Inequality up – expect more toff bashing

13 years of Labour goverment has produced even greater income inequalities. The Labour response is likely to include new tortures for people who work hard, try to get on in the world, who aspire for themselves and their children.

What we need are policies which raise the sights and motivate the energies of the many. The way to reduce inequality – and to make most people better off – is to encourage and foster, not to regulate and tax in a fit of jealous anger that some have still succeeded.

We need an enterprise package to make it easier to set up and run your own business, a small business package so more small businesses can expand and take on more labour, and a shake up of some schools and training Colleges so more obtain worthwhile qualifications.

I have been interested in the wide range of responses to my piece on prisons. It is right that many burglars and petty thieves are never caught, so prison does not act as a great deterrent. It is also right that some of the thieves who are caught are not up to holding down a normal job, especially those on drugs. We do need to do more work on getting people off drugs, on getting them into a condition where they can do something useful and earn an honest living. Some will need to go to prison to do that.

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56 Comments

  1. Posted January 27, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Your people (eg Theresa may today) always seem to address these figures using reasonable arguments, but the beeb interviewers imply a vicious heartlessness in conservatism. the reasonable arguments then sound like a politician squirming. I suggest all answers should be simple and direct, but always true, eg “under a labour government over 13 years inequality has increased. under the last conservative administration the gap narrowed. Under us if voted in it will narrow again. Socialism keeps people down. are you in favour of that?”, etc etc.

  2. Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    And repeatedly say “Toffs like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman, jack Straw etc etc certainly need bashing. I think you’ll find our party has quite a cross section of different backgrounds, more diverse than the labour party or Lb dems” and calmly reiterate whenever beeb or others try again.

    • Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Labour Toffs are louts with a hidden cudgel.

      • Winston O Boogie
        Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Champagne socialists all their cant and hypcorisy knows no bounds. State schools (with all that implies for your kids) private schools for the Labour party's kids. Bash the 'rich' while coining it to the end for themselves. Keep the workers in their place. My old man left the Labour party in Wilson's tenure, he saw through them back then and that was as a bloke working on the shop floor.

  3. Ian Jones
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I dont believe the numbers, I am supposedly highly paid yet can I afford a reasonable house? Nope.
    I wonder if they count the value of benefits as one guesses a family on housing benefit in London gets more in benefit than most people earn.
    The only inequality is for those middle classes stuck in the middle, no benefits, no credits and not enough for a house but enough to pay the taxes to fund the benefits for others.

    • Michael Lewis
      Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      That can only last so long, before we see a house price adjustment. I was on the housing ladder from Jan '99 to Dec 2006, I've rented ever since. As for buying again in this country? No chance, my wife and I have bought overseas and will likely emigrate in a few years time. Governments can only milk people for so long. Personally, as someone who tops up a work pension with a SIPP: I object to paying for state employees on final salary schemes. That and other factors mean emigrating is appealing. Governments should require people put minimum 5-10% of their salary into a approved pension provider. House prices would find their natural level. We've got Brown to thank for raiding pensions and encouraging a real estate boom. Housing in the UK appears to me to be debt filled ponzi scheme. It is being propped up, I would never buy a home here in the UK whilst the government taxes people to prop up this ponzi scheme. Sooner or later it will come crumbling down.

    • Winston O Boogie
      Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      We are simply cash cows for the government. I despair for this country's workers as we slog it out to see our money stolen from us to support hordes of government pen pushers and benefit junkies.

      I sound like my old dad now, but if I was 20 years younger I would be out of this country like a shot.

  4. J Mitchell
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Why is it that the BBC reported today that the gap had widen from 3 times income to 4 times income under the last Tory government, which lasted 18 years, and only that it had continued to grow under this Labour government, which has lasted 10 years. This article http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8174640.stm suggests that the gap is now 16 times income (a 400% increase apparently) – which I would have thought is a much more interesting fact and headline than that the gap grew 25% under the last Tory government. More evidence of bias?

  5. Kevin Lohse
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Dear John. We also need a growing economy so that there are real jobs for even ex-cons to go to.

  6. Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Well said, that is the fundamental difference between Labour and the Conservatives – to address inequality, Conservatives believe in picking disadvantaged people up whereas Labour believe in dragging successful people down.

    • Henry
      Posted January 29, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Remember the old tale of political envy?

