13 February 2008

Cameron Shows True Colours On Tax, Boris Shows True Colours On The Environment.

Rightwingers everywhere have been pressing the Tory leadership to abandon completely their somewhat modest and vague commitment to 'share the proceeds of growth' between tax cuts and public spending.

Already this commitment could...
mean public spending cuts when they would hurt the most - during a recession. But even this modest spending commitment is too much for the Tory right.

David Cameron, George Osbourne and Boris Johnson all come from privileged backgrounds and know nothing about really earning a living and what it is like to have no money. Despite what they currently claim, they have always been hostile to public spending, the environment, gay rights and redistribution. Hence their talk of how 'charity can provide for the poorest', that 'only losers take the bus', 'gay people should be denied adoption rights', and 'money will naturally trickle down to the poorest'.

All these theories have been disproved - mainly before the 20th century. Charity will only ever raise a fraction of what is needed for public services - the poor law idea of the undeserving poor and workhouses were counterproductive, the Tory decimation of the provincial bus services - three buses in a minute then none for an hour, the police state of Thatcherism clamping down on minorities with section 28, abolishing of local government tax raising powers etc, and finally the explosion of inequality still felt today by Thatcher and Reagan 'credit boom' economics.

Which side are you on? The descendents of your ancesters rulers who have opposed every advance for minorities and the poor and used the press to bamboozle you about their priorities, or the party that brought you the weekend, the NHS and the minimum wage. It's your choice.

In London in May, the choice has never been clearer. Despite all the rumourmongering and scandalised innuendo thrown at Ken - he has always been squeaky clean. The best they can do is accuse some of his employees. Ken's LDA, funds small organisations and businesses - less than 1% have failed, that is actually a very low rate of failure when it comes to small organisations. All of these allegations of corruption & covert funding (Trevor Phillips article etc) have been thoroughly investigated by the London Assembly and found to be without foundation.

With Boris Johnson - his corruption and dishonesty is clear - he has been sacked many times, including by the Tories (for lying). His opposition to the congestion charge, the 4x4 levy and opposition to funding for race relations, buses and cyclists are disgraceful. Londoners will not be fooled by Andrew Gilligan and the Evening Standard or by Boris now pretending he likes the free PT travel and congestion charge.


  1. Neil, were you calling for public spending cuts in the good times!?!

  2. No, because I think taxes should go up to around 50% of GDP (they are around 42% at moment).

  3. But Neil, what do you want to spend it on? The government is wasting at least £50 billion a year on quangoes and other assorted non-productive, non value-adding crap, and you know that.

    Sure, there are 300,000 more nurses, teachers (allegedly) but on top of that there are at least a million and a half more jobs in state sector and para-statals since 1997, and at least a third of those jobs have gone to foreign-born workers. It's all nuts!

    For example, the average cost of a state pupil is well over £8,000 - more than the cost of sending your kids to the better value private schools, you could improve education at a stroke by giving everybody a voucher for anything up to £8,000 without requiring a tax rise etc etc. Or you could do vouchers of £5,000 and cut taxes a bit, whatever.

  4. Neil, I'm happy for you to pay more tax but don't expect me to fund any increase.

    Enough of my taxes are already wasted!

    The poor would be better served by a reduction in ther weekly benefits and forced into work. It works for me!

  5. Mark, Snafu, look around you, there is plenty to spend it on. Admittedly we are wasting billions on defence, inefficient bureaucracy, the benefit trap, complicated tax collection and prohibition etc., but employing 500,000 extra teachers, doctors and nurses and paying them better wages is not waste. The bulk of extra spending has gone on front line staff, buildings, equipment, drugs etc.

    We still spend less than France and Germany on health, education and public transport for example. I think we need major efficiency drives in the public sector (but I have no faith the Tories are any better at this than Labour), and I still think spending 50% of GDP would be reasonable to spend - especially if we introduce a citizen's income. I believe the market has proved the best way to provide services in most areas, as long as it is properly regulated and its dysfunctionality compensated for. This is why we need a CI to compensate for the silly wages people get at the top and bottom of the income spectrum that common sense tells you cannot be based on merit. It is obvious the market can degenerate quickly when it is based on those with power controlling the market - limiting competition and exploiting monopoly situations.

