Wednesday, 11 April 2012

How Fragile We Are, How Fragile We Are

(With apologies to Sting).

You know it's getting to you and you're going down in flames when you start bursting into tears for no good reason.

Get a grip, Ken.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Romney For President

So Rick Santorum has thrown in the towel. My man wins as I wanted. So what next:

1. The General Election has now started. Obama v Romney will start clashing daily.

2. Gingrich and Paul need to be told to poke off. They are now a distraction sapping energy out of the main effort. My guess is they will be forced to desist.

3. Who will the running mate be? Needs to be a conservative Southerner. Christie? Santorum? Perry?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Stuck I predicted here...I was right. We are well and truly stuck on the 45% top rate of tax from today's news. Well anyway until after a possible Tory win in 2015. And where does that place us in the international league table then?

Sweden - 56.6%
Belgium - 53.7%
Denmark - 52.2%
Netherlands - 52.0%
Japan - 50.0%
United Kingdom - 50.0% (old rate)
Austria - 50.0%
Finland - 49.0%
Germany - 47.5%
Ireland - 47.0%
Australia - 46.5%
Canada - 46.4%
Iceland - 46.1%
Portugal - 45.9%
France - 45.8%
Israel - 45.0%
Greece - 45.0%
United Kingdom - 45.0% (new rate)
Italy - 44.9%
Spain - 43.0%
United States - 41.9%
Switzerland - 41.7%
Slovenia - 41.0%
Chile - 40.0%
Norway - 40.0%
Luxembourg - 38.9%
Korea - 38.5%
Turkey - 35.7%
New Zealand - 35.5%
Poland - 32.0%
Hungary - 32.0%
Mexico - 30.0%
Estonia - 21.0%
Slovak Republic - 19.0%
Czech Republic - 15.0%

Whoopy fucking do. All that media savaging for that? Not good.

Interestingly, if you can be assed to delve into the Red Book and see what the Treasury's own analysis is on this issue, it turns out that 37% is the optimum rate for raising the most money. But then logic always gets trumped by politicking.

(PS The table highlights just how stupid the loony Lefty French Presidential candidate Francois Hollande's 75% policy looks. Coupled with their Financial Transaction Tax policy, this should utterly screw the French economy for some time. I suppose there is a silver lining to every cloud after all).

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Rogue Media

Oh dear. Despite all the madness of 'Hackgate' and the horrible weekly revelations before Lord Leveson's inquiry, it seems that old Tabloid tricks are alive and well, with 'Red Top' reporters skulking around ministers' gardens trying to set up a sting (see here).

Which is why I continuously call for proper press regulation, just like the broadcast media has, and hope that the Good Lord Leveson sees sense.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Politicians' Tax Affairs

As I blogged a few days ago, Ken is a lying hypocrite. He has carried out sensible tax planning whilst blasting anyone else doing exactly the same as a tax avoiding “rich bastard”. He has then compounded this by smearing Boris as a tax avoider, when in fact Boris has either generously or stupidly not carried out any sensible tax planning and actually paid more tax than he is required to under current tax law.

All the London Mayoral candidates have now released some tax information. Ken’s is incomplete, incorrect and designed to obfuscate his real situation.

But after the media upped the ante on this whole issue, Boy George has now said he is up for the debate on whether frontline politicians should publish their tax returns, as in the USA.

This is a bad thing.

A really, really bad thing.

Of course we want our politicians to pay UK tax. So it goes without saying that all UK politicians should be UK tax resident. So far so good. And we want our politicians to not be lying hypocrites - hear that Ken? (Let’s not get started on all those Lefties who rail against private education and quietly send their children to private schools. That’s another level of hypocrisy for another post). But there are some serious arguments against extending these two perfectly proper requirements to requiring all politicians to publish their tax returns.

1. We will never get the media and the Left to be able to understand the difference between tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance and sensible tax planning. The first is illegal, the second is unpleasant and successive Chancellors endlessly chase this problem through new legislation but the third is to be commended. We want people to work hard and they should be allowed to keep their hard earned income. It is a basic human right as far as I am concerned. So everyone should tax plan to perfectly legally and properly retain as much of their hard earned income as they can. Meanwhile, all governments have a terrible and endless track record of wasting taxpayers’ money and we should give them just enough to do what we need them to do and no more.

2. Direct comparisons of people’s tax affairs are very difficult. Much depends on many variables including your age, your employment circumstances, your attitude to saving/pensions/investments etc and of course each tax year is different with changing tax rates and changing individual circumstances. We would get terrible, wildly wrong and very politically partial analysis of politicians’ differing situations.

3. People just won’t understand the information. There was much coverage some time ago about Romney’s tax affairs in the States. What almost all commentators simply could not understand was that Romney was actually paying proportionally more tax than his competitors. They all wrote the story the other way around as they simply did not understand the complex information they were dealing with.

4. It is interesting that all those who always wank on about human rights are the first in the queue to want to take them away from people they don’t like. I actually think politicians should be allowed privacy, whether for their financial affairs or their family or whatever. If not, we will end up stopping normal people from wanting to become politicians, ending up with dull, squeaky clean automatons with zero personality, history or ideas. We want politicians who are representative of our society not homogenised dullards.

5. We would also effectively stop anyone who is successful (ie rich) from running for office. We need these guys exactly because they are successful. But why would many of them want The Daily Hate screaming about their personal finances? They would not put themselves forward.