      Two students, one Labour, one Tory, used to ride past a 'posh' house, with a Rolls-Royce on the drive, on their way to college. The Tory student said "I'm going to work hard so that one day I too can have a Rolls and a big house". The Labour student said "I'm going to work hard so that I can get into politics and when I am in government, I'll make sure that bastard rides a bike!"

  7. Iain
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Of course adding a million or two people to our population with Labour's mass immigration policy hasn't helped matters, as we see with middle and lower incomes over the last 10 years which ground to a halt, but will the Conservatives point this out, or will they continue their self denying ordinance on immigration matters?

    • Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      It really doesn't matter what they say. There is a common market and freedom of movement within the EU.

      • Adrian Peirson
        Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        Yes but it's not just from within the EU.

      • Winston O Boogie
        Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Yes, and will Dave 'Boy Green' Cameron give us a vote on staying in the EU? Don't hold your breath.

  8. clif
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Its not only pay inequalities, there is also inequalities against how people live and how they are treated by this government, because of this government if you are one of those people who choose to smoke you are not allowed to have private social venues where you can socialise with people like yoursef, even if people want to, people are forced by this government not to cater or socialise in any indoor venue in this country with people who smoke, this is called dictatorship and social engineering, what a disgusting act by this government against people using a legal adult product.

  9. Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I'm of the class that has prison officers in the social circle. They tell us that drugs are rife in prison and that tacit approval is given for their use. The ex cons in this circle tell us the same. If prison doesn't work then maybe it's because it's no longer prison. And what of the statistic that 1 in 7 convicts is a foreign national ?

    Start rehab by criminalising drug use.

    As for inequalities – the inequalities gap may have widened but this does not mean that those at the bottom have got poorer. In fact I was disheartened (though not surprised) to hear that the father of one of the Edlington boys takes home in benefits considerably more than I do in wages. In the case of some of my hard working friends double what they earn.

    The 'inequalities' have happened because Labour became subservient to bankers and their bonuses boomed out of the stratosphere.

  10. waramess
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    *many burglars and petty thieves are never caught, so prison does act as a great deterrent*. Sorry but I do not see the connection – is there one?

    I would think that a financial penalty in addition to requiring restitution would be a far greater disincentive. The risk that the crook might lose his house would be far greater than the risk of losing his liberty, I suspect.

    "We do need to do more work on getting people off drugs, on getting them into a condition where they can do something useful and earn an honest living. Some will need to go to prison to do that." Still no logical connection.

    Why do you think that if you get someone off drugs they might do something useful or earn an honest living? If you want to sort the drugs problem then just make the taking and the sale of drugs legal and thereby make them inexpensive. If on the other hand you want to sort out the unemployment problem then reduce or eliminate entirely the benefits system and remove the minimum wage requirement.

    And if you wish to create an environment that encourages equality then you are right, reduce the size of government and run an economy that is small on regulation and tax and is committed to sound money.

    After all, who do we think is disadvantaged by inflation and depreciation of the pound? The rich?

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      More crime = more need for a police state.

  11. mart
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Dear John

    Re. prisons, IMHO this is one of the main functions of government.

    Cut some budgets by all means, but prisons are necessary for the maintenance of the rule of law.

    I want to know that we have enough capacity in our prisons to keep the justice system from making bad sentencing decisions.

    Your ideas re. restitution being made to the robbery victim is, I fear, a good theory that would not work in 99 percent of cases.

    Your blog makes excellent reading. Thank you.

  12. Bob
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    We need a ten thousand pound tax free threshold, income tax and profits tax.

    Introduce Workfare, cleaning the streets, public parks, public transport etc.
    No more "something for nothing" welfare which just promotes indolence and the Devil makes work for idle hands.

    God provides enough food for all the birds, but he doesn't throw it into their nests.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Bob

      Yes the solution is not difficult really is it.

      But we will need Doctors on hand to investigate the "Ive got a bad back" group, and of course Solicitors for the "its against my humam rights" group.

      Like the last line, excellent.

  13. Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I'd employ more people if not for the laws on redundancy.

    Redundancy pay is the biggest turn-off for small business. If you employ somebody you run the risk of literally being unable to afford to get rid of them should you need to.

