British Politics’s Blog

The ravings of an individual, UK voter frustrated with our politicians

Posts Tagged ‘eu

Can Libertas pull it off?

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Personally I think Libertas may have left it a little too late to publicise the fact that they intend to field candidates in 27 countries in advance of this years European elections, but, I cannot fault their logic. The current system is so fragmented, with so many parties adopting nationalistic and ideological agendas, that consensus is a rare commodity. Little wonder then, that all new European laws continue to be proposed and drafted by unelected commissioners, with MEP’s expected to rubber stamp proposals. A party that spans all member countries makes sense, but I suspect Libertas will fail, not least because they lack high profile support and are seriously under-funded.

I do, however, like the fact that they want to recruit candidates from grassroots. I would also support a less bureaucratic European Union, with laws drafted by MEP’s rather than unelected, unaccountable commissioners. I also support their aim to have greater transparency on MEP’s expenses and for the scrapping or complete re-write of the Lisbon Treaty.  The reality is, whether we like it or not, we are in the European Union and that is unlikely to change, therefore we must make it work for us. However, Libertas needs a voice, high-profile backers and supporters as well as funding. Without that, a great idea is likely to come to nothing, but I guess, they can try again in 5 years.

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6 April, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Government needs to reduce taxes not spend

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Gordon Brown & Co have indicated that they will borrow in order that they can spend their way out of this recession, but in all honesty, I think this is a bit simplistic. Firstly, I do not believe that you can spend your way out of a recession. But secondly and as importantly, any spend would be on infrastructure projects and this would, surely, limit any benefit to the construction sector.

In my opinion, recession is about people having less to spend and a lack of confidence in the economy. I am sure there are other factors, but these are the two that tend to come up time and again. Spending on infrastructure projects is likely to cost £100’s billions and will have to paid over the next 25 to 30 years. This option has limited appeal to the masses. On the other hand a bold government, or an effective opposition party, could propose something more significant.

One of the reasons people feel so poor, is that the money they have left over after they have paid their taxes and national insurance contributions buys much less. Added to that, millions more people today, than say, 20 years ago, are directly affected by the mortgage market and therefore, interest rates. My plan is a relatively simple one, because you do not have to have complex solutions to simple problems.

Government should reduce direct taxation by 5p in the £. This would cost no more than £8bn per year and would therefore be much cheaper than investing in infrastructure projects. This would immediately help people feel richer, more flush and they are therefore, more likely to spend their money. I do not think this should be done via increased allowances, or tax rebates, because these are seen as, respectively, something that can easily be eroded or a temporary bonus. Socialist should forget the fact that everyone would benefit from the 5p tax cut, who cares, if it means that those that need it most are included.

In addition, I would go for a substantial cut in interest rates, perhaps 2.5%. Inflationary pressures are on the eane and the benefit to households of a 2.5% cuts would be immediate, tangible and above all welcome in these difficult times. Banks should be instructed to adopt the 2.5% rate cut. Combined, these two move would provide the public with a massive confidence boost, they would feel more able to spend and the feel good factor would return. My solution does not rely on bringing forward PFI projects that are expensive in their makeup. Instead, it aims to put more money into peoples pockets, at a relatively low cost to the government, taxes could for example, rise in 5 years or so when the economy improves. Over 5 years, this measure would cost less that £40bn. And, lets face it, this is our money in the first place.

A substantial reduction in interest rates will aid a quicker recovery of the property market. To avoid another property boom, interest rates could be managed, but the initial boost in confidence would be incalculable. In addition, is the market starts to recover and property prices more affordable, then first time buyers will start bargain hunting, because they will feel that the decline has been halted. This would allow an exponential increase in property prices at a sustainable rate.

