British Politics’s Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘house of commons

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: https://britishpolitics.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/gordon-brown-legacy-economic-competence/

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: https://britishpolitics.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/tax-benefit-reforms-uk/

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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.

UK parliament is run by MP’s that are alien to the rest of us

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Perhaps it is just me, but I am beginning to believe that our MP’s are on another planet, not that they were born on another planet, just that once they become elected they appear to move to another planet.

We, the electorate, are almost always referred to as the “people” whenever our members of parliament or, more accurately, our ministers talk about us. Almost as if we are something different to them, of a different class, a different sub-species and, perhaps we are. Because MP’s simply remove themselves from the real world within months, sometimes days of being elected, or re-elected. They are quite happy to communicate with the “people” when they want something, such as your vote, but don’t expect them to talk to you again, at you, but not to you. Instead they will use any medium capable of delivering a one way message such as newspapers. Or perhaps, the internet savvy will use a blog, albeit many do not allow comments or moderate them to avoid anyone expressing an opinion that may differ from their own.

My point is, do any of the MP’s out there sound like us, talk like us or act like us. If we are being honest with ourselves, the majority don’t. For example, we make mistakes, but our MP’s in general and our minsters in particular, they never do. No, it is always a contractor, world events, the previous government, a civil servant, in fact anyone but themselves at fault. It is akin to driving a bus and claiming the accident was caused by weather conditions, the state of the tyres, the passengers, the previous owner etc., not because of anything the bus driver did. After all, it can’t be the bus driver’s job to check the tyres, the weather conditions or keep the passengers under control.

To err is human and believe it or not, most people can relate to that and the honesty that goes with being able to admit responsibility or culpability. Perhaps if more members of parliament were to admit the failures or weaknesses, we could repeat the entire saying, “to err is human, to forgive is divine”. In other words if they acted like the “people” they claim to represent, and admitted their mistakes, we would probably forgive them, because we can relate to something that happens to us all. In fact, at least making mistakes means we are doing something and it is better to do something and get it wrong occasionally, than it is to do nothing. Making a mistake and being able to admit to it can demonstrate our depth; provide a tangible example of our honesty and our integrity, not to mention our skills at objectivity and self-analysis. All the things, in fact, that we would expect of an elected member of parliament.

As soon as an MP is elected, they lose their ability to communicate with us, why, because they are then expected to toe the party line, they have to become part of a machine? So they must think about each and everything they say. They are no longer real people; they just spout the same party line, too scared of their own shadows to say anything else. This is a generalisation, but then, if we are honest with ourselves, this type of behaviour is a familiar trait with the vast majority of MP’s.

In the past, we have had real ‘characters’ amongst our MP’s most were not flamboyant, just outspoken. You may not have agreed with their politics, but at least they were prepared to step forward and say what they think, not the party hierarchy. Today, the number of characters amongst our 650 or so MP’s can be counted on one hand, simply because they are required to leave their opinions, beliefs and personalities behind if they want to get on or not be labelled a maverick. We would probably consider someone labelled by the party machine as a maverick as a person of principals, gravitas or of independent mind.

Once in parliament, our MP’s become robots, part of the machine where every line has to be rehearsed, every comment considered to ensure that is doesn’t offend anyone, difficult questions must be evaded and if you are fortunate enough to be a minister, then you determine what questions can, or cannot be asked. It is so far removed from the real world, that it is alien to us; therefore it is impossible for the electorate to relate to these elected officials. So, we have around 650 members of parliament ruling 65m people, but in such fear, that in truth, we are probably ruled by less people than in the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.

Take Prime Ministers Question Time, the PM always knows well in advance what questions will be asked, they also have a few stooges who are ready to raise an issue where the PM can preen his feathers and claim all of the credit. If the PM is rounded on by the opposition, he simply blames the previous government, in spite of the fact that Labour has been in government for 11 years, or refers to the voting patters of the other parties. Everything is staged, yes the PM or some of his ministers may be lampooned, but we are given carefully rehearsed and research answers that are delivered in such a way as to ensure that the government record or minister is cleared of any wrongdoing, responsibility or culpability. This is not real life, it is alien to us.

Gordon Brown has many, many problems to deal with, but the people, as we are patronisingly referred to, are quite forgiving, because we are normal. Imagine if you will, Gordon Brown standing up and admitting, that he should have put a little money away in the good times, to ensure that we could survive the difficult times, which were bound to come. He could admit for example, that there would be fewer pensioners in fuel poverty had he not raided their pension schemes. We can relate to these admissions because they demonstrate that to err is human. He could also admit that he made a mistake by allowing the Labour party to renege on its commitment to allow the people the opportunity to vote of the ratification of the EU Constitution. He could even offer to put that right, by allowing us the vote and saying sorry. He won’t because that would make him look like us.

Our leaders and our members of parliament need to start talking like us, speaking like us and acting like us if they are to re-engage with the public. We don’t all speak with one voice like the political parties, the vast majority of us are willing to accept our share of responsibility when things go wrong, we don’t disparagingly refer to a group of people like they are some underclass, we don’t rehearse our answers or have speeches written for us.

Members of Parliament have to re-engage with the public and to do so is quite simple, they don’t have to spend hundreds of millions on consultants to work out how. They just need to act like normal people with a big job to do. They need to talk to us as equals. They need to keep their promises and maintain their values, not sell them for a cushy junior minister’s post. They need to talk to the people that put them in parliament for the entire period of their term in office, not talk at them, but to them. Above all, they need to be humble, admit their mistakes, tell us what they are going to do to put them right and move on.

It is not difficult for our members of parliament to demonstrate that they are not aliens or resident on another planet.

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