Tag Archive | "uk taxes"

David Cameron needs to up his game

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David Cameron needs to up his game

It is clear that David Cameron need to up his game. In an interview with Jeff Randall, he was unable to explain a £72 billion spending commitment contained in last year’s pre-Budget report. For a man who seeks to become the CEO of UK Plc, this is an appalling situation. £72 billion accounts for more than 10% of the budget and this implies either a lack of understanding by Cameron or an inability or even an unwillingness to get involved in the detail. To put this £72 billion into perspective, it is 20 times the losses reported by RBS, the bank that is 84% owned by the UK taxpayer.

For those that believe that Cameron need not have a grasp on this detail, it is worth noting this £72 billion of taxpayers money was listed simply as “other”. I suspect that most, if not all us would have investigated or queried such a massive sum of money described as “other”…which is the equivalent of miscellaneous!

I have to say that I was embarrassed for Cameron and the people of this country that the ‘heir apparent’, did not seem to have a grasp of the financial for this country. Little wonder that the people of this country are starting to have doubts about whether the Conservative Party has the depth and the skills to take this country forward. I virtually guarantee, that is Cameron had been the CEO of a large company and was unable to answer such a fundamental question, that he would have been quickly ousted.

Granted, Gordon Brown has completely screwed this country with his so called fiscal and monetary policies, but what hope do we have if Cameron cannot demonstrate a clear understanding of this country’s finances. A good leader, CEO of Prime Minister, would have a clear and detail knowledge of the finances of the organisation that he heads.

If Cameron wants the people of this country to entrust him with our futures, then he must demonstrate that he has the capacity, ability, the knowledge and the skills to take us forward. He cannot, as he has done so many times in the past, simply rely on the failures of the existing Government. We all know that New Labour have failed us…what we want to know is that he and his team have the answers. If Cameron cannot grasp the fundamentals of finance, then he does not deserve to lead this country.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, World | Comments (5)

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 needs to Get a Grip on MP’s Expenses

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Gordon Brown needs to Get a Grip on MP’s Expenses

Hazel Blears has suggested that Labour MP’s should “get a grip” in relation to gossip about those seeking to take on the top job when Gordon Brown steps down. Like that is going to happy any time soon!

However, in my view it is Gordon Brown that must get a grip, of MP’s expenses. At a time when everyone is tightening their belts to ride the storm that for the most part has been created by this government, its policies and Gordon Brown’s mis-management, many MP’s are filling their pockets with tax free expenses. These expenses are funded by the hard pressed taxpayers of this country. I am not suggesting that MP’s are not following the letter of the rules, but they are quite clearly not following the spirit and that in my view this is an abuse. To make matters worse, people right at the centre of government are also abusing a set of rules that were introduced to assist MP’s in their out of pocket expenses, not enrich their lifestyles.

Take Jacqui Smith for example. She claims that the decision to call her sisters home her main residence is within the current interpretation of the rules and that may even be the case. But this woman is the Home Secretary, surely someone that sits at the top of the food chain in terms of law and order should act strictly within the rules, not simply in the spirit of them? She, with her fellow cabinet ministers, must set good examples, not simply sit with their noses in the trough. Members of Parliament are in the unique and privileged position of bring able to claim expenses quite freely that those in the private sector could only dream of.

It is estimated that Ms Smith has been able to claim as much as £116,000 tax free as a result of this interpretation of the rules. If an ordinary member of the public were to be asked how they would determine someone’s principle place of residence, they are likely to state that it would be where the rest of their family reside, where the kids go to school, where all the household accounts are held, where your banks and credit card statements go to etc. So why is it, that MP’s are given so much latitude? Simply this, that instead of MP’s expenses being a method of reimbursing out of pocket expenses, it has become a ‘perk’ of the job and that is completely and utterly unacceptable. The Jacqui Smith debacle follows, of course, directly on the heels of the uproar over Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper’s interpretation of the rules that allowed them to elect which property was their primary residence (subsequently upheld by the watchdog). The bottom line is MP’s cannot and should not be trusted to vote on and determine their own allowances or expenses.

