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Mugwumps and Marxists

By Mike Narouei, Content Producer at Boring Money

28 April, 2017

Our upcoming closely-fought election continues to grip the nation. Boris Johnson has been in semantic overdrive, calling Corbyn a ‘mutton-headed mugwump’, and accusing him of ‘Islingtonian herbivorousness’. Blimey. So WTF is a Mugwump!? The word apparently comes from the Algonquin Indian language, means ‘war leader’ and was used in the States in 1884 to describe Republican political activists who switched parties to protest against financial corruption. So it turns out Boris doesn’t know what it means either, but he likes an alliterative jape.

An ‘M’ word has also been flung at May who rather improbably has been called Marxist in The Times for advocating a price cap on energy prices. This proposed policy is in response to the unfair way in which energy companies treat existing customers, whacking the apathetic (this used to be described as ‘loyal’) customer with high standard variable tariffs. If you haven’t switched or compared prices for a year, do it this weekend. Takes less than 10 minutes – just Google ‘energy comparison’ or go somewhere like uSwitch. According to energy regulator Ofgem, the annual difference in price between the standard variable tariff and the average of the cheapest 10 tariffs on the market is £203 for Scottish Power and £192 for EDF. (I’ve just picked those 2 for examples – numbers ranged from £134 to £252.)

Other ongoing financial issues are the debates on pensions and tax. The so-called Triple Lock on pensions is controversial. It basically says that the State Pension will rise by a minimum of either 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth – whichever is largest. This 2.5% a year is quite hefty in today’s climate and stirs the rumbling inter-generational debate – since 2010 pensioners have seen their incomes rise at almost double the pace of the average worker. Not fair.

We’ll see the detail in the Conservative manifesto published in May 8th. Frankly, this could be a transcript of an episode of Bod. All Theresa May has to do to win this election is not to buy a castle as a second home, built a moat around it and employ Mr May as Prime Minister’s Gardener on £500,000 a year.

In other news, we’re just seeing data which shows the economy grew by a limp 0.3% only in the first 3 months of the year; RBS in shock as it reports its first quarterly profit since 2015; the pound is at a seven month high and the FTSE 100 joined the general market uptick this week in relief that France’s leftie candidate was pushed out of the race and the pro-Europe Macron took the lead. I suspect however that by wine o’clock tonight the FTSE 100 will be lower as we digest the dismal growth news.