The day after the night before — May 8, 2015

The day after the night before

So, where do we go from here? Nobody saw that coming, nobody! A shock, Tory Majority victory that confounded pollsters and commentators alike, David Cameron must have been the happiest man on the planet yesterday. But, I was left confused, confused as to where to go next.

For those who know me and for those that don’t, I would describe myself as a “classic liberal.” I believe in a small state, low taxes, competition, the free market and hold individual freedom and choice paramount.

Over the last Parliament the country took significant steps forward introducing a raft of progressive, liberal policies, including (but not limited to), a higher personal allowance and equal marriage.

As a country, we are the most socially liberal we have ever been and Generation Y is set to continue this trend. Young people have abandoned the traditional/religious constraints of our parents, but now where do we turn? Let’s consider the options.

The Conservatives will piggy-back on key Liberal Democrat pledges, such as the personal allowance and the pupil premium and call themselves liberals. But there are key Conservative policies that are fundamentally illiberal – the so called “Snooper’s Charter” would allow the Government too much access to private communications, the repeal of the Human Rights Act in favour of a British version to suit public opinion again, illiberal. Core Tory voters were opposed to equal marriage, introducing plain-cigarette packets and entertaining minimum pricing on alcohol, all are an affront of individual choice – this isn’t a Party that can declare itself “the natural home of the liberal.”

The Labour Party remains in denial it spent too much. A Party addicted to spending and borrowing, its economic illiteracy had to play a part in the 2015 General Election. With an addiction to spending comes an addiction to public expenditure and a bloated public service. A large state, must mean higher taxes.

UKIP who famously declared they were a “libertarian party”, unless you were gay, Eastern European or voted Labour is again another Party in ruin. Nigel Farage played a significant role in the rise of UKIP, to some extent he is/was a cult of personality. They aren’t a liberal party, but again, where to do they go now?

I’m not ashamed to admit yesterday I voted for the Liberal Democrats. In a reality where you should vote for the Party nearest your own views, the Liberal Democrats won my vote for valuing and promoting liberalism over the past 5 years. But what now for the Liberal Democrats? In Blackley they secured a pithy 874 votes, they were wiped out in my new constituency and they were wiped out in terms of seats across the nation. The Liberal Democrats lost some of their best including Jeremy Browne (who had already resigned) and David Laws. With Tim Farron likely to take over from Nick Clegg, the left-of-centre will claim the Liberal Democrat voice once again. With 8 MP’s they have lost their platform and now they risk losing their liberal voice.

With no major party representing the classical liberals voice, what do I do now?

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Would Britain benefit from more political parties? — July 17, 2012

Would Britain benefit from more political parties?

[EDIT: Consider this argument post-electoral reform, not under FPTP ~ Cheers for this guys!]

We’re at a stand-still in British politics, cynics will call it the “mid-term blues” but I think it goes further than that. There is huge political apathy in Britain, voter turnout is continuously falling and the expenses scandal, combined with nearly every other scandal since has done nothing to disprove that all MPs are as “bad as each other.”

Britain has been a two-Party state now for long over 70 years, with many scholars and authors talking about a post-War consensus between the Labour Party and the Conservatives. You can debate the validity of such an idea until the cows come home (I know, I wrote 3,000 words on it easily!) The undeniable fact is that we live in a two-Party state, with no other Party seemingly able to make a significant impact. This is exasperated by the fact that the main Parties have rushed to the centre-ground in recent years, not really daring to be radical (seen as a dirty word) or too different from their opponents, in fear of losing votes. The 2010 General Election threw up an anomaly, allowing the Liberal Democrats to hold the key to power, but it was far from an election victory for the Party in the grand scheme of things. So, just how do we break the two Party stranglehold on power?

Split them up.