MP’s expenses must be further simplified, instead of a second home allowance, they should be provided with a ‘fixed’ overnight allowance. That is to say, if they elect to stay in a hotel then the maximum allowance is, for example, £120 with a receipt, if they stay ‘with a friend’ etc., then this would be reduced to £50 per night, for which no receipt would be required. All other second-home allowances must cease, they are an unnecessary expense. In terms of travel expenses, MP’s should follow similar rules to most private companies, flights under 4 hours, they must travel economy class, using the cheapest possible airline. Another very generous allowance is vehicle mileage, instead of MP’s maximising the benefits of this perk, the reimbursement should be limited to what the cost of a standard fare train ticket would cost for the same journey. In other words, if it costs £100 for a return ticket from Nottingham to London and the mileage allowance for using a car pays £260, the MP can only claim £100.

Unless or until members of parliament start to live and operate to the same standards that everyone else does, the public will continue to view  them with mistrust and scepticism. That is not in the interest of our democracy, nor is it in the longer term interests of our MP’s. Gordon Brown needs to stop protecting his cabinet colleagues and instead, start to ensure that they operate to the same rules and standard as ordinary members of the public. Because, in my view at least, there is little difference between failed bankers of publicly owned banks paying themselves bonuses out of public coffers and MP’s who have failed to protect the interests of the electorate claiming massive expense allowances, especially.  In all of these cases, the final bill is paid for by hard-pressed taxpayers. Gordon Brown needs to understand, that at a time, for example, when he is going to fail to meet his reduction in child poverty targets, his MP’s are filling their own pockets with the same money. How does he expect the general public to view such duplicity?

Posted in Farcical Regulations, General, Labour | Comments (0)

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 PMQ Depression comments

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Gordon Brown’s PMQ Depression comments

At prime minister’s question time, Gordon Brown told MPs: “We should agree as a world on a monetary and fiscal stimulus that will take the world out of r…, depression.” David Cameron did not immediately pick up on the use of this word, but when challenged later by George Osborne, the PM’s spokesperson said that it was a slip of the tongue.

Perhaps so, but it must have been on his mind, otherwise he would not have used such emotive terminology. Particularly given he had just finished lecturing Cameron on talking the economy down. It is however, precisely this sort of ‘slip’ that must give the people of this country cause for concern over Brown’s capacity and ability to see us through this downturn coming, as it does, hot on the heels of his ‘saving the world’ comment. When Gordon Brown makes errors like this, I cannot help but be reminded of Vince Cable’s comments referring to Brown as “Mr Bean”. Gordon Brown seems to go from one crisis to another in the spectre of a battering ram, rather than a well practiced, experienced politician. In my opinion, even his outbursts at PMQ’s are reminiscent of a spoilt child having a temper tantrum.

Little wonder then, that Gordon Brown has had problems, by his own admission, in getting Obama and the Indian Prime Minister to take his calls. Could this be because they are sick and tired of him lecturing them on economic fixes, when Gordon Brown and Labour Party policies have actually lead to the UK being in the worst position of any developed country to recover from this recession? From an outside observers perspective, I see Gordon Brown as a man of conviction, however, this appears to be offset by a man incapable of humilty, one that is unwilling to answer direct questions and a man who looks as if he will explode if anyone challenges him, so long as there are no members of the public or cameras present. Little wonder then that he appears to have surrounded himself with weak, self-obsessed people. Classic signs of a schoolyard bully.

In my view, Gordon Brown has few, if any redeeming features. I have never considered him to be a good chancellor, even when most of the newspapers, desperate for a scoop, kept pandering to him and what were the New Labour spin doctors. I also thought he would make an appalling prime minister, but in that respect, he has outdone himself, because I cannot find any adjective that could accurately describe his term…other than, perhaps, Mr Bean without the comedy. Time to go Gordon, do us all a favour!

