Sunday, 21 April 2013
This is all very complicated but let's not worry the fine details. The issue is very simple. The UK government has imposed (all by itself – no input from the EU) a new carbon floor price, which came into effect on 1st April 2013. Firms will be charged £16 per tonne of CO2 for fuels used for power generation this year. Europe's emissions trading system (ETS) is the largest in the world and can claim to be driving down CO2 emissions from power stations by 1.74% each year. The European Commission wanted to make adjustments to the ETS. This was expected only to raise the carbon price to the €8-10/tonne figure that existed last September. Note that even with this increase the price is MUCH LOWER than the UK and this puts British firms at a financial disadvantage. Nowadays this sort of thing has to go to the European Parliament. It should be a no brainer that UK MEPs would vote FOR the proposal thus helping UK firms to be more competitive. What happened? The no- brainers in UKIP and the Tories helped DEFEAT the proposal thus harming British industry, and, in the case of the Tories, going against the policies of their own Government. The ETS Carbon price promptly fell to €2. Well done UKIP & Tories – such patriotic action deserves obliteration at the polls.
Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has been leading the development of the Government's industrial strategy which is aimed at placing the whole of government behind support for British business giving it the confidence to invest, hire staff & grow. Speaking recently Vince said that there are worryingly high disparities between economic performance and employment prospects in different parts of the UK. Even after the major crisis and contraction in London's banking sector, the south-east maintains a more buoyant economy than most other parts of the country. He said: "Sustainable private sector growth is not going to occur spontaneously but will need support through infrastructure and training.I do not believe in managed decline for regions that are underperforming”. He said rebalancing was not just about switching to exports and manufacturing, but was geographical as well insisting that English regions need a strong voice to attract investment and employment, suggesting a parallel at some level with the devolutions driving growth in London, Scotland and Wales.The success of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and the LibDem Manufacturing initiative are real economics. Not the fantasy land inhabited by UKIP.
Conservatives are claiming credit in some of their local council literature for the rise in Tax thresholds which is putting some £600 into the pockets of the lowest earners. Labour has suddenly developed an enthusiasm for the mansion tax. Both are Liberal Democrat ideas or policies but we don't mind. We are used to it. The important thing is to get it right. What would be good is if the Conservative part of the coalition thought a bit harder before rushing off to do , usually, the wrong thing. Think of the so called 'bedroom tax' & the nonsense of how can you move when there is nowhere to move to? Note also that Communities Secretary, Conservative Eric Pickles, has had to modify his policy on home extensions. In far too many cases the implementation of the policy has not been thought through and it is duff implementation that is causing most of the grief
Sunday, 14 April 2013
“Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope”. So said Thatcher as she stood on the steps of No10 Downing St for the first time. If she really meant that as her political goal then she was either uttering a monumental lie or her reign was a monumental failure. That most particularly applies to the 'bring harmony' bit. The enormous disharmony that she created we can still see all around us this very day. To many millions she didn't bring much hope either.
Thursday, 11 April 2013
An Ipsos Mori analysis for the Financial Times of a years worth of opinion polling reveals that female support for the Conservatives in the C2 socio economic group [ skilled manual workers such as hairdressers, factory workers etc] has slumped by 12% to its lowest level for 16yrs. Even worse news for the Tories is that in all other groups, except the very top such as lawyers, doctors etc., their female support has also fallen between 7% & 4%. Can this be because it is largely women who confront the shake up in the benefits system against disproportionately large rises in the costs of essentials? An objective scrutiny of the welfare structure as it was in 2010 clearly indicates that something had to be done but the Conservative ministers responsible - especially Duncan-Smith & Osborne have completely bungled it. There are blameless claimants losing money they cannot afford whilst (for no better reason than vote grabbing) rich pensioners remain coddled & the wealthy get a tax cut they don't need.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Paddy Ashdown, in an interview about Margaret Thatcher, says she was a better destroyer than builder and wasn't that true. At the beginning of 1981 unemployment reached nearly 3m peaking at 3.2m a few years later. Manufacturing capacity fell by a fifth. At the same time the top rate of income tax was cut to 60% and then 40%. OK so a major shakeup was necessary. I was in the thick of the industrial mess at that time with incompetent management on one side & unions being obstructive for the sake of it on the other ( apart from the Unions a bit like now really – so it makes Ashdowns point about destruction but not building). Her great error, one might almost say crime, was to reduce taxes rather than invest in training for those thrown out of work. It was still, in those days, hard to find a decent domestic plumber, electrician etc & it wouldn't have taken much to retrain a shipyard plumber etc to do domestic work. But no it was the scrap heap. For that she should never be forgiven and to spend any taxpayer money on her funeral is a disgrace.
Friday, 5 April 2013
How low can George Osborne sink? Yesterday on the BBC he said: "Philpott is responsible for these absolutely horrendous crimes [the death of 6 children]and these are crimes that have shocked the nation; the courts are responsible for sentencing him. But I think there is a question for government and for society about the welfare state - and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state - subsidising lifestyles like that, and I think that debate needs to be had.". One man, Philpott, who was NOT living exclusively on benefits held up as an example of the alleged general evils of the benefit culture ! Osborne is a disgrace to politics. There is no doubt that the welfare budget needed attention and the policy of a single benefit rather than several has much merit. LibDems do not have a problem with that principle but the way it has been done is a complete shambles. Just take housing benefit. It is absurd to assume that people struggling financially to put food on the table will ring fence the rent money that will now be paid to them rather than to landlords. Reducing several payments down to two instead of one doesn't destroy the policy. It simply demonstrates that Iain Duncan Smith is possessed of a brain cell.