Tag Archive | "labour government"

Budget 2009: Return of Old Labour

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Budget 2009: Return of Old Labour


Far be it for me to defend the so called “rich”, but I would like to make some pertinent points in relation to this governments’ decision to increase taxes on those earning over £100,000 and £150,000.

First if all, I am at a loss as to how anyone can describe someone that earns over £100,000 as ‘rich’, take a look at any of the newspapers that still have jobs advertised and you will see countless middle management jobs and sales positions which offer earnings of around £100k, including bonuses or commission. So, these are not all city bankers, many of them may be your next door neighbours, or perhaps your boss. These are people that have almost certainly earned their positions through merit, not spongers or low-lifes! Yet, when our members of parliament refer to them, it is as if they are the great unwashed. Yet many of these people are creating jobs for the rest of us, should they really be treated with such contempt and disdain?

When people stay on in further education, this is invariably because they want to maximise their chances of doing well in the workplace, because they want to aspire to be successful, in terms of position and earnings. Are those that are successful to be judged as one of the great unwashed if they succeed in earning over £100,000 per year? One of the things that I am always hearing is that those that earn more should pay more. I agree, but they already do, taxes are paid in cash terms, not percentages. Take an average person earning £25,000 per year, they will pay £5945 in tax and national insurance every year. They will also, most likely, be entitled to additional tax credits and other benefits which will further reduce their net contribution in taxes.

Now, lets take someone earning £113,000, this is the level at which the individual will lose all of his or her entitlement to a personal allowance. As a consequence, their net tax contribution will be £40,362 (rising to £43,304 from next year), which is between 6.8 and 7.3 times more tax that Mr and Mrs Average. Or to put is another way, in percentage terms, they will be paying twice as much as the average wage earner (38% instead of 17.7%). Yet, they will not be entitled to any tax credits or other benefits. It is also likely, that someone at this level will receive ‘private health insurance’. However, even though this reduces the burden on the state system, the individuals will actually be taxed on the cost of private health, as a ‘benefit in kind’. For anyone that things this is a perk, they need to be reminded that this ‘benefit’ is not provided because the employer is feeling benevolent, but because they need their employee back to work as quickly as possible.

It is all very well deriding those people that have achieved success in their careers, but it is also worth remembering that these same people provide the exchequor with the same amount of net tax as 7 people on average earnings. Yet, they do not get seven times more pension, nor do they get seen by their doctors seven times faster, instead they are actively and unfairly targeted for yet more money. They are not rich, they are successful, they are achievers and this country would be a much poorer place economically, commercially and intelectually if we did not have people like this. Take a look at what ‘brain drain’ has done to some African countries where their skilled people left in droves following a change of government, some have never recovered, do we really want that here?

I dislike envy, as much as I hate greed, both are destructive in their own way. In the USA, they have always heralded success, placed people that have achived on a pedestal, here, we invariably look on with contempt. The politics of envy assume that these people have got ‘rich’ at the expense of their employees, rather than accepting that they are more likely to have been directly or indirectly responsible for creating jobs and wealth. I remember one of my former bosses saying that he never had a problem paying out large commission cheques to sales people, because it meant they were generating business, profit and security for the company and its employees.

There is a very real risk that, by removing all personal allowances for those earning £113,000 or more and, increasing income tax to 50% for earnings in excess of £150,000, many successful people will look to take thier skills, trade, entrepreneurship and money elsewhere. There simply has to be a limit to what they will accept. If they do leave, how many jobs will be lost as a result of the skills shortage? White collar workers are no less skilled in their trade as, for example, an electrician, coach builder or car worker. Anyone who suggests otherwise is naive. If these successful people spend their money in other countries, how many jobs will be lost as a consequence of the comparitive downturn in sales?

I believe taxation must be fair and equitable. From a moral perspective, it is okay to say those that earn more, must pay more. But it is not acceptable to state that those that earn more must also be hit with a penal rate of tax as if they were not part of the human race. Remember, many are already contibuting in cash terms, more than 7 times as much as the average worker. This country is in a mess and we will all have to accept that public services will have to be cut and taxes will have to rise, but it is, in my opinion, fundamentally wrong to target one section of the workforce for special treatment in the form of penal tax rises. Especially when so many companies and genuinley rich people are still using loopholes to avoid paying income or corporation tax.

