Tag Archive | "Chancellor"

Is Gordon Brown about to make another Balls up?

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Is Gordon Brown about to make another Balls up?

Rumours are abound that Gordon Brown intends to complete a cabinet reshuffle either, at the end of this week, or during the course of next week, especially if, as expected, Labour get a drubbing at the local and EU elections.

What has shocked me however, is that Gordon Brown is said to be considering promoting Ed Balls to Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he does that, then there really is a strong case for someone to send the men in white coats to Downing Street. So, from The Undertaker to The Clown, little wonder this country is in such a mess! Now I accept that Ed Balls is Brown’s best buddy, god know he needs them, but Balls is completely inept. His idea of selling something to the public is to keep repeating himself in the hope that we will get worn in submission. Ed Balls can barely string a sentence together, he is a poor commons debater, a useless TV performer and, lets face it, his first ministerial post as Schools Secretary has hardly been a success. In fact, the only ‘success’ he can claim is his innate ability to shift the blame onto others.

Loyalty, obedience and arse licking may be fine attributes for a dog, but not a Chancellor. Moving from Alistair Darling to Ed Balls can only be described as going from The Undertaker, to The Clown. At a time when this country is an economic basketcase, we need the very best available in the role of Chancellor, not another puppet. Some may claim that Ed Balls has experience because of his time at the Treasury, but he was just a messenger boy there, so he can more claim to be a Chancellor than an orator can claim to be a writer. If Gordon Brown decided to appoint Ed Balls to Chancellor then it is quite clear Brown has no interest in this country or the people of this country, his primary interest is himself and his buddies. One or two commentators have suggested that Ed Balls is highly respected in the City, so, my first question is, WHY? The second is how come so many people within the City are going on record to say the opposite?

Apart from the fact that Ed Balls does not possess the skills, gravitas or experience to take on the role of Chancellor, there is also the question of his moral rectitude. Ed Balls is married to Yvette Cooper and they both claim the Additional Cost Allowances for their London property, which they have designated as their second home, albeit not at the maximum rate, but they only need one home, don’t they? Similarly, between them, it is reported that they claim £600 per month in food allowances. Whilst what they have done is “within the rules”, the fact remains that they have nominated three different properties in two years to be their main residence. With both in ministerial posts, they have a combined salary of nearly £300,000 per year, they are hardly destitute nor are they in desperate need of the Additional Cost Allowances. Can this be described as prudence? Can we really trust a man that is quite willing to work the rules to maximise his allowances to seek value for the taxpayer? I don’t think so.

Gordon Brown is finished, but if he wants to demonstrate that he is also a complete idiot, then all he needs to do is appoint Ed Balls as Chancellor.

On a side note, I am please that char lady to the Police, Jacqui Smith is to quit at the next Cabinet reshuffle, but given she was expected to go anyway, all this is designed to do is allow her to leave with dignity. But we know the truth, she is, and always was, a useless Home Secretary who, instead of controlling and directing her departments, just became their gofer, char lady, bag holder. Good riddance. We now need a Home Secretary that does not believe in destroying individual liberty in a vain and discredited hope of reducing the risk of crime and terrorism.

Posted in General, Labour, World | Comments (7)

Who is running the country?

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Who is running the country?

It is not lost on me that, at a time when our country is in economic meltdown, our soldiers are dying on the front line, unemployment is rising at a phenomenal rate and businesses are going bust every day, our government is just not interested – Note: I have excluded ‘Swine Flu’ because this is just a convenient distraction for our government.

Instead, they are intent on squabbling like spoilt school children. Little wonder we are in such a mess, each and every one of them should be ashamed. Headlines no longer deal with the issues that concern the public, instead they are dedicated to those within the Labour party that seek to criticise or defend New Labour and/or Gordon Brown. Whilst I am all for the discredited New Labour machine going into self-destruct mode, I am concerned that it is happening whilst they are still in government, it is akin to sending a text message on your mobile phone, whilst travelling at over 100 mph on the motorway.

It is clear to me, that only now, have Labour diehards realised that their social experiment has been a failure, both in terms of policy and implementation. Instead of bickering, they should call a general election for the sake of the country and let the people decide who is fit to get us through this mess. But no, they couldn’t give a toss, they choose to fight each other rather than concentrate on what they were elected to do…run the country. Their selfishness clearly knows no bounds.

To save the party arguing the toss for the next 12 months as they desperately and unashamedly hang onto power, let me explain why they failed, in simple terms, that even children can comprehend. Now I will not get into the detail of whether or not the policies were right because this is neither the time, nor the place. However, the failure can be simply put, it is not about the plan, it is all about the implementation. New Labour came up with a vision, a plan for the United Kingdom and instead of placing the very best people in charge of these plans, they resorted to cronyism. The decision on who would be responsible for implementation of New Labour’s grand vision was determined on reward, not merit.

Government is not the place for ‘on the job’ training. Take for example Jacqui Smith, how can a background in teaching economics at a high school qualify her for the position of Home Secretary? Or Alan Johnson, before entering parliament, he was a postman and then a full-time union official, so how is this going to help him run one of the 3rd largest employer in the world, the National Health Service? David Miliband is now Foreign Secretary, yet before entering parliament, he was a researcher for the Institute for Public Policy Research. How does this qualify him as the best person to represent our interests on the world stage? Even the Chinese questioned Ed Miliband over his “qualifications” to lecture them on climate change, his response was that as a politician, he was in effect, charged with selling the concept.

Take Gordon Brown for example. Some may think that he had some sort of financial background, an accountant perhaps, or a financial analyst. But no, this man who was to become our Chancellor of 10 years, had no such qualifications, little wonder that he lead us into the biggest economic crisis in 60 years. Gordon Brown was a Rector of the University of Edinburgh, after that, he was employed as a lecturer in Politics at the Glasgow College of Technology. From 1980, until he was elected a member of parliament, he was a journalist at Scottish Television, later becoming an editor for current affairs at the same television station.