There are obvious divides with in all three major parties, with MPs and grassroots members forever moaning at their executive or backbenchers. The Labour Party remains divided and has been since 1994, even his name irks the Left of the Party. Tony Blair and his Blairite followers have been sidelined by Ed Miliband and the Unions, perfectly demonstrated by the attack on Progress (a “Blairite” think tank). So the Labour Party could easily split, with David Miliband leading a Blairite Labour movement. Allowing Ed Miliband to revive the Left and take his Party back to electoral abyss (or not, who knows what the electorate want)!

In the Tories the divide is as glaringly obvious. Cameron has attempted to modernise the Tories, and people within the Party don’t like it. Let Cameron start the New Conservatives, a more socially liberal Tory Party. Nadine Dorries and her socially backward friends can continue to conserve society, heck she might even bring back Feudal law or make Priests all powerful. We will call this Party the Dinosaur Party, complete with socially conservative members, incapable of moving on from 1872.

There is of course a split in the Liberal Democrats too. We’re far too often accused of “infighting” and not focusing on the other two Parties, but I’d say we’re guilty of it no more than other Parties. The Social Liberal Forum exists to promote just that, social liberal society, but for some (including me) that isn’t enough. They are happy to allow for the state to grow and support higher taxation and Keynesian policies. The “Orange Book” liberals, or classical liberals ‘run the Party executive’ and annoy the SLF with our all-round liberalness, including our economic liberalness (smaller state, lower taxes). The SLF could continue as the Liberal Democrats, headed by Tim Farron (the epitome of a “Lefty-Liberal”) and the [Classical] Liberal Party could be spear-headed by David Laws/Jeremy Browne.

Heck, even UKIP are divided. Their older, (slightly) xenophobic wing exist solely to leave the EU and berate life in general. They have a more socially liberal, even libertarian wing in the YI. They want an even smaller state than many of the “classic liberals.”

So instead of a two-Party state, we could have a real democracy with 6/8 smaller Parties. The great benefit is that people can choose a Party that really fits with their views, rather than having to settle into a Party that often conflicts with their ideals. Nobody agrees with every decision their Party makes, if you do, you are either a loyal MP, or a moron, incapable of engaging your own brain.

Here’s a (wild) estimation of where the Parties would exist on Political Compass.

Two quick polls:

Why the Liberal Democrats were right on Jeremy Hunt — June 13, 2012

Why the Liberal Democrats were right on Jeremy Hunt

*Warning – this is a rant!*

I’ve seen a lot on Twitter today and in the news about why the Liberal Democrats were wrong to abstain today. Labour types everywhere have got their knickers in a twist over Jeremy Hunt’s handling of News Corporation and the BSkyB bid. Yes, he acted inappropriately. Yes, in an ideal world the Liberal Democrats should have forced David Cameron to refer him to the independent commission because he *did* break the Ministerial code. However, there is a lot more to the matter than that.

Firstly, are Labour so tribal that they are simply forgetting how close they were to the Murdoch’s and News Corp? For them to pretend to be so morally righteous is ludicrous, bordering on insulting to the memory of the general public.

Secondly, it would be wrong for the Liberal Democrats to openly go against their Prime Minister. It is a Coalition and we are the junior partner, we have to remember that. We don’t have an equal say in matters, we don’t deserve one, we only won 57 seats after all. However, we have one and we have a strong foothold in the Coalition and should be proud of our record so far. This whole story will be irrelevant come 2015, to use that famous phrase “its the economy, stupid!” This wasn’t worth breaking up the Coalition, far from it. We backed the Prime Minister and rightly so. Would Labour happily throw the country back into economic turmoil and political stability, simply over how close Jeremy Hunt was to Rupert Murdoch and his staff? I’d hope the answer was no, but with some of them, I’m just not sure.

Today, we didn’t do the right thing for our Party, but we did the right thing for the Country, and for that, we should never apologise.

Pupil Premium & Meritocracy — May 30, 2012

Pupil Premium & Meritocracy

As a new member of the Liberal Democrats, I thought it was about time that I came out in a real defence of one of their policies. One of my favourite policies is the Pupil Premium. The policy pledges £7bn towards giving the poorest children a better start in life.