    This is a crazy situation. In our efforts to "protect" people who are made redundant from a long-time job we are effectively preventing tens of thousands from ever being hired in the first place.

    The purpose (I suspect) is to shield the government from some of the costs of sudden unemployment. "You can't have benefits yet – you've just got £10,000 payout."

    Small Employers (ten staff or less) should be able to let staff go with a month's notice and nothing more. And they should be able to do so for any reason they like or none at all – ie they should not be subject to endless questioning about "why" they let somebody go.

    Yes, this opens the door to some practices we might prefer to avoid. But it also opens the door to mass employment without fear and would cut unemployment dramatically and quickly. I reckon the benefits outweigh the risks – particularly in this economic climate.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Steve.

      Why not try to employ them on a fixed term contract, which you can renew should you so wish.

      My Daughter who was made redundant after 11 years with her last employer last year, is currently working on such a contract. It obviously does not give as much job security as normal employment, but better than nothing, and what is secure at the moment anyway.

    • Bazman
      Posted January 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      You, you and you. No not you. Employment rights are minimal for the first two years and no existent for the first three months. If you have employed them for enough time to have to pay out a ten grand redundancy payment then their loyalty must have made you or a company enough profits to warrant it. Their loyalty is worth something in cash terms and if you do not think so you are wrong.

  14. Norman
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I'm not sure if a campaign group kicked something off yesterday, or it was National something Day, but in the morning on the way to work I briefly had Radio Scotland on and in the evening when I was browsing channels I saw the same article on both (both BBC so I accept it will be left-leaning and take that into account).

    Anyway, the piece was about child poverty in Scotland and there were experts on saying how we were the third (sic) richest country in the world and it was a disgrace how so many children were still in poverty (and this after 13 years of a socialist paradise – they never said that bit). Then there was an interview with a single parent. She was complaining about how she couldn't take her son to other children's birthday parties because she couldn't afford to buy a decent preset, etc. All fine and dandy.

    Now for the kicker. The consensus of both pieces seemed to be that the government should be doing more and giving more benefits to help lift these families out of the poverty they are in. Nothing at all to do with helping either the single parent into productive activity or, perish the thought, helping the absent parent into employment so that they can shoulder their share of the burden rather than the taxpayer.

    With our state broadcaster perpetuating such views we really do need to do a complete about face and introduce conservative values of the Reagan / Thatcher variety as soon as possible and try to reproduce the economic recovery they brought about in the 1980's.

    • Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      I enjoy teaching my Polish Mums English. The general idea is to get as many as possible into employment. We had a lovely Mum who showed me all her Polish credentials in Beauty: nails, hair, make-up, toenails even massage! I went to the local Beauty and Marriage Shop where the Manageress told me to send her along immediately because she wanted to get immigrants into her shop.
      Well, two months later and she hasn't been in. Why? Eventually the truth was out; she would lose benefits for herself and her children and she didn't want to do that.

  15. JohnRS
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    We really have to get the state off the backs of the people and getting folk to be responsible for themeselves and more independent. Several of the responses here are about that in one way or another:

    Enterprise/small business startup packages
    More individual choice/responsibility (e.g. on smoking)
    £10k tax freee threshhold
    Workfare for benefits claimants
    Loosening the redundacy laws for small business

    and all these should be basic Tory policy.

    But all of this is undermined and rendered useless if criminals continue to roam free with no restriction on their activities. The first duty of the state is to protect its citizens. Currently this is not happening with violent crime or things like fraud. The key benefit of prison is that the offender is off the streets and unable to repeat his/her offence for a while. So law abiding folk can go ahead and set up busineses, get jobs, earn money without fear of having it stolen in one way or another.

    If you want the other policies to work you need to underpin them with jail sentences for offenders.

  16. Martin
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I thought this morning's BBC Radio item on inequality missed the point totally. Means tested targeted benefits don't work very well. Take up is patchy and fraud an issue. Complicated schemes seem to be Ms Harman's answer to everything.

    Some problems would be better helped by reducing taxes. Fuel Poverty – why not reduce the VAT on the first 100 Pounds of a quarterly bill? OK some better off people benefit as well – so what they are paying lots of tax anyway.

    Help the low paid – increase basic allowance.

    Council Tax Benefit is another farce -anyone who gets more that £150 a year interest from savings (at present interest rates) is not allowed help with a £1000 bill. A tax on savings and self reliance!