  6. "I believe the market has proved the best way to provide services in most areas, as long as it is properly regulated and its dysfunctionality compensated for." - Neil, there's hope for you yet!

    So what's wrong with extending the market into healthcare and education!?! There is no reason on earth why the Government should be the monopoly supplier of both even if it continues to fund both through generous tax-funded payments! Does the state abuse it's power of provision!?!

  7. Where does that 500,000 come from?

    This here says 131,000 increase in doctors, nurses, coppers and teachers between 1997 and 2003, it can't have been much more since then.

    So even my figure of 300,000 was bollocks.

  8. Neil,

    if only you understood that it's the poor that suffer the most from the Government's massive taxes. If you can afford to pay more tax, bully for you. Shame your rhetoric is so opposite to the truth. Under Labour the gap between rich and poor has grown exponentially, and all you want to do is take more money from the poorest, and rather than face up to the disaster of this Government, you throw around a few straw men about gay rights and minorities. The only minority Labour cares about are the millionaires that fund their party.

  9. Mark, Since 1997 the NHS workforce has increased by 224,000 and 84% are directly involved in patient care.

    So there is 200,000 front line staff alone, over 100,000 of these are nurses and doctors and then there are the many thousands of specialists and consultants in different areas, then there are 11,000 more therapists and scientists.

    Then there are over 30,000 more teachers and 130,000 teaching assistants (a post that didn't exist before 1997). Then another 120,000 janitors, cleaners and support staff.

    13,000 more police officers and 5,000 PCSOs (another post that didn't exist before 1997).

    Add all these together and you get the 500,000 figure I quoted. 200k NHS front line +280k teaching +20k police.

  10. Mark Actually the number of PCSOs is now 15,000 not 5,000. It has risen rapidly since I last checked the figures. I'm sure some of the other figures are larger as well, so 500,000 might be an underestimate for front line staff.

  11. Neil, you can't refer back to one of your other posts as evidence. Reform's figure seems on the low side but I have no reason to disbelieve it. And as to all the extra janitors, what the f*** do they do all day long, have you not heard about MRSA and c. difficile and all that stuff?

    Anyway, even The Independent reports that pupil-to-teacher ratios did not change between 1997 and 2003, so your 280,000 extra teachers and teaching assistants is not true either.

  12. Re earlier comment on "paying doctors better" their pay has doubled in a few years (follow links in this post), if the Tories had done this (doctors tend to be upper middle class) while giving real wage cuts to coppers and teachers (working and lower middle class) there'd have been an outcry. And the GPs are working shorter hours to boot.

  13. Mark, the info was compiled by Nigel Griffiths MP in 2006. I know you probably do not trust MPs - but I doubt the figures are incorrect.

    As for your comment about janitors, if you remembered the dirty crumbling classrooms and hospitals with rain coming in through the roof of the 1980s/1990s, then I think you would value this increase. This has a direct front line impact on patient care and pupil learning.

    Yes, doctors pay has increased more than teachers, nurses and police, but all of these workers have seen significant increases. For example, nurses have had a real increase in their starting salary (in 2007 prices) of 27% in last ten years. In the ten years under the Tories from 1987 to 1997 - it was just 8.5%.

  14. Mark, The rise in doctors pay was poorly handled, but at least there are record numbers of people training to be doctors now, when ten years ago we had a shortage. I know which situation I prefer.

  15. Snafu: I know you say let those who want to pay extra taxes pay them and those who don't opt out. But we all live in this society and if we are to have a moral society that is nice to live in then well paid people have to recognise their responsibilities to those less fortunate. Right-wingers are always talking of morality of those who are poor but not of those who are rich. I think both are important. If the welfare state and Labour governments are so wrong, why have social security costs fallen under Labour and we have a record number of people in work?

  16. Neil, the number on welfare has gone down slightly from 5.3 million to 5.2 million over the last ten years; there are half a million fewer UK-born people in work and there are an additional 1.5 million more workers from overseas and there are well over one million more public sector workers who are not teachers, doctors, nurses or coppers.

