The government thinks it’s about us, we think it’s about them

 

               Most people want their government to collect sensible amounts of tax and to provide decent services for the money. They wish the government to uphold the law against criminals. They think most our problems are ones coming from too much law,  not too little, or from imperfect enforcement of laws we do have against criminal activity.

               Modern bureaucratic  government seems to think most of the problems come from the actions of the people.

               Health officials want people to be less fat, to eat a better diet, drink less alcohol, take more exercise. They may be right that this would make people healthier, and delay their time with doctors and hospitals to older age. Meanwhile the public wants the NHS to be there for them whatever they do. Some resent the taxes and regulations used to try to change our lifestyles.

               More resent the work of the green police. The latest idea that if  you want to apply for a home improvement, the Council can make you undertake various energy improvement works at the same time is going down badly in some quarters. People feel that if they worked hard and manage to have a little money left over after all the Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT they should be allowed to spend it on a home improvement of their choice, not on improvements of the government’s choice.

               Motorists are often on the wrong end of the official view of how we should behave. There is endless expensive fiddling with the road network to try to change motorists behaviour in many places.

               Tax policy has become a Clapham Junction of differing signals. Higher taxes to stop binge drinking, smoking, travelling abroad, travelling by car or plane, using roads in Central London, making good profits, earning a good income and employing people. Tax  breaks to promote going by bus (fuel duty),  going by train (subsidy), saving for retirement, saving generally, lending to the government, and giving money to charity.

                 Now the government sees the need to define aggressive tax avoidance, a legal but morallyrepugnant activity. The best way to stop morally repugnant tax avoidance is to define it and make it illegal.

                 Many members of the public want the government to concentrate on what it spends, and get better value for the money, instead of telling us what to spend.  The more governments think it is about the way people behave, the more voters will it turn it back on the government and complain about the way they behave. Let the one without sin hurl the first legislative stone.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

130 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    John

    Your excellent headline and post sum it all up really.

    There is a huge disconnect between the government, politicians and the people.

    The Politicians seek votes by making promises which we really cannot afford, then when in power do almost the opposite to that which was promised.

    The people elect politicians on the promises made, and when they do not deliver on those promises, seek ways to get around the legislation introduced to best effect for themselves.

    The sad fact is we are now tied up in such a very complex web of rules, regulations, laws, directives, taxes, benefits etc, that hardly anyone knows, or better still even understands the rules anymore.

    All we see is Government costs, taxes and spending rising, whilst personal disposable incomes drop.

    Our government and its systems need an axe,or better still a chainsaw (as its quicker) to be taken to them.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Perhaps now is the time for the Government to have its Accounts Fully Audited every year for official publication, by a totally and utterly independent organisation.

      Thus we could have a very detailed listing of the accounts with regard to income and expenditure, and a rather more simple precis of the State of the Nation in financial terms at the end.
      This of course would mean an unedited copy being available on the web for everyone to read and examine.

      Thus the voter (if interested) can see at a glance if we are getting further into debt, or are indeed making headway into the debt mountain.
      The import thing here is that ALL spending and liabilities needs to be included.

      Perhaps we could also have the Chancellor or the Prime Minister present these accounts to us all when they give an annual State of the Nation broadcast on TV and Radio, to explain away the accounts in question.

      Thus the Government would operate on exactly the same basis as a Company does to its shareholders at an AGM.

      We are after all as citizens of the UK all shareholders in our future, its just that some pay rather more than others for their share.

      Perhaps the above may just concentrate the minds of a few politicians closer on future policy and cost, when they know they will have to justify the figures.

      Reply: The Audit office does provide an independent audit of the accounts, and the OBR provide the forecasts. I do not think we lack numbers – as I seek to show on this website you can work out the poor state of the UK’s public finances from what they do already publish. The issue is how to tackle them.

      • A Different Simon
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        John ,

        Where can we find information about future liabilities ?

        How about an attempt to quantify those liabilities which are not properly acknowledged :-
        – 8 out of 10 private sector workers retire with a pension pot of less than £30,000 . One way or other they are going to cost the state more than a £140/wk state pension .

        Isn’t it time to acknowledge this alongside shortfalls in public sector pensions funds ?

        Forecasts of levels of future immigration and future emigration and their contribution to the economy , positive/negative .

        Comparisons of actuals against forecast to show people whether they were having the wool pulled over their eyes .

        I’m not asking for over-measuring ; that would be like crack cocaine to civil servants and consultancy houses .