    • Iain
      Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      "Help the low paid – increase basic allowance."

      What we have created is a ridiculous merry-go-round, or rather misery-go-round, where the employers bleat that they can't get the staff, so Governments opens the flood gates to mass immigration, which depresses the wages, so politicians introduce tax credits and the like to make the wages a living wage, which increases the tax burden, which means low paid jobs don't attract workers, so the employers bleat to the Government, so the Government opens the flood gates to yet more immigrants, which increases the basic cost of living…and so we go on the spiral of misery.

      Better to take people out of the tax system, remove all these job subsidies from the tax payer like tax credits, and if employers bleat that they can't get the staff tell them to pay more.

      It always amazes me that people allow employers set aside the market principle when it comes to paying salaries and wages. If an employer offered £100 an hour there would be people queuing up around their block to take a job to clean their toilets. So its not about there not being the people willing to do the job, its that there isn't the people willing to do the job for the money they are offering. Unfortunately Governments have conspired with employers to cook the employment market by opening the flood gates to mass immigration, but what really takes the biscuit is to then have politicians coming in front of our TV screens weeping copious amounts of crocodile tears about the widening inequality gap.

  17. Sue Doughty
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    And the Job Centre makes life so deeply dismal for job seekers that they will not vote at all. If the Conservatives can promise to make employing people easier can they campaign outside Job Centres with confidence?
    Coffee Republic started out seling coffee from a mobile stall but I now see that even a peddlar's licence is out of reach for those on JSA. How can motivated ideas people get started these days?

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Communism isn't about Entrepreneurship, its about 100% state jobs.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted January 29, 2010 at 4:32 am | Permalink

      Sue: Having lost my job at the end of August, I resisted signing on for JSA until mid-December. My initial interview was with a very sympathetic young lady at the Basingstoke JobCentre Plus building. I found myself thinking a wicked thought – if her job and her nice Jobcentre Plus building didn't exist, and my benefit disappeared, maybe there would be enough demand in the private sector to generate a job for me.

      The latest figure that I have for the UK's social protection expenditure is £ 199.1 billion in FYR 2008/09 (measured in 2007/08 prices). That is more than our annual public sector deficit. Compare and contrast £ 36.2 billion on defence.

      I have been trying quite hard to find work. No doubt part time bar work or a Tesco night shift or stacking shelves in B&Q will be available to older workers. However, if we are looking at full time work in my field of transport infrastructure planning, it's much more likely that I shall find work overseas than in the UK. UK expenditure on transport planning is in decline; this is a leading indicator and suggests that capital expenditure will decline sooner or later. I have a suspicion that we will manage the Olympics, a slowed down Crossrail, and possibly this mooted high speed rail line from London to Edininburgh via Birmingham. Most other transport projects will get chopped.

      • Sue Doughty
        Posted January 29, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        THe RUA and the RAC and others have compiled data about transport infrastucture spending in the UK, showing the extent of the current disconnect between government transport policy (present and potential), and reality.

        The RUA says "All parties (for decades) have ignored the growth in private personal mobility in favour of subsidised public transport. Current spending on Rail is at a rate equal to that on road; consider the logic of this against these data. The current proposal is to spend £bns on extending the rail network (“because of capacity constraints” on the existing network) while leaving the major and main road network more or less at its 1950’s length."

        But when reading this it is as well to know that the RUA is the tarmac industry !

        The JCP spends all its time and effort trying to drop people off their list for political reasons. They will send you out cleaning council buildings for two weeks without pay pr expenses and when you walk off the job you are off benefits for 6 weeks.
        I think the clients of the Job Centre should get together and create their own new jobs as they did in the USA after the Great depression but the Job centre does not allow that. Best wishes in your search. You will get work some time somewhere

  18. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    DRUGS – an enormous topic, so let me make just one point.

    It seems to me that those who I shall loosely describe as "the establishment" are two faced, or forked tongued, as to the use of illegal drugs.

    On the one hand the use of class drugs is illegal, and when asked formally establishment figures will say that people should not take them.

    On the other hand there are those who argue publicly that some or all drugs should be legal, possession for personal use is considered a crime not worth punishing, and casual references to illegal drug taking is widespread throughout the broadcast media implying it is OK.

