Thursday, August 31, 2006

Our unworthy Mayor Ken

Ken Livingstone has aimed his poison at Trevor Philips. I suppose it was only a matter of time. Philips has, after all, recanted his staunch belief in multiculturalism. Livingstone probably had him in his sights from the moment he first expressed his doubts. Anyway, he got his chance to attack today. The erstwhile disciple had dared to suggest that the Notting Hill Carnival (that one-time chaotic assemblage packed with thieves, drug dealers and knife wielders) was not a triumph of multiculturalism. Livingstone immediately swung into action, predicting that Trevor Philips would soon be in the cuddly embrace of the BNP.

I hear the Notting Hill Carnival has changed since I last went, but whatever it may have been transformed into, I would not describe is as a 'triumph of multiculturalism', if such a thing exists. Surely, one can say that without being called a racist?

In any case, has Livingstone not heard the latest edict from our beloved rulers, passed down by Ruth Kelly last week? The Government has changed its mind. We need no longer be slavish adherents of the multiculti sect. We are now 'allowed' to question and debate its merits.

Ken Livingstone is a disgrace to London. He is unworthy of his office. With his odious comments and blatant prejudice, he has dishonoured his office more times than I can remember. As the Anyone But Ken blog states, Londoners deserve better.
You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We pay them to lie to us

We are informed that public spending on spin doctors has increased three-fold under this Government. Not that I am surprised, or anything. However, this massive spending spree seems to have had the opposite effect of whatever it was intended to produce. Public cynicism in politics and politicians has grown over the past ten years. In fact, the latest yougov poll for the Daily Telegraph indicates that a significant number of voters are forsaking the three main political parties in favour of the smaller ones. And who can blame them?

At the heart of the spin culture lies the issue of trust. Most of the time, politicians do not trust us with the truth. Either that, or they dare not tell us the truth. Hence the need for this army of conjurers. We, in turn, do not trust politicians. Consider for example, the recent loans-for-peerages scandal. The Government's response was to float the idea of getting the taxpayer to fund political parties, an idea shamelessly supported by the Conservative Party leadership. Why should we trust such a bunch of self-serving individuals?

Today's news would have been amusing if it weren't for the fact that the spin bill is being paid by the taxpayer. Yes, they lie to us, and we pay them for it.
You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Practice what you preach, Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown is in the Financial Times today, preaching, among other things, about the folly of 'unfunded tax cuts'. No doubt, that particular comment was aimed at those who have been going around talking about abolishing inheritance tax and stamp duty on shares.

His article reads like a traditional Brown budget. Start off by telling us all of the dire economic situation in the world, then point out how, in spite of all these tribulations, Britain has stood firm. Remind us of his one spectacular decision; granting independence to the Bank of England. Throw in the following words: stability (preferably 'locked in'), public investment (now there's a euphemism). He hasn't treated us to a deluge of figures and percentages, so for that, I am grateful.

I agree with Gordon Brown about unfunded and uncosted tax cuts. We should only cut taxes when we have a clear idea of the figures involved, and the likely impact. This is common sense. However, I don't think anyone has been making rash promises to cut taxes.

My question, however, is this: why do we hear about the virtues of 'funding' or 'costing' measures, only when they relate to tax cuts? What about all the tax rises, stealth taxes, etc? Does anyone research them beforehand to see if they are in fact necessary? I remember a few years ago, we were presented with all sorts of figures when the Government wanted to increase the national insurance contributions rate. Perhaps because they were making the case that the increase was necessary to pay for the NHS, they felt the need to come up with all sorts of justifications, etc. However, we generally just get hit with tax rise after tax rise with nobody bothering to explain the 'costings'.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown has presided over so many tax blunders. For him to start preaching to us about stability and proper planning in tax policy is nothing short of laughable.

Here are a few examples of Brown At Work:

  • Abolition of the dividend tax credit in 1997 which plunged pension funds into their current crisis, forcing many final-salary schemes to close;
  • The tax credits fiasco, which has resulted in overpayments of £1.3bn for two years running (perhaps some of this money could help cover some of the shortfall from the abolition of inheritance tax);
  • The introduction of the 0 per cent small companies rate. Gordon Brown had obviously not foreseen how this would work in practice. The rule was then revised 'to counter avoidance' before being withdrawn altogether. All in a period of four years.

Yes, tax cuts must be funded and costed. But tax policy must also be planned. There must be certainty for both the taxpayer and the tax collector. There is not much evidence of that in a Brown-controlled Treasury, so please forgive me for not taking his latest comments too seriously.
You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Monday, August 28, 2006

History lesson for David Cameron: the ANC were terrorists

So Margaret Thatcher was wrong about Nelson Mandela, was she, Dave?

When will this madness end? In this bid to show that the Tories have 'changed', David Cameron has been acting like a madman. And the most dangerous sort of madman; one who really should know better.

Forget (if you can) all the sound Tory principles that have been jettisoned (or at best compromised) on this 'journey'. Not content with that, David Cameron is now determined to rewrite history.

In his view, Margaret Thatcher was wrong to describe Nelson Mandela and the ANC as terrorists. Really? So what exactly were they, then? He doesn't tell us. Perhaps they are now to be known as freedom fighters - the very term that causes so much outrage today when used to justify the actions of terrorists in the Middle East.

Today Nelson Mandela is a globally respected statesman. That does not deny the bloody history that took him to that place. Yes, the ANC were fighting for a worthy cause. Apartheid was an evil policy, and it is a good thing for humanity that it was abolished. However, the fact remains that the ANC used terrorism in pursuit of their ends.

By making those comments, David Cameron has shown himself to have no respect for history. Rather like the current occupant of Downing Street. He is looking at past events with the eyes of the present, and allowing that to cloud his perception.

The truth is, the ANC were terrorists. The only difference between them and other terrorists plying their 'trade' in those days, was one of degree. They did not inflict as much damage because they were spectacularly bad at executing their plans.

Let us make a comparison. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have been trying for years to paint themselves as statesmen. To some extent, they are succeeding. But consider how ridiculous it would be if, a few years from now, a politician denounced someone who, at the height of the Troubles, had referred to them as 'terrorists'.

Cameron has been playing fast and loose with Tory policy. That is one thing. Playing with history is an altogether dangerous matter. In these days of moral relativism, compromise and triangulation, if there is one thing that should be sacred, it is history. We should have respect for historical fact. If we have a leader who does not recognise that, we are all in big trouble.

You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Grammar lessons for Sainsbury's

Good news. One less thing to get irritated about at Sainsbury's. The Daily Telegraph reports that Sainsbury's have (finally) decided to replace checkout signs saying '10 items or less'. I cannot tell you how much irritation those signs have caused me. Every time I go into Sainsbury's, I have to restrain myself from complaining to the nearest member of staff. A spokesman says that they decided to correct the signs 'as a result of customer feedback'. Interesting, that. One would not have expected that a supermarket of that size (or any size, for that matter) would need grammar lessons from its customers.

Oh, and in other news, record passes at GCSE level.
You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tory proposal to abolish stamp duty on shares

The Shadow Chancellor, George Osbourne, has announced that the next Conservative Government plans to abolish stamp duty on shares.

This is welcome news. Due to increasing equity prices, the receipts from stamp duty on shares have grown steadily over the years. Good news for the public coffers, but not very good news, in particular, for the pension funds. They have suffered heavily following the much criticised withdrawal of the dividend tax credit in 1997 (also known as Gordon Brown's £5bn raid). Abolition of the stamp duty tax charge should afford some relief. It is a good point from which to start.

The Bow Group is publishing a pamphlet tomorrow, which will contain more details of this proposal. I will be posting some more after I have read the pamphlet.
You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Go by air, arrive whenever

These are busy times in the world of aviation.

Every day brings news of yet another emergency landing. At this rate, it would be wise to factor in extra journey time of at least 24 hours when taking to the skies.

Mind you, a day's delay is not that bad considering what the alternative might be. At least, with the former, you will eventually arrive at your destination.

You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Post Big Brother blogging

Hey ho. After a summer of exceedingly light blogging, this blog is back in business. Apologies for the interruption in service. Blame Big Brother 7. Every year, I vow not to throw away another summer in this manner, and every year, I break that vow. Anyway, I have had my fill of Nikki, Pete, Aisleyne (pbuh), and even Russell Brand and his outrageous humour.

So what has been happening in the world while I was held captive by Channel 4?

I am still catching up with the real world but I have been informed of the following:
  • John Prescott has been in charge of the country (surely they should have interrupted BB with a public service broadcast to warn us!).
  • The police are still dividing their time between chasing terrorists and being politically correct.
  • Tom and Jerry have been hit by the smoking ban.
  • A cricket game between England and Pakistan has led to a blazing row after the Pakistanis were accused (probably unfairly) of cheating. (What is all the fuss about? I see the 'prejudice against muslims' line has already been bandied. How long before someone calls for jihad? )
  • Oh, and Ian Blair is still talking rubbish.
You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terror and the usual suspects

We are being told that the Police have foiled a plot to blow up airlines in mid-air. We don't yet know the full story, but Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson from Scotland Yard was kind enough to provide more details. What I did not understand, however, was why he then spent some time 'reassuring' the public that this investigation was not an attack on 'communities' (for which read 'muslims'). Who gives a damn about that right now? We are just being told that this foiled plot would have led to 'mass murder on an unimaginable scale', and instead we have a senior policeman worrying about the sensitivities of 'communities'? It is one thing to appeal for help from the muslim community, quite another to pander to their sensitivities in this way. If there are terrorists in that community, they should be flushed out without the Police having to genuflect before the local imam. It is the duty of every citizen to assist the Police, irrespective of their 'community'.
You are viewing a post on Bel's old site. Click here to find this post on the new site.