George Osborne: Political Mastermind? — July 9, 2015

George Osborne: Political Mastermind?

Even George Osborne’s staunchest critics couldn’t help but admire the political genius of yesterday’s Budget. Osborne announced key measures that were straight out of the Labour Manifesto, including headline policies of a new Living Wage and a crackdown on Non-Doms. His political mastery came by announcing the Living Wage, whilst cutting in-work Tax Credits, which will most likely have a zero-sum impact on take-home pay for low-paid workers.

The Tory Press have lauded the introduction of the Living Wage as a milestone for low-paid workers. Whilst critics have lambasted the changes to tax credits, meaning that the Living Wage isn’t a “Living Wage” after all. Pressure groups should continue to campaign for those at risk and the impact of these changes.

However, the Labour Party has fallen straight into George Osborne’s political trap. Two so-called “front-runners” and “Blairite” candidates for the Leadership have clearly missed the point of this trap.

 

The Tory spinners will lambast Labour for attacking the Living Wage, a policy which they campaigned for (at a lower rate) in May. The Tories have given the nation a pay-rise and if Labour want to gain any political capital they cannot attack this policy.

The attack line has to be solely on the changes to tax credits and where the Tories have chipped away at people’s incomes – not at the Living Wage.

It may be a very subtle point, but it will speak volumes with electorate. 

Labour candidates and supporters seemingly once again need reminding that there are voters outside of the “Westminster Bubble” and the “Twitter Echo-Chamber”

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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?

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:

How to win votes and alienate people? — June 25, 2012

How to win votes and alienate people?

*This post is focused solely on David Cameron’s “plans post-2015” on housing benefit, not all his welfare reform speech*

There can be no doubt that David Cameron’s speech today on welfare reform shows how worried he is about his political life-span. It was a cry for help from the Tory right; a pledge to attack the “entitlement culture” in Britain; and the first sign of desperation from the normally perfectly assured Conservative leader.

Cameron is lost. Politically he doesn’t know where he stands, so he has done what any Conservative leader would do and has attacked welfare recipients, but crucially, YOUNG welfare recipients. He is seeking to perpetuate the myth that under-25s are lazy and feckless. We are far from it.  Why is he doing this? To win back the traditional Tory vote. His plan to slash housing benefits for under-25s (and save £1.8bn) is a perfect example of “conservatism”, it is a vote winner. Here’s the real killer, the vote he’s winning here is the over-60s vote, the key voting age (in terms of actual numbers). There is no doubt about it, cutting housing benefits for under-25s is the beginning of a vote winning series of policies from the Conservatives. Come 2015, they could be election winning policies.

The problem is, they are terrible policies. Ill-thought out, ill-timed and irresponsible. Anybody up for another round of omnishambles?

One million young people are unemployed, how is taking away £90 per week (on average) in housing benefit going to help young people? Removing housing benefit from anybody retrospectively is cruel. It is not the claimants fault that the Government’s expenditure has gotten out of hand, it is the Governments. On the one hand, the Government has said in the past ‘You clearly need financial help with housing, and we will provide £x to cover this based on your needs.’ They then turn around and say ‘People think you receive too much, we need their votes, so, sorry, but we’re taking it away, you probably still need £x, but oh well. Votes are more important than your housing benefit.’

The last Government and some of our pensioners are responsible for excessive spending and a housing bubble, which forced the average price of a home in the UK to over £225,000. Does David Cameron really think that the majority of under-25s can afford a 40% deposit? His idea is crazy.

The Government should be relaxing planning laws, and encouraging private enterprise to increase the housing stock in the UK. We need more affordable homes, with low interest rates businesses should be confident to invest, but our red-tape stands in their way.

Of course, there are disincentives within our welfare system that need to be tackled, but Cameron and the Tory-right are hoping that if they shout loudly enough and for long enough, people will believe them that benefit claimants are the scourge of this country. People are on benefits because they require financial help, not simply to “sponge” off the Government.  How about for once, we actually clamp down on tax evasion, instead of always focusing on demonising benefit claimants.

We spend £5bn on the universal benefit of a free bus pass for pensioners. Why not make that means tested and save the £2bn there, instead of attacking the next generation? Oh, because pensioners vote. How very cynical of you…

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!

I agree with Ed — May 1, 2012

I agree with Ed

Yes, believe it or not – I agree with Ed Miliband. Trust me, I was as surprised as you are. You are in the right place I promise you. A Conservative is openly agreeing with Ed Miliband. Worse yet, its yet another Tory policy I disagree with. Maybe I am in the wrong Party after all

This week’s horror show policy idea (baring in mind its only Tuesday!) is the idea to give married couples a tax break. To many, on the face of it this doesn’t seem like such a bad policy, but trust me – it is.

“A High Court judge is launching a campaign to champion the institution of marriage as “the most stable family structure” for raising children.” What a load of garbage. I don’t know what reality this judge is living in, but there are plenty of people who are brought up by single parents, step-parents and same-sex parents. The idea that children are better off simply because their parents remain married is bogus, its a sweeping generalisation. Children are individuals, whose cases will differ from child to child.