In the meantime, David Cameron should prepare for office. By that I do not mean he must send all his friends details of his new address, I mean he needs to get some quality, experienced, heavyweight people behind him, ‘real’ people, not toffs or Oxbridge cast-off’s. Otherwise he will never shrug off the label ‘lightweight’ nor will he ever convince the people of this country that he knows what he is talking about. As I have said before, I believe that New Labour will lose the election, it will not be Cameron winning it, therefore, once in office Cameron must ensure that his key advisers and the people around him are ‘real’ people, because otherwise a man who has not experienced a recession, belt-tightening or poverty will find that whilst he may hold the office, he cannot claim to lead the people.

Which means that Cameron will just end up talking at us and continuing to use new phraseology that only he and his Conservative cronies fully understand.  Cameron has a real prospect of becoming PM, but I so hope he has the ability to understand that people will be voting New Labour out, his chance will come as a consequence of Labour’s failure, not his engaging personality, depth, sincerity or policies. It doesn’t really matter how he gets in, so long as Cameron listens, surrounds himself with people that will engage and challenge him, rather than blindly follow him. It is a strong leader, not a weak one, that is confident enough to surround himself with strong people and that is the BEST way to get rid of the lightweight tag.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (6)

Did the government complete due diligence on RBS?

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Did the government complete due diligence on RBS?

Gordon Brown has taken a great liking to decribing the Conservative party as the “do nothing party” and he may well have a point, because until recently, they (the Conservatives) have preferred to paint an austerity picture rather than coming up with something tangible or credible. But what of the Labour government? Rather than doing ‘something’, their motto could be described as ‘do anything’, so long as they appear to be doing something.

As part of the government banking bailout in October last year, the taxpayer ended up with 58% of the Royal Bank of Scotland. However, whether this was a bailout, rescue or a necessary evil, the fact remains that the government, through its advisors, were obliged to act diligently and with care. Particularly given it is our money, not theirs. But did they?

There are reports that Gordon Brown is furious that Treasury officials have only just discovered that ABN Amro, the Dutch bank taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2006, will write-off a £2.5bn loan to LyondellBassell which is reported to be teetering on the brink of bankcuptcy with £18bn of debts. Given the government was taking a controlling interest in RBS, it was right and would have been expected that whatever the circumstances, there would have been a process of ‘due diligence’ to ensure that there were no surprises in store. Furthermore, the taxpayer would have been right to have expected the government and or their advisors to have secured warranties against any undisclosed liabilities that the bank had. Was this done, if not, why not? Anywhere else this would be standard practice.

If these reports prove to be accurate, then at best, this government has demonstrated that they acted in haste and at worst, that they have been negligent resulting in a further cost to the taxpayer of £2.5bn. Furthermore, it could be argued, that if they missed a debt of this magnitude, how many other, ‘smaller’ questionable debts have been missed? In my view, this government has already demonstrated a flair for acting recklessly with taxpayers money and a culture of blaming someone or something else. However, from my perspective, there can be no excuse, when spending so much of the British taxpayers money, for not acting responsibly and demonstrating best practice whatever the circumstances. The bottom line is, had this transaction been competed properly there should be no surprises unless there was a failure to disclose and if the latter was the case, then the government should be able to claim against warranties.

This banking bailout involved huge sums of money and the public is entitled to know that the government, ministers, civil servants and advisors all acted appropriately and with due care. There needs to be an independent public enquiry into what measures the government employed to protect the public purse when this government pledged taypayers money to the banks. This should be wide-ranging and at the very least, include details on what level of due diligence was employed, whether warranties were sought and received and what other commercial conditions were placed on the banks. Given, unlike many other countries, this government did not need the approval of parliament to invest these vast sums, evidence must be provided that the taxpayers interests were protected at all times. If it should subsequently be proven that individual government ministers, civil servants or advisors have acted negligently, then they must be prosecuted.

