Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: Government

‘I think y’know’

The current Labour leadership contest has thrown up many interesting moments not least the man who only just made it to be nominated is, according to those ever reliable polls, leading the field. Those who nominated him weren’t expecting that, only doing so to widen the leadership debate. Now many in Labour are crying foul because Jeremy Corbyn is doing just that. Watching and listening to the Labour leadership debate is both refreshing and 600,000 people getting involved can’t be a bad thing, even if some are making mischief.

Whatever your flavour or colour of politics any government needs a strong opposition. Democracy needs opposition or it doesn’t work and some very bad things start to happen. Look at Syria as a very painful, worrying case in point. The point of opposition is to oppose and give credible, thought out alternatives. As those alternatives are debated it makes the government up its game and we get better governance and a choice, a real and actual choice. We may even get something to believe in too.

What the last election proved was the ‘centre ground’ is not what many want, as to have a centre you need to have two points to know where it actually is. We didn’t have those two real opposing points. As a result other parties flourished although they are now not fairly represented in our first past the post system. Can it be fair that 4 million voted for UKIP and they got one MP and 1.5 million voted for the SNP and they got 56 MPs?

Whoever gets the Labour leadership we all need them to be an effective opposition, to hold the government to account. We need Labour to come up with ideas and policies that inspire, to raise the debate and our interest in politics for all our sakes. But there is a bigger issue.

Our political class, both locally and nationally, seem to lack any real ideas and vision. There are some obvious examples of those who do but the majority don’t, hence the disinterest and our contempt in our leaders and elected representatives. The evidence? Simple. When you hear them speak you will hear two key ‘tells’; ‘I think’ and ‘y’know’, as in ‘i think the NHS needs reform’ or worse ‘y’know, I think the NHS is the best in the world’. If our politicians need to think then they can do it in their offices or one of their many homes. When they talk to us through interviews or through parliamentary debate I want them to know.

I want our politicians to have arrived at some certainty, a clear vision and conviction and not to be still thinking about whatever it is they are talking about. And, y’know, ‘y’know’ is just lazy and shows a lack of clarity too. I don’t know, I’m waiting for you to inform me so I can make my own mind up, so I can decide who or what is best to make the big stuff happen. That is why I have elected you, to do this for me so I can live my life knowing that you know, that you are doing the thinking about it and then when know you tell me. I want to know our elected representatives are certain in their purpose, having informed me at the election their thought out intentions.

Currently our elected representatives keep putting it all back on us, maybe we so we can’t hold them to account for it. That is not part of the deal in a liberal democracy. The rise of the consultation is the weak answer to a lack of certain vision. It’s crept in from weak management and leadership in business. It’s the ‘I don’t know despite being elected/paid the big bucks/being somehow put in charge, so I will put it back to you, and then when it goes wrong it’s your fault not mine’ mentality of our decade.

Leaders lead, they tell us their already thought out vision and then do it, with our democratic support. Leaders don’t expect us to know ‘y’know’ because if we did know then we wouldn’t need them.

In the next few months we can only hope that when the silly season is over, the summer holidays are done and the political pondering is complete we have an effective government and an effective, vibrant opposition. This might get us all involved in the process more as we may have leaders who thoughts lead to conclusions, policies and actions.

You never know, y’know.

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You are going to have pay more tax.

In the west, Bath and North East Somerset have revealed that they are looking to cut spending on early years provision by £2.3 million over the next two years. Bristol City Council is now facing further budget cuts of £90 million on top of what they have already have cut. Central Government will also have to cut more public services and welfare if the country is ever likely to pay back the debt. All rather bleak isn’t it?

Does it have to be like this? Could you pay more?

There are a number of painful realities we all need to face here. If you or the country borrow money then you have to pay it back. The only way to do that is by using the money you earn to do it. If you don’t earn enough you either prioritize your income so you pay what you’ve borrowed back or you have to earn more money to do it. The reality is hard and, for many, very difficult but there is no other way, other than to extend the length of time you pay the debt back. This will always cost you more money.

There are those who think public services are a right and public money grows on trees. There answer is to tax the wealthy more to pay for it. The trotting out of ‘tax the bankers bonuses more’ is a very popular solution offered to the public spending shortfall. That, like the idea of the Big Society, is utter tosh.

If you want an NHS that does what you want and when you want it you have to pay for it. If you want trains with seat you can sit on, at times you want to go then you have to pay for it. If you want local services, real and proper care for your elderly relatives or loved ones, decent schools or the rubbish collected on time then you have to pay for it. And there are only two ways. Either you pay more tax, buy it yourself or you give more to charity. We all have to pay more or give more. It’s worth remembering that less than 100 years ago charity provided health care, education, social mobility and social care before central government decided it could do it better.

HMRC have released some figures that don’t sit well with the silly cries of bankers paying more tax on their bonuses or with the premise of the big society filling in the gap. Out of almost 30 million people now working just 703,000 people will earn at least £100,000 or more this year through wages, bonuses, self-employed income, dividends, rents and interest. Of those, 320,000 will make at least £150,000 and 287,000 of these will pay the 45p top rate. This IS loads more than the 236,000 that paid the 50p tax rate in 2010-11.

This may surprise you too. Just 18,000 people will earn over £1m, which is up on the 13,000 in the previous two years and it was 10,000 in 2010.

But this is the killer number to the argument that rich need to pay more income tax than you. The 6,000 people on £2m or more will pay more in income tax (£13.2bn) than you and the 12.5m other taxpayers who earn under £20,000 a year. They are coughing up less with cumulative £11.5bn.

Simply, the top 1 per cent of UK earners have 13.7 per cent of all income but they pay a record 29.8 per cent of all income tax. In 2004-05, the top 1 per cent paid 21.4 per cent of all income tax. So who is taxed more and paying more? It is certainly not the 2 million more who will pay no tax at all in the next year compare to last year.

One last thing; these top earners are most likely to buy the services they need and are paying tax to the government for those who can’t. So should these top pay more tax? Your answer to that is most likely to be yes, but then you should pay more tax too if you want the things that are being cut. Or maybe we should hand it all over to charities to provide as it use to be.

One last thing. £35 billion in tax goes uncollected every year.

Painful, isn’t it.

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