As for Tony Blair, his background prior to becoming an MP is so scant, it is not worth mentioning, so I won’t. Little wonder then that this government of ,very little talent, has had to spend £billions on consultants throughout their term of office. 

It never ceases to amaze me how, in politics, ministers are offered position not based on merit, but based on loyalty. If the private sector were to resort to such cronyism, it would fail miserably, instead, with a few exceptions, the private sector employ the best people for the job, based on experience, knowledge and ability. No so ministers. If those in the private sector fail, they are fired and replaced with someone else that can do the job. Not so ministers, they are normally forgiven, occasionally moved, but rarely sent to the backbenches.

The internal squabbling of New Labour is lamentable, but it is also dangerous. The public are not stupid, they can work out that if the party, including government ministers are fighting amongst themselves, then they are not fighting for us. If the party had any sense of self-respect, they would admit that they had lost the plot, lacked any direction and had demonstrably failed the British public and in doing so, offer the people of this country the opportunity to decide on their future as well as our own. They won’t of course, because now, more than at any time in our history, MP’s of all parties are in denial of the fact that they are elected to serve, not rule. And chief amongst this philosophy and belief are members of the Labour party.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (11)

Gordon Brown, the G20 is over, time to go

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Gordon Brown, the G20 is over, time to go

Gordon Brown has received a great deal of praise from world leaders at the G20, one assumes, because he managed to get so many leaders together in one place to discuss the global economy. But talks of a breakthrough or global deal are a bit strong, lets face it, all we have been given is a set of guiding principles. Nothing is binding and, as we all know, when the dust settles, things are rarely as they at first appeared. For example, tax havens will be named and shamed, but that won’t stop them doing what they have been doing for years, threatened sanctions are unlikely to have any real impact, even if they are implemented, which is a very big IF!

Everyone has agreed that banking and financial market regulation has to be tightened, but this is meaningless, because no-one will agree that there can, or should be a world regulator. Therefore, all we will see is each country implementing their own regulation, presumably based on the guiding principles agreed by the leaders. But rest assured, someone will be a little more flexible, so that they can attract the ‘banking and financial services business’ to their shores, stealing it away from London. The primary reason that London was the banking and financial services centre of the world, was Gordon Brown’s own “light touch regulation“, now it is likely that we will toughen regulation so much, that we will lose most of this trade. Some will argue that this is okay given the circumstances, but, truth be told, banking will continue, just somewhere else and we will have to find something to take the place of the 20% of GDP that we will lose if London is no longer the banking and financial services centre of the world. Has anyone any idea what we have in our armoury to deal with this massive reduction in trade, tax receipts and jobs? Thought not? Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Sarkozy may be a little petulant, but he is not stupid, he wants more regulation, because he seeks a level playing field so that Paris can take over where London left off. Gordon Brown’s light touch regulation was a failed policy and we shall all pay the price, however, if we now over-regulate for political expediency, we shall lose future, better regulated business to other countries such as France and Germany. Surely it is possible to regulate without killing off this significant contributor to our massive balance of trade deficit? A failure to get the balance right will cost us all and that is another good reason why Gordon Brown has to go and go now.

It was Gordon Brown that coined the phrase light touch regulation and he even had the temerity to lecture other European leaders on the same subject. Now, this same man is telling everyone that there must be much tighter regulation of the banks and financial markets. Talk about turning on a sixpence! Under Gordon Brown’s light touch regulation, it was possible for the financial markets to introduce new financial products with such complexity, that few people understood them, or the associated risks. Everyone knew of these instruments, but no-one, not even the regulator, asked any (or enough) questions. This, together with an overheating housing market and increased personal indebtedness is what caused the crisis. Our ability to manage this crisis in the UK has been exacerbated by the fact that UK Plc is massively in debt, not necessarily based on the Government figures, but when taking account of all the off-balance sheet debts that ought to have been included such as PFI, pension liabilities etc

Of course, Gordon Brown cannot be held responsible for the world economic problems, but he can and must be held culpable for the problems that have become evident here in the UK on his watch. It was ultimately his job as Chancellor to ensure that the financial markets were kept in check, Government borrowing was accurately reported and kept under control and that the availability of credit be actively managed, both secured and unsecured. The fact that our economy and housing market was overheating was known to Brown, he received plenty of warnings, he chose to do nothing. He was in denial, but he could no longer pretend everything was okay when the world banking crisis forced government intervention here in the UK. Let’s not kid ourselves, whether or not the world banking crisis happened, this country would have gone into recession. It was Gordon Brown’s job as Chancellor to ensure that boom and bust was at an end, he failed and in a spectacular way.

History will prove that Gordon Brown was a poor Chancellor and that he missed or chose to ignore every sign that our economy was running into trouble. It is only the world crisis that has diverted attention from his full culpability. What we must not do however, is allow this inept former Chancellor to continue making financial decisions that will affect each and everyone of us. His past judgements have been seriously and catastrophically flawed and by his own admission, we are now in “uncharted territory“, therefore how can any of us have any confidence in this man? Gordon Brown has been universally praised for his decision to make the Bank of England independent. However, the tripartite system that was introduced as a direct consequence was not clearly thought out given it has spectacularly failed, with The Treasury, Bank of England and the FSA blaming each other for the mess we are in. Therefore, I would argue that the jury is still out on whether or not Gordon Brown’s stated objectives were achieved when he gave the Bank of England independence, whilst stripping them of other fundamental responsibilities. Take this ‘achievement’ away and what other positive legacies has Gordon Brown given us…none that I can see? But there are literally hundreds of failures, I won’t name them all because it would take too long, but a short list would include a decimation of the private sector pension schemes through the removal of tax breaks, whilst allowing public sector pensions to get out of control with an unfunded liability of around £900bn; The introduction of a overly complicated ‘Tax Credit’ scheme which still ‘loses’ £2bn every year through errors and fraud; A massive public sector debt, much of which has been hidden from sight through fancy footwork and an insistence that certain debts remain off-balance sheet; a huge increase in environmental and other stealth taxes which are then funneled into non-related pet projects rather than being used for the purpose stated at the outset; and, a massive increase in direct and indirect taxation.