Gordon Brown likes to say that this governments’ intervention is measured and appropriate. To me it looks as if this government has little or no idea of what it is doing, opting to do anything, rather than something. More akin to a gambler having his last throw of the dice, rather than a government in control or one which knows where we are going. I literally shudder when I consider the damage that has been done to the British economy by this excuse for a government and it juts gets worst, when reports of undiscovered liabilities, on a majority owned state asset are discovered 3 months after the deal has been concluded.

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (8)

How to condition taxpayers into Billion pound mania

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How to condition taxpayers into Billion pound mania

Is it just me or are we are all becoming a little blasé about money, or to be more accurate, the number of noughts that follow the £ sign? Let me explain. Ever since Gordon Brown announced a massive £500bn plus bailout of the banking sector, commentators and politicians have been talking about £billions in the same way as they used to talk about £millions. In other words, everyone seems a little punch drunk. In the sales arena, the constant mentioning of large amounts of money was known as conditioning, if you keep talking about £65k BMW’s, then when the salesman mentions ‘just’ £15k for a new Vauxhall, it sounds like a bargain. However, in my little world, a £million is still a lot of money, especially when you consider how long it takes us to hand that amount of money to successive governments.

At a time when everyone is having to tighten their belt, this government has announced that they will increase spending from £620bn to £650bn, the conservatives tell us that they will “only” increase it by £25bn. Forgive me, but this sounds like an awful lot of money! In my personal life and indeed my business life, I have always understood and accepted that there are excesses, in other words, there have always been things that I want, rather than need. Therefore, when times are hard, I am obliged to deal with my excesses, to reduce my outgoings and I suspect, that this will be going on in the majority of homes and business up and down the land. This is a painful but necessary evil when times are hard. Not so for the government. No, instead, they tell us how they are going to spend more money, not how they are going to provide better value. The conservative are no better, because they say that they will just spend less (£5bn), but their proposals still amounts to an increase of £25bn!

By spending our money more wisely, buying what we need, rather than what we would like and curbing our wasteful habits, I suspect that most of us could, conservatively, reduce our outgoings by around 10%, possible considerably more. I didn’t say it would be easy, nor did I say all of us, so please accept that I am referring to most, not all of us. If this is a reasoned argument, why is it that the government cannot reduce their own waste, surely they are not going to argue that they are lean and mean or that all of our money is spent both wisely and without excess? Not a cat in hells chance. Surely, it would be better to reduce government waste and excess to channel the savings into more relevant or deserving causes, rather than just borrowing more money. The government is effectively condoning living on the never, never. Failing to practice what they preach. What angers me most, is that the conservative party, petrified of being accused of being the party of cuts, has failed to talk convincingly about value for money, getting the most of each taxpayer pound collected or borrowed.

With an election likely to be just around the corner, now is the time for the other parties to get tough. I am not talking about an austerity speech, nor a doom and gloom scenario, as has become the conservative party mantle. No, I am referring to a party, any party, that offers realistic hope, leadership and direction. One that refers to government money as taxpayers money, borrowings as future liabilities and above all, the use of taxpayers money in terms of value, not numbers to be bandied about. The people of this country do not need to see doom and gloom whenever they turn on the TV or read a newspaper, the majority of us know that times are tough and that they will be for the foreseeable future. What we need to witness, are politicians that appear to know what they are talking about (a very rare bread) and political parties that truly demonstrate that they know how to run a country and a good start would be how to spend taxpayers money wisely in order that we, the taxpayers, receive maximum bang for our buck.