Education is becoming a bit of a bug-bear of mine at the minute, ironically as I come to an end of mine. There is still a worryingly low number of “poor” students who end up going to university. Now I’m not advocating that all students should go to university, far from it, but it is shocking that in a developed a country such as the UK that we suffer from such terrible social mobility. The money is given directly to schools and they are not directed specifically on how to spend it, but of course is aimed at helping the poorest students. For more click here.

So why is the Pupil Premium a good idea? Well, its a perfect application of John Rawls’ difference principle. Which of course, makes it brilliant. It also negates the issue of meritocracy.

“Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage, and (b) attached to positions of offices open to all.” Rawls places a lexical priority on (b), ensuring that this part must always come first for the principle to be upheld. Point (b) offers an equality of opportunity.”

The Pupil Premium encourages an equal opportunity for all. It helps those from disadvantaged backgrounds compete with their wealthier counterparts. Why is this a problem for the government? Surely university should be based on merit, and therefore we should allow education to be solely based on meritocracy? Er – nope!

Rawls on meritocracy

Rawls’ argument starts at the “luck” of birth. The luck of birth is the idea that people have no moral claim over the attributes they are born with. Rawls wanted to nullify these effects and allow for equal opportunities. The rhetoric of equal opportunity still isn’t good enough for John Rawls; whilst it negates the issue of the randomness of birth it still doesn’t mean we are equal. Whilst everybody is in the ‘race’ for the job/university place, they aren’t starting at the same point.

The solution to this would be to ensure a ‘fair’ starting point for individuals. The Pupil Premium is part of a ‘fair equality of opportunities’ scheme, the policy increases spending per pupil for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Rawls would remain unsatisfied with this solution. This may remove some of the fundamental socio-economic restrictions “but it still permits the distribution of wealth and income to be determined by the natural distribution of abilities and talents.”

Rawls argues that a meritocracy in its purest form is flawed. It all depends on what an individual can claim credit for, the luck of birth plays too much of a role in life to abide by a meritocracy. Effort doesn’t really matter when discussing meritocracy and this is unjust. A crude example shows the problems of not rewarding effort, a small man could build a house in three days and try harder than a man who can build a house in one day, who would you reward the most? The main principle behind meritocracy is contribution and ultimately we aren’t totally in control of how much we can contribute.

Are we entitled to claim that our “assets” belong to us?

“Rawls’ response is to invoke the distinction between the self and its possession in the strongest version of that distinction, and so to claim that, strictly speaking, there is nothing that ‘I’, qua pure subject to possession, have – nothing that is attached, rather than related, to me – nothing at least in the strong, constitutive sense of possession necessary to a desert base.”

Rawls argues that all things considered, we don’t “own ourselves”, we can defend our rights as declared in the first principle but we do not own our abilities and talents. “No one deserves his greater natural capacity nor merits a more favourable starting place.” Rawls argues that our starting point is arbitrary, but what we should seek are fair institutions to mitigate the arbitrariness of birth.

“The natural distribution [of abilities and talents] is neither just nor unjust; nor is it unjust that persons are born into society at some particular position. These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts.”

Rawls continues to further strengthen his argument. Even if we did have self-ownership and we value effort and (to some extent) contribution, we have no control over the market in which we sell our attributes and talents. For example, The Beatles sold millions of records in the 1960/70s, but would they do the same in 2012? We have no control over the condition of the market, which further adds to the moral arbitration and limits what we can claim to morally deserve. We are entitled to reap the rewards of a society which values or attributes, but we are not morally deserving of them, and to claim otherwise is foolhardy.
It is time to bring back David Laws? — May 10, 2012

It is time to bring back David Laws?