    Children in particular must find the drugs message confusing. They are told they should not take drugs, but all around them they can find adults doing just that, and with impunity. They are told it is bad for your health, but there are loads of things that we do that are bad for our health, so, in that context, just what is it that Children have to understand distinguishes drugs from all the other unhealthy things.

    Legal sanctions target dealers rather than users. But from what I have seen (i.e. relevant TV programmes) for every dealer you lock up that are plenty more ready to replace them. And in any event this is only tackling the dealer problem at the bottom of the chain; it does nothing to remove the pressure to continue dealing from those above, who want to continue making money.

    In my opinion, if the establishment is really serious about eliminating illegal drug use the case has to be made to not to take drugs as a point of (moral) principle, and to back that up with sanctions against all users.

    • Mark
      Posted January 27, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      You should perhaps read what happened in Portugal:
      http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,18

      The policy appears to be more successful than the approach adopted here. I think the legal and moral emphasis should be on the unacceptability of antisocial behaviour, whether drug induced or otherwise. Moral values are best instilled at a very young age.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the link.

        "Under Portugal's new regime [possession of drugs not illegal], people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail."

        The percentage change is quite small, certainly not enough to say the "problem" has been "solved". The timescale is a bit sure to be able to see the longer term trend.

        Also it is not made clear to what extent the change is due to de-criminalisation or to the help panel simultaneously made available.

        As I read it the drug is still illegal, so trading the drug is illegal, and I assume there is no legal outlet to buy the illegal drug; it is possession of a small quantity that has been made legal. Does that mean to take the drug is legal? So then there is the issue of what legislative view the state should take regarding the unlawful actions of those under the influence of an "illegal" drug. And presumably those who want to take drugs still have to buy them, which links to crime to fund the purchases.

        A big subject!

        • Mark
          Posted January 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          How long a timescale is needed to evaluate in your view? Portugal went this route 9 years ago. From the article:

          "between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half."

          I'd say those are very significant reductions – 25-40% fewer users.

          The point is that the policy is not merely decriminalisation of small quantity possession, but the whole package and the attitudinal change that goes along with it. Also, "police are now able to re-focus on tracking much higher level dealers and larger quantities of drugs."

    • James Morrison
      Posted January 27, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Well said, the drug USERS need to be targetted, with tough sentences increasing with repeat convictions – rising to a prison term of some sort on the third "strike".

      With no users, there will be no dealers – it's unrealistic to expect to wipe it out completely I know, but hey…..

      • waramess
        Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        If nobody is targeted but all can use or deal in drugs without fear of prosecution, do you think more people would use drugs? I would submit that drugs are now so easily obtained by both adults and children, there would be no increased consumption.

        By making the use of drugs illegal but not stopping the sale you unfairly target the vulnerable.

        Like prostitution there is no way you can stop or even curtail the business. The Drugs problem like prostitution is caused because the politicians are too scared of public opinion to do the right thing and, as a result, create a massive criinal network.

      • Mark
        Posted January 27, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        It's completely unrealistic to expect prison to deal with users. In fact, far from helping to wean people off drugs prison seems to encourage inmates to become addicts and associate with the dealers and pushers. Moreover, given an estimated 3 million users of cannabis, it just ain't going to happen – at £40k per head per year, we don't have the £120bn spare to lock them up. The law for mere possession already provides for sentences of
        * up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class A drug
        * up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class B drug
        * up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class C drug

        The law already looks ridiculous, because in practice most people get let off with a caution or warning, or a fine that is lower than for a parking offence. What is very stupid to my mind is the idea that under 18s can expect no action beyond informing their parents or carer on a first offence – the moment when a more positive intervention stands greatest chance of success: there are data that show being arrested for cannabis possession provides a perverse incentive to try harder drugs. It is interesting to note that before cannabis was reduced to a Class C drug, some 28% of the 16-24 age group were users, but afterwards the proportion had fallen to 21%. Now that it is once again classified as Class B, it will be interesting to see what the statistics show.

        There is plenty of interesting research at the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit which gives more insight.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Drug users need to be targeted with punishments? How would that ever work?!

  19. Phil Kean
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I've just read your views on sentencing. OMG!

    There was one thing I did agree with. Labour's law machine rolls on without limit, with custodial sentencing attached with increasing regularity.