        Reply: I have set out before the more easily quantified liabilities, You can ascribe values to the capital costs of all kinds of future state provision if you wish, but there will b e tax income to meet them up to a sensible level.

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        John

        Many thanks for the reply, but the gist of my post was that the Chancellor and /or the Prime Minister should publically present these Accounts and explain them in simple terms for all of the Nation Shareholders/taxpayers to see.

        I am aware that you try to do your bit by making people aware on this site as to the financial state of the nation, and that is absolutely great, but with due respect, it is not going to inform millions of people is it, in addition it is not going to get the Chancellor or the Prime Minister to acknowledge the real figures, the real problem, and the real progress if any.

  2. Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Great post John – you’ve got your finger on the pulse there.

    Question: how many of your fellow Tory MPs think similarly or you very much in a minority?

    Thanks.

    Reply: Not enough think like me – Lib Dems and Labour certainly don’t.

    • outsider
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Yes this is a wonderful post and should be text for debate in schools, colleges and societies, not least in political parties. Thank you Mr Redwood. Your particular insight is that the “us and them” feeling is mutual. That is something we should all think about.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Oh so naive. The teaching establishment, from the teachers to the teacher training lecturers to the curriculum setters to the examination boards, is controlled by the hard-left. The teaching unions are even more militant. They have no intention of allowing such free-thinking and non-leftist debate in our schools.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t it strike you as rather odd that not enough Tories think like you do?

  3. Anthony Harrison
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    First class essay, Mr Redwood. Not for the first time I wish devoutly that you were once more on the government front bench and that your views were shared by your colleagues.
    Alas, the most salient point that emerges from your words is that your views are not so shared. I dare say Mr Cameron & Co look upon your restated views as confirming your position as a dangerous maverick. I mean, more individual freedom, fewer laws, less bureaucracy, far less government – what next! Man’s an anarchist….
    Given this, I hope, I really hope, that you appreciate why so many of us see no prospect whatsoever of the Conservative Party’s turning itself around – so we vote UKIP. You can curl your lip dismissively if you will, but it does not alter the resounding fact that your view of how the Conservative Party should behave – in government or out of it – does not and will not prevail. So for anyone who values political liberty and the freedom of the individual, plus a renewed prosperity, it is futile and dishonest to vote for its candidates.
    I’m nearing retirement (less comfortable than I might have wished, since the government is busy inflating away my savings) but my son is still young, and I’d like to think he could enjoy liberty and prosperity: the Conservatives no longer represent these things (yourself and one or two others excepted) so there is no alternative but to vote UKIP.

    Reply: What have UKIP MEPs achieved, other than spending our money like all the rest as they claim their expenses from an institution they don’t beieve in? At least some of us Conservative MPs fought and won the battle to keep the pound.

    • Anthony Harrison
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Well, Gordon Brown kept the pound by rejecting the Euro too, Mr Redwood, so that’s not a criterion by which I choose who to vote for…
      It’s a very sad fact that while your own standards & beliefs are thoroughly sound, they are not shared by the Party you represent. Those of us who have observed Tory shilly-shallying over the EU for several decades absolutely do not understand why that Party should any longer be given the benefit of the doubt on Europe; and it has largely abandoned any genuine commitment to the sort of low tax, small government ideals its traditional supporters sought.

    • APL
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      JR: “At least some of us Conservative MPs fought and won the battle to keep the pound.”

      Well done there Mr Redwood. But what is the point of keeping the pound if your policy is to trash the value of the pound anyway?

      Value of £1 at 19912 as 1

      Value of £1 at 2012 is 0.02 relative to 1912 pound.

      • APL
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        JR: ” some of us Conservative MPs ”

        Yes, some of you did. But there were more MPs who claim to be conservative lobbying to join the Euro, your friend and ours Mr Ken Clarke for example.

    • Sean O'Hare
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      What have UKIP MEPs achieved, other than spending our money like all the rest as they claim their expenses from an institution they don’t beieve in?

      The Youtube videos of Nigel Farage and others ranting at Barroso, Van Rompuy et al are extremely popular with some even “going viral”. As they are denied any publicity by the MSM, the videos are one of the best PR outlets that UKIP has. That, plus the possibility of throwing a spanner in the works, are the only reasons for UKIP not to absent themselves, as do the shinners in Westminster.

      At least when Farage speaks there are people there to listen, even if most of them do jeer in disapproval. Dan Hannan, bless his cotton socks, seem to talk to an empty chamber most of the time.