    And my lad's former State school might be a shiny new building, but the educational standards are shit - and that's a school that was regarded as really good by everybody whose kids were there ten years ago.

    You do the maths.

  17. Neil you say you want taxes increased to around 50% GDP and then you admint that billions of pounds are wasted. Why are you not calling for greater efficiency?

    As a percentage of income the poorest pay the most. Don't you want to see these people helped by reducing their tax burden?

  18. Mark, why can't we have both? More efficiency AND more spent on better front line services. Nothing helps the poorest more than providing tax funded high quality health care, social care, education and cheap public transport. It wouldn't matter how much their tax is cut they wouldn't be able to afford US (NHS equivalent) health cover.

    Why do the poorest people overwhelmingly vote Labour over Tory? When the Tories start winning seats in deprived urban areas maybe I could take your claim that the poorest people want tax cuts over public services seriously.

    You and Snafu seem to think that if we abolish the welfare state or at least reduce social protection then costs to society will fall, yet this Labour government have demonstrated the opposite. Social security costs went up under the Tories and have fallen under Labour. Total employment has risen by over 2.5 million since 1997. So even if 1.5 million jobs have been taken by foreigners - this must surely mean that over a million jobs have gone to British born? Unless there is some mysterious third category!

    As for your economic inactivity figures, I read that there are a record 2 million economically inactive students. I suppose you could argue this is a bad thing, but personally I think more graduates is a good thing (even if some of them are in Beckham Studies).

  19. Neil, for clarity, the half a million fall in UK-born workers comes from this recent article and refers to the change from 2001 to 2007.

    Further, I don't know about Snafu's health or education policies, but you know perfectly well that there is a difference between FUNDING and PROVISION. I have no particular objection to TAXPAYER FUNDED education or health services, or a certain amount of redistribution, but I have observed in practice that STATE PROVISION is pretty shit.

    Ergo, I believe in universal non-means tested (cash or near-cash) benefits - call it Citizen's Income, call it health vouchers, call it education vouchers. It's all the same thing really.

  20. Neil, your point on students is totally twattish, the number of benefit claimants I have taken from the DWP's official figures.

    You know perfectly well that this does not include students or stay-at-home Mums with a working husband or partner, of whom there are around three million in total, and who, AFAIAC should be entitled to a CI, as it happens. But who get f*** all under your beloved Nulabour.

    Before you start quoting more spurious statistics to counter my relatively accurate statistics, why don't you just accept the fact that Nulab have been consistently lying to us all for years and years - only I have seen through it and you have NOT.

    The fact that you hate the Tories does not in any way detract from the fact that Nulab are a bunch of inefficient, corrupt, venal, thieving evil lying bastards, does it?

  21. Mark, if Labour are "inefficient, corrupt, venal, thieving evil lying bastards". Then they are "inefficient, corrupt, venal, thieving evil lying bastards" that have REDUCED the national debt, REDUCED social security costs and unemployment AND increased spending on health, education and public transport. Not that bad a record then eh? Whomever figures you believe this is the case.

    The US health system is largely 'tax funded' (about half total expenditure is tax and their total health spending is nearly twice per head what we spend) but is completely inefficient. The problem with insurance companies are that they always try to avoid paying out on large claims. When you are ill with cancer the last thing you need to worry about is mounting a legal challenge to try to get your treatment.

    Then there is all the added bureaucracy of having to determine all the individual premiums and exemptions and as a consequence all the people who are refused health insurance completely. When looking at all that, the NHS provision is pretty efficient.

    Now I am not saying that improvements cannot be made because they most certainly can, but just moving to private insurance does not work (whether paid for by a CI or vouchers is irrelevant).

  22. Neil, agreed, private insurance is highly suspect, that's why I said taxpayer funded, like in most European countries*. Feel free to disagree with me, but you have to read what I say before you criticise me for saying something that I didn't say.

    * OK, nominally, in European countries it's paid for out of a health insurance that is a percentage knocked off your wages up to a certain limit, so it is regressive and discriminates against employment income (very much like national insurance in the UK). So taking it out of general taxation is far preferable, but it's the private/competing providers that make all the difference.