I know that my comments will annoy many who are struggling to pay their mortgages, it will also irritate some that believe people who have been successful in their careers are not deserving of higher salaries, but this country needs achievers and to keep them, we must reward them. With the exception of bankers and the public sector, I don’t know of any business that will pay more than an employee is worth, nor a company that would be prepared to keep someone on that was not delivering results. If they are paying their taxes, even if this is as much as seven times that contributed by the average worker and then spending the money in our country, why should so many people judge them so harshly. These people also have mortgages and commitments, the only difference is scale.

I do not earn over £100,000 per annum, but my sense of fairness is what motivated me to write this post, plus I suspected that those that do earn over £100k would be roundly condemned. I am unusually indifferent to those that disagree with me on this issue because I have seen first hand what happens when countries start to lose key skills in what has been dubbed a ‘brain drain’. The country, the economy and the people all suffer in equal measure.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (7)

George Osborne outlines spending priorities

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George Osborne outlines spending priorities


Not before time George Osborne has outlined what the spending priorities will be if the Conservatives win at the next election. Although in traditional Tory style, his comments lacked any detail, but there there was at least a clear statement of intent, one which I could subscribe to. He said that The Conservative party will prioritise spending cuts rather than tax rises to address the atrocious state of the public finances. George Osborne said “You don’t want to kill off the recovery with heavy tax rises that bring you back to square one.”

Osborne stated that health, schools, defence and international development would be protected from cuts in 2009/10, but beyond that, would only commit to real term increases in health and to match Labour’s commitment on overseas aid of 0.7% of GDP. These cuts are likely to amount to £5bn, not nearly enough, but it is a start. For me there are a number of positive aspect to this statement which I find encouraging.

A politician has finally understood that you cannot simply take the easy way out every time their is a funding gap and fleece the already hard-pressed taxpayer. The Conservatives have made a great play of all the stealth taxes we have had to endure over the past 11 years as well as the increased tax burden. To then add to it, whatever the economic circumstances, would be hypocritical, at least until they have exhausted all other options. There is a huge amount of waste and excess in the public sector and it needs to be brought under control. Personally I believe a saving of £5bn is small beer and this could be much higher, without necessarily impacting on front line services.

I am also encouraged that the Conservative’s are finally willing to open themselves up for Labour party attacks along the lines of “a vote for the Conservative Party will lead to public sector cuts”. Anyone with an ounce of commonsense will know that our current public sector investment is unsustainable, it would have been if there had been no economic downturn, so it sure as hell is now. Increasing taxes will mean there is less money in the economy and therefore it will take much longer to come out of this recession. The best fiscal stimulus in a natural one and that is by allowing people to keep more of the money they earn, not less.

Labour jibes that a vote for the Conservatives will lead to cuts in schools and health are designed to be emotive, but it is clear that the current spending is not sustainable in the short or medium term and, deep down, the electorate knows that. No matter what party is in government, real term cuts are inevitable.

The voters of this country are also shoppers and they know that when times are hard, they have to make their money stretch further, this means cuts in non-essentials, reducing debt and making every penny count. They know that if they are prepared to shop around, money can be saved without necessarily compromising quality, for example buying supermarkets own label products, frequenting discount stores, utlising the intenet to research prices etc. This is because most people do not have the luxury of boosting their income by simply helping themselves to someone else’s money, as is common with governments when they get their sums wrong. The taxpayer always has and I suspect always will be the easiest target for spendthrift governments such as New Labour.

I am also heartened that the Conservatives are prepared to take a position and then defend it. So far they have promised to fix our ‘broken society” and as we all know that is an intangible that they couldn’t be accurately measured on. But a commitment to cut wasteful and excessive public spending is tangible, we will be able to judge them on their deeds, not their words. In fact, the Conservative party, if true to their word, is at risk of becoming a party of conviction and in my view at least, that makes them more electable. I would like to see George Osborne and his team put more work into this commitment and identify some of the areas where they will make cuts….yes, I say cuts, because we will inevitably have to make cuts in real terms. They could make a start with the £20bn a year that the Labour party have committed to spend on new databases that achieve nothing other than infringe the civil liberties of the people of this country, then move on to complete a wholesale review of the unfunded public sector pension schemes which are crippling the public sector finances. For example, it was reported last week that 20p in every £ collected in Council Tax, goes directly towards paying local government pensions.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the vast majority of our taxes go to support or subsidise those less fortunate, therefore, £1 in tax does not mean £1 in benefit to the taxpayer, as all government’s past and present would us believe. And, to help those less fortunate than the majority (soon to become the minority), we need an army of civil servants, many of whom are now better paid than the private sector and have much better pension schemes.