    • Mick Anderson
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      To JR reply:

      What of the common perception that the Sterling was kept in favour of the Euro because of disagreements between Mr Blair and Mr Brown? I know that you will have fought to keep the pound, and I don’t doubt that you had help from some Conservative MP collegues, but I’m not sure how much difference you would have made on opposition back-benches. Surely the ERM fiasco put paid to entry prior to 1997.

      Nor do I doubt that UKIP MEPs have failed to do any useful for the Country. I don’t believe that an MEP of any flavour has done anything useful for the Country that could not have been better achieved by withdrawal from the EU.

      Reply: The problem with the UKIP prospectus is it all hinges on withdrawal from the EU which they are never in a position to deliver, which negates the promises. I with others secured the referendum lock which saved the pound.

      • Bob
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        @ JR – Reply to reply
        “Reply: The problem with the UKIP prospectus is it all hinges on withdrawal from the EU which they are never in a position to deliver, which negates the promises…”

        Now I know why they put Chris Patten in charge of the BBC trust.
        To deny airtime to UKIP!

        Due to the way the established parties keep out newcomers it is an uphill struggle to get ukip MPs, but people are beginning to find out what ukip stand for – conservatism – and the party is growing, unlike the busted flush establishment parties.

        Reply: Why then did Mr Patten allow Mr Farage on Any Questions last week?

      • Robert K
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        If I lived in your constituency I would vote for you. My Tory MP is anti-referendum so I see no reason to vote for him. My MEP is Dan Hannan, who is anti-EU and actively bites the hand that feeds him. He will get my vote.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Why did we not adopt the Euro? Tony Blair would have done so, but was prevented from doing so by Gordon Brown. And why was that? Because it would have diminished his power base in the Treasury. That power base was used to wage war on Tony Blair. You were against joining the Euro, but your efforts were as nothing – Brown stopped us joining.

      Reply: Our campaign and my resignation from the Cabinet persuaded both John Major then Tony Blair to offer a referendum, which then made joining the Euro impossible.

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      This will be seen as the most pro EU government ever…….discuss

      • Robert K
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        no discussion necessary.

    • BobE
      Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      I also will only vote UKIP now. The conservatives will not stop the EU. So UKIP is the only tiny chance now.

  4. Susan
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    The best way to help people in the UK, is to give them their freedom back. From the moment people leave their homes and even before that now, the heavy hand of State is present. No one is allowed to make their own mistakes without the State interfering. All this meddling is costing Government a vast amount of money for no real reason. The more the public is pressured by Government to act in a certain way the more they will just rebel and do the opposite. Of course all those who act with irresponsibility know that the State will be there to pick them up and reward them. It does not pay to be a responsible member of society anymore.

    What use is it to bring in all these health reforms on smoking etc, we all know the Government would rather we died much sooner. One only has to look at how successive Governments have dealt with pensions and age related issues to know that.

    So it would be rather helpful if Government stopped listening to minority groups, left us worker bees alone to enjoy what life we have as best we can without all these rules and regulations.

    • Robert K
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      well said

  5. David Walpolr
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    What we want is to come out of the EU and stop paying their fees. We have never voted to be in anything other than a common Market and your political class have fraudulently taken us into a political union which is proving to be unsustainable. Thankfully we didn’t join the euro (EZ) but we have to get out of the EU before our whole way of life is disrupted by these European idiots. We demnd democracy and do not accept o be governed by an unellected elite financed by a corrupt fiat banking system.

  6. Gary
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Let the govt enforce and protect property rights.

    The rest will take care of itself.

    The govt, as always, had become a vast money making racket for insiders, grafters, lobbyists and leeches.

    • A Different Simon
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      How does “land” fit into property ?

      Land rights are an example of rights of conquest , either you put a fence around it or acquired it from someone who did or stole it as in the enclosure of the commons lands in the 18th ,19th and early 20th century .

      Land is one of the essentials for life , like food and energy . People who don’t have any chance of having their own space feel disenfranchised . There is a whole generation of them coming along and laughably they are expected to pay our pensions .

      We need a proper , long overdue debate in the country about land and replace the concept of “ownership” with the concept of “exclusive use of the commons” with an appropriate charge which would replace some of the taxation on employment – the most damaging of taxes .

      This would be an extension of the concept which applies to mineral rights and other finite natural resources .

      • outsider
        Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        Dear Simon, Are you talking about land nationalisation? I recall Anthony Crosland arguing long ago that Labour should propose that under the slogan “the land belongs to the Queen”, which seemed to be going back to a long way before the enclosures, which did not in any case cover all land?
        Or are you talking about everyone having a back garden, the suburban ideal of home ownership, one that I share but which is unrealistic with anything like our current urban population?

