Wednesday, May 21, 2008


If Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, was thought to stand for anything, it was for the poor and for the disadvantaged. If the Labour Party has a core value, it is surely support for low-income, working families. No longer, it would seem. In trying to pass itself off as a middle class 'Green' party for the public school Guardianistas, Labour is making blunder after blunder, errors of political judgment that could well cost it dear, and with likely immediate effect in this up-coming Thursday's Crewe and Nantwich by-election [see: 'Tories target "extraordinary" win', BBC Online Politics News, May 18; 'Crewe within Tories' grasp - poll', BBC Online Politics News, May 11].

The latest misjudgement is deeply concerning. In attempting to appear 'Green', Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, and Mr. Brown are having to defend the indefensible, a retrogressive, retrospective tax change which will especially hit poorer members of society and less well-off families, with no environmental benefits. In his March Budget, Darling blithely announced an increase in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on higher emission vehicles. Unfortunately, this is effectively back-dated to vehicles registered since 2001, which means that many second-hand, older vehicles, including such popular family cars as the Renault Megane and the Ford Focus, will be caught up in the increase.

"Deeply Regressive"

Governments should always strive hard to avoid introducing such retrospective legislation, especially where tax is concerned, because it will often have unexpected, and uncosted, implications for ordinary folk. In this case, the result is disastrous. The second-hand cars which have been corralled retrospectively into the higher bands are precisely those bought by poorer families, who cannot afford new vehicles. Even the Conservatives understand this crucial point, with Justine Greening, their young Shadow Environment Minister, reported as admitting: "This measure is deeply regressive, and it will most acutely affect low-income families."

It is quite extraordinary that Labour did not think this through, especially at a time of negative equity in housing, vanishing mortgages, a difficult banking environment, higher food, fuel, energy, and petrol costs. Moreover, the effect will be to punish further the weakest in society, those already at tight margins [just like Labour's '10p' tax debacle], while, would you believe it, diminishing their ability to save to buy newer and thus cleaner cars - utter political madness. Inevitably, there are rumblings of a revolt among Labour backbenchers, with 20 MPs already having signed an early-day motion in the House of Commons for this tax change to be withdrawn immediately.

But the real judgment is likely to come from the people - from the voters - affected by the change, from those who are always hit hardest at the margins. If on Thursday Labour does lose dramatically the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, then Mr. Brown would be wise to remember, and very quickly, that the middle-class 'Green' trumpery of the wealthier readers of The Guardian will melt little ice in a cooling economy [see: 'That Sinking Feeling', May 15].

Labour needs to return to some solid core values, and to stop trying to play the trendy 'Green' Notting Hill game. Nothing it plans will have any effect on climate change, but it could well help to put the party out of office for a very long time.


The socialists have criminalized ordinary Britons

Post below recycled from Prof. Brignell. See the original for links

The UK Labour Party is reeling under the four hundred blows inflicted by the local elections. They cannot understand why they are so unpopular. The Englishman has saved us the trouble of finding the links to stories in just one edition of the Telegraph. In each case petty officials, members of Gordon’s army of wage parasites who are dragging down the economy, have burdened ordinary citizens, guilty of no more than inadvertence, with a criminal record. As we remarked about a similar bunch of cases last month, all this has to be taken in the context of an increasingly violent and out-of-control society. Like the smoking ban it is the irrelevance that is so striking.

A number of regular correspondents have taken note of the appointment of “Our Boris” as Mayor of London. While it is no doubt a relief to be rid of Red Ken, it seems a waste of talent to put such a man in such a job. Nevertheless, since he has made his priority the elimination of the casual acceptance of the petty crime that fosters the more serious manifestations, the overall outcome might be beneficial.

In our village there is now a section of yellow line on the main road. It seems to have no purpose other than to provide a form of taxation income for the district council thirty miles away, but it has other effects. Against their will, locals are forced to go to out of town supermarkets that have free parking. The shops are gradually disappearing (the hardware shop went last month) and the bank has just gone part time. Businesses that were sources of employment are also vanishing, yet there is a stealth development plan to double the amount of housing, but not of facilities. Almost anyone you speak to has experienced some form of extortion or coercion by officialdom, but try to get a policeman in the event of a genuine crime.

We find ourselves obliged to live under a system of surveillance more rigorous than at any time or place since the fall of the Stasi, with more CCTV cameras per head of the population than anywhere else in the world. The local elections are largely an irrelevance, as elected representatives have little say (or even knowledge) of what is going on. EU officials talk to Whitehall officials who talk to local officials.

Meanwhile, more and more inoffensive citizens find themselves listed as registered criminals, while the real criminals go about their nefarious business with comparative impunity. It is no joke finding yourself with a criminal record, as the headmaster who forgot to renew his fishing licence discovered. A feature of recent ubiquitous advertising has been the “we know where you live” threats about the BBC tax. The authorities boast of a database with 28 million addresses. Your bending author was once wont resolutely to defend the licence fee, but no more. In the old days it gave relatively cheap access to eminently trustworthy news, quality drama uninterrupted by advertisements, first class comedy and much edifying content.

Now it is a continuum of banal prole circuses (unrelieved even by the occasional football match) punctuated by bouts of lefty-greeny propaganda posing as news, i.e. it is the central pillar of the new establishment. It is naked extortion, like Mafia insurance, pay up or you’re on the list – we know where you live. They cannot even bully with subtlety, but in an authoritarian society why bother? Three billion pounds of income per annum, greater than the GDP of, say, Nicaragua, yet they claim they cannot manage. Why? Officials! Like its host country, of which it is a microcosm, the BBC is sinking under the weight of overweening administration.

If the wealth creating part of any enterprise shrinks continuously, while the wealth dissipating part grows relentlessly, there can be only one eventual outcome. It is not, as the ghastly cliché says, rocket science. Meanwhile, the powers that be withdraw into a fantasy world of imagined crimes attracting draconian fines to fund their excesses, while the rank undergrowth of society flourishes. The habitually law abiding portion of the population finds itself increasingly criminalised, while the habitual criminals go about their business untrammelled.

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