    Stop yapping on about the USA, neither of us knows enough about it, and I certainly don't hold that up as a model to be followed, I just look at "what works" - like taxpayer funded health vouchers or taxpayer funded education vouchers, like in Sweden.

  23. And I don't get this obsession with "reducing social security costs", the number on benefits is barely changed since 1997 - that is a simple verifiable fact, if you could be bothered to follow the link I kindly provided

    The welfare system is the same stupid means-tested mess that the Tories left behind, only even more complicated, and as benefits have increased in line with wages AFAICS, how can social security costs possibly have gone down? Where on earth do you get this factoid from? It is quite simply not true. I think the the cost of welfare is probably much the same as ten years ago, possibly up a bit, that is not the point.

    If we really had such a blooming economy for the last decade, wouldn''t you expect the number of welfare claimants to have gone down a lot more?

  24. "Mark, why can't we have both? More efficiency AND more spent on better front line services."

    Indeed why can't we. If I thought the money taken from my pay packet was wisely spent helping society I wouldn't mind paying a little more.
    However I, and most people I speak to, think there is far too much waste in public spending. Not every tax pound is spent on health and education, there's a hugh number of quangos and a bloated civil service.

    Before you pour more water in the bucket, fix the leak in the bottom!

  25. Mark C, You are right about Quangos - they control more public spending than elected local authorities - which is a complete scandal.

    If I actually believed our foreign owned media - I would want a cut in public services as well. You have to remember that they have an agenda and they are not on the side of the British people - which is why they dislike the EU so much.

    I agree that there is waste in public bodies - I have seen it. But I have also seen plenty of waste in the private sector - contrary to popular belief we actually pay for both public AND private.

    For example, the average person pays over £200 a year for ITV (for Sky it is over £400), do they get the same value for money as from the BBC? - The viewing figures suggest not. The cost of the BBC is 23% of the total cost of all television services transmitted in the UK. Yet BBC television wins 37% of the total television audience. So tax funded companies can be value for money.

    The NHS is better value for Brits than health insurance in the US, Australia or New Zealand. Ask anybody who has lived over there. So I think that waste is a problem, but most of the expenditure is well spent. The biggest problem with our public services is that they are still underfunded. We spend much less than France, Germany or Scandanavia - so we cannot expect the same level of service. Simple as that.

  26. Mark W, "Between May 1997 and May 2007, the number of people on the main out-of-work benefits fell by 1,052,600". The most recent figures suggest this is now over 1.1 million drop. Source - Here.

  27. Neil, fair play. The figures to which I link miss off two categories for 'disabled and bereaved, neither of us know how many were getting this ten years ago so I shall concede gracefully.

    So, unemployment has gone down by 1.1 million since 1997, sure it has, because the number of people working in 'Public admin, health and education' has gone up by 1.7 million.

    Over to you to reconcile that little discrepancy ...

  28. Mark W, Surely it's better these people are working than on benefits?

  29. Neil, record numbers of people are not creating wealth in public sector non-jobs. That's not good for the economy or for taxpayers.

    I have no problem with the poor paying relatively more taxes than the wealthy. It's entirely due to their excessive use of alcohol and tobacco. Would you like these taxes to be reduced for the poor!?!

  30. Neil Harding17/2/08 11:33 pm

    Snafu: "It's [regressive taxation] entirely due to their [the poor] excessive use of alcohol and tobacco". Entirely? VAT and Council Tax makes up the majority of tax that hits the poor. Not only is it easier for rich people to save (because most of their income doesn't go on the basics) they pay accountants to help them avoid tax. How moral is that? What about responsibility to others?

  31. Do "the poor" pay council tax or are they exempt!?!

    VAT is exempt on most of life's essentials except Sky sports subscriptions and widescreen TVs!! As you correctly point out, the rich pay more VAT as they buy more of life's luxuries!

  32. VAT is exempt on most of life's essentials

    That must the very reassuring to the pensioners who die because they can't afford to heat themselves, gas and electricity being some of the essentials not excluded from VAT.

    SNAFU = Situation Normal: all fucked up. Your sobriquet was clearly referring to your brain.

  33. Stephen, VAT rates on fuel are one of the many benefits of being members of the European Union!!