Simultaneously, the government needs to look its legacy of wasteful initiatives over the past 11 years. It is estimates that this alone has cost the taxpayers some £110billion. If they addressed this, then there would be no need to recoup the 5% tax cut at a later date:

I am happy for people to pick holes in my argument, but unlike this government which just want to spend more on projects no-one wants, or the opposition party that recognises there are real problems, but offers no tangible solutions, mine is simple and effective. If anyone has any better ideas, please feel free to post here! I made clear in a previous article that this country needs wholesale tax reform:

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Mandelson recalled to save New Labour

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How ironic, if not surprising, that Gordon Brown’s nemesis, Peter Mandelson, should be called back from Europe to become part of the cabinet. It demonstrates just how desperate Gordon Brown is to remain in government and how unashamed Mandelson is for the controversy his past actions have caused when in position’s of trust and responsibility in the New Labour government.

As it happens, I believe that Mandelson did a very good job as EU Trade Commissioner, even if he was unable to pull off any form of success at the most recent international trade talks this summer. It was clear, that following this defeat, he was looking for somewhere to go, no doubt Brown saw this, or more likely Mandelson had been sounding him out, whatever, he is now back in cabinet.

Whatever his experience however, it is hard to see that Mandelson will be able to breath any new life into Labour. As one of the primary architects of New Labour, he is unlikely to have changed his views, nor is he likely to be objective about it’s failures. Mandelson is, however, a past master at spin, the avoidance of difficult questions and no one could argue that he is a survivor, so he will make a difference. But bringing back Mandelson is akin to giving a dying man, pain killers, it may reduce or remove the pain for a time, but it will not save the man’s life. Mandelson and his ideas may get New Labour to the next election, but he will not assist them to achieve another election victory, for New Labour is tarnished, found to be left wanting and above all, is a failed initiative.

Some Labour stalwarts, perhaps hanging onto any thread, believe that Mandelson will have a uniting affect and that Gordon Brown has peformed a masterstroke, but these are the same politicians that have failed the people of this country and for that, we shall not forgive them. They (New Labour) are entitled by law to serve out their last few months, then they will be banished to the political wilderness, where New Labour will be seen as failed initiative, the party will be in the political wilderness for perhaps 20 years and the people of this country shall be left paying the price of their period in government for many, many more years to come.

European Union to hold crisis talks on Russia

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For all Gordon Brown’s rhetoric and his comments in the Observer, the EU can do very little to exert any real pressure on Russia and GB knows it. Whilst the British public may be daft enough to have believed Gordon Brown’s past assurances and promises, it is unlikely that the ‘Russian Bear’ will. Brown suggest a “root and branch” review of EU/Russia relations and talks of a “determination”. So what I hear the Russians cry?

The UK and much of Europe relies on Russian oil and gas supplies, yes, the Russians also need the revenues, but the Europeans will run out of gas and oil long before the Russians run out of customers wanting to buy their oil and gas. No European government would put at risk essential energy supplies for the sake of Georgia, that is the bottom line. Nor will they do anything that could potentially increase further current oil and gas prices. We also know that Gordon Brown is weak, a classic school yard bully, that when confronted, simply backs down. So ask yourself this, why did he make threats he has no intention of following through? He just makes himself look foolish and this country look weak.

Sanctions won’t work, at least in the short to medium term, because we do not hold all the cards. Removing Russia from the G8 may lose them some prestige on the world stage, but do you really think they will care, when they view the action in Georgia, at least in part, a restoration of pride and Russian military might? The Russians will be watching what the Europeans and the American do with a great deal of interests and they will see rhetoric, which does not turn into any meaningful form of action, as a significant demonstration of weakness and they are likely to be emboldened. If we cannot deliver a significant blow to the Russians to demonstrate our disappointment with their actions in Georgia, then we would be better saying nothing and turning to diplomacy.

I am certainly not defending the Russians, far from it, nor am I advocating that no action is taken. It is just a little pointless shouting your mouth off, if you have no intention of following it through or, whatever you do will make little or no difference. Better to bide your time, keep your cards close to your chest and keep the Russians guessing. Proper planning could allow the EU and America to deliver a knock-out blow (not militarily), but based on our own timetable, not  that of the Russians. There is nothing worse that doing something you know is going to be condemned by the world and then, as a result of their unified silence, not know what form the reaction will take or when.


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