The mainstream press are going on about an expected “bounce” in the popularity of Gordon Brown. That may be true, but then we deserve what we get, because this is a man who is primarily responsible for getting us into the mess we are in. No world leader, naive enough to praise Gordon Brown, should be permitted to sway public opinion from the harsh reality of Brown’s policy failures, rank incompetence and inability to heed warnings. Time to go Gordon Brown, maybe the public will then look upon your efforts at the G20 as an act of contrition and be more forgiving when we look at your legacy.

Posted in General, Labour, World | Comments (3)

Gordon Brown continues to fail the British people

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Gordon Brown continues to fail the British people

How on earth do we stop this mad man that is Gordon Brown. Not only was he the architect of the financial system and regulation that lead us into this disastrous mess, but he is also the man that believes, he is more qualified than anyone else, to get us out of it. This deluded man is convinced that he bears no responsibility for what happened, even though everyone else knows differently. This vain man even seeks to lecture the leaders of other countries on what they must do to overcome the economic meltdown that is happening around our ears. This inept little man constantly tells the people of this country that the problems that have beset the United Kingdom are a direct result of economic and commercial mis-management in other countries, such as the United States. This incompetent man has the temerity to inform us that we are best placed to “weather the financial storm“. Yet he knows that this is not true and, that notwithstanding, no other economic expert agrees with his assessment. No doubt this could explain why it is that Gordon Brown has never told us why we are in a better position.

Gordon Brown, the unelected the prime minister of this country is a fool. He was a very poor Chancellor, arguably one of worst in our history. He has built on that well earned description by becoming one of the poorest, most incompetent prime ministers in recent times and there are plenty of former PM’s that could have been considered for that award. Any good leader would not assume that only he has all the answers and yet, Mr Brown constantly spouts on about the fact that he has the solutions and is best qualified to lead us out of this deep recession. A good leader would surround himself with knowledgeable people, not loyal soldiers, yes men and women, or business people seeking a knighthood or peerage for their ‘services’. Any good leader would know that a top team would always challenge the status quo, keep them on their toes, ensure that they don’t start to believe their own publicity, question, cajole and nudge. Any good leader would not be cowed by strong people around them, but instead, seek their counsel, listen, question and heed. But, Gordon Brown has clearly demonstrated that he is NOT a good leader.

Let’s consider a few other things;

Gordon Brown, as Chancellor, was the architect of the tripartite arrangement formed between the Treasury, the FSA and the Bank of England. Yet it was the failure and inadequacies of this system which allowed interest rates to be reduced so low that a housing boom was inevitable. Each party failed to respond to the experts that had argued the housing bubble was unsustainable and there was likely to be a crash. It was the failure of this system that allowed banks to grow at a rapid rate utilising funds raised on the money markets rather than the more traditional route of saver deposits. It was the failure of this system that allowed banks to package new mortgage backed securities that were then traded, but so complicated; few people understood them or the associated risks. It was the failure of this system that permitted banks to create a culture driven by greed, short-term profits and rewarded with massive bonuses. It was this system, which was set up to control, regulate and manage the City and the economy that ultimately failed on all fronts. The architect of this tripartite arrangement was Gordon Brown and he is ultimately responsible, instead, each party points the finger at another in the triangle. Not one party has had the humility or honesty to admit any form of responsibility.

Yet Gordon Brown’s incompetence is every where, for example; In spite of experts advising him of the risks, it was Gordon Brown that raided private sector pension funds. Perhaps in the belief that private sector pensions were the preserve of the rich, rather than millions of ordinary hard-working people. In doing so, he has raised around £175bn in tax revenues. But, at what cost? Roughly two thirds of (private sector) final salary pension schemes have been closed to new members, large company pension schemes have ended up with massive deficits. Pension schemes have collapsed and, of course, those within the private sector that have not been protected by employers pumping more money in will receive much smaller pensions. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has done nothing about the public sector final salary pension schemes, the majority of which are not funded through an annuity, but out of future tax revenues. The latest estimates put the public sector pension liabilities at a staggering £1,071bn, that is correct, BILLION. As a consequence on the government’s inaction, the ‘average’ pension enjoyed by someone in the public sector is nearly 15 times higher than that of the private sector. Another blinder from the iron chancellor that was supposed to be Gordon Brown.

Here are a few other things that Gordon Brown either presided over, or influenced as part of the government machine;