Politicians and government must stop ‘conditioning’ the British people by constantly bombarding us with numbers most of us simply can’t envisage or picture. Instead, they must do what most normal people managing household budgets do when times get tough. Ensure that we are getting value for money. It is, after all, possible to spend more money on a holiday if someone gives up smoking, or to buy a better car if we shop at Aldi’s instead of Sainsbury’s, buy tea instead of coffee, drink tap water instead of bottled or even to survive the recession if we cut our cloth to suit our circumstances. It is a question of priorities. Government, whoever they are, have a responsibility, in fact a duty, to ensure that they spend or invest taxpayers money wisely. They must not be allowed to pour more money into a bucket which is already leaking taxpayers money.

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

SuperBrown saves the World

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SuperBrown saves the World

A slip of the tongue for Gordon Brown at today’s Prime Ministers’ Question time, when he inadvertently said that “we not only saved the world”. Or was it? Yes, yes, I accept that he probably didn’t mean to say what he did, but I truly believe he thinks he is something of a financial guru and that is very dangerous. This is a man, who is in a position to further damage this country and yet so potentially deluded, that he believes he has all of the answers and somehow other world leaders are watching and then following his example. If they do, then the people of their countries have my sympathy.

The bottom line is whilst the president of the United States had to do to the Senate and Congress to get permission to fund a banking bailout, our prime minister was able to commit this country without refernce to parliament. The Prime Minister of the UK has immense powers and as we all know, power in the wrong hands can be disastrous, especially one that is deluded enough to believe he has all the answers. This is a prime minister that doesn’t listen, one that repeatedly fails to accept personal responsibility and one that is willing put this country further into debt so long as it doesn’t have to be repaid during his tenure in office.

What is truly worrying, is according to the latest polls, when it comes to the economy, Gordon Brown is streets ahead of David Cameron retaining an enormous amount of public confidence. Now granted, Cameron does not help himself by consistently painting an austerity picture, but really, how can anyone have any confidence in Gordon Brown? The mess that we are in happened on his watch, it was he that promised no return to boom and bust, yet we are entering one of the worst recessions of our lifetime. Moreover, everyone, other than Gordon Brown, accepts that we are in one of the worst possible positions to ride out the storm. Truth be told, when we do come out the other side, whether we like it or not, this country will be a shadow of its former self.

Our manufacturing business has been in decline for decades, our balance of trade has been propped by the financial services and banking sectors and as we have all witnessed, the latter has collapsed in spectacular fashion. It will never be what it was. Therefore, unless somone comes up with a brilliant new concept, we will not be able to rely on our decimated manufacturing sector, nor will we be able to look to the financial and banking sectors to plug the gap. Add to this, the governments commitment to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions together with the increasing tax burden on business and it is self-evident that businesses small, medium and large will struggle to prosper or perhaps even survive in this country. On top of all this, this country has a massive debt mountain that needs to be repaid through taxation, further burdened by a huge ongoing liability in terms of public sector final salary pension schemes, rising healthcare costs, education, PFI’s, government pensions and millions of people in receipt of tax credits, disability benefits, Job Seekers Allowances, unemployment benefit or other forms of income support.

In my view, far from saving the world, Gordon Brown has single handedly done more damage to this country than any previous minister in history. Still, he fails to grasp the extent of the problem or the active part he has played in this whole sorry state of affairs. For his legacy is only that our children shall have to pay for his mistakes, those of his government and yes, the excesses of many of the people of this country.

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

Gordon Brown, tax cuts for Labour Party supporters

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Gordon Brown, tax cuts for Labour Party supporters

Gordon Brown has been thrusting himself about the world stage as he tries, unsuccessfully in my opinion, to appear like a sort of financial guru. I honestly believe that many world leaders are laughing at him behind his back. Only someone as naive and self-obsessed as Gordon could run around having virtually single-handedly destroyed the UK economy and think he is King Economy. The man is a fool, but then most objective British citizens already know that. Anyway, let me get to my point.