My best guess is that for every £ paid in tax, the average taxpayer will receive no more than 20p in benefits, now that IS a number the Tax Payers Alliance should try and calculate. The bottom line is we, as taxpayers, must insist that we get value for money. If my estimate is right, then for every pound that is taken from us, we get only 20p of value, is there any justice in that. I think not, it is taking social responsibility too far and I suspect that if the true number was ever published, there would be a massive backlash from the taxpayer. 

This is only one solid policy statement offered by the Conservative party that I fully concur with, I hope that in the coming months, we will have more sensible, tangible and worthwhile policy commitments. You never know, they may actually become a party that is worthy of our vote, rather than one which wins the election as a consequence of the electorate voting against New Labour, rather than for the Conservatives.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (3)

Gutter Politics in the UK

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Gutter Politics in the UK


There has been much written about the Damian McBride debacle, but I have to admit, the only thing that surprises me is that people are themselves surprised. When Gordon Brown was Chancellor, it was well known that his henchmen would often brief against anyone that was not firmly in the Brown camp. In fact, I am sure some journalists made their reputation off the back of such gossip and rumour. To find that GB still has people that are prepared to go to any lengths to promote and protect their boss comes as no surprise. Furthermore, to have them planning an attack on the opposition in advance of an election is also par for the course, even if it is normally a little more subtle. The so called Westminster Village survives on gossip, innuendo, character assassinations and leaks! However, I guess the only difference this time, is that what happens in political circles has become public and, of course, for the most part, the standards of the general public are much, much higher than those who are elected to represent us.

Truth be told, there are very few ‘investigative journalists’ nowadays, instead they rely on briefings and leaks. Deals are done all the time, with very few exceptions, we read what the politicians want us to, not what the journalists uncover. One positive outcome of this latest fiasco is that ordinary people will start to realise that there is an alternative to the dead tree press. Yes, the blogosphere is in its infancy, but it is getting better all the time and it is much more difficult to silence or influence.

New Labour tell us that there must be “no reward for failure”, yet these hypocrites have rewarded failed politicians with plum jobs in Europe (and elsewhere) and on occasion, even rewarded these wayward, but loyal subjects with a peerage. This is because there is one rule for them and their minions, with another for the rest of us.

Take their generous allowances. The clue is in the name! They are not expenses, they are allowances, therefore MP’s of all parties see them as a right. As a consequence, they maximise their income by claiming for whatever they can, meanwhile, from a tax perspective, they are not subject to the same rules as the rest of us. Because, in the private sector, HMRC would treat the vast majority of these allowances as a benefit in kind and they would be taxed as such. What about pensions? The private sector has seen some 70% of final salary pension schemes shut down or closed to new members, meanwhile, our MP’s continue to benefit from what has been described as on of the best pension schemes in the world.

Power corrupts, that is a fact and it happens in politics as much as anywhere else. I do not mean that people necessarily take backhanders, but their morals seem to change. Power to many means that they can get away with things that other mere mortals cannot. It is this that ultimately corrupts. I am sure, for example, that there are many people that entered politics with the very best intentions, but look at them now. Not all, but most have their snouts in the trough, instead of questioning why such generous expense allowances are made available, they have simply claimed them. Instead of asking why MP’s should receive pensions so much better than people in the private sector, they have voted to keep the pension scheme unchanged. The longer they have been MP’s or, the higher up the food chain they go, the more arrogant, self-assured and unpleasant they get. One reason for this is the way people bow and scrape to gain favour, this makes our MP’s feel powerful, invincible even and self-obsessed. They start to believe their own publicity.

As if to confirm that MP’s know they are making mistakes and could eventually face civil or criminal charges because of their actions, there is a new Bill, due for its 2nd reading on the 24th April that seeks to offer a legal ‘get out of jail free’  card. A Conservative MP has introduced a bill designed to provide all public servants, including MP’s, with a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’. In other words if they can legitimately claim that they exercised reasonable discretion, this would be an acceptable defence. For example, if an MP was told, incorrectly or otherwise, by a civil servant, that it was okay to claim certain allowances, he would have a strong defence by claiming he had shown reasonable discretion by consulting an official. In return the civil servant, who would benefit from the same protection, can argue that he acted in good faith because he merely followed the established precedent. Similarly, if this country were taken to war, based on ‘questionable’ intelligence, provided the Ministers can demonstrate that they exercised reasonable discretion, they cannot be held legally accountable for their actions.