  1. Introduced more stealth taxes than any other chancellor in history, equivalent to an extra 10p in the Pound on the basic rate of tax (source: Grant Thornton).
  2. Solld the UK’s gold reserves at the bottom of the market ignoring expert advice not to.
  3. Introduced ‘green taxes’ in the full and certain knowledge that any revenues gained were not destined to be invested in green initiatives. Yet another successful stealth tax to add to the collection. If you are starting to feel a little duped, then read on, I haven’t finished with Mr Brown yet!
  4. Successfully achieved the goal of becoming prime minister without going through the inconvenience of being elected by the people. This in spite of the fact that New Labour gained their substantial commons majority with 57% of the voters supporting another party. So much for the benefits of our First Past The Post electoral system.
  5. Was party to the sell out of the UK’s sovereignty to an unaccountable foreign ‘parliament’, in spite of a manifesto promise to allow the public to decide through a referendum.
  6. Destroyed the union and in the process, ensured that his countrymen received more money per head than those in England and Wales.
  7. Missed virtually every financial growth target announced in each successive budget without so much as a murmur from the press.
  8. Successfully managed to dupe the press into believing that he was an iron chancellor driven by prudence, when in fact he was a spendthrift.
  9. As the architect and driver of the revised PFI initiative originally proposed by the conservatives, saddled the country with a bill of £170bn which must be paid by 2032. Without having to include the figure as part of the public sector balance sheet.
  10. Managed to keep the £780bn public pensions deficit off the books, even though this is equivalent to over £30,000 per household and must be paid out of future tax receipts. Estimates of this deficit have now been increased to over £1trillion.
  11. Managed, without any consideration of the irony, to lecture people on their level of borrowings, whilst building up nearly £500bn of debt on the governments own ‘credit card’. If other recent liabilities are taken into account, this figure would rise substantially over £1trillion.
  12. Introduced and supported a complicated tax credit programme that has managed to lose £2bn every year through fraud and errors.
  13. Left the taxpayer saddled with £1.7bn of Metronet’s debt having been the person that pushed through the Private Public Partnership initiative for the London Underground.
  14. Managed to convince the public that local authorities were responsible for the doubling of council tax. Meanwhile he was actually placing responsibility for all additional services firmly with the local councils.
  15. Managed a real blinder, by camouflaging the inflation rate by changing the measurement from RPI to CPI.
  16. Underwritten £17bn of debt for Network Rail, without having to include it on the public balance sheet.
  17. Survived the embarrassment of claiming in March 2006 that 31,000 government employees had been trimmed off the payroll, whilst the Office for National Statistics claimed one month later, that the headcount had actually increased by 62,000 a difference of 93,000!
  18. Managed to introduce such a complex set of rules and regulations, designed to extract maximum tax take that the annual Finance Act (summary of tax changes in the budget) has increased from 300 pages or so in the 1980’s to over 10,000.
  19. At a time when businesses are struggling and people are having to tighten their belts, presided over a government that boasts some 78 acres of empty space in office buildings and grace and favour homes.
  20. Managed to push another 3.5m people into the higher income tax bracket, using a favoured trick of ‘fiscal drag’, where the tax threshold is raised more slowly than earnings are rising, so that workers end up paying a higher proportion of their income in tax.
  21. Twice shifted the timing of the ‘economic cycle’ in order that the so called “golden rule” would not be missed, resulting in a brazen massaging of the figures.
  22. Ensured that there are now twice as many tax collectors as there are nurses, demonstrating firmly where the government’s priorities lie.
  23. Masterfully convinced people that they are “better off under Labour” even though each family now pays more than £5,000 in extra tax, compared to 1997.

Then let’s take a look at how he has ‘fixed’ things, telling us how at least he was “doing something” as opposed to the Conservatives, who are, according to the supreme leader Mr Brown, the “do nothing party“.

He invested £billions of our money into the Royal Bank of Scotland, who are now expected to report a loss of £28bn. What level of due diligence was exercised before our money was invested into a bank with such massive liabilities? Now, we have a similar story with HBOS, here, losses have been reported at £11bn, same thing, did the government complete any due diligence prior to investing our money? I am not so worried about Lloyds TSB, they must answer to their shareholders, government and Gordon Brown must answer to the taxpayers.

Yet still more £billions of OUR money has been invested into the banking system by Gordon Brown, with the specific aim of easing lending to consumers and business as well as freeing up inter-bank lending. But this has come to nothing. Not satisfied with spending this money, yet more £billions has been pledged or spent on a bank ‘insurance scheme’ and, as is the nature of insurance, we can never truly know the extent of that commitment, other than the fact that with Gordon Brown’s track record, we know it will exceed all expectations. Over £1trillion has been spent or committed, for nothing, we have not been able to see ANY tangible benefit, in terms of what Mr Brown TOLD us we could expect.

In other words, he told us that our money was going to be used to achieve a specific objective or goal and nothing has happened. This time however, Gordon Brown has outdone himself, because nowhere in history, has a single politician spent so much money for so little, or more accurately, no return. Yet he is still there, grinning like a Cheshire cat and snarling at anyone who would dare question his actions. Anyone with an ounce of commonsense, for example, would have known that a 2.5% reduction in VAT would have little or no effect, set against a backdrop of high street retailers discounting up to 50% off the ticket price. But this arrogant little man went ahead, and as a consequence, he has wasted another £12.5bn or our money.

In the last week, much has been said about the fact that many of our most senior bankers have no relevant, professional qualifications. But ask yourself this, what qualifications has Gordon Brown got, (or did he have) that would qualify him to determine our economic future? None, zilch. He would normally be considered to have been qualified by experience, but just look above and you will see what his ‘experience’ leads to. The appointment of an inexperienced politician to the position of Chancellor of what was the 5th largest economy in the world, is akin to asking an engineering apprentice to act as Finance Director of BP.

But we are in a democracy; surely we don’t have to put up with this?

How naive we are as a people, we have been told we are in a democracy and we believed them. What type of democracy allows the coronation of a new prime minister, without any reference to the electorate? What type of democracy allows a party that received just 43% of the vote to have such a massive parliamentary majority? What type of democracy provides the PM with so much power, that he can spend or commit £1trillion without even referring the matter to a commons vote? What type of democracy allows its prime minister to continue damaging the country, its economy and its prospects without any way for the people to put a stop to it? What type of democracy allows a government to renege on a manifesto promise, without any form of recourse from the electorate?

What type of democracy allows a government to force through intrusive and overbearing legislation designed to spy on its own citizens, monitor their travel arrangements, emails, telephone calls, vehicle movements, medical records and share that information with another 780 government and private agencies? What type of democracy allows its government to shatter long held rights to privacy and liberty virtually unchallenged, to the detriment of the people? What type of democracy provides its people with no opportunity to impeach its leader if that person is considered to be acting against the interests of the majority? IT IS NOT A DEMOCRACY, it is an authoritarian dictatorship that serves the government of the time and not the people. We all need to catch a wake up, our whole parliamentary system needs a radical overhaul and members of parliament need to be reminded that they are supposed to serve the people, not themselves. If ever there was a case for the people of this country to have the power to push an eject button, this is it.

