British Politics’s Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘LibDems

British Public will not accept higher taxes

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David Cameron has made much about the fact that he cannot make any commitments in terms of tax cuts and he has also said that he cannot rule out tax increases. The reality is he probably thinks this makes him look tough, honest or maybe even sincere. But there is another harsh reality that he ignores at his peril. That is, the current Labour administration has constantly hammered the taxpayer to fund new initiatives, to invest in health, education and to deal with child poverty. We will no longer tolerate another attack on our finances, particularly given the current state of the economy and the failures of the current administration to get value for our taxes.

The Labour administration has used stealth taxes to increase the tax take, this is equivalent to 3% of GDP, or if you prefer, the equivalent of a further 10p in the pound on direct taxes. David Cameron’s government would benefit from this situation. Yes, I fully accept that as a result in the slow down in the economy and the high level of borrowings, that tax cuts may not be a short, or even medium term reality, but tax cuts must remain a long term commitment.

If we work hard, we are entitled to retain more of our hard earned money. The conservatives must, instead, look to address the public sector, which is so bloated, that it now employs one in 5 of our working population. They must look to ensure that we get more ‘bang for our buck’ the current Labour administration has spent £billions on consultants, spin, marketing and failed projects. Some estimates put their waste at over £100bn in 11 years. Any future government that does not accept that savings can be made in how taxpayers money is being spent, does not deserve the opportunity to lead this country.

The ‘something for nothing’ society needs to be addressed. There are 2.5m people claiming invalidity benefits, up by 1.5m during Labour’s reign, this must be addressed. Those with genuine needs must be supported, the rest must be forced to accept work. The taxpayer does not want to pay someone to sit at home on their backsides if they have a bad back, instead they can get an office job and make a contribution to society.

Any government, current, or future, would do well to consider the fact that the British public, or more specifically, the taxpayers, contributing to this society, are fed up with being made to pay more and more of our money in taxes. It is accepted, that it is far easier to introduce more stealth taxes or increase existing ones, than it is to deal with our bloated public service sector, our something for nothing society or our government waste, but deal with it is what they must do.

As a people, we have a moral responsibility to help those that are not able to help themselves, but we should not be encouraging people to simply help themselves to our tax money. Grand initiatives are okay, but only if we can afford them, we should for example, slash our overseas aid budget, which is currently costing the UK taxpayer some £5bn per annum. We should call a halt to the policy of cancelling third world debt without pre-conditions, which serves only to allow the rich elite of these countries to further prosper at our expense and the expense of their own people.

If Cameron, or anyone else for that matter wants my vote, they do not have to promise tax cuts, but they must promise not to increase taxes. Instead, they must get on with the job of reducing their overheads, getting rid of waste, exactly the same as every working family in the country is required to do in these difficult times.

Government must lead by example, and David Cameron should take note, that the last thing the taxpayers of this country needs is another government that is pilfering our money and then frittering it away. Arguably, taxes are a privilege, not a right.

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Labour MP, Caroline Flint shows the way forward

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I have long felt that Caroline Flint is one of the more intelligent members of the Labour cabinet, not that this would be particularly difficult, but she certainly shines above the rest. In a fringe meeting at the Labour Conference, she once again demonstrated that she has a better idea of where Labour needs to be, than it’s current leadership.

She said “We have to govern for the 80% of ordinary people who work hard, whether they have a minimum wage or whether they have a degree. The majority of people who work hard, take the ups and downs, pay their taxes and support their kids and ask for very little from the state deserve the attention of our government.”

She is completely right! Caroline Flint argues that middle income earners feel a strong sense of unfairness demonstrated by the policies of this government. She also fundamentally disagrees with the notion pur forward by think tank, Compass, which suggests that Labour must concentrate on the poorest people in order to win the next general election. Right again Caroline.

What this government has failed to grasp is, that it is primarily the middle income earners that fund this government’s projects through higher taxes and the payment of surcharges, for example, the £35 a year levied by the energy companies for their energy saving measures offered to the poorest members of our community. So, whilst the middle income earners are paying for the governments pet projects, they earn too much to benefit from tax credits and other ‘benefits’, but too little to be able to shrug off the rising prices. They are the forgotten majority and any government that ignores them, does so at their peril.

For too long, this government has battered middle income earners, with higher direct taxation, introducing measures to push them into the 40% tax bracket, green taxes, the list goes on. Then they are told that they don’t qualify for most, if any of the measures they have paid for. It is appalling, and it has taken Caroline Flint to point this out, even David Cameron’s conservative party and Nick Cleggs LibDems have failed to highlight this indifference and victimisation. As for Gordon Brown, how can any middle income earners believe his fairer society speech?

