics) and ask them what GDP growth was last year. I'd be very surprised if in the majority of cases the average margin of error from the answers was less than 0.3%.