We, the people of this country need a way of bringing down a government or removing any minister that fails to act in our best interests, lies, or bullshits, not at a time that suits them, but when it suits us. Better still, we need to be ruled by people like us, not the self-serving, inward looking, expense grabbing, ego driven, twats that are currently lording it over us all. This description is not, of course, limited to the Labour Party, there are many people within other parties that simply do not give a toss about the electorate, other than once every 5 years or so when they would rely on our votes.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (23)

Gordon Brown’s review on pensions for MP’s

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Gordon Brown’s review on pensions for MP’s

Amongst all the dramatic events of this week, Gordon Brown has decided to announced a review into the cost of the final salary pension schemes offered to MP’s. Now, here is a man of action, we all know that when Mr Brown wants to grab the headlines with some ‘good’ news, he either announces a review or an inquiry. In the case of the former and, arguably the latter, nothing happens. In other words, say something, do nothing….the unnofficial cry of Gordon Brown and his Labour party.

Over the past 10 years or so, any final salary schemes within the private sector have had to be curtailed or withdrawn. In fact, some pension schemes have even collapsed completely because of the increased costs associated with Mr Brown’s tax attack on private sector and personal pension schemes. This tax grab has contributed in excess of £100bn to Treasury coffers over the past 10 years and ensured that many, many people that have contributed to pensions for most of their life, now have to struggle or rely on state handouts or means tested benefits. A real man of the people our Mr Brown.

Meanwhile, MP’s continued to benefit from what has been described as one of the best pension schemes in the world. Even taking into account that  our MP’s have a gold-plated pension scheme, the total cost is marginal when compared with the actual cost to the taxpayer of funding the generous, final salary schemes offered to public sector workers. The additional cost last year, to the taxpayers of this country, for the pension scheme our members of parliament enjoy was £12m. Quite a lot of money when you consider that this top up is paid out of future tax revenues, rather than an annuity. However, the estimated cost of the public sector final salary scheme is, by contrast, staggering and rising fast! 

Pension schemes for local government officers and MPs are funded but, five million people, including civil servants, teachers, NHS staff and members of the Armed Forces, are enrolled in schemes for which no money has been set aside. In 2006, the Government estimated the cost of these unfunded liabilities was £650bn, it has since been estimated that our public sector pensions deficit is £1,071 billion. Now that IS a big number!

According to the Treasury’s own figures, the annual cost of paying public sector pension schemes is 1.5% of GDP and this is expected to rise to 2% over the next 50 years. Lets put that into perspective, the annual cost to the taxpayer of these unfunded public pension schemes is currently £22bn, or if you prefer, equivalent to a reduction in direct taxation of 4p in the pound, or to put it another way, £900 for every family in the UK. But, over the next 3 decades, it is estimated by the IEA that this will increase to £76bn a year, enough to complete more than two banking bailouts or 250 new hospitals every year.

So, Mr Brown, lets see some action, not reviews. Yes, by all means he should tackle the issue of MP’s final salary pension schemes, but he must also, finally grasp the nettle in relation to public sector final salary schemes. A failure to do so will result in either, a significant increase in taxation or, an inability to honour the existing scheme. Average salaries within the public sector are now higher than those within the private sector, similarly pension schemes are on average, some 15 times more valuable within the public sector. 

Ultimately the taxpayer is expected to fund this financial burden, in addition to an ever increasing headcount within the public sector and it does not take Einstein to work out that it is simply not sustainable, in a booming, let alone a contracting economy. It is high time that public sector pensions were brought in line with the private sector, in terms of the type of benefits and the way they are funded.  It is time to act decisively, no doubt Mr Brown will once again, shy away from anything so commendable. Say something, do nothing

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (5)

Forget bailout, what of public sector pensions?

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Forget bailout, what of public sector pensions?

When Gordon Brown became Chancellor of the Exchequer, one of his first tasks was to raid the pensions of the private sector, something that has provided the exchequer additional income of over £10bn every year since. This put pay to many private sector, final salary schemes. Meanwhile the public sector, which of course includes politicians, have had no corresponding adjustments to their own final salary scheme pensions. So much for the Gordon Brown mantra of a “fairer Britain”, as with so many things he says, they are full of promise and have little or no substance.

The latest figures suggest that public sector pensions are worth more than 15 times those of private sector workers. So whilst the private sector has had to grasp the nettle and accept that final salary schemes are no longer sustainable, Gordon Brown, whilst he was at the treasury and now has prime minister has failed to deal with the issue. So lets put that in perspective. According to Ros Altman, one of Tony Blair’s own advisers, the average public sector worker will be entitled to a pension of £17,091, compared to the average private sector pension of just £1,086. Is this a fair Britain?

The public sector is invariable the first group of workers to vent their spleen about earnings. However, according to the Office of National Statistics, in 2007, the average public sector worker earned just under £26,000 per year, whilst the average private sector worker had to settle for a tad under £23,000. Unlike private sector pensions, public sector pensions are paid out of future tax revenues, not an annuity. This means that the treasury does not have to ‘purchase’ an annuity to pay for the pensions, nor do they have to include the liability on the treasury balance sheet. Even though the cost of these pension contributions are estimated to be £1 trillion. That’s right, more that twice the cost of the bailout or nearly 5 years worth of tax receipts. This is a scandal of monstrous proportions and yet Gordon Brown continues to swan around as if he is a financial genius. I would not trust him to hold my loose change!

Someone in the private sector would have to buy an annuity of £427,275 in order that they could benefit from the average pension of £17,091 enjoyed by the public sector. The average private sector pension scheme has a ‘pot’ of just £24,000! So they would be lucky to receive a pension of £1100 per annum. Given 1 in 5 of all workers are employed by the state, I doubt that my observations will curry favour with everyone, but it is a scandal and one that we shall all have to pay for.

