Archive for March, 2010

Chancellor debates. Winner and Losers?

March 29, 2010

Well, tonight saw all 3 potential future chancellors debating on Channel 4…

I must admit, I didn’t even know it was on, it must have passed me by, and from what I have heard so far, a lot of people had no idea it was coming…

Your humble preacher does not believe that a hung parliament is something that we are likely to see in the next election, and in the (in my opinion) unlikely scenario of a hung parliament, a general election will be called pretty soon after.

I do however know what happened in these debates, and it was obvious before they even started that this would happen.

Vince Cable, a man who is seen (and I would not argue against this) as somewhat of a moral pillar in a sordid and dirty Parliament. He comes up with a lot of ideas that a lot of people can agree with as well, which helps.

But that’s simply because, he can afford to.

Vince Cable can afford to sit on the sidelines and make as many ideas up as he wants, because he knows he will never be called upon to implement them. In the scenario where there is a coalition government I very much doubt that Mr Cable will be allowed to take the role of Chancellor which is the second (or one could even argue in this economic climate) the most important job in the country.

This doesn’t mean that he should not be fulfilling this role however, as it keeps both parties on their toes, and it is also possible that they can even steal some of his policies if they like them, cheeky, but still beneficial to the country…

Both of the parties with a real chance of forming government however could learn a lot from a straight talking man who is well respected for not using smoke and mirrors as one of his main political weapons…

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A Boozer Busting Budget

March 27, 2010

Alastair Darling in his budget released the usual tax drinkers line, raising prices a couple of percent above inflation on beer and most other alcohols.
Nothing new?

Look again, he has also announced that tax on cider will rise at 10% above inflation to “bring cider prices in line with strong beers”

It’s an issue when it comes to taxation, the minority are ruining it for the majority. The people who drink irresponsibly have led to this 10% tax rise.

David Cameron came out quickly after this and said that this tax is ridiculous and will hit west country cider presses massively.

For once, I agree with him.

One of the large cider brands has already launched an advertising campaign announcing that they will absorb the 10% tax rise… Which sounds good on the face of it, but then you realise this is going against exactly what the Chancellor was targetting.
In effect it is an extra 10% tax on all revenue of that producer, but nothing to the kids who are smashing parks up at night…

On the other hand, the more respectable, and I would go so far as to say prestigious cider makers in the west country might find themselves in serious financial problems as a result of this tax. They are already, because of economies of scale, higher priced than the big pissed for a pound cider producers.

Now I am not saying for one minute that you can compare the two, I would go so far as to say that cider from somewhere such as Henry Westons can not even be classed as the same type of drink as something like white lightning.

But that extra 10% could be enough to push someone to get a bottle of wine instead.

The point is, something does have to be done, but this is not the answer.
On the spot fines for drinking in public areas, although draconian, seem to be somewhat effective in some areas.

There could also be stronger punishments for 15 year olds drinking cider on the street, instead of the current “pour down the gutter” punishment, which I am sure leaves them suitably punished until they get their hands on another pound….

The cynic in me of course is screaming that its just a cheap ploy to gain revenue, like the ploy of a 50% tax bracket was a cheap ploy to gain politcal capital.

Either way, don’t use the excuse of promoting social harmony for taxing the everyman on one of the few pleaseures we can still afford in this life…

Cuts: Tradition and Transition.

March 27, 2010

Now we all know what the stereotype is when we look at Conservatives and Labour.

Labour are the working class representatives, and as a result they will protect the welfare state till their dying breath.

The Conservatives are evil milk snatchers who benefit the rich by cutting services to the poor, thus reducing the tax bill.

These stereotypes are near impossible to get rid off, even if you have 20 foot high billboards with your face on spread across the UK.

Cuts, or whatever you want to call them in newspeak are a real reality in the near future, whatever party we vote in, that is out of the question, what is being questioned is how soon and how much…

Now stay with me for a moment here because this is where tradition is going to play into the hands of Labour.

Labour founded the NHS, the Liberals founded a lot of the earlier parts of the welfare state such as a state pension but long before the majority of us were born.

The NHS is Labour’s invention, and they are a lot more trusted with it than the Conservatives. This coupled with their fighting for the working class” status is something they will enjoy at the polls.

However, I put it to you that BECAUSE of this Labour will be a lot more able and likely to make cuts or “efficiency savings” in the NHS.

I’d just like to point out here that I don’t want anyone coming and telling me what Brown or Darling has said because let’s be honest, we are far too intelligent to just believe what they say when it comes to budgets, all politicians for that matter. Every truth that can be twisted will be twisted to the edge of breaking point.

Nigel Lawson, former chancellor famously said “The NHS is the closest thing the people of Britain have to the NHS” and I couldn’t agree more. But in this sense, Labour are viewed as the Priests.

The point is, if cuts have to come in the NHS, Labour will be best placed to make them. Thatcher and Major did very little to fundamentally alter the NHS, not because they didn’t want to, but because they were scared.

In contrast Labour have privatised NHS logistics, and made alterations to fundamental parts of the NHS. Polyclinics are perhaps the biggest fundamental change the NHS has seen since its birth.

In contrast take the Conservatives, lets say they managed to cut 10% of the NHS budget, purely through efficiency, then put half of that saved 10% back in to increase productivity by 10%.

That is a 5% saving and a 10% increase in productivity.

Which part do you think would grab the headlines? The 5% poor person killing cut is what would grab the headline.

Labour are still in some places seen as working class heroes, and they have the ability to cut more from public services because of this, but the Tories have more will…