The Exercise of Reasonable Discretion Bill is a clear indication that there is an ever-increasing gulf between the electorate and the people elected to serve us. If this Bill is passed into law, no MP and no civil servant will ever be held accountable for their actions unless there is a demonstrable case of negligence. We have already seen in the past few weeks how power corrupts, we must never allow politicians to then benefit from an Act that would provide them with immunity from prosecution. This will encourage recklessness in the same way that Diplomatic Immunity encourages foreign diplomats to ignore our traffic laws.

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (2)

MP’s seek immunity from prosecution

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MP’s seek immunity from prosecution


If evidence was needed that members of parliament fear a public backlash, here it is, in the form of a new Bill, Exercise of Reasonable Discretion Bill 2008-09, which is due to get a second reading on the 24th April 2009. Below is a summary of what the Bill sets out to achieve;

The Bill aims to ensure that public authorities and public servants would not be subject to any criminal or civil penalty as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion in the performance of their functions. Its provisions would cover public authorities, public servants and contracts for public services. The term public authority is defined by the Bill and includes the NHS, the police, local and central and devolved Government and non-departmental public bodies. The formal intent of the Bill is to indemnify public servants, central government, local government and other public agencies from legal action if they take decisions in good faith, as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion, in the public interest.

In other words, MP’s amongst other public servants which include the Police, local officials and even the NHS, will be able to claim that in effect they acted in good faith, or in the words of the Bill, exercised ‘reasonable discretion’. Any lawyer will tell you that such a defence is subjective, therefore it offer enormous scope for any public servant (including, of course, MP’s) seeking to defend their actions.

So, hypothetically, any Minister taking this country to war on dubious grounds could claim that they had exercised ‘reasonable discretion’ by, for example, commissioning a security assessment of the threat to this country. The information they act on does not have to be factually correct, so long as the Ministers can claim that they acted in good faith. The public would have no right of criminal or civil recourse. No longer will public servants be accountable to the public…and this is a democracy?

Reasonable discretion is defined as being either, in the public interest or in the performance of their functions, in other words, it covers everything. The Bill seeks to include cover for all civil servants (and of course Ministers), for any mistakes they have made related to contracts for public services. Therefore, the civil servants responsible for ordering the new NHS database, which was originally budgeted to cost £2.3bn, has now spiralled to £12bn and is expected to result in a total bill of £32bn, will be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion.

What about the Department of Work and Pensions where officials wasted £300m on two cancelled IT projects In 5 years the DWP managed to spend £2.14bn on IT projects, both ongoing and cancelled, with over £500m going to consultants alone. Was reasonable discretion exercised? You decide, because it is unlikely the courts could do anything about it.

Would a Police officer be able to argue that he or she exercised reasonable discretion when they shoot an innocent bystander? Or could a Doctor claim that he or she exercised reasonable discretion when they removed the kidneys of a patient because they pick-up the wrong patients notes? Remember, there is no right of criminal OR civil recourse. Will this prevent people from suing the NHS and/or Doctors for criminal negligence?

This legislation is a danger to all of us, given it is a Rogues Charter that seeks to protect all public servants from accountability to the people they are supposed to serve or represent. It is, perhaps, the most draconian and self-serving legislation ever devised by our parliament. Worst of all, it prevents the public from taking any action (civil or criminal) against MP’s or Ministers, because in virtually every instance, other than a direct and proven lie, they will be able to claim they had exercised reasonable discretion. In fact, even in their lied, they could claim that they did so ‘in the public interest’.

I would urge all fellow bloggers with an interest in justice to use their blogs to publicise this outrageous attempt provide public servants, especially MP’s with a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If this legislation gets through, as it undoubtedly will, then no public servant can truly be held accountable to the public, because a ‘good faith’ defence will always be available!

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

Disreputable MP’s and their expenses

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Disreputable MP’s and their expenses


Much has been written about MP’s and their expenses over the past few weeks and little wonder given we expect our elected representatives to always act in the best interests of their constituents, the public at large and above all, with the utmost integrity. Yet, each time an MP has been exposed as maximising their expense allowances, we are informed that the claim has either been an error, or more often has been claimed in “accordance with the rules” and “fully declared”.