        • A Different Simon
          Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          I’m not talking about land nationalisation .

          I’m talking about levying a charge for “exclusive use of the commons” . You could view it as a charge for the service of providing a legal framework which establishes land ownership rights and enforces them .

          In recognition that the value of land is generally not created by the land-owner but by the community ; eg by building access roads , railway stations , proximity to schools etc it seems reasonable that the dividends of the land should accrue more widely than they do today .

          Personally I think it would be nice if the money generated was used to build social housing .

          Thus anyone who owned a house would pay a charge proportional to the unimproved value of the land it sat on . The same plot without a house on it would attract the same charge so it differs from rates or poll tax .

          This would discourage hoarding land on which planning permission had been granted and encourage development of badly needed housing .

          People call it land value tax (LVT) but it’s not actually tax but instead a charge for exclusive use of the commons . Hong Kong Island used LVT very successfully . Henry George was a proponent .

          Here is what Churchill had to say about it in 1909 :-
          http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=192587497418040

          Revenue has to be raised somehow . Taxes on employment (which is a private endeavour) are the most damaging and have the effect of keeping the masses in their place and the Lords in the Manor . That is afterall what they were designed for .

          • outsider
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            My understanding is that the land in Hongkong was state owned, ( effectively by us). It was then leased out, thus netting revenue on the development value of “green” land. That is nationalisation, very different from the practical nightmare of separating and valuing the development value of every street of mixed freehold semis, and thus also requiring the estimation and indexation of the building cost of a notional house on the site. Great for valuers though, provided they have enough insurance.

          • A Different Simon
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

            LVT would be based on the unimproved value of the land .

            I suppose you could try to calculate that by subtracting the cost of a notional house from the estimated purchase price of such a house .

            Accomodation is an overhead .

            If we want to be a successful nation again we need to find ways of reducing it’s cost rather than continueing with an economy built on ramping up accomodation prices .

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Indeed as you say:- The government has become a vast money making racket for insiders, grafters, lobbyists and leeches.

      Just an industry, protected from real competition and with unfair advantages over all the rest through distortion of the legal system and use of others taxes.
      Rather like the BBC in fact.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        I see Osborne expresses surprise that some rich people use tax breaks (that his government choose to make available to them) to encourage such investments). Such as his recently introduced “Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme” perhaps?

        Is he really a suitable person to be in charge of his department if he is surprised at this. Does he have any clue about how the absurd tax system he presides over actually works or rather does not work?

        • alan jutson
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          lifelogic

          I have to say that if he is surprised by such basic information, then he is either not asking the right questions, or is being fed duff information from his advisors.

          This is huge and worrying situation if he was truely unaware. what else does he not have a clue about ?

          • Bazman
            Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            This is similar to classic manager/company bullshit about not being able to do anything because of the system, a system that they created and if it where in their interests to use the system to cut your pay would have already happened.

      • A Different Simon
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic ,

        Are you sure you don’t mean “grifters” ?

        As far as I can see the Govt has not done anything to help “grafters” make money .

        • lifelogic
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

          I copied it from the above comment you are quite right “grifters” is clearly what I must have, subconsciously, meant.

  7. waramess
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Hard to know what they don’t understand. Not that we should not be concerned about agressive tax avoidance but the government have to understand at some point that unemployment costs are increasing, debt interest is increasing, tax receipts are falling and the deficit has to be reduced and all this in an economy where there is no sign of growth.

    Looking to raise sufficient tax from the wealthy to do all this is a nonsense which will not succeed and the only medium term options they have are to either cut the size of government or to run out of money although, as George has already pointed out the option of printing money is always an option for failed governments

    • uanime5
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Tax receipts are falling because so much tax is being avoided, so the only viable solution to this problem is to reduce tax avoidance.

      Also the Government cannot reduce welfare costs by reducing the size of the Government. Not unless they want to make more people into criminals.

      • davidb
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        Tax receipts are falling because a lot of them came from banks and from the taxes like stamp duty on property transactions. I would think theres a bit less overtime being worked too. The budget should be brought into balance. We pay interest on all that debt.

        Tax avoidance is not new. We have not suddenly become Greek overnight. We spend too much. There is a point at which it becomes counterproductive to tax any more. Many readers to this blog believe that point has been passed.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        So are you saying more tax is being avoided now than it ever was in the past?