    Are you seriously asking society to compel thieves to make financial recompense to their victims and pay the costs of their prosecution?
    Socialism has engendered a culture where we can't even force people to take responsibility for themselves, without forcing them to bear the financial consequences of their own criminality.

    No, prison places should be one of the two sacred areas – the other being defence – where funding should provide an increased capacity, even if it only materialises through efficiencies, savings and reorganisation.
    A burgled home and a stolen car can cause much heartache and misery for the victim. This heartache should not perpetuate into a feeling of injustice, and a fear that the original offender may return to repeat their crime.

    My solution is harsh and simple. We must contract out to the Americans the provission of prison places for the most evil, dangerous and prolific offenders in our society.
    The Americans have the space, they can do things MUCH more cheaply, and this option in itself would provide a nuclear deterrent for those who have no fear of the current, weak UK justice system.
    .

  20. Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    The Welfare State is now dangerous financially and is, unless there is a RAPID change, about to destroy us.
    A man who has a very successful career in building told me that there is a fellow living in his (very posh) part of town who does so on Housing and Welfare payments.
    But today, he told me that there is another man living there too with his five children. A nice man who wouldn't mind a jot of work if only he didn't lose his benefits.
    We are just an inch away from the "Citizen's Wage".

    The anger on the blogs here from people who are having to pay a lot of money for the privilege of supporting people like this is palpable.
    Do something!

    • Winston O Boogie
      Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I lost my small business and while walking (yes walking) through the cold and snowy weather to look for a job at the job centre, sawy people get our of taxis, leave them outside meter running while going in to collect their 'benefits' I would have dismissed this as an urban myth had I not seen it first hand. Something is seriously wrong with this country and while I will vote Conservative I doubt they can actually turn it around.

  21. Lola
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    "a small business package so more small businesses can expand and take on more labour," I'm a small business. I don't want 'packages' . I want very low taxes and for the government just to get out of my bloody way so I can get on with doing business. In other words kill reg-yew-lay-shun stone dead ASAP.

  22. Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I came from a family that wasn't particularly well off, but I managed to get to a good grammar school and didn't do to badly in life. Strangely, I've never had this left-wing hatred of the rich, possibly because my grandmother had been in service and had relied upon those who had money to provide her with jobs. My mother had the same attitude, she helped run the family laundry as a child, which also relied upon the wealthy. I never cared if the rich were getting richer as long as I felt my own position was improving, which it did; certainly I'm better off than my parents were. Much of the Labour attitude is pure jealousy, as the don't realise that in the end the rich spend their money and this must provide work! Who would provide jobs at manufacturers like Rolls Royce or hotels like the Hilton except the rich (and government ministers spending taxpayers' money).
    All we have from Labour and Harriett Harman in particular, is simple plain jealousy, and their entire economic strategy is based on this hatred.

  23. ikh
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Drugs, 40 years of prohibition i this country and else where has never shown any sign of working and I don't believe it ever will. It is involved in 50% of all crime and the vast majority of organised crime and funds international terrorism and causes failed states.

    It is about time we scrapped Drugs crime and treat it as a health issue. We are going to have to do this with alcohol. Make class A drugs available through drugs clinics ( similar in concept to Family Planning Clinics ) and license class B and below to be sold commercially.

    The financial savings from eliminating drug and drug related crime will pay for a lot of re-hab clinics and education programs.

    And stop trying to send kids a 'message'. They see it as propaganda and ignore it.

    /ikh

  24. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Labour remove incentive by the tax they take away from you, "The why should I bother" attitude is back again as it was in the 60s/70s when they were messing things up then.

    All the new government need to do for a start is remove all these restrictive tax grabbing policies that labour have introduced.

    Just look at the waste in government spending.

    Tax credits who thought this one up. look at the admin. just increase the level before you pay tax and we all get some help not just the favoured few.

  25. Adrian Peirson
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    All drugs should be decriminalised and supplied by doctors who can vet their usage, convict on the basis of harm to others, if someone gets high in the privacy of their own home, so what.
    If they cause a nuisance of themselves then you have cause harm, so we dont need new laws. we can repeal a lot of laws, and just go back to common law, common sense.
    Do none harm, cause none loss, nor commit fraud in your dealings with others.
    Those are the only laws we need.