As we all know, the Labour government spin machine always leaks its own announcements early so that they can guage ‘public opinion’, normally expressed by what the newspapers say (rather than the public), before making any final tweaks to their policy announcements. However, if the leaks are to be believed it looks, once again, that Gordon Brown is going to continue with his social engineering project, otherwise known as Robin Hood from Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

It would appear that Gordon Brown does not believe that everyone is suffering as a consequence of his handling of the economy for the past 11 years and the subsequent recession. Oh, no, Gordon Brown from his taxpayer funded home in Downing Street, believes that it is only those on “low incomes” that are in need of tax breaks. What world is he living in? He has spent 11 years long years targeting so called middle income earners with his tax increases, using this section of the community to fund his extravagant, cost-loaded experiment to re-distribute wealth. Now having squeezed the middle income earners until they are bordering on relative poverty, he has now abandoned them, by saying that any tax breaks will be targeted at “low income earners”.

During New Labour’s reign, top earners have remained relatively neutral in terms of total tax take, low income earners have benefited dramatically through allowances, tax breaks and various forms of income support and middle income earners have been seriously and relentlessly shafted. Now, he has got away with it so far, because the golden goose did not really feel all the affects of his shafting, as a consequence of a booming economy and the relative wealth created by higher house prices. That of course is no longer the case. As the economy starts to contract, the golden goose is starting to feel the pinch and because they were the primary target for revenue raising, they are feeling it more than any other section of the community. In spite of this, Gordon brown in his cosseted environment, turns his back on the very people that have funded his social engineering experiements.

Now I know that Gordon Brown needs to guarantee his core vote, many of whom will come from the lower earners and rightly so, because lets face it, they have been the only winners over the past 11 years. But he needs to understand that it was the votes of the middle income earners that actually brought New Labour to power and that irony cannot be lost on this section of the community. Nonetheless, it is all a bit academic, because there is no way that Labour will win the next election, even if Gordon Brown went around at Christmas and gave every Labour voter a £1000, oh sorry, that is the plan isn’t it, hope I haven’t spoiled anyone’s surprise!

Now enough of my sarcasm. Gordon Brown does need to provide a fiscal stimulus and I believe that everyone is agreed on that, even David Cameron, it won’t prevent the recession, but it may create enough of an impetus to save a few jobs and keep some businesses going if correctly targeted. However, it would appear that Gordon Brown intends to offer tax breaks in the form of increased allowances for low earners only. No widespread stimulus, just a further, last ditch attempt at social engineering, except this time, he can’t take anymore money from middle income earners, instead, he has to borrow it. Worst still, one of the reasons that Gordon Brown prefers to offer increased ‘benefits’ is he can always exaggerate the numbers, but this is not the time for one of his infamous smoke and mirror exercises. The economy will only get a boost if the money is real and tangible.

Gordon Brown has repeated many times that this is a unique set of events that requires a unique set of solutions and I couldn’t agree more. But he is just promising more of the same, take from one section of the community and pass to another, except this time, he wants to store the cost, so that middle income earners can pay it later. The man is a fanatic, he quite clearly has an ingrained almost psychopathic hatred of middle income earners.

What is needed is a simple and properly funded fiscal stimulus, which benefits everyone, not one section of the community. Everyone is suffering from the downturn in terms of the increases in fuel and utility bills, council tax, caps on wages, reduced pension benefits, insurance costs, travel, shopping bills, job losses, the list is endless. They all need to be able to see the benefit of a fiscal stimulus and the best way to do this is a reduction in the basic rate of tax. Everyone knows that Gordon Brown always exaggerates the affects of any government ‘giveaways’ whilst moving swiftly over the small print that invariably takes back any benfits, with interest, so the reality is, most people have learned not to trust a word he says. Therefore, he more than anyone, needs to ensure that any stimulus is kept simple and results in people being able to keep more of their own money. This is no time for treasury tricks.

He also need to offer targeted assistance to small business, they employ 12.5m people and many, as a consequence, will not have huge cash reserves, nor can they go to the bank or shareholders. He ignores this area of business at his peril, small and medium businesses generate nearly 50% of UK Plc’s GDP, not an area to be ignored.  David Cameron’s suggestions are weak and will offer very little assistance to small business, I have already outlined what I think needs to be done for small business in a previous post.