        Why do you assume reducing tax avoidance is the only way to increase tax receipts? How about simplifying the tax system and allowing people and companies to keep more of their own money, thus encouraging those who can to strive to earn more?

        Why assume cutting back on the size of Government will ‘create’ more criminals? Less reliance on the State and more self reliance is a better way to create a healthy vibrant caring society than the alternative we’ve been force fed over the last half century.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          Let’s see now, it the UK is losing a lot of money due to tax avoidance then reducing the amount of tax avoidance will mean the UK gets more money. Simple really.

          Reducing taxes will just lead to the Government getting less money from those who actually pay their taxes and will have very little effect on those who do avoid taxes. So all it will do is lose money.

          Striving to earn more won’t help the economy. We need to strive to create more jobs.

          Finally your comments about being reliant on the state are at best naive and at worst a right wing delusion. People cannot be self reliant unless they have a job that pays enough for them to raise a family on. At present 2.7 million people are unemployed and many more get paid so little that they need tax credits to make working economically viable. Until this changes people will either have to rely on the state or commit crimes to get the money they need to live.

          • Jon Burgess
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

            Tax avoidance means legitimately ordering your affairs to pay the minimum amount of tax under the law. What’s wrong with that? Why would anyone volunteer to pay more than they have to to the Government?

            This is only becoming more common place because the UK tax system has become too complex – and good old tinkering Golden Gordon was the worst of a bad bunch of chancellors over the last few years.

            By simplifying the tax system, the incentive to employ accountants and tax advisers becomes less, and what do you know – the Government gets more revenue as a result. Simple really.

            Now I would argue that the low paid are unable to make ends meet because the Government takes too much from every conceivable transaction (and this adds immeasurably to everyone’s cost of living). Less State means lower costs for all of us, so that’s got to be a good thing for the less well off.

      • libertarian
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        Evidence? No thought not

        • uanime5
          Posted April 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          You mean other than Osborne who is trying to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance?

          Well there is a £35 billion tax gap according to the HMRC. Perhaps reducing this would be a good way to raise tax receipts.
          http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/mtg-2011.pdf

          • libertarian
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            Nope wrong again.

            The £35 billion shortfall in the tax gap report is due to tax EVASION, not avoidance there is NO shortfall in avoidance, as avoidance is perfectly legal, honest and moral. It includes things like tax free ISA’s, pension contributions, receiving end of year dividends rather than monthly salary, charitable donations . It includes hiring non vat registered businesses to do work on personal projects etc.

            Tax evasion is mostly practiced at the lowest end of the scale. Contriband Cigarettes , alcohol, red diesel . Benefit fraud, untaxed cars. Bungs and backhanders.The black market and cash in hand jobs. Software piracy , copyright theft and illegal downloads. A recent report by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) revealed nearly £5.5million is sent out of Britain daily by migrants who avoid paying tax. Yes of course there is some top end fraud and evasion too, but on the whole the rich are rich enough to be able to relocate their funds offshore and therefore do not need to indulge in illegal activity although of course some still do.

            As for Osbourne, who cares what he says, he’s a buffoon.

  8. Mick Anderson
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Let the one without sin hurl the first legislative stone

    The electorate are not allowed either to cast stones or legislate. If we were then rather more MPs who were caught with their sticky fingers in the expenses till would currently be languishing at Her Majesties pleasure.

    Consider that a large part of the resentment caused by excessive Government is that they hold virtually all the cards. Like money, when they think they don’t hold enough cards, they simply print some more. It is all massively one-sided.

    One General Election every five years is simply not enough for us to keep Parliament under control, especially when we are denied a “None Of The Above” option. The reason it all looks like a political stitch-up is because that’s exactly what it is!

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      “none of the above”

      Hey ! That’s my idea ! (Joking)

      This would be a good move, actually. I am at a loss to understand why some people think that abstension is apathy.

      Why would someone go to a voting booth to ‘spoil’ their ballot papers ?

      At least it might prevent tactical voting which has given our politicians entirely false mandates.

      • sjb
        Posted April 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Electro-Kevin wrote: I am at a loss to understand why some people think that abstension is apathy.

        Attending a polling station to spoil your ballot paper demonstrates interest. For most voters the process will only require a few minutes of their time, so abstention suggests a lack of enthusiasm in registering their dissent.

  9. Damien
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    George Osbore is quoted in todays Telegraph as being “shocked” after seeing the accounts presented to him showing that on average multi millionaires were only paying on average 10% income tax. By 9.45am some 950 people had taken the trouble to register their concern.