I have already stated in previous posts that I am not suggesting that any MP or Minister has acted in a corrupt manner and without evidence to the contrary, I stand by that statement. However, what is clear to me is that it is the the expense allowance programme is corrupt, given it facilitates and even encourages members of parliament to maximise their claims with little or no scrutiny as part of their ‘rewards package’. My prior statement notwithstanding, it is MP’s that are the sole arbiters on the expense system they benefit from, because only they can vote to introduce change. Therefore, it is a bit rich when they are so defensive because the public has the temerity and audacity to find these claims objectionable and excessive, even though we have never been consulted…instead we just expected to foot the bill. Bollocks!

I believe that the only reason Gordon Brown and his cronies are recommending a review of the expense allowances is because they want and expect the committee to suggest that salaries are increased to compensate for the loss of some or all of the current allowances. This is not and never will be acceptable to the public. It is right that MP’s should be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, that have been incurred wholly and exclusively in the course of their parliamentary duties, but that is it. Anything else would be an abuse. MP’s know what the salary and benefits are before they stand, if they don’t like the package, then they must step aside, there will be no shortage of people clamouring for their seats.

In the past, the basis or motivation for new laws was invariably where the majority of people found something objectionable, offensive or wrong. It is clear to me that the overwhelming majority of people in this country consider the MP expense allowances to be far too generous, self-serving and open to abuse. Therefore, all MP’s have a duty to the public to outlaw such acts, even if it is detrimental to their own interests. A failure to do this is a failure of their duty and obligation to the public. It does not need a committee to determine what is wrong with the expense allowance scheme, public opinion has already made that clear, MP’s must act decisively and NOW, for if they don’t the trust in our Parliamentary system of representation will be irreparably damaged. Trust has already been damaged.

The people of this country have had to put up with interfering Ministers and MP’s introducing a raft of new legislation designed exclusive and comprehensively to erode our liberty, right to privacy and long held freedoms, whilst they (the MP’s) are, for the most part exempted from the same laws. They have lost all sense of reality and completely removed themselves from society.

Over the past 11 years we have seen legislation brought in to protect foxes, whilst having to accept the broken Manifesto promise of a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. We have seen public sector final salary pension schemes protected and enhanced whilst those in the private sector were raided to the tune of £10bn per year. We have seen Ministers living in grace and favour homes, whilst renting out their taxpayer funded London home, meanwhile other hardworking people have had their homes repossessed. We have seen countless examples of MP’s going on free taxpayer junkets with their entourage, whilst many people will be lucky to afford a weekend in Blackpool. The hypocrisy of our current batch of MP’s knows no bounds, but it has got to stop. Our system of parliamentary democracy goes back hundreds of years, but more damage has been done to it by this current group of MP’s than at any time since it started. Members of Parliament must hang their heads in shame, hand back our money, can the expense allowance scheme and agree not to stand for elected office again. Then there may be a small chance that the damage to our democratic process and, the necessary trust in accountable members of parliament, may be rectified in our lifetimes. It is the least we would expect from decent individuals, but then again, few of our current batch of MP’s could be described as decent!

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (2)

Darling Expense Claim: They are all at it!

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Darling Expense Claim: They are all at it!


Just 24 hours after it emerged that Geoff Hoon was claiming a ‘second home allowance’ for his Derbyshire constituency home, whilst renting out his London pad and living in a taxpayer funded ‘grace and favour home’ it transpires that Alistair Darling is doing something similar. Yet another example of Ministers who are expected to set an example hiding behind the rules of a corrupt expense allowance programme that they get to craft and then vote on!

As I alluded to in my posting yesterday, it appears impossible to find any MP that does not have his or her snout in the trough, they all seem to be at it. At a time of higher taxes for mere mortals, MP’s seem to be protecting their own positions with unjustifiable and very generous tax free expense allowances, that bear no relation to ‘out of pocket’ expenses.

MP’s expense allowances bear absolutely no relation to those in the private sector. For example, most people working in London will travel, at their own expense, to and from work, often leaving in the very early hours and getting home late. I for example, used to leave at 5.00am in the morning and get home at between 8.00 and 9.00pm….everyday for 9 years! My petrol was paid, but I then had to declare this as a benefit in kind. Most people in the private sector will receive an overnight allowance if they are staying in London, a relocation allowance, or a small one-off grant to cover the rental of a small flat etc. Not so for MP’s, they get annual allowances for virtually everything.