If you thought Gordon Brown was taking this matter seriously, you would be wrong, here is a excerpt of what a treasury spokesman is reported to have said: “High quality pension provision is a key part of the remuneration package of public servants, aimed at maintaining a high quality public sector workforce. These pensions are fully costed and fully affordable.”  

Gordon Brown may choose to ignore public sector liabilities of circa £1 trillion, but the taxpayers of this country cannot, nor can our children who will be expected to pay the bill for Brown’s largess. At a time when everyone must look closely at their liabilities and consider tightening their belts, the opposition parties need to push this scandal right to the top of the political agenda, given the costs are not sustainable in the short-term, let alone the long term. Given that we know MP’s final salary schemes are amongst the best in the world, we should, perhaps, not hold our breath for an investigation anytime soon.

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (2)

What deal has Labour done with the UK banks?

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What deal has Labour done with the UK banks?

This Labour government is not really known for getting a good deal for the taxpayer, so I am left wondering what sort of quid pro quo, is received by the UK taxpayer, in return for the monies that are being loaned or gifted to the banks. Let me explain.

The justification given by the government for the intervention of the Bank of England is that they need to get the credit market going, increase liquidity, encourage the banks to lend to one another etc. However, what guarantees have the Bank of England or the government sought from these banks? After all, no-one is claiming that it is now easier to get a loan, a bank overdraft, a mortgage and so on. Therefore, is it fair to assume that the banks are not using the money they have been loaned for the purpose it was provided, or is the government just lying to us? Or perhaps, no-one has though of including any pre-conditions for the loans, so that banks are just using this money to shore up their immediate cash flow issues?

The Bank of England has had to intervene by taking over the mortgage debt of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, much of which would be termed sub-prime, or ‘dodgy’ if you are English. If we are to believe all that we are told, then the banking sector is so intertwined, that somewhere, another bank, or more likely several banks have benefited from the effective underwriting of this so-called toxic debt. So, what do we, the taxpayer, having taken on all this risk get in return?

Perhaps I am just missing the point here, I am not a banker, nor an economist. However, I am a taxpayer and as such, my signature has been used to underwrite these debts and therefore, I believe I deserve a full account of precisely what has been taken on in my name, the risks, returns and the conditions, if any. The government and the Bank of England keep using terminology that is foreign to me, why… have they got something to hide? Surely if they are going to use our money to bail our both the banks and the city, we deserve an explanation in laymans language, not just a doomsday scenario designed, in my view, to frighten us all into submission and asking as few questions as possible.

I don’t trust this government, they have consistently lied to the public, manipulated figures and misled us whenever they could get away with it. Then there is the Bank of England, which is run by bankers and economists, the former (bankers), the government would have us believe are in part responsible for this mess and the latter (economists), should perhaps have seen this disaster coming. Whatever the situation, this government is spending billions of pounds our money and we don’t know what chance we have of getting it back. We don’t know if they have secured any form of agreement in return, such as a loosening of consumer and business borrowing facilities, nor do we really understand the government or BoE’s primary objective, so at least, we could measure whether they had been successful on our behalf or not. No doubt this is the whole point, if they don’t tell us what they are trying to achive, we won’t know if or when they fail!

In spite of all this intervention by so called experts, the stock market has plummeted by some 7% at the time of writing this post, so something isn’t working. Worst still, we are given to understand that the Bank of England has intervened in the stock market to slow the decline, so does this mean that we have also had massive paper losses. My message to the Government and the Bank of England is that it is time to come clean with the shareholders of UK Plc…right now!

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (0)

Government ignore plight of small, medium sized businesses

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Government ignore plight of small, medium sized businesses

The Labour government ignores the plight of the so called small and medium sized businesses at their peril. Forgotten amongst the many problems facing the UK economy are the 3.6m SME’s, many of which are struggling to make ends meet and the government could do more, but choose not to.

Many SME businesses are bound in a mountain of red tape to do with tax, VAT, employment and paternity rules, health & safety issues and the many other headaches passed onto them by the government departments of this Labour administration. The vast majority of the people that work in these government departments haven’t got a clue as to the value these business owners add to the UK economy (some £1100bn per annum) and for that matter, couldn’t care less. Ask any business that exports products to the European Union. Because of the problems associated with ‘carousel fraud’, something that was very much related to the mobile phone industry, the VAT office now passes the burden for VAT checking onto the business owner. Often the VAT office will instruct the business owner to charge another European company VAT, the latter objects, the VAT office stands firm and the order is lost for ever.

Add to that the raft of existing and new health & safety rules. If the company employs more that 5 people, they are literally swamped with rules and regulations. The business owner now has a choice, they can ignore them at their peril, or employ a consultant, a full-time health & safety officer or digest the rules and do it themselves. Instead of driving the business forward, the business owner is expected to spend valuable time and resource on what can often be described as, unnecessary health & safety rules. Don’t get me wrong, some of these rules are necessary, but they have now become so burdensome that they are suffocating many small and medium sized businesses.

If that was not enough, what of business rates? These often account for some 50-55% of the lease or rental costs of the office, factory or industrial unit. Ask any business owner what he gets for his money and he will not be able to tell you. They are even charged, often 3 times as much as the cost of a private contractor, for collecting their waste. If they suffer from anti-social behaviour, vandalism or the like, they cannot get a police officer to investigate, because they are too busy with their own paperwork, instead, if they are lucky, they might get a visit from a well-meaning, but utterly useless Community Safety Officer.

On top of all that, tax breaks for small and medium sized businesses are virtually non-existent, removed, for the most part, by this Labour government. Therefore, you have to ask these business owners why they bother, it is probably because they are so far in, they cannot extract themselves without losing everything!