Where to begin? David Laws is almost a cult of personality to many in the Liberal Democrats, and nearly as many in the Conservatives. For me his political beliefs are exactly what the Liberal Democrats should stand for. His beliefs are the reason I joined the Liberal Democrats. He is a classic liberal who wants small government and free trade. Described by a fellow Liberal Democrat as:

“An unreconstructed 19th century Liberal. He believes in free trade and small government. Government should do only the jobs only government can do. There’s no point in having a large public sector if the users of the public services are getting poorer.”

Laws is an unequivocal Liberal with a voting record to match.

Nick Clegg today in his web seminar with Liberal Democrat member said that he would love David Laws to return to the front benches of Government, something David Cameron has been on record saying previously. For me, it cannot come quick enough.

Before becoming the MP for Yeovil in 2001, Laws graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in Economics and had a successful career in the City. He became involved as an economic advisor for the Liberal Democrats and later became the Director of Policy and Research.

Laws co-edited and contributed to the fantastic Orange Book which became the blueprint for Liberal Democrat policy running up to 2010. Within it he wrote a brilliant chapter on introducing a National Health Insurance Scheme. The merits of which I have written about previously. Laws has argued that Gordon Brown’s tax credit system had created a dependency culture in which there were too few incentives to work. Then, as now, he wanted cuts in the cost of public sector pensions, housing benefit and incapacity benefit. (via Guardian)

In 2010 he acted as one of the chief negotiators when forming the Coalition. He wrote a fantastic and informative book entitled 22 Days in May on the matter.

On Ed Balls he wrote: “And I guessed that he would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to work with in government – certainly if he was in any position of power.”

On joining the Euro: “Hurrah!, as I have never been a big fan of Britain joining the euro, and have never thought that there was the slightest chance of the British people supporting the euro in a referendum.”

On a coalition with Labour: “It was clear that if we went into coalition with Labour, we would not be establishing a new government, we would be chaining ourselves to a decaying corpse.”

I cannot recommend the book enough for an insight into what happened during those crucial days for Britain.

The book ends on a sad note for Laws, and for the Country. On the 29th May 2010 he resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Laws had been caught up in the Expenses Scandal, claiming over £40,000 for a second home owned by his long term partner James Lundie. Prior to this Laws had kept his sexuality a secret. Laws immediately paid back his expenses in full with a full apology. Laws claimed that he did not intentionally break any rules and claimed that the rules he broke were open to interpretation. He was suspended from the House of Commons for 7 days.

The inquiry found that if he had attempted to profit from claiming expenses he could have claimed £30,000 more. here was claimed to be no loss to the taxpayer from the various breaches of the rules. The commissioner stated “I have no evidence that Mr Laws made his claims with the intention of benefiting himself or his partner in conscious breach of the rules.

The inquiry clearly found that Laws had not intentionally misled the Commission. He has served his “time” for his mistakes. There are some on the Left who are fearful of Laws’ return, he is a master debater and impressive intellectual. He is a huge supporter of the Coalition and their policies. They hide behind snarks about him “being a crook.” He would be a huge asset to the Treasury or any department he is placed in. It is a matter of when, and not if it is time for David Laws to return to the front benches of Government. Now come on Dave – give us a real reshuffle.

If anybody doubts that he has support in the Conservatives – George Osborne once attempted to convince him to join the Conservatives. Laws rebuffed him: “I am not a Tory, and if I merely wanted a fast track to a top job, I would have acted on this instinct a long time ago.”

Vote below:

Where do the Liberal Democrats go from here? — May 9, 2012

Where do the Liberal Democrats go from here?

It’s hard to avoid the kicking the Liberal Democrats once again received in the Local Elections last week. Lots of hard working Liberal Democrat councillors sadly lost their jobs. Many in Labour and UKIP are rejoicing and predicting (hoping) that the Liberal Democrats will be all but wiped out in the 2015 General Election.

Since switching from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats last week I have been asked to explain why I feel jumping to a sinking ship is a good idea. So here we go…

Firstly, it is silly to assume that the Liberal Democrats are a sinking ship. Anti-Government sentiment is a regular occurrence, this types of voting patterns are nothing new, nor were they exclusive to the Liberal Democrats. I firmly believe that in 2015 the Liberal Democrats will increase the number of seats they have in the House of Commons. David Laws succinctly summarises why in the Financial Times.

