A TALE OF TWO (WELL, THREE) LEADERS

To paraphrase Mr Dickens, “It was the best of leaders”:

aleader

Oh, and again: “It was the worst of leaders”:

a leader1

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AH YES, THEN THERE’S RUTH…

Still, this bloke called her out for her lies.

If you have to make up stuff to criticise the government in Scotland, that sort of suggests to me that you can’t actually find anything that you can truthfully call them out on.

ax1ax2

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RANDOM THOUGHTS

a tax

The Tories happily cut £30 a week from the Disability Benefits, pathetically small though they are. So, people who really needed the money were £30 a week worse off. That’s £1560 a year worse off.

Why then, are they making a huge fuss about folk in Scotland who earn well above the average wage paying a few pence more a week in tax so that everyone (including the rich) can keep enjoying free tertiary education, free bridge crossings, free care for the elderly, free buses, free parking at all but two of Scotland’s hospitals, lower council tax, etc…?

Seriously, what is it with the Tories that they believe that rich people mustn’t be disadvantaged in any way, but the poor can go take a flying…run and jump?

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a guy

Gut Verhofstadt is working to see if there is a way that people who are currently EU citizens, with the privileges that bring (free movement, EU passport, EU driving licence, etc) may be able to continue to be citizens if they wish to be after Brexit. I’m up for that even if there is a cost.

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So, you could have someone with an extremely complex condition; one which would tax a specialist in the discipline to properly assess, and they are assessed by a paramedic or a physiotherapist?

No wonder the system doesn’t work and vast numbers of decisions are overturned on appeal, at VAST cost, when the case is heard by a judge (who has no targets).

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I hear today that Mr Farage is 53, separated and broke.

So, he’s on £70,000 a year as an MEP [plus expenses]; then he has a radio show on LBC, who knows what he gets paid for that. He gets a lot of gigs from the BBC too. He owns a £4 million house in London and has a generous pension lined up for when he leaves the EU parliament in a year’s time.

a far

How broke exactly is that?

Anyway, when poor people complain that they are hard up, it isn’t unusual to hear someone reply that they seem to be able to afford to smoke and drink. So I’d suggest to Mr Farage: Stop the fags and booze. Not only will you be a bit better off, but maybe you’ll start looking your age, instead of a good ten years older.

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UP YOUR GAME A BIT, ANAS; WE WANT YOU TO WIN

 

 

aanus
Let’s be fair, it could happen to anyone who doesn’t check their leaflets!

 

OK, Anas. Let’s be fair, we all know it’s a typo, someone putting it together got it the wrong ways round. Maybe, though, it would be an idea to ensure a bit more careful proofreading of your leaflets. There is a certain carelessness in your team over that!

 

aaaf
I’ve heard of singing from the same hymn sheet, but goodness me, a word for word endorsement. It’s almost like you wrote it yourself!

 

But, in any case, I don’t want to put you down at the moment. I really, really hope that you get the job.

Although you almost certainly won’t do the tax thing, whatever it is, because you have very little power to do anything at all with taxes, I have to agree with the sentiments behind it. Tax is a mess. It favours the rich. It needs reform.

The trouble is that I can quite honestly see that at least some in your party would love to be able to do it. But when the reshaping of the responsibilities of the Scottish parliament was being discussed, you guys in Labour did nothing to push for a wider range of tax-raising powers to be devolved…as was the case with so many other powers, including minimum wage (we think we have your measure on that). Even the Tories were prepared to devolve more than you were. You guys were pretty much against all of it.

aaasm

So tax raising remains largely the prerogative of Philip Hammond, a Tory, and a rather rich one, who sees no need to change the system which massively favours the rich…ie him and his mates.

We all know that the Scottish parliament can increase income tax… indeed they already announced that, although they were not going to do that, they were going to resist the UK decision to take some tax off those earning over £45,000, described as the largest tax reduction since the time of Mrs Thatcher. So not a rise, but not a decrease for the well off either. And we’re pretty much hobbled every other way.

Alas, tax-free thresholds are not within the remit of the Scottish government or parliament, because that could make a huge difference to the worst off people. A tax-free allowance of maybe £16,000 a year would make a huge difference to those on poverty wages.

Of course, a country can be bold with tax reform, but it absolutely has to have a wide range of tax powers within which to work, to balance the need for spending, with the absolute right for people to keep as much of what they earn as possible. Of course, if folk earned a bit more and shareholders took rather less, that would help too.

In 1979, Mrs Thatcher made huge changes to the rate of income tax. Massive cuts for the rich, and small but noticeable cuts for the poor. The reforms reduced the income tax take by a massive amount.

But, of course, the money that was lost had to be found elsewhere. Hospitals still need running, schools have to operate. And Mrs Thatcher chose to almost double VAT to make up her shortfall. So VAT rose from 8% to 15%, a massive blow to people who had only the compensation of a few pence extra in their pay packets.

Income tax, VAT, fuel duty, alcohol duty, tobacco tax make vast sums of money. It is important to have the range of powers to be able to balance the needs of every member of our society.

anas1

I’m sure you’ll agree with that. I’m sure that you regret that your party was against almost every single proposal to devolve responsibility for taxes. And I’m sure that you will press the UK government for more freedom to make changes in the future.

As I said, I wholeheartedly wish you the very best of luck in your attempt to become branch leader.

 

 

SNAPS ON SATURDAY

 

One of these days this man is going to take responsibility for something. If I worked for him I’d be seriously considering my future.

 

 

The crisis in the NHS won’t go away. It’s largely down to inadequate spending, an ageing population, more treatments being available, and staff leaving because of job insecurity (Hunt said he would replace then as soon as he trained some Brits up), racism or overwork. Maybe Mt Westminster’s totally legal tax dodge being challenged would be a start to solving one of these problems. Or maybe the government needs to find that £350 million a week that it promised the taxpayers.

 

 

Of course one of the reasons we are short of staff may be that Europeans don’t want to work here anymore, and who could blame them when all you need to deserve to be murdered is a fluent knowledge of Polish or any other foreign language?

 

 

I’d be inclined to suggest that Ruth speaks for herself. I think that by and large most Europeans and those from farther afield think we are rather nice. Maybe Ruth’s experience is down to something more personal.