    It is clear that these multi millionaires are acting perfectly within the law. George Osborne has suggested that Ministers should publish their accounts so perhaps he will consider going further and requiring that all tax returns are published.

    • Mick Anderson
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      I also suspect that these multi-millionaires are paying lots of money in taxes that don’t necessarily apply to “ordinary” people – CGT on asset sales and stamp duty on shares, for example. Income comes in different forms, and Governments have found ways to take money from lots of things that most of us never see.

      It feels more like Mr Osborne trying to drum up some synthetic anger against the “rich” to try and deflect from the fact that it is Governmental profligacy at the root of the problem. If he didn’t waste spend so much money, less would be required from the put-upon tax payer (both poor and rich). Perhaps if he did not have private wealth and a priviliged background he would understand the ordinary tax payer better.

      • Susan
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Mick Anderson,

        You suspect but do you know that multi-millionaires are paying lots of other taxes that do not apply to other people. There is a World of difference. Mr Osborne has seen the books have you?

        I am all for lower taxation especially on higher rate tax payers to bring growth to the economy. What I am not for is rich people avoiding tax to the point where they virtually pay nothing and in some cases do pay nothing. This is not fair to other taxpayers who are feeling squeezed by tax rises because they are taking the burden for those who do not pay.

        Now I suspect that when your taxes go up again to make up for the shortfall that these people leave, you will quickly change your mind. Unless of course you have your own reasons for supporting this unfairness.

        I say well done to Mr. Osborne for being brave enough to begin the process of tackling this problem and bringing in a cap which is obviously just his starting point.

        • alan jutson
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          Susan

          I see it is reported widely that Google have paid a very low percentage of tax on their business in the UK ?

          If true.

          How?

          Why has it been allowed !

          Will the corner shop get the same treatment ?

          • Susan
            Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

            Alan,

            And your point is what Alan?

            As far as I know Google do not have shops in the UK.

            The UK would have to be a low tax economy to even stand a chance at catching Google.

            If you mean closing loopholes so that Google do not exploit high tax economies, the discussion is already happening to see how this can be done.

            What that has to do with individuals living in the UK and agressively avoiding tax to the extent of paying virtually nothing I have no idea. We want a low tax economy not a no tax economy.

          • alan jutson
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            Susan

            A very simple point.

            Google it is reported as paying less than 10% of tax on its profits.

            I suggest the corner shop pays more than 10% on its profits (most businesses do).

            Thus we do not seem to have equality of treatment for tax rate puposes.

            So I simply asked was this fair, and why has it been allowed to happen.

            Yes I am aware that Google does not own or run corner shops, unless its policy has changed recently.

          • Susan
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

            alan jutson,

            Yes but what is the relevance of the point. Google are not a corner shop based in the UK. We are talking about individuals that are based in the UK and are agressively avoiding tax.

          • alan jutson
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

            Susan

            You answered Mick Anderson with regard to the unfairness of personal taxation rates, and examples were shown.

            I simply added it also happens in the business world, and gave a simple example.

          • Susan
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

            alan jutson,

            alan I understand that, but it has to be like for like. For instance if you had said there are two corner shops based in the UK one paying tax and the other not that is a good example.

            Google is not based in the UK, therefore it is totally different from the corner shop. Naturally there will be differences in the tax percentages.

            The way Google are going, it is lucky we get any tax at all.

        • Mick Anderson
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Susan,

          Income tax is quite specific to one sort of income. If a politician starts focussing specifically on something to exclusion of other relevant things, it generally means that the wider picture hurts their argument.

          Whenever the tax regime changes, my taxes always seem to rise. I still don’t clamour for punative taxes on the “rich”. Rather, I observe that if the Blue side of the Cabinet (who run the Treasury) kept their pre-election promises to reduce spending and simplify the tax regime, everybody could pay less.

          I want fairness, which I believe includes reducing taxes for everybody. I don’t call for higher taxes for others so that my bill is reduced – that would be hypocritical. Working harder should improve your life, not put a larger target on your back.

          • Susan
            Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

            Mike Anderson,

            I too would like the Government to cut spending and reduce taxation, but this is not going to happen for sometime.

            I am not asking for higher taxes for others, I merely asking that people pay what they should. Now if Mr. Osborne is to be believed and I hardly think he would dare lie, certain rich people are getting away with paying very little towards the tax system by using agressive avoidance. This in turn puts tax up for those who are on limited budgets and are paying their taxes, because less tax is collected than should be. That is unfair and something has to be done about it.