Apart from the red tape burdens, small businesses are invariably at the mercy of larger businesses. Many, especially when things are tough, or their year end is looming and they want to maximise their cash reserves, pay their invoices late. Some SME’s will tell you how they have to wait for 6 or 9 months to get paid by companies, that can, but won’t pay until they absolutely have to. More businesses fail as a result of poor cashflow that for virtually any other reason. You can have a sound business, but if you don’t get paid in a timely manner you are in trouble.

So, maybe they could consider factoring, this is one way, if expensive, that SME’s can get the cash they need to survive. But this is now becoming more and more difficult as the banks increase the criteria, raise the interest rates and reduce the amount of money available. In addition, banks are increasingly asking for more and more security, which can include a fixed and floating charge or some other form of personal surety.

New Labour in general and Gordon Brown in particular has made much of how “our policies” have allowed small and medium businesses to thrive. This is quite simply a lie. Business owners have set up their businesses and developed them in spite of the governments high taxation, red tape and indifference, not because of any initiative introduced by this government. SME’s have been very much on their own, but I suspect that many will feel, more than ever, the abandonment that is the New Labour policy towards the SME sector. I predict, that unless there is dramatic, sustained and immediate action by this government in relation to the SME sector, that more will go to the wall than at any other time in our history and the responsibility can be left firmly and squarely with Gordon Brown when he was chancellor and New Labour.

The government may need reminding that there are estimated to be some 3.8m SME’s in the UK, of which over 99% employ less than 50 people. Some 3.6m actually employ less than 10 people and a further 167,000 less than 50 people. Yet, the SME sector accounts for nearly 99% of all UK businesses, some 12.6m employees and an estimated contribution £1100bn or eleven Northern Rock’s. Many of these same companies are suffering and if their failure rates continue to rise, this will have a direct affect on unemployment and tax revenues. In terms of the latter, the government would do well to remember that many small businesses and SME’s do not have the benefit of fancy accountants looking at ways to reduce their corporation tax.

If just 10% of these businesses fail due to the continued indifference demonstrated by this government, there will be an increase of 1.3m unemployed. Quite apart from the personal affect on each and every one of these individuals, the government, via the taxpayer will have to support these people until they can find alternative employment, which will provide a further burden on the remaining taxpayers, plus the government will no longer benefit from employees tax, employees NI, employers NI, VAT and corporation tax.

For every business owner that suffers a business failure, you can fairly certain, that a good proportion of them will not try again and that means that some of these employment opportunities will be lost forever. Gordon Brown always likes to take the credit when things go well, even if he had nothing to do with it, it is now time he put something back and helped these businesses before it is too late.

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (2)

A UK recession and economic competence

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A UK recession and economic competence

For the past eleven years we have heard nothing else but, how Gordon Brown was going to put an end to “boom and bust”, how he was an iron chancellor, and how New Labour were beyond reproach in terms of economic competence. How does this correlate with a UK recession that, by all accounts, only those outside government could see coming?

How could so many British people be so naive as to believe that a government that increased taxes and borrowing during a period of significant growth and wealth creation could sustain this? Why did we allow a government to dupe us in terms of its true financial position, with the off-balance sheet PFI initiatives that leave us owing some £170bn, which must be paid off between now and 2032? Government pension deficits of £790bn and so on? All of this on top of the “official” debt figure of a tad under £500bn.

Gordon Brown and his government have been caught out in the lie that has become the legacy of their time in office. They have left this country vulnerable, with high taxes, high debt, long term financial commitment and, above all, lacking leadership. New Labour has become synonymous with spin and its ability to consistently dupe the public and manipulate the press. Inevitably, we will all have to pay for their incompetence. Tony Blair was a prime architect and whilst he may be basking in the fruits of his former position of PM, giving lectures and writing books, he shares responsibility with Gordon Brown. Alistair Darling is just cannot fodder, he knows it, we know it, he is just the fall guy for Gordon Brown.

True leaders show their ability it times of crisis, not the good times and as this government moves from crisis to crisis, relying on a sticking plaster to fix things, it is just going to get worse. True leaders know when their time is up and those with integrity and pride, will step aside and let someone else in. However, there are two large problems here, firstly, a new leader of the Labour Party will not make any difference, given they are clearly a spent force, who have substituted the so called Tory sleaze, with a programme of lies and inept ministers. The second problem is where do we go from here?

David Cameron’s conservative party has still not told us what it is they stand for, what their policies are and what they are about. Yes, Cameron has come up with some quaint new soundbites, such as a ‘broken society’, but so far, it is just rhetoric. This is not backed up by new ideas, proposals, policies or answers. So we still have no idea what they would do if they were in government, so why would the electorate entertain such a party? We could simply be going from the frying pan, into the fire. As for the LibDems, well do we know who they are? Clegg says some sensible things, but this is a party that a year or so ago proposed higher taxes, how many governments have been voted in with a promise of higher taxes? Vince Cable is very knowledgeable, but the party sidelined him, because they felt he was too old, so what does that say about them?

The future does not look so bright! There is no obvious choice, unless Cameron can start to convince us that his party has original ideas and, above all, people that are capable of delivering on them. The main parties have 550 or so MP’s between them, but how many of us could name more than 10 or 20? What does that say about the way the political party’s are run. Even if we can name them, how many would we trust, if any, to lead us through this mess and do we know what they stand for?

As we enter this uncertain time, perhaps it is also a period for reflection, we need to consider whether our political system is truly representative. For example, how many ordinary people have a realistic opportunity to get elected as an MP, if they are not already aligned with one of the principal parties? The Labour and the Conservative party select their candidates based on many things, which often includes, but is not limited to, race, gender and loyalty. Why shouldn’t they advertise to get the best candidate? Yes this is simplistic, but the best ideas often are, surely the electorate is entitled to the best man or woman for the job, not those that are already part of the ‘club’ that is party politics right now?