6. Now for the most important reason. Yet more personality politics. This harks back to the issue of ‘intellectual elites’. How many of us can explain Boris or Ken’s exact policy on transport, the police, the City, air pollution, planning, the GLA tax precept etc. Yet we all know about their personal lives, their tax status, their families, their extra martial affairs blah, blah. We need to know much more about what our politicians plan to do and much less about what they are like. This issue is a growing cancer in our political system. We are becoming more and more like America on this and that is not good.

The Powers That Bcc

What a hoo-ha about bugger all. ‘Surveillance Dave’ going back on his pre-election verbiage about civil liberties, according to that horrible combination of the opportunistic Left and the mad Right. As ever, the facts…

You will recall that Mr Cragsbury is a civil libertarian, so I am prepared for the odd crim to go free rather than impose serious curtailment to the rights of all. Some of my history on this issue is here, here, here, here and here. The state should never be given carte blanche or too much power. Hence, I was very against NuLab’s mad previous proposals for the Government to bug our email traffic at will and hold the data themselves. The current proposals are in fact very different.

For many many years, the Government has been allowed to listen to our telephone calls. They do this by requiring the telcom industry to hold data on when, where and from/to whom all our calls are made for a period of time, so that if they believe we are baddies doing bad things, they can check this info and then using that go (secretly) to court to get a legal order empowering them to then bug our calls. Very, very few of these legal orders are granted. Very, very few of us are ever bugged. This process is for suspected serious crims, terrorists, foreign intelligence agents etc. You and I need worry not.

Anyhoo, the volume of calls over the internet is exploding. And right now, the security services have very limited ways to investigate this, for example Islamic extremists in the UK on Skype chatting to their masters in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan etc.

Thus, all the Government wants to do is extend their existing powers on telephone calls to internet activity and most especially internet calls. Not an issue than we good people need worry about much but of course a wonderful hobby horse for the Dark Lord Dacre and all his malign minions to rant about in The Daily Hate, and perfect fodder for all good bandwagon hunting Lefties who want scare mongering and negative coverage of the Coalition.


Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

I have been a bad blogger this week. A combination of work being (good) crazy, covering for other colleagues who are having babies/on holiday etc and, in the rare spare milliseconds, overseeing a small construction project at Cragsbury Towers.

Anyhoo, as the eldest Craglette used to say when she was about two: “I back now”.

A couple of posts today to make up for it.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Greatest Story Ever Told

It's Sunday. It's late. Enjoy...

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Desperation Politics

Brain donor of the week - Diane Hill who sustained 40% burns when attempting to decant petrol from one container to another in her own kitchen with the gas cooker alight.

Opportunist of the week - The man who wants to be our Chancellor of the Exchequer giving an interview and actually trying to blame Francis Maude for the injuries sustained by the woman.

Pathetic news organisation of the week - The channels which actually half ran with that story for a few hours. (Are you independent news organisations or the PR department of the Labour Party? Make you mind up).

Knobs of the week - John Mann MP, Karl Harris MP and Lord Toby Harris (all Labour) who called for Francis Maude to resign on the strength of this news story.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Interpreting By-Elections

Much arrant nonsense is always talked about by-elections, both before and after. Today was no exception. So I thought I’d give you…drum roll please…Melvin’s Top 10 By-Election Tips.

Tip 1 - In reality, by-elections are simply a referendum in one constituency on how the punters there are feeling about the Government on that given day. Thus, most by-elections are protest votes.

Tip 2 - By-elections therefore tell you bugger all about (a) the Government’s real (un)popularity, b) the Opposition’s real (un)popularity or (c) public opinion on any one issue.

Tip 3 - Melvin’s ‘rule of thumb’ is that sitting Governments usually get a kicking, the Opposition usually prospers and occasionally a small bunch of one issue loonies surprises everyone.

Tip 4 - If the Government candidate does well, however, then that is probably significant.

Tip 5 - If the Opposition’s candidate doesn’t do well, then this is also probably significant.

Tip 6 - If a loony third candidate does well, this usually means fuck all and normal order is resumed at the next General Election, with said loony disappearing into obscurity.

Tip 7 - If it is a safe seat, then most other main parties don’t spend much time, money or resources on it.

Tip 8 - The party which wins, claims “this is an historic victory which will change the mould of politics for all time”. It doesn’t.

Tip 9 - All parties try to use the result to damage the other parties, even if their own result is woeful eg “Well, David, we didn’t do as well as we had hoped (swing against of 90%, they lost their deposit and their candidate committed suicide at the count) but really the story of the night is that this is a truly terrible result for the x party”.

Tip 10 - Any truly meaningful impact of the result is always completely lost on the media.

So how did last night’s Galloway spectacular measure up, then?

Tories - Did badly, as expected. Not really a shocker for a Government in the middle of an austerity programme.

Lib Dems - Ditto.

Respect - Typical, horrible Galloway campaign playing to the young disaffected Muslim vote. He has one card and he plays it well. He will make some amusing speeches but will be an irrelevance.

Labour - What a shocker. They were either complacent or incompetent or both. Their once brilliant election machine is history. Too much time is being spent right now arguing internally about who should be sitting on which deck chair while the very unhappy good ship Titanic further embeds itself in the iceberg. Bad, bad news for Millipede Minor. If he can’t win a by-election in a half-decent Labour seat right now, after a truly horrible week for the Tories, even loyalists must be wondering when to wield the knife. Expect manoeuvres in this weekend’s press from the Blairites and Millipede Major.