“The coalition still has the potential to be one of the great reforming governments of the postwar era. The changes we are making in education, welfare and pensions are radical and right. The country will judge us over our full term and not on the basis of a turbulent few weeks of “here today, gone tomorrow” headlines. But after five years, we must show we have made the right decisions on the economy and got Britain back on track. That must be the coalition’s overriding obsession in the year ahead.” ~ David Laws

As I mentioned in my last post the Liberal Democrats have a LOT to shout about come 2015. Policies such as reducing the tax burden for the poorest in society. Increasing pensions by inflation, earnings or 2.5% (dependent on which is the highest). The £2.5bn Pupil Premium. Ensured that costly and illiberal ID cards were scrapped. Today in the Queen’s Speech their policy to break up the retail and investment arms of banks was announced. If you want more then head to: http://www.whatthehellhavethelibdemsdone.com/ which shows the huge number of pre-election promises the Liberal Democrats have ALREADY met.

These policies are Liberal Democrat policies, inevitably the Conservatives will attempt to hijack them and call them “Coalition policies” but Liberal Democrat politicians and door-steppers must stress that these were Liberal Democrat policies.

The Liberal Democrats haven’t had the same type of ministerial experience that Labour and the Conservatives have had and we must seek to build on that. We have some fantastic politicians waiting in the wings for some real big positions. Obviously I’m a huge fan of David Laws, but there is also Jeremy Browne who is a similar, classic liberal who is one to watch. I am of course new to the Party and not as well educated about the beliefs of each MP – but this I look forward to finding out more about my new Party.

Come 2015 I hotly anticipate another round of Clegg-mania when he finally gets a chance to really stand up for the Liberal Democrats successes in this Government. When the electorate are given a chance to distinguish between Liberal Democrat and Coalition policy, I fully expect the Liberal Democrats to come out on top.

Goodbye Tories. Hello Liberal Democrats! — May 4, 2012

Goodbye Tories. Hello Liberal Democrats!

Well, its been coming. Another insignificant Twitter defection. I won’t pretend that me jumping across to the Coalition’s junior Party means anything will change, or that anybody even cares about me doing so. But, I do write here often. Surprisingly, and thankfully a couple of hundred of you give me a read every now and then. So here’s my explanation on why I’ll be joining the Liberal Democrats.

I’ve always classed myself as a Liberal, but thought myself to be too Right-wing for the Liberal Democrats. But this definition of right and left is far too simplistic, and deeply confuses the matter. I’ve always been a huge fan of David Laws (ignoring his expenses fiasco) he is a superb politician and a great thinker. His work in the Orange Book along with Nick Clegg et al. is to be admired. I fully consider myself to be an Orange Booker. I have a liberal approach not only to social issues, but to economics. I am pro-business, pro-wealth and pro-growth and it is these economic believes have kept me in the Conservatives. Recent tax cuts are taking a step towards this. But I want more than that, I want lower taxes – for everybody. I understand, and support the Laffer curve principle for why the Coalition cut the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%, but just because the rich can avoid tax doesn’t mean they should be the only people to benefit from a tax cut in these difficult times. We should be cutting taxes across the board and encouraging people to spend and start up businesses.

Now this has been coming for a while, and it takes a lot of honesty and self-assessment to really admit this…

What is it about the Coalition that I like? Liberal Democrat policies. It was the Liberal Democrats who have taken millions out of income tax all together, not the Conservatives. They at least attempted to push for political reform.They are pushing for House of Lords reform, something I have argued for. I was a keen supporter of Yes2AV, putting me once more against the Conservatives. They introduced the pension reform which re-introduced the triple lock. The pupil premium helps gives kids from disadvantaged backgrounds a real chance in education. The Lib Dems have consistently pushed for more accountable democracy and are truly concerned about every member of society, not just big business, the unions, the rich or the Murdochs.

