Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Gosh darn it.

There comes a point in everyone’s life when for the good of themselves and probably those around them they need to acknowledge who they are. Yes, gentle reader, it is time to come out. I am, at least a little bit, a fan of Thatcher.

Not the Tories – Section 28 is engraved on the heart of every right thinking gay or lesbian person out there. Nor her overly black and white approach to things, from the monetarism that caused such massive unemployment to the breaking of the miners’ strike, both of which could have stood some more planning for the support the people these policies/actions left behind would need. I like privatisation, economic liberalism and empowering people to own their own homes. I dislike greed, selfishness, the over centralisation of power in central government’s hands, and selling off social housing without empowering local authorities to build more. It was, I think, right to go to war for the Falklands. And it was wrong to ignore apartheid.

Ultimately it may well be I dislike more of the Thatcher Government’s activities and legacy than I could ever list. But overall what I do like is reform. Some strong effective leadership that spent less time spouting bullshit and more time cutting through it.

What has caused the Cheerful Fairy to brandish his handbag? Frustration. Frustration as the apparent blindness , the almost wilful ignorance of our current Government and, worse, Parliament.

I truly believe we need more than ever a reformist government – or maybe just some common sense. For instance...

Why propose a ‘mansion tax’ when there is still up to a 50% discount on council [property] tax for second homes?

Why boast that people on minimum wage are paying less income tax. Surely they should pay none?!

Why ask the wealthy elderly to voluntarily give up their state benefits? Instead means-test them (especially when everyone gets a bus pass, whilst the bus service itself is cancelled to help reduce the budget deficit) or, even better, just phase them out and make the state pension a bit bigger.

Why tinker with a 45% or 50% top rate of tax when the richest (and to be clear it ain’t wrong to be rich) pay only a sixth as much national insurance (NI) as their lower paid brethren*? You could instead keep the 40% top rate; raise income tax thresholds so no-one on minimum wage pays any income tax; and have everyone pay, say, 9% NI on their earnings.

Why put on the po-faced performance on television about how little corporation tax corporations pay when you could simply change the tax regulations with the stroke of a pen?

Why not let local authorities set their own planning rules and business taxes, and compete for business – go to Manchester or Newcastle if you want to see how a little freedom can go a long way?

Why indeed.

I don’t seek to answer the questions; there are subtleties at play in all the queries I’ve posed that a post will simply never be able to cover, and I’m too dim to really understand. My point is the current lot aren’t up to the job. And that means to make it work we all have to get involved, fight for what we believe in, and if nothing else vote in the upcoming elections. And every election after that.  

Next time on 'Things I Don’t Know Enough About to Discuss: Scottish Independence (a tentative yes)'

*People pay 12% national insurance on wages up to £41,444 and 2% on earnings over that. This means a man or woman earning £1,000,000 a year, (paying 45% income tax and 2% NI) has a marginal tax rate of 47% and someone on minimum wage (paying 20% income tax and 12% NI) a marginal rate of 32%. My suggestion would change this to 49% and 9% respectively.

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