How ironic that the very people that bear a good deal of the responsibility for the economic mess we are in should seek to make the taxpayers pay for their mistakes (increased taxes, stealth taxes, bailots etc), whilst feathering their own nests with unjustifiable expense allowance benefits. Why do we all sit here and take it,  whilst these self-serving, pompous hypocrites are sneering at us in that contemptuous way that serving MP’s have got off to an art? Meanwhile, Gordon Brown says he has far more important things to deal with than MP’s expenses, well he has a point, but, if his ministers are milking a corrupt expense allowance programme, how are the public to have, or maintain, any trust in their honesty, integrity and judgement?

MP’s must not be allowed to hide behind the fact that they operated within the rules or that their claims had been “openly declared“. One of their own MP’s referred to the fact there is a “court of public opinion” and indeed there is. Members of Parliament have quite rightly declared open warfare on those that seek to minimise their personal and business tax obligations through complicated offshore tax schemes, many of whom are operating “within the rules”, but failing to contribute in a fair and equitable manner. Yet MP’s are doing exactly the same thing, hiding behind the rules that they set up and voted on, yet expecting everyone else to do their part. It is hypocrisy of the highest order, yet we have not witnessed one apology (other than for mistakes), nor have we seen immediate action to curtail this abuse and worst still, no resignations or signs of embarrassment.

This appalling abuse has got to stop right now, the public are very, very angry and there will be a backlash as soon as that public opinion has been mobilised into action. Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon must act, by ordering MP’s and Ministers to repay these unjustifiable allowances, whether or not they were within the rules. Meanwhile MP’s must start to demonstrate that they are ‘in one’ with the people of this country and not the self-serving hypocrites that their action suggest. Little wonder that the electorate is so disengaged from politics and the politicians.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (4)

Geoff Hoon: Another snout in the trough

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Geoff Hoon: Another snout in the trough


Has anyone noticed how politicians are becoming more and more cocky when their expense claims are made public? The latest Labour Minister to get caught with his trousers down, metaphorically speaking, is Geoff Hoon. But he doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed.

He has reportedly been claiming a second home allowance for his Derbyshire home, whilst renting out his London property and living in a taxpayer funded ‘grace and favour’ property. Hoon, uses the same excuse as his other cabinet colleagues, stating that it is allowed to do this according to the rules governing parliamentary expenses. He then pours scorn on his detractors by claiming he doesn’t believe that he has profited out of the arrangement. Does he really take us all for being so stupid that we would believe such a ludicrous statement?

It is not the politicians that are corrupt, because, as so many have lectured us, it is all within the rules governing expenses. But I defy any of them to state that the system itself is not corrupt and who votes on MP’s salaries, benefits and pensions? Yes, exactly, you don’t have to be corrupt to fleece the public, so long as the system is corrupt and the rules obeyed. When David Cameron says “we are all implicated and we must all find a solution“, you just know they are all at it. Little wonder that the public believe our Members of Parliament are self-serving, inward looking chancers who seek to maximise their personal finances at the expense of (no pun intended) the taxpayer and in their usual contemptuous and arrogant manner.

This is further evidence, if any more was needed, that MP’s are completely removed from reality. We have Jacqui Smith claiming for two washing machines, whilst everyone else has to make do with one and now, Geoff Hoon benefiting from two taxpayer funded properties, whilst many people are losing their homes as a consequence of this governments poor handling of the economy. If they (Labour Ministers) are too inept to see that this is wrong, then why the hell are they still in Government? No wonder this country is in such a mess with the majority of MP’s more interested in their own purse than the public purse. I am very, very angry and so should everyone else be. It is high time that the public made clear that they cannot and will not tolerate such contempt from the very people that are supposed to be serving and representing us. This Government has introduced more laws than any other administration, restricting our freedoms and liberties and criminalising what had previously be acceptable, whilst at the same time, exempting themselves from the same standards and laws.

You don’t need the ‘Committee on Standards in Public Life’ to determine that this current expense system for MP’s is a rogues charter and corrupt. By referring this issue to the committee, Gordon Brown has merely delayed the outcome. Moreover, it is a virtual certainty, that he and his fellow ministers want the committee to look at the entire rewards system, doubtless so they can propose a phasing out of the current expense system to be replaced by higher salaries. NO WAY! MP’s cannot reward themselves with higher salaries based on the fact that they will be losing money because they are no longer in receipt of benefits received by way of a corrupt system. If MP’s are to be provided with ANY increase, it must be based on results, not rhetoric and empty promises, that way we, the public, can be absolutely certain that they have no chance of getting the extra money, because not one of them has ever delivered what they said they would. Smith, Hoon and McNulty must be required to repay every single penny of their second home allowance back immediately if the public are to retain any confidence in its MP’s. Further, if anyone else has claimed a second home allowance, regardless of party, in similar circumstances, they must also be ordered to reimburse the taxpayer. In addition, MP’s must give up the right to determine their own salaries, pensions and benefits, they have proven that they are not fit to do so, this responsibility must be passed to a committee of elected members of the public.