The bottom line is many of the problems we are facing today are because Gordon Brown allowed, (inspite of warnings about the risks), this country to continue a relentless boom on the back of easy credit and rising house prices. He could and should have done something about it, but he chose not to. Our economy was booming and the relative tax take was increasing anyway, still he opted to introduce many, many stealth taxes. Often, but not necessarily, disguised as green taxes, but invariably targeted at middle income earners. This was not enough for the man Brown, on top of all that, he increased public borrowing during this period, spending like a man possessed, not saving anything for a rainy day. He was reckless in his handling of the economy and he allowed the public to become reckless, by not introducing measures to cool,things down, because it would have been unpopular and inevitably, would have required him to reign in his social engineering project.

As a consequence of this mans actions, not only has his reckless behaviour virtually bankrupted this country, it also means that Gordon Brown owes a massive personal debt to the people of this country. He can start to pay that debt by stop trying to be clever and spinning the numbers. He can help redeem himself in part by offering an apology to the people he has shafted in is quest to be the hero of the low income earners, by introducing a universal 5% reduction in direct income tax. This must be funded through capital project cuts and a good start would be all of these unpopular information technology projects that are invariably doomed to failure, always have substantial cost overruns and in most cases are not wanted by anyone and in particular the public. He must also tighten his belt on other forms of government spending, just like everyone else has to do in difficult times. Government has become a very lucrative place to do business, because many of those charged with negotiating terms are no match for the very professional, highly paid, highly skilled sales people on the other side of the desk. This has to stop!

New Labour’s social engineering project was a failure in terms of value, although I do accept that low income earners are substantially better off than they were when New Labour came to power. However, were it not for a booming economy, it could have been safely argued that Gordon Brown actually reduced the gap between low and middle income earners so much that they the differences are no longer discernable. Because as he boosted income for low earners, he took this money of middle income earners, pushing one section up and the other down. This will become self-evident as the New Labour Boom turns to Bust. Thanks Gordon!

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (0)

Will taxpayers lose out to the banks again?

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Will taxpayers lose out to the banks again?

I read a post on the British Politics blog which referred to the statement by an unamed bank official, on Channel 4 News, that “banks were not charities”. Now I agree with the original posting, that it is a bit rich that the same people who came with their begging bowls for a bailout, should now, having received what they wanted, make such a statement. On top of that, they threaten not to pass on any further interest rate cuts, even though they must know that the economy needs this type of monetary stimulus.

This had me thinking, under current rules, the banks are set for another win at the taxpayers expense. At the moment, the banks are making massive write-offs, this means that the government and therefore the taxpayer, will not receive any corporation taxes from the banks. Less tax receipts from the banks, means, ultimately, more will be needed from you and I. Now here is the rub, banks can quite legally carry over losses from one year to another, now given the size of their losses, they could end up not paying any form of corporation tax for several years.

So, not only will they have received taxpayers money to stay afloat, they will contribute nothing to the economy for several years to come. This may be perfectly legal, but it is completely unacceptable. I believe that the government should act now to prevent the banks and any other third party that has received taxpayer funding from being able to carry over past losses, to offset against future profits. Think about it, when we are all having to pay for the excesses of this government in higher taxes, the bankers will be coining it with large bonuses, brought about, in no small part, from the fact that they will not have to pay corporation tax.

It is unlikely that Gordon Brown & Co will be in government when this happens, but at the very least, he should start the ball rolling and David Cameron needs to come out of his shell and insist that something is done. The banks effectively held us to ransom, when they embarked on high risk expansionism, requiring a massive injection of taxpayers funds as well as guarantees, they now intend to hold us to ransom over passing on any future interest rate falls, they must not be allowed to win again. For a government that simply revels in state control, perhaps they should consider getting some over the banks?

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

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