Over the past 11 years, we have witnessed an obsession with government control, from the 4.2m CCTV cameras, through to the right to detain for up to 42 days without charge. We have been told that we must have ID cards to help protect us from the threat of terrorism, yet the government are trying to include so much biometric data that it is difficult to comprehend the true justification. It is claimed that the UK government and its agencies have more access to our private details than virtually any other country including Russia and China. This obsession with state control is worrying in isolation, but when this is coupled with a dishonest government, self-obsessed ministers, weak members of parliament and a virtually non-existent alternative party, we must start to worry.

There is no sense in kidding ourselves that we have choice or that we live in a democracy, if our choice of ‘elected’ representative is limited to the whim of party leaders. This country was quick to criticise China for primarily limiting their choice to existing members of National Peoples Congress. What is the difference, surely it is only scale?

We need change in this country, we need to review our whole political system and above all, we need to look at the way much of the news media sets the agenda. British Politics expands on this argument.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (12)

Gordon Brown you are seriously, seriously deluded

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Gordon Brown you are seriously, seriously deluded

In a recent statement, Gordon Brown said, “We are showing that,unlike previous governments that could not manage a way through these difficulties successfully… we are resilient in the way we are dealing with these problems.” What an arrogant, self-serving and belligerent remark from this man. He is passing judgment on previous government initiatives with the benefit of hindsight, whilst arrogantly assuming that his measures will succeed. Why, because he says so?

This is a prime example of a man that is deluded, one that believes he can do no wrong and one that is undoubtedly surrounded by ‘yes’ men constantly telling him how brilliant he is. Any decent leader will surround himself with people that will challenge him, test him and guide him. This ensures that the ‘leader’ keeps his feet firmly on the ground and does not start to believe his own spin, it is a dangerous cocooned world. Smart people recognise this; clearly some politicians and cabinet ministers do not. But it is the difference between leaders and truly great leaders. Take a look at Gordon Brown’s ‘inner circle’ can you see anyone that is likely to challenge him on policy without being crushed?

If this wasn’t enough, Gordon Brown has, once again said, “There are unique circumstances with the trebling of oil prices. That has not happened previously – and of course with the credit crunch”. In other words, it’s not my fault guv, I have done everything right; it is everyone else that is at fault. If your ministers and advisors don’t have the balls to tell you what you have done wrong, maybe it is left the public?

  • You have hiked our taxes through a series of stealth taxes, to the extent that you have nowhere else to go, you have little or no room for any further tax increases.
  • You have raised £billions in national insurance contributions and then recklessly spent this money on quick fixes rather than long term investments in the health service.
  • You have allowed government departments to squander £billions of taxpayers money on projects that have been curtailed, scrapped or changed.
  • You defied repeated warnings from your own officials in terms of the time bomb you would create by scrapping tax relief on dividends paid into pension schemes. As a consequence of your actions, you have devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of pensioners and what do we have to show for the estimated £100bn you have scored from their misery? As a result of your meddling, many final salary pension funds have been scrapped….and some companies have had to find £millions to top up the funds.
  • It is estimated that you cost this country close to £2bn when you decided to sell our gold reserves at the wrong time. On this occasion, you ignored the advice of the, Bank of England.  

Whilst the last conservative government may have introduced the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), you made it into a major instrument for the provision of public facilities and services, effectively forcing public bodies to use the PFI model. As a consequence, public bodies are committed to paying a total of £170 billion to contractors in more than 800 PFI schemes up to 2031-2032…not surprisingly; this figure is growing every year.

Of course, we know why you did it, because PFI debt is not usually treated as public borrowing for accounting purposes and therefore doesn’t contribute to the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (PSBR).  In other words, PFI debt is usually “off balance sheet”, even though the state is ultimately responsible for
repaying it. 

I agree you are resilient, there are not many people that could make so many mistakes, so consistently and still claim to be the leading architect of the success of this country. We have succeeded in spite of you, not because of you and one day the electorate and the newspaper editors will wake up to this fact. If you had been genuinely prudent, we would not have the level of public sector borrowing that we have, we would not be in a position where there in no money in the piggybank to allow us to weather the storm of this current downturn. And, we would not all feel so much pain as a direct consequence of your massive tax take from our current earnings, as well as the reduction in value of our pension funds affecting our retirement plans.

Let me remind you, that £400m was spent on ‘cost control’ for the Olympics, how can you honestly justify that level of expenditure with a straight face? Would a “prudent” chancellor allow expenditure of over £16 million on the creation and upkeep of VIP lounges in Heathrow and Gatwick despite the fact they are not government-owned?

You cannot abdicate responsibility by blaming Blair for the first 10 years either, because we know that, the Treasury, under your tenure, became the principal originator of government policy, rather than an evaluator of policy. Your personal obsession with micromanagement has lead to the introduction of thousands of targets aimed at directing policy; it also determined exactly each the departments should meet their targets. So when a department was or is failing, it is impossible to tell whether the cause is the policy itself or its implementation. This has made it virtually impossible for the Treasury to judge poor performance. Another tidbit for you, during your tenure, the Treasury was one of the largest spending departments, with a budget of £20bn. Is that prudence?

Let me remind you of some of the things you have achieved. Following your introduction of complicated tax credits, it is estimated that the taxpayer (no not the government, it is our loss, our money) loses £2bn every year through fraud and errors. In spite of your micromanagement, it is estimated that the planned NHS computer system will cost £6bn more than originally planned. 

I could go on, but it would take me weeks to list Gordon Brown’s “achievements”. Far from being a prudent chancellor, I am convinced that in years to come, we will look back at both his chancellorship and his period as prime minister and have a completely different take on this so-called iron chancellor. I am further convinced that we and our children will be spending the next 30 or 40 years paying for the mistakes of this government, the former chancellor, the former prime minister and the current prime minister. Gordon Brown should consider his words carefully, because they will surely come back and haunt him, no doubt at a
time when he is not surrounded by yes men telling him how brilliant he is.





Posted in General, Labour | Comments (1)

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