As Ed Miliband so succinctly put it (never thought I’d write that here!)

“But in the end what matters most is the strength of your commitment and whether you provide a good and loving home to your children. That comes in different forms. It’s really important to say that.”

But there is a more philosophical point behind this policy idea. To give married couples any form of tax break suggests to the public that being married is better than cohabiting. The Government is encouraging people to get married with a tax incentive, it is clearly stating that marriage is the better option for couples and that people should be rewarded for remaining married. It is social engineering in its most blatant form.

The state should remain neutral in social issues such as this, it shouldn’t be showing a preference to one party over another.

Beyond the sorry mess of the idea, how would they go about implementing the policy? Would it be for all married couples? Couples married after the tax break is introduced? How much would it cost? How would they cut it off? Would it be a flat tax break, or progressive? Would it encourage more “sham” marriages? Would same-sex couples receive it? (I highly doubt this by the way, this is a policy being pushed by the Right of the Party, who are against “marriage” for same-sex couples – making the policy even more repugnant).

Overall, tax breaks are a shambolic idea being suggested by the Right wing of a Party who wants less state intervention, but is paradoxically suggesting the complete opposite.

Ed Miliband is completely right to oppose the policy and for that, I congratulate him.

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.

House of Lords Reform — April 20, 2012

House of Lords Reform

It is a bit early for Turkey’s to be voting for Christmas, after all it is only April. But yet, here we are once again debating reform to the House of Lords.

Reform in the Lords is a Lib Dem policy, one which I partly support, but many Conservatives do not. In fact, they are already lining up threatening to quit positions over the plans. Any suggestion to remove hereditary peers seemingly doesn’t sit well with the old stalwart Tories, or the far-right back-benchers.

Sadly for them, they are wrong. The House of Lords is in desperate need for reform. As a republican, it will come as no surprise to you that I don’t agree with undemocratic, land owning, hereditary seats in the House of Lords. We still have nearly 100 of these Peers.

The House of Lords is supposed to be a scrutinising body, filled with experts who can look deeply into the details of the bills presented to them. But again, sadly it is not. In one of the biggest debates in years, the introduction of the benefit cap, just under 500 peers voted, out of 788. Some members don’t turn up at all for debates, and many make rare appearances when it suits them. We cannot continue to allow the second House to be missing in key debates. Thankfully, this is one policy suggested by the reform, “lazy” peers will be the first to be booted out.

It is time we move on from the days of filibustering and peerage scandals and have a partly democratic second chamber.

So what do I suggest? I would have a partly elected and partly selected House of Lords. I would start the whole system again, allowing members of the House to stand. For simplicity I’d argue 25%/75%. But this could easily be tweaked in either direction. Anybody elected should serve a 8/12 year term to ensure that they are not worrying about constant re-election, but still allowing them to be democratically replaced. The other 75% I would have specially selected, consistent with the manner that occurs now. The idea of the Lords is to scrutinise legislature and we cannot expect that to happen without a specialised House.

The Lib Dem policy is to have it the other way round, with 80% elected. This would be disastrous in my opinion. The House of Lords has to remain a specialised body, and with 80% of its members elected, I sincerely doubt that we would keep such a high quality standard that we deserve.

Enterprising Youth? — March 22, 2012

Enterprising Youth?

Yesterday in the Budget one of my favourite announcements was the Chancellor’s proposal of a £10m enterprise loan scheme. Loans of up to £10,000 will be made available for people aged 18-24. It is being billed as the equivalent of a Student Loan for University students.

Why is this crucial? In the UK we have become far too focused on higher education. Tony Blair’s “education, education and education” mentality has fed through into society to the extent that going to University has simply become the norm. Students no longer weigh up their options, they simply plod along and get a degree.

The introduction of £9,000 tuition fees (which I supported) has made very little difference to applications from 18 year olds sadly. A degree is becoming worth less, even worthless to many. There will be scores of graduates who never pay off their student loans, never quite reaching the wage required to begin repaying their loans. It is time in Britain that we realise that not everybody can be a Doctor, a CEO or an MP and tackled the problem of university culture.

I’m not being a degree snob here, far from it. In fact I’d happily admit that as a PPE student I could have learned 75% of the stuff simply by reading in my own time. But I think its high time we remember that university is a privilege, not a right and we should only strive for excellence.

With that in mind, I’m thrilled to see that the Coalition are encouraging other avenues for school leavers. They have increased the number of apprenticeships and now are introducing enterprise loans. The trial scheme will offer 7,000 young entrepreneurs the chance to get a hand-up into the business world, and will essentially be a venture capitalist scheme – think Dragon’s Den but without the shoulder pads. It has been championed by Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, who has campaigned for young people throughout his career.

The loans would be paid back when the businesses start making a profit, or if the business fails, when the applicant starts earning a reasonable wage (similar to student loans).

It is time in Britain that we once again support the youth of today, rather than demonise them. With ridiculously high youth unemployment we cannot allow the rhetoric to continue that young people are idle and feckless. Far from it we are the future of this nation and we should be encouraging young people to take this step into business.

 

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.