More concerning for me, what is it about the Coalition I don’t like? They are ALL Conservative politics. Tax breaks for married couples, equating to social engineering.  The NHS reform was a shambles, badly communicated, it will more than likely be badly administered. It offered top down reform, breaking a pre-election pledge. It increased the bureaucracy and pissed off everybody within the NHS.  Authoritarian extensions of Labour’s snooping laws, something they opposed in Opposition. Minimum alcohol pricing is deeply illiberal. Now they are talking about banning porn on the internet and blocking certain websites. North Korea must be thinking they are going to have some buddies in Europe soon. It turns out this Conservative government only pays lip service to liberalism, something I can no longer be a party to.

Things that worry me about both Parties? Further encroachment towards the EU. Yet, the Liberal Democrats support a referendum. I’m not a fan of referendums on the whole (I think those with vested interests can pour too much money into the debate – see AV referendum) but on remaining members of the European Union I feel that it is vital for the people of the UK to have their say. Increased borrowing – I can barely tolerate it, but if we simply cut away at the state in the manner some libertarians and UKIPers wanted, I honestly think there would be anarchy. You cannot simply cut, cut and cut public spending, sadly we are too reliant on it. To pull the rug from underneath the public sector would leave a sorry mess. We should continue to cut at the pace we are doing now, any further and we could be guilty of going “too far, too fast.” The Coalition is held together by a paper-thin promise to cut the deficit, and they are on track to do so by 2016. This has to remain the economic priority.

The Conservatives have taken a battering in the Local Elections, and already they cry for more “conservatism.” This is the tipping point for me, I want less conservatism and more liberalism. And that my friends, is why I will be joining the Liberal Democrats.

I have some friends in the Conservatives who will be reading this and I honestly think they will agree with me on a lot of what I’ve said, it’ll  be interesting if they take the leap with me. I’ll be looking to join up with the people at Liberal Reform and I hope they’ll join me!

Come 2015 I will be campaigning for the Liberal Democrats. Oh, and somebody owes me a meeting with David Laws!

Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives? — April 25, 2012

Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives?

Well, well, well. Omnishambles indeed. Where to start? The Conservatives have had an absolute disastrous month or so. I might as well start with the biggest of all screw ups. The UK is back in recession. There’s no spinning the fact, back to back quarters of negative growth is a disaster, it puts the UK in real danger, the Eurozone is a mess and the UK could lose its credit rating and the markets confidence, which was crucial to George Osborne’s Plan A.

Recent news this past week offered the UK some “good news” the Government was borrowing less than before, a fall in real terms of approximately 10% to (wait for it)… £126bn. It’s not a fall in borrowing at all, its a fall in the rate. Conservatives and Cameron especially are quick to remind Labour that you don’t get out of a debt crises by piling on more debt. But that is EXACTLY what the Coalition is doing. Austerity hasn’t even kicked in yet, with estimates that 15% of the spending cuts have actually occurred as of this month. There is a lot more to come, and sadly Plan A isn’t working right now.

Worryingly for the people of Britain, the alternative to Plan A offered up by Labour seems to be a mix between taxing bankers and spending the same money, a number of times over and a Keynesian borrowing scheme. In reality they have no costed, credible alternative, and as Ed Miliband and his followers will tell you, its all part of the electoral game. The Coalition’s plan clearly isn’t working, but, and we can only play counterfactuals here, the Labour borrowing plan would be far worse.

Moving on to Yesterday’s fiasco. Jeremy Hunt is being hounded to resign (at the time of writing his Special Advisor has just resigned) because of his role in News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB. Hunt is accused of essentially pushing the deal through for News Corp. and not remaining impartial in his role. Another blow for the Conservatives. But guess what, once again Labour are guilty of hypocrisy. Ed Miliband called on Vince Cable to be sacked for standing up to the Murdochs, now wants Hunt sacked for rolling over for them? Its hardly like the Labour Party were never close to the Murdoch’s, or gave them access to their highest ministers. I’m sure Tony Blair never spoke to Rupert Murdoch – despite being a Godfather to one of his children.