        • libertarian
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

          Susan

          You seem to fail to appreciate that money in order to have any use has to be spent and the moment you spend it, it incurs taxes at least of 20% and sometimes far higher ( petrol, alcohol, tobacco etc).

          Therefore it is highly unlikely that the super rich pay no tax, unless they are sticking all that money under the bed.

          • Susan
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

            libertrian,

            Where in my post do I say that people do not spend money every one of us spends money. However we also pay our income tax or should do. It seems however that some of the super rich do not or if they do it is at a very low level.

            Now if you are content with that, then do not complain when your taxes go up again to compensate. Avoidance breeds more avoidance and eventually evasion which gradually undermines the tax system itself as less people see a reason for them to be honest. There cannot be, in times of squeezed incomes for some, one rule for the rich and one for the less well off, there has to be some degree of fairness. Now Mr. Osborne has spoken out on these issues of agressive tax avoidance, something has to be done about it.

          • libertarian
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

            Susan I merely pulled you up on you assertion “they virtually pay nothing and in some cases do pay nothing. ”

            There IS a fairness, the tax rules are open to all and count for all. Anyone can set up a service business and 3 million people have. You have been duped by the left in equating Avoidance with something sinister. It is a leftist weasle word. It has no standing, the term is tax planning and every individual , including ALL the socialist thought leaders like Blair, Balls, Brown and Livingstone do it , should seek to order their affairs in the best way possible. As all these super rich aren’t paying their taxes its amazing that the UK’s richest 1% account for 26% of all tax revenues. How did that happen?

            If you follow your argument about fairness to its logical conclusion I also take it you think that every person in the UK should also be on the minimum wage, I mean why would we want to treat anyone differently

    • sm
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      I think we could start at the top 0.1% of incomes, then 1%, then 10%, then 20%, then onwards as practical.

      Paying tax should be a sign of success.

      The major problem is we have such a need for tax caused by our dsyfunctional system of competition and debt based finance .

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    As Ronald Reagan said:
    “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
    “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”
    “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
    I could give more examples but I think you get the message. I just wish that Cameron et al did!

  11. Cliff. Wokingham
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    From your thoughts John, it is clear to see that, unlike your front bench, you are not out of touch with the general population.

    It is funny that as we go deeper and deeper into the EUSSR, so Nanny’s obsession with health and fitness becomes more apparent; didn’t the Nazis have a similar obsession?

    I suspect many people don’t want to live longer and longer just to be farmed by the state as cash cows into their seventies and beyond. I was saddened to hear Mr King talking yesterday about us plebs having too many holidays because it reduces the GDP. It is my view that there is more to life than work and I always worked to live, not lived to work.
    We work longer hours and have fewer holidays than most developed countries and still our government spread the myth that the Brits are lazy and don’t have a work ethic.

    Regarding the proposals to force green wash onto homeowners if they want to improve or repair their homes; I looked up on WBC’s website about central heating boilers etc and Lifelogic is correct, you do need to get building regulations approval and use a registered installer who has EU tick box forms to complete which are then stored on an EU database. I wonder how many other rules, regulations and laws have been quietly put in place. At one time it was easy to know what the law was and thus obey the law, now I am not so sure.

    Now, following recent events, is this idea to force homeowners to spend their money, on their homes as directed by this so called Conservative(sic) led government, a diktat from the EUSSR or is it a cynical move by the government to increase VAT take and to create jobs in the green sector.

    May I also state as a Conservative, that I find the idea of forcing people into debt, by forcing them to borrow money from a state backed scheme as disgusting and against every principle I and other Conservatives, other than the front bench, hold dear.

    Just remind me again; Mr Cameron is a Conservative isn’t he?

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      John;

      I forgot to ask;

      Why was this yet another policy idea announced in the media rather than in Parliament. Didn’t Mr Cameron say he was always going to make policy announcements in Parliament first?

      Also, looking at the Parliamentary calander for 27/4/2012, I see that there are second readings of bills, on a day the house isn’t sitting, to move eight government departments out of London; one to Bristol and seven up t’north. Is this the right time to be spending what will be a fortune on such projects or is it selling off the family silver for a short term gain. ie Whitehall/London property?

      Reply: Second Readings usually require a full debate so Parliament will be sitting for them. It will not need a Bill to move a government department – that can be done by executive decision. Housing officials outside London should be cheaper for taxpayers.