Posted in Conservatives, Farcical Regulations, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (6)

ONSET a profiling tool that discriminates based on probability

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ONSET a profiling tool that discriminates based on probability


What a pity that there has been so little publicity and therefore outrage at this Governments introduction of a new child profiling tool called ONSET, which will profile our children to determine whether they are likely to become a young offender. This Government has spent an inordinate amount of time, effort and legislative time to ensure that people are not discriminated against based on their gender, sexuality, race or religion and yet, they seek to justify a profiling system that will identify potential child offenders based on their background.

What, you may ask, will they do with this information when they have it? Will they ‘tag’ potential offenders, monitor their movements, track their mobile phone calls, internet habits, email etc? Will they blacklist these ‘potential offenders’ from working in the public sector, or certain jobs, or will they issue a presumptuous ASBO? Does anyone truly believe that State authorities will not use this information for some discriminatory purpose? When did our right to be innocent until proven guilty disappear, perhaps it was with the introduction of the new detention without trial laws? I don’t know, but there is something seriously wrong with society and people in general if they are prepared to allow the State so much power, that they can do whatever they want. Our reluctance to do or say anything is a betrayal of future generations, because one thing is absolutely certain, no government will ever give up these new powers willingly.

What have our local members of parliament been doing when legislation of this type is introduced, perhaps there is a clue in the fact that unless it is Prime Ministers Questions, parliament is virtually empty. Little wonder that contempt for MP’s has turned into outright hatred as they spend more and more time looking at how they can screw their expenses to maximise their earnings, rather than doing what they are paid for. As for the opposition parties, what have they been doing whilst all this has been going on? Their job is to hold the government to account, they too have failed the people of this country.

Keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table and earning a living are logical and understandable priorities, but to ignore other massive issues such as our fundamental right to freedom, liberty and a right to live our lives without an overbearing state is simply parlous. If we cannot enjoy our freedom and liberty, what is the point in it all? Like it or not, the state is pimping off the people, demanding ever more money. The bottom line is, that the State Pimp lives off the backs of honest hardworking citizens, but the State Pimp also knows, that at some stage, the people will rise and ask why Government needs to take over 50% of our earned income in direct and indirect taxation?

To minimise state risk, they must exert more and more control over its citizens and the introduction of ONSET, DNA Databases, call and email monitoring, registration of travel information and so on is giving them precisely that. For those that think this is scaremongering, perhaps they should ask themselves why it is now, that Jacqui Smith has ordered 10,000 Tasers for all front line police officers?

ONSETis the thin end of the wedge. Though I am not advocating the LibDems as a party worthy of our vote, they are introducing the Freedom Act which is designed to roll back some 20 years of increasing state interference in our everyday lives, by repealing legislation. We should all be writing to our respective MP’s and insisting that they support this proposal.

Update: For more information http://www.jrrt.org.uk/uploads/database-state.pdf

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (9)

Government to spend over £100bn on spy databases

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Government to spend over £100bn on spy databases


In another example of this government paying lip service to the rights and freedoms of the individual, The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, suggests that some 25% of government databases are actually illegal, either under Human Right Legislation or the Data Protection Act. As you would expect from a government that has slowly eroded our liberty and privacy, there is no apology or commitment to put things right, instead we are expected to accept a bland statement as follows: “It takes its responsibilities seriously and will consider any concerns carefully, adapting existing safeguards where necessary.” Take the rebuke the government received in December from the European Courts, in relation to the DNA database, have they done anything about it? No! In fact, the government doesn’t even know how many databases they have!

This year the government will spend £16bn on databases and they are committed to spend a further £105bn over the next 5 years. Has no-one reminded them that there is a deep recession going on? This government has indicated that it will have to raise taxes to balance the books, this includes increasing national insurance by 0.5%, raising income tax to 45% for those earning over £150k and an increase in VAT to 18.5%. This is in addition to the double whammy on fuel duties as a consequence of the fuel escalator and the shafting we were given when this government adjusted the fuel duty to take eliminate the “benefit” of the reduction in VAT to 15%. They will now gain that money back when they increase VAT back to 17.5%, because the duties will not be adjusted.