Let us hope that Gordon Brown listens to Caroline Flint, or better still, given the Labour party is going to lose the next election, the opposition parties could take up the mantle and offer to redress the balance. I am not an analyst, but I would guess that many of the moderate income earners are in fact what would be termed ‘floating voters’. Our politician’s should start to listen more, if not to the public, then Caroline Flint.

We need wholesale tax and benefit reform, not meddling

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The news that the Liberal Democrats wants to reduce income tax for middle and low income earners is welcome news, albeit the chances of them getting sufficient votes to deliver on this commitment is unlikely. However, it does appear that they are willing to fill the void left by the current reincarnation of the Tory party.

The conservatives have traditionally been a party of tax cuts, not something that is always justified, but nonetheless, for the most part that is how they are perceived. David Cameron does not seem to want to make this commitment, because he is justifiably concerned that the Labour party will scream that the conservative party will hit schools and the NHS to fund the tax cuts. Rather than fighting this unsubstantiated claim, David Cameron is avoiding the fight and in my view, showing how incredibly weak he is, both as a person and a politician.

Gordon Brown said in 2004 that he could save £20bn per annum in an efficiency drive within high spending departments. He has not delivered on that commitment in fact, quite the reverse, we have actually seen an increase in public sector spending. Neither the LibDems nor the conservatives are willing to look to fund tax cuts from an efficiency drive, yet only an imbecile would claim that government departments are efficient or not guilty of waste. There have been numerous reports lately claiming that £billions have been wasted.

What we need is wholesale reform, not tinkering, backed up by a firm commitment to reduce taxes. The government, and it has to be said, the opposition parties believe it is okay to keep taking more and more of our money, every time they screw up, they either borrow, which lets face it, we will have to pay for, or they will introduce more stealth taxes. It has to stop. Under this Labour government, more and more people believe that they have an automatic right to look to the state, more accurately the tax payer, to provide them with an income, housing etc. There are nearly 870,000 people claiming unemployment benefits and 2.5m on some form of disability benefit. That is 3.4m people that require some form of tax payer funded benefits.

Now I accept that there are people with genuine disabilities and they should receive our support, but how much longer can the tax payer be expected to fund 3.4m people (and rising), that are making no contribution? I have deliberately ignored pensioners given many have contributed to state pensions for most of their lives.

Someone needs to say it how it is. There are just too many people expecting too few tax payers to fund their living costs, subsidise housing costs, as well as provide free education and health. Enough now, some of these people, probably that vast majority, can help themselves and they must. In these difficult economic times, those working have to make significant cuts, or take on extra jobs, or both. Why? Because we are expected not only to cover our own cost of living increases, but also the rises faced by those who make no contribution, in other words we pay twice.

Uncontrolled immigration places a further burden on the tax payer. It does not take a genius to work out that the contribution in taxes and national insurance made by many immigrants seeking work in the UK, does not cover the free education and health benefits received by their offspring. So, what happens? There are fewer jobs available for the 870,000 people claiming unemployment benefit, so we have to keep forking our our hard earned money providing them with tax payer funded benefits. Whilst the people coming into the UK and accepting low paid work, cannot possible pay enough tax and national insurance to cover the free benefits they receive.

There is nothing wrong with immigration, provided they can make a genuine and a net contribution to the UK economy, not simply provide employers with a source of cheap labour, which in itself is exploitation of the individual and the tax payer. There are many people that have genuine disabilities that prevent them from taking any work, but this is by no means the majority, those genuine claimants are entitled to our help, because that is our way. The rest must find some form of gainful employment, even if it is part-time. There will always be people unemployed and of the 870,000, some of these may be between jobs, but once again, they are likely to be in the minority. The others, well some will have never held a job and they must be required to make a contribution.

Redistribution of wealth may be a fine goal, but not if the hard pressed tax payers are simply expected to reward people that are making no attempt to make a contribution to society. Successive government have failed to grasp the nettle, but they must, we need to urgently reform our whole benefits system, so that the genuinely needy receive an appropriate level of help and support and the others, those that refuse to make a contribution are forced to go to work.

Very wealthy people are able to employ clever people to avoid paying too much tax, but the rest of us, who do not have that luxury are expected to make up the balance, simply because we are the easier target. It is far, far easier to hit the lower and middle income earners than it is to get the long term unemployed back to work, to determine which of the 2.5m people are genuinely unable to work and tackle those guilty of extravagant and complicated tax avoidance schemes.