      • Cliff. Wokingham
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the reply John…..I may have got hold of the wrong end of the stick, and for that, I apologise.
        These are a series of Private Member’s Bills, put forward by Labour MP John Mann, attempting to force the Secretary of State to relocate a variety of Government Departments to locations outside of London.

        It all seems a bit crazy to me and a waste of time which could be better spent debating other, more pressing issues.

        Reply: That will just be a stunt. The previous government did relocate quite a lot, and doubtless this government will continue, as keeping staff in expensive central London locations does put the bills up.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          I find it amusing that the increasing house prices have finally resulted in a problem for the Government. Maybe this is why there are so many Government jobs in the north of England.

    • ChrisXP
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      I learned about this government interference in our home improvements only this morning and emailed several contacts with the details. They were all extremely annoyed and disgusted at it. Just what do these people in government think they are doing? Telling people that they MUST spend extra money if they want a new boiler, new windows, etc…. my home is paid for, no mortgage, I own it so no-one will tell me what to do as regards repairs and renewals. Politeness will restrain me from saying exactly what I think of it.

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        Chris XP

        Suggest you read an article by Christopher Booker in todays Daily Mail ref the new system for home improvements, if true its frightening and far, far more reaching that intitially outlined.

        The Government have truely lost the plot, and Cameron allowed this sort of thinking and action to go on, whilst in so called control.

        We had the poison pills left by Brown, we now have the same thing left by Huhne.

    • Bob
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      @Cliff. Wokingham

      “Just remind me again; Mr Cameron is a Conservative isn’t he?”

      Where did you get that idea from Cliff?

  12. "Watch my lips"
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    We had the cheek of Osborne quoting from Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’ – which advises a knowable tax regime as one of the desirable properties of a good society – and then at the same time introducing a General anti-avoidance regime. In other words giving HMRC full reign for an arbritary interptetation of the law.

    It is fascinating how most politicians use words which are the opposite of their reality, cf Orwell’s 1984.

    Osborne thinks he’s smart – I think he’s lost my vote for being G. Brown style sly in the matter of the Granny tax.

    • Bob
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I think that wasteful government spending is morally repugnant.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        I think that an independently wealthy MP who had his mortgage interest on a second home paid for by the taxpayer (when he could have purchased the property outright from his own loose change if he’d wanted) is morally repugnant.

        As Mr Cameron said in 2009 when he was quized about it:

        ‘It was a very large mortgage. It was £350,000 worth of mortgage. It was about £1,700 a month that I was claiming. That was quite close to the maximum you could claim at the time but I did not at that stage claim for anything else.

        ‘In 2007, I was able to pay down the mortgage a little bit [by £100,000], so it was a £250,000 mortgage, paying about £1,000 in mortgage interest every month, and so I also claimed for what I would call some pretty straightforward household bills – council tax, oil, gas and other utility type bills and insurance on the property.

        ‘I now claim less than the maximum. I don’t claim all of those utility bills. I claim a percentage of them, because I think that’s right and fair.’

        Maybe paying back some of those expenses, and the capital gains made on second homes might help to reduce the deficit.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this post.

    The tax system has indeed become the playground for those busy bodies who want to use the tax system to social engineer us all into their view of the world. Cameron and his cohorts are just as guilty of this as his predecessors in his office. The upshot is that Parliament and the legislators are the target of every determined single issue pressure group around. The effective ones are extremely skilled in the dark arts of persuasion – we hear them daily on TV and radio, and read them in the newspapers.

    It is, I believe, a primary cause of the complexity of the tax system we have and a tax system which no one understands. The UK needs both a lower overall tax burden, as you have posted previously, and a much simpler system. This requires a mindset that is committed to this cause and a belief that a neutral system is better than one that seeks to second guess human nature.

    Mr Osborne has now missed three budget opportunities to simplify the tax system. One must conclude that he is as addicted to social engineering as Mr Brown before him.

  14. stred
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Following the latest nonesense from the DECC ( Greg Barker thinks covering the outside of our Edwardian and Victorian houses with 8 inches of foam insulation and render will improve the appearance. Then, a few days later, the building of one of the best energy saving measures- a conservatory or replacement of an old boiler should be compensated by additional in insulation in the rest of the house and controlled town hall functionaries, doubling the cost. Also, the continued refusal to do as on the continent and fit thin multifoil insulation or recognise the true U value when properly fitted.) I have read the CVs of the ministers and civil servants involved.

    Ministers.

    Greg Barker. Degree in history and politics. Worked in PR. Left wife for male designer but now with a young Greek PR man, