I write this just as most of the political parties are publishing their election manifestoes and already I'm bored with all the political posturing. You would have thought by now, after three and a half centuries following Cromwell's shake up of Parliament, the politicians would have got it right, passed all the necessary laws and pretty well made themselves redundant. About the only thing they seem to have achieved is the latter; well if not redundant irrelevant. How important we all think the current political posturing was highlighted last week by a friend of mine. He helps organise a large fund raising event and during that event he interviewed both David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson, both of which were videoed and put on YouTube. As of Tuesday morning the one of David Cameron had 135 views while that of Jeremy Clarkson had 308,256!
Those of you who have read some of my earlier blogs will know I have an issue with the talk and rules that seem to be set down for us mere ordinary people which seem not to apply to those in Government or the Civil Service. One of the things that has raised my hackles has been the nonsense that someone working full-time, earning the national minimum wage, would still be paying a substantial amount of tax. I was so pleased when the Conservatives announced that they intend to increase the personal allowance so they no longer would - result. Except not fully believing what a politician might say you check the small print - apparently working full-time is measured in MP terms - 30 hours per week. - Dolly Parton better change the lyric 'working 9 till 4'! Also take note how politicians always talk about not paying tax, but very carefully don't refer to National Insurance as a tax.
We are constantly hearing how politicians promises are fully costed or will come from some staggering economic growth we are about to experience, but none of the parties seem to want to be drawn on the topic of cuts. We hear parties talking about the end of austerity, notably the SNP, is this so they can release and restraint on their own pay and expenses. We have parties arguing over Trident and whether they are going to build the necessary submarines and those that will save the money, don't explain what work there might be for the shipbuilders.
I am always amused how politicians talk about the deficit, it appears that the deficit is going down, if although it is going up in absolute terms, it is OK if it is going down as a percentage of the UK's total value. Doesn't this sound familiar when the UK population was borrowing against the increasing value of their houses so they could spend it on cars, foreign holidays and enjoyment. Now for the normal person borrowing is judged not on just affordability, but also on ability to repay. On top of this, of course, Politicians only look at current debt and not the contingent liability of the unfunded pension obligations-particularly of civil servants.
The other term we have come so used to hearing is that term investment by the aspiring parties of how they will invest for our future and for those that have been in power how they have so wisely spent our money investing for the future. In my book though, maybe I read the wrong ones, investments indicate some form of return and very often I struggle to see that.
Obviously tax avoidance has now become as morally abhorrent as drinking and driving, smoking in public place, speeding but it only seems to apply to bankers or the rich, it doesn't include the private individual who pays cash to avoid VAT. I hope that whoever is in power(?) after the election recognises that people exploiting loopholes in legislation to reduce their tax are no more criminals than the people who wrote and enacted the legislation that was so badly written and complex. Let us truly have an attempt to simplify our ridiculous legislation, where we seem to operate on a layer cake system of writing new laws to remedy the failures of existing, rather than going back and rewriting the original law so it works.
I will vote at the General Election though it won't make any difference to the outcome as I am one of those that would applaud a vote for None of the Above!Jonathan RussellPartnerReesRussell
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