We are expected to pay additional taxes to this pathetic administration at a time when we must all trim back our costs whilst the government are continuing to spend £billions on unnecessary databases which only service to destroy individual civil liberties and right to privacy. It is the state gone mad. Take one of ‘their’ databases, Onset, this is a profiling tool which examines a child’s behaviour and social background to identify potential child offenders. What? They are now going to use information from ContactPoint and then profile it to work out who tomorrow’s criminal are likely to be. How long do you think it will be before they are using all of the data gathered from the various databases to work out how adults might behave? One thing they do not need a database for is to profile an MP’s likelihood to maximise their expenses, quoting their adherence to the rules, rather than the spirit of the arrangement. It doesn’t bear close scrutiny, yet their couldn’t give a toss what we think, so long as they have claimed as much as they can, without breaking the rules.

But, don’t think that the Conservative Party will do anything to redress these massive state powers that have been ceded to ministers through the introduction of ever more draconian legislation, the Conservatives have said virtually nothing. Cameron hasn’t got the backbone to deal with this issue, no he prefers to talk about “social cohesion” and tell us that we must all accept higher taxes, even though he doesn’t know how much money he could save by curbing public sector excess and waste. Gordon Brown maybe deluded and an idiot, but Cameron is also demonstrating that he is a bit of a prat, because he can’t see how angry the people of this country are, not just with the government, but the opposition who have sat idly by and allowed it to happen.

The reality is the majority of the people in this country are so complacent, they haven’t got a clue that this massive land grab of state power will affect each and everyone of us in the future, irrespective of whether we have done anything wrong. This is so clearly not about fighting crime and terrorism and anyone that believes otherwise is at best, naive and more likely, plain stupid.  No government will ever hand these powers back, so unless we start to fight back now, we will have to accept that each and EVERY aspect of our lives will be recorded and monitored. That is not a free democracy, it is a police state. Me, well quite frankly, I have had enough!

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (6)

Asset Protection Scheme IS a Blank Cheque

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Asset Protection Scheme IS a Blank Cheque


Whatever Gordon Brown may have said about the Asset Protection Scheme not being a blank cheque, he is either misguided or failing to be honest with the electorate, you decide. Whilst I was aware that  a proportion of the £325bn (RBS) of “toxic assets” insured by the UK taxpayer would be outside the UK, I had NOT expected it to be the “majority”. Furthermore, I had not considered the fact that we, the UK taxpayers, would also be liable for exchange rate risks.

Gordon Brown claimed that the banking bailout was not a “blank cheque”, that is utter rubbish, in my view the definition of a blank cheque is one where you don’t know what the final cost will be and there is no cap on your exposure. Could anyone disagree with that analogy? Yet here we are, insuring toxic assets, where our exposure is unknown, the vast majority of the “assets” are overseas and we must accept 90% of any losses as well as covering exchange rate issues at a time when Sterling is dropping like a stone against ALL major currencies.

Granted, when or if we have to stump up cash to cover these losses, no-one can accurately predict the exchange rates, but it would be a very brave man, with the state of our economy, that would envisage that Sterling will be stronger than it is now. Lets face it, this country has massive borrowings, lower tax income and it is expected to be the last of the G7 to come out of recession. That is hardly going to provide any confidence in Sterling, add to that, the fact that we are also printing money and the writing is on the wall for a weak Pound for some time to come.

Unlike the United States where the banking bailout had to be passed through both Houses of US Congress, in this country, Gordon Brown was able to commit money without such scrutiny. That is an incredible amount of power and it ought to have been used with care, but in my opinion, our Government has been reckless. Not only have they failed to complete a proper due diligence before investing our money into the banks, but they have now negotiated an appalling deal to insure toxic assets, much of which are overseas, at a rate of 90% of the loss plus cover for the exchange rate fluctuations. If this is the best our Government could do, then it is a very sad day for politics in general and this Government in particular. The opposition parties are not much better, because they have, through their relative silence, been complicit in the whole thing.

Fair enough, there must be no reward for failure, but conversely there must also be a price to pay for recklessness, a failure of duty and incompetence. We need to start with the bankers and then deal with the politicians, ministers and regulators that have failed in their duty to the public. We can regulate as much as we want, but unless those responsible are brought to book, lessons will not have been learnt and a clear message will go out that the only ‘price‘ that has to be paid is public humiliation. Tell that to our kids and their children who will have to pay the price for this wholesale failure.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (4)

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