  26. OurSally
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Drugs: thinking about this in the shower the other day (the way you do) I thought about it from the other direction. Not why do they take them, but why don't the rest of us?

    What do users get out of drugs? They get a feeling of well-being they would not otherwise have. I have an interesting and challenging job, I live in a nice place, I have good friends and hobbies I like. I don't need drugs (anyway I would not have the time).

    So what is wrong with drug users? Their lives are miserable, that's what. Should we attack the problem from the other side?

    – educate them properly so they have self-worth and a job to do all day.

    – raise them to be friendly people so they can make genuine friends

    – make them do sport and music in school so they can amuse themselves in their free time

    – set a better example. If a "celebrities" gets caught with drugs, sack them, pillory them, send them to jail, make them pick litter.

    Simple, eh? Makes more sense than just throwing money at them.

  27. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    For the salaried middle classes, the only inequality that really matters is between having a job and not having a job. If you want to promote equality, get the number of unemployed down.

    One of the things that needs to be done is to look at how National Insurance is raised and spent, and put in place rational reforms. What proportion of NI is spent on fully funded schemes, what is spent on partly funded schemes and what is spent on unfunded donations? And who benefits – employee or employer?

    Suppose that we got rid of employer NI contributions entirely, retained employee NI only for fully funded schemes, and transferred the remainder of NI to general income tax. In time, it might be possible to privatise the fully funded schemes. Getting rid of employer NI would reduce labour costs and generate more employment. Reforming employee NI would lead to greater transparency.

    Doubtless, there would be transitional problems but with reform we need to target the long term goal.

  28. no one
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    There is inequality between the professions where the government has allowed mass influx of none EC workers into the country on work visas, especially intra company transfer visas, and those professions which are much more protected from such unfair competition

    Hundreds of thousands of Indian nationals are in the country in the Telco and IT businesses, flooding the market with workers, and depressing wages as supply of workers outstrips demand. Many tens of thousands of Brits are out of work, and the incentive for employers to use them has disappeared when cheaper Indian nationals are available

    Why work hard and get qualified and experienced in Telco or IT when your job will be given away with the consent of the state to 3rd world workers

    To say nothing of the shipping of many of these jobs overseas with wave upon wave of outsourcing, what exactly is the UK going to do to earn its living when everything is outsourced?

    I note that widespread influx of none EC workers has not happened in the professions loved by politicians, such as lawyers, social workers, bureaucrats and so on. When I see the speed camera partnerships staffed with Indian nationals, or the Quangos staffed by Indian nationals, or indeed political researchers replaced by Indian nationals then maybe I'll believe in equality

    Then we have the inbuilt public school and oxbridge bias in the system, and the positive discrimination for wimen while the real folk suffering the worst discrimination in the UK today are white working class men with regional accents!

    So all in all the politically correct land we find ourselves down is probably less fair than its been for a long long time

  29. Tim
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I am glad that you speak up for those who 'try to get on in the world, who aspire for themselves and their children.' I hope that you will support at least a doubling of the minimum wage so that every job will reward such people. If the minimum wage is not at such a level, then such people will be disincentivised.

  30. Bazman
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see everyone agrees, as usual, with the idea of no taxes regulation or benefits as the solution to all problems of inequality.
    Drugs are a real cause of inequality in the world and a massive tax on the poor. Is the illegal drug trade regulated or unregulated by being illegal? It is unregulated of course, and as it is unregulated, by much of the thinking in these replies must by default be working perfectly, and for which many people it is. Though not for the user who gets ripped off with dirty overpriced products or many of the people subject to criminal activity like burglary by these high prices, mainly the poor. How can we deregulate the drugs market further to make it more efficient and stop a small minority of people very rich at the expense of so many people without effecting the profits of the the people at the top and how can mass addiction by a free drugs market be overcome without regulation? Drug dealing is a very efficient business that overcomes many problems utilising skills and technology at all levels. A franchise can easily be acquired in your area with the minimum of paperwork and regulation, though there may be some police checks that will be unavoidable and 'taxes' will have to be paid, no paper work will be required tough. How refreshing! Why can't the the normal tax system cannot be so efficient? Bureaucracy gone mad.

  31. Posted February 11, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Please keep me informed of any updates to your blog. I would really like to continue to read your writings. Thanks

    Reply: It is updated every morning

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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