So where does a disgruntled Conservative turn? Certainly not to Labour. They lack credibility on the economy, they are an opportunistic Party, too concerned with playing the electoral game and are stuck with a weak leader propped up by the Unions. If you think I’m wrong to say that – check out Ed Miliband last night. When pushed on what cuts he’d reverse he merely replied that he would “tell you at the next election.” It is utterly deplorable that in such tough times Labour politicians and supporters are more concerned about seeing a Labour majority in 2015 than working constructively with the Coalition.

What about to the Liberal Democrats? Well its certainly not a huge leap across the political spectrum to join the junior party of the Coalition. But it would be political suicide. The Liberal Democrats have been used as cannon fodder. Come 2015 (if the Coalition lasts that long) the British public will be reminded of the Tuition Fee betrayal, a failed attempt at political reform with AV and most likely the House of Lords and frequently backing reform they originally opposed. Worse yet for the Liberal Democrats, their successes will be stolen. It will be COALITION policy that took millions out of income tax all together, COALITION policy that re-introduced the triple lock for pensioners and COALITION policy that tackled tax avoidance. With all the apathy aimed at the Liberal Democrats, I fully expect them (wrongly) to struggle in the Local Elections and subsequently the General Election in 2015.

What about UKIP? Farage Fever took over last week when UKIP polled above the Liberal Democrats. This surge lasted all of a week and ICM/Guardian had them back at 3% shortly after. UKIP have a lot of good policies, there is no mistaking that, but how many of them are feasible? It is easy to promise the World when you have no chance of being asked to deliver. We aren’t going to leave the EU any time soon, we can see that by Osborne sending the IMF another £10bn (a policy Labour aren’t sure if they support or not!) Whilst this is unlikely UKIP will forever remain a one issue Party in the eyes of the electorate. Their welcoming of Roger Helmer, whose views on rape and homosexuality are abhorrent has really put me of UKIP lately. There are a large number of their members who are xenophobic, you only have to ask them about immigration and their desire for a cap. It is not a libertarian party, far from it, it simply has a handful of libertarian members. Crushingly for UKIP, the big two, Labour and the Conservatives destroyed the Yes2AV campaign enshrining a two-party system in the UK for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t even back UKIP to pick up a single seat in 2015.

The UK political scene is in a dire mess, we have no credible alternatives. Is it time for me, and the country to ditch the Conservative Party just yet? Maybe not, but we’re very close.

A budget for the millions; and the millionaires? — March 21, 2012

A budget for the millions; and the millionaires?

Here’s a VERY brief review of the 2012 Budget.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Budget. The biggest criticism I have has been how it has been leaked to the media in the past week. This needs to stop!

Today’s budget ensures that overall the wealthy will pay more in tax. Five times more in fact. They may be receiving a tax cut, but they will pay more overall in tax. But crucially it has taken TWO million people out of income tax all together. It is a budget for the millions.

Cutting the 50p tax rate

Osborne noted that £16bn had been shifted into the previous tax year to avoid the 50p tax band, and an additional £1bn had been avoided this year. Self-tax receipts were poor. He abolished the 50p tax rate and introduced a 45p band (from April 2013), which the OBR predicts will raise 5 times as much in revenue. Raising more in tax revenues is great news for everybody in society. (Read here for an explanation of the Laffer Curve.)

At the same time he announced a crack down on tax avoidance and an increase in stamp duty avoidance (up to 15%)

Stamp Duty

7% on £2m homes. That’ll please Vince Cable you have to imagine.

Raising the tax allowance

Osborne announced the largest ever increase in the personal allowance in history. A £1,100 increase to £9,205. This ensures that over 2 million people won’t pay income tax at all. It’s great news for ordinary workers as well, giving the everyday person more cash in their pocket.