Think about it for a moment. We tax and insure our cars, because if we didn’t, we could expect to be arrested, charged and fined, because we are, for the most part, law abiding tax payers. The others, well they won’t tax or insure their cars, if they are arrested they skip bail, if they get caught by a camera, then it doesn’t matter, because the car won’t be registered in their name. It is estimated that there are 1m uninsured and untaxed vehicles on our roads. We tax payers, received our pay, with tax and national insurance deducted, why, because we are law abiding citizens, the others, well they work cash in hand, because the chances are they won’t get caught? Why, because it is just too difficult to track and too costly to enforce?

We need wholesale reform, after all, any money earned, starts off as our own. That’s right, when you apply for a job, you get told how much your employer will pay you. Then the pimp, sorry the government comes along with hand extended and says, well you have a “social responsibility” and we are going to-redistribute some of your income to those less fortunate than you and to pay for things like health, education and pensions. We all sit there and take it, why, because we are law abiding and of course, we don’t have any choice? If government gets it wrong, no matter, they will just come back for more, perhaps in the form of direct tax, such as that on petrol, energy, insurance, vehicles etc.

Some people don’ realise this and of course the government won’t tell you. But when you buy petrol or a new car for example, the government add the duties and then VAT to the duties. How bad is that, not only do we pay VAT on the cost of the goods, but we also pay VAT on the duties! No wonder they think we are a bunch of mugs.

Someone, perhaps a political party, needs to stand up for the hard-pressed tax payer. Accept that there is a disproportionate amount of money taken from us and that the system needs serious reform. The LibDems have suggested that they could provide some tax cuts by tackling waste, but they have set the barrier way, way too low, even if this is a paradigm shift by the LibDems. If you are going to take flack for suggesting that we can keep some of our hard earned money by the government tackling waste, why not also target abuse, not just the wealthy, but those happy to receive tax payer funded benefits?

We need a party for wholesale reform and they need to tackle the people that are registered as disabled, but are able to work. After all, those that use or abuse the system are just taking it away from the genuinely needy, who should receive our help. Those claiming unemployment benefit must be required to work within a given period or lose all benefits. It is enough now, for far too long we have heard (and have allowed to pass unchallenged), people on benefits saying that they would be “worse off if they went back to work”. Surely this means that the benefit payments are too generous?

Why can’t lone parents group together, so that some can go to work, whilst the others look after the children? In the real world of the tax payer, that is what we do. What makes lone parents any more deserving? Why should someone that has never contributed anything in the form of income tax, be entitled to housing, benefits, free furniture, free health and free education? If they have an automatic entitlement to receive these benefits, what incentive do they have to work and make a contribution? Successive governments have added to the notion that everyone is entitled to state aid of some sort. Why should these people not be encouraged to help themselves, rather than helping themselves to the hard-earned money of honest tax payers.

Unemployment figures have been massaged by this government by allowing more and more people to claim that they are unable to work through disability, there are currently 2.5m in this category. It is a fair bet and some government ministers have alluded to this, that as many as 1.5m are able to do some form of work. So is the true unemployment figure actually 2.4m? Those that are workshy as opposed to genuinely disabled, must be identified and should be forced back to work. If necessary, through a steady decline in the benefits they are receiving, if that means that some become homeless, so be it. They always have a choice.

I accept, that if there are no jobs available, then we must take that into account, but whilst there is, those able and capable of working must be dissuaded from claiming benefits. Not incentivised, because that is morally wrong, they must be dissuaded through a steady fall in their tax payer funded benefits. We must also change some of our language, for example, state benefits should be changed to tax payer funded benefits, which is a more accurate statement. The state is faceless, but everyone know someone who is a tax payer, they will invariable be the people looking knackered without the ability to buy a pint in their local.

Many low paid workers are claiming that they need more money to deal with the rising cost of living, well firstly I should like to point out that the problem is not uniquely theirs and it is wrong to play the victim as if it is an exclusive right, everyone is suffering. But, more importantly, they need to approach it from another angle, they should not be looking for more money funded, in the case of public sector workers, by the tax payer, instead, they should be entitled to keep more of their own money. By tackling government waste and making more people contribute, we can all see a reduction in our taxes, we will all feel better off and this country will prosper again.

I cannot see any of the political parties tackling this issue. The LibDems have moved from a party of higher taxation to one that is now talking of reduced taxes. Albeit it without the support of the entire party and, it has to be said, with a limited remit in terms of what aspects of abuse they will tackle. The conservative party has consistently refused to address taxation as if it is a poisoned chalice, because they don’t want to take on the current government on regarding waste, and abuse of the benefits system. Then the Labour government, who, through their self-righteous programme of re-distribution have built up this waste and allowed a situation where even they know that there is no more money to be had from the hard pressed tax payer. What hope is there for us with such weak politicians?

I am not advocating that everyone who is claiming unemployment benefit should lose, it, nor am I suggesting that everyone in receipt of disability benefit is workshy, far from it. I am arguing that unless we reform our tax and benefits system, this country will be bankrupt. We already have a massive accumulated deficit in public sector pension schemes, an aging populating and high borrowings. We also have hugely expensive PFI schemes that need to be paid for over the next 20 years. The tax payer is straining under the additional burden placed upon them by this government’s failure to tackle the issues in case they lose some of their core vote. However, unless we address the issue of those that are contributing little of nothing in the form of income tax and national insurance, then we will reach a stage where those currently funding this largess will no longer be able to cope themselves.

There needs to be a reduction in those claiming tax payer funded benefits, a corresponding increase in the number of people contributing income tax and national insurance and a halt to immigration unless or until they can demonstrate that they can provide a net contribution to the UK economy, taking account of their needs, such as free health and education…the government has no right to exclude this cost when making statements about how they contribute. If we don’t, we will reach the point of no return, where we have to borrow more and more money just to fund our pensions and benefits system, until one day, our government bonds will have the same status as junk bonds. By then, it will be too late and there will be considerably more people that will need some form of tax payer funded benefits, but with no-one left to turn to. Doomsday scenario or basic economics, you choose?

 

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OECD UK Recession Warning and the future for MPs

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The OECD have now confirmed what everyone else in the UK could ‘feel’, but our own government was keen to deny, that the UK is about to enter a recession. Darling and Brown simply had to know the truth and it is unforgivable that they could not be straight with the electorate, many of whom, entrusted New Labour with the future of our economy. That abuse of trust is shameful.

Instead of worrying about our economic situation, all Gordon Brown seems to be concerned with is his future as leader, instead of worrying about the people of this country, all New Labour seem to be concerned with is whether they can retain their seats. They are all spending so much time looking inward, for self-interest, that they are ignoring what is happening in the outside world, or more specifically, in the UK.

Contrary to Gordon Brown’s assertions, the UK’s fundamentals are not strong, in fact, it takes the highly respected OECD to tell us that the UK is in trouble. However, not only is the UK economy predicted to shrink in the next two quarters, but the UK is also the only economy not expected to see a recovery this year. The OECD said that Britain would fare worst amongst the Group of Seven leading economies. This is in spite of the assurances from Gordon Brown who has regularly claimed that the UK is the best performer among the G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. The OECD expects the UK to grow by 1.4% in 2009, against the government forecasts of 2.5%. Okay this government has missed most of it’s previous growth targets, not something they brag about, but in the current climate, wishful thinking is not appropriate. There is also a prediction of some 200,000 people being added to the jobless total, which is already at a record high when you consdier that thatere are estimated to be some 2.5m on some form of long term disability.

The OECD have even given some of the reasons behind our weak position, most noteably that the Government’s policy of spend and borrow has left this country ill-equipped to deal with this economic slump. Interesting, that the average man in the street could see this wasn’t sustainable, but our elected officials could not, or perhaps, would not. The truth is Gordon Brown, as chancellor, borrowed in a boom, leaving us with the largest budget deficit of any industrial economy. Now we are all going to have to pay the price.

Aside from the fact that New Labour, as guardians of our economy, should have been able to predict much (not all) of what is happening and tightened their fiscal belts, what is most disappointing is the other parties. The opposition parties are keen to criticise, but if they want to show that they are fit for government, then they should tell us what they would do. It doesn’t matter if New Labour steal their ideas, it is the well-being of our country that matters and the electorate will know who came up with the answers and demonstrated true leadership skills when we needed them most.

David Cameron and the conservative party are running scared, they are shouting from the sidelines, rather than getting stuck in. In other words, they are basking in the failures of this government, they are gloating, but, above all they are failing to demonstrate that they could do any better. There is no time like the present, for Cameron and the conservative party to show their mettle, air their policies, demonstrate their competence for government and show leadership under pressure. If Cameron cannot see that this is his chance, then he does not deserve the highest office in this country. If he continues to say nothing of any value or substance, then we are entitled to believe that he doesn’t know what to do and therefore, he and his party would be no better.

New Labour in general and Gordon Brown in particular have lost all credibility in terms of economic confidence and they have long lost the integrity that is essential to govern long term. This is not helped by the fact that they have patently denied any personal, or policy culpability, electing to blame everything on other factors such as the credit crunch and oil prices. We know that it had as much to do with this governments policy of spend, tax, borrow and spend, leaving nothing in the kitty for a boom period. 

Cameron on the other hand is demonstrating a lack of courage, an absence of policies or ideas, poor judgement in a time of trouble and little depth or gravitas. Charm and fancy words simply do not wash at a time like this. Cameron and the conservative party are so worried about getting it wrong, they have been paralysed with fear. We expect far, far more from the conservative party, which in the past has invariably been the principal bastions for economic competence, but under the leadership of Cameron, they seem to lack bottle, confidence and spirit.

In fact, if we look around, never has this country been so poorly served by its members of parliament. Most of our MP’s are more interested in playing up to the cameras and preening their feathers with statements to, and interviews with, the press, the editors of which, in turn, attempt to set the policy agenda and influence public opinion. Never before have we all felt so removed from our politician’s, who don’t talk like us, act like or or think like us. Our whole electoral system needs a good shake up, no longer should we be represented by career politicians who have rarely held down a proper job, no longer should we be represented by union activists who, however they may try and convince you otherwise, have little in common with the public. We need a system where real people, those with life experiences, families, mortgages, business experience and integrity, can be elected to represent us. In other words, people that look like us, act like us and speak like us.

All too often, as our elected MP’s enter parliament, they immediately go native. Corrupted by power, position and prestige. They forget why they were put there and start to believe that they are ‘different’ from the rest of us. For the most part, our MP’s are just good salespeople, yet once they are put to the test, they appear superficial. What we need is depth, all parties, but particularly the conservatives, should be selecting their candidates based not on gender or race, but whether or not they can make a contribution to society, to government. Not based on whether or not they went to school with them, but based on life experience, how grounded they are and whether they are likely to be seduced by membership of this exclusive club called parliament.

The British people are no longer as politically naive as they were in the past. The Internet means that they can communicate more easily with like minded people, no matter where they reside in the UK. They are more vocal than they have been in the past and they have more information at their fingertips than they have had in past decades. By comparison, parliament is firmly rooted in the past, it is crusty, old fashioned and inward looking. Newly elected members should be looking to modernise parliament, not simply fall in line, they should be looking to use their time in office to pass more control back to the people, rather than entrenching their grand and priveledged positions, by gaining more and yet more state control. Most importantly of all, they should be listening to their trustees, the people that elected them. Placing the electorates’ interest’s first, before their own and before that of the party.

This recession is likely to be different to previous ones. Not because of the suddenness, not because of the depth, or the expected duration, not because our government has lied to us about our true economic position. But because, this time, there is a very real risk that the groundswell of public opinion will not only impact on the government, but also on the lacklustre opposition, and the weak ‘other’ parties. If people have time on their hands due to lack of employment, an easy method of communicating with like-minded people and a desire to see change, we could well see another, formidable political party formed, this time with real people, who have genuine feel for what needs to be done, the energy and the desire to be part of this change and above all, new ideas and a commitment to follow them though.

Political parties take note, members of parliament take note, the public have had enough of micromanagement, of state control, of tax and spend government, of mortgaging our future through uncontrolled borrowing, of manipulating the figures to make things look better than they actually are, of being treated like fools, of lies, of ever rising taxes and above all, of you! In this time of need, we still have an overseas aid budget of £5bn, yes, £5bn, when there is a very real prospect that some of our pensioners will have to choose between heating and eating to use that over used, but insightful term. Where are our priorities?

Opposition parties take note, you need to stop gloating while the people of this country are suffering, you need to stop looking so weak, when we need strength, you need to demonstrate the courage of your convictions, to show us what you would do to make things better. You need to show your true colours (if you haven’t already). Above all you need to lead by example, be confident and at the same time remain grounded and in touch with the people that matter.

Imagine what would happen if the people of this country decided to vote, not for the principle 3 parties, but independents? If we have nothing to lose, this could happen. Yes it would be chaos, but it could be a precursor to a new political force, one that included the voters, rather than career politicians, then the boot would be on the other foot. Just 650 people rule 65m people, this is by consent, not as an automatic right. Our colonial past demonstrates only too clearly what happens when so called leaders consistently let down the people, when they are removed, remote or aloof from the mood of the public and when our leaders start to think they are better than everyone else.

In the UK is will not be a military coup, it won’t be a work to rule, it will be through the ballot box. Once the public recognise that it is possible to make a stand, buy choosing not to elect anyone from the main three political parties, then there will have to be change. When we, your trustees, have little to lose, expect the unexpected. Members of Parliament, you have been warned!

 

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