Child benefit

Altering the current scheme, which had its flaws to ensure that child benefit to be reduced incrementally when one member of household earns more than £50,000. And that it will be removed completely at £60,000. Good news. Universal benefits are a shocking idea.

Sin taxes

A mixed bag here. No additional increase to alcohol duty, but then a whopping 5% increase on cigarettes. That’s 37p per pack. I’d like to reaffirm my belief that the Government should have no influence on what people do to their bodies, however much revenue it raises for them.

Corporation Tax

Cut from this April to 24% with future tax cuts in the years to come. This is a pro-growth and a pro-business move. It’s exactly what we need in the tough times we live in. It will also make the UK one of the cheapest places to do business in the G20.

Enterprise loans

Osborne is planning to set up an enterprise loan fund, similar to the student loan company for young entrepreneurs who need help starting up. This was an idea banded around last year and gained popular support from people like Richard Branson. Again, another good idea, we need to stop the university culture in the UK and encourage students into business and apprenticeships as well.

Welfare

Slashing £10bn by 2016 from the Welfare Budget. The welfare budget is incredibly high that’s for sure, accounting for 1/3 of public spending. It is unsustainable, we have to save money somehow on welfare, but the decisions on how to do this need to be looked at carefully. Scrapping universal benefits is a good starting point.

Miscellaneous

Tax credits for video games, animation and TV production in the UK. Another pro-growth and pro-business move.

Bank levy to be increased to 0.105% from next January, raising £2.5 billion a year. Taxing the banks, leaving Labour with nowhere to turn.

Where next for Labour?

Who knows? They cannot oppose a tax cut that will raise more revenue. They cannot oppose the personal allowance, the corporation tax cut or the bank levy. Worrying times ahead for Ed Miliband and co.

A Liberal Future For The NHS. — February 8, 2012

A Liberal Future For The NHS.

Those crying out for Andrew Lansley to be sacked and the for the NHS bill to be dropped have my full support. But who, and potentially what will come next will really get them worried. If Cameron does bite the bullet and relieves Lansley of his post, there’s only one man for the job, and that man will give the NHS lovers real nightmares.

Of course I am talking about David Laws. Friends and followers will know I’m a big fan of David Laws’ ideology so this will come as no surprise. I think we should drop this piecemeal NHS reform bill and introduce a radical National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as described by David Laws in the Orange Book.

The NHS is almost untouchable in UK politics, its taboo to even talk about reforming it. And yet, it has many flaws that everybody is well aware off, long waiting times, cancelled appointments, endless tiers of bureaucracy are faults that nobody can deny. Yes the NHS is a bastion of free health-care to all at the point of access, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it even better.

The NHIS would be compulsory for every UK citizen. People would be able take insurance out in the NHS, the private sector, or the not for profit sector, allowing for the first time, real competition in the UK’s health-care market.

Insurers would have to accept any applicant, regardless of risk, and every year patients would be allowed to change providers.

All schemes would have to have the same maximum charge for all mainstream services, but additional charges are allowed for extra services or amenities on request, meaning that anybody still wanting to go private (in the sense we know it now) could do so. The state would pay the annual charge for the mainstream services. These points make sure that health-care remains free at the point of access to all.

NHIS would be paid for by altering the tax system in the UK. Currently we have income and national insurance as personal taxes. These would be altered and then a NHIS tax would be included. Crucially the taxes would remain progressive, further enshrining real fairness into the system.

The job of the Secretary of State for Health would be to make sure that independent regulators were doing their job properly. Their role would be to calculate the maximum levy charged by all insurers, and publish performance results of insurers.

Politicians would no longer have to worry about the political graveyard that is the NHS, it would cease to have any influence over it, ensuring that health-care in the UK was dictated by the patients, not politicians.

The scheme is a great idea, it imparts real competition in the health-care service, whilst enshrining fairness at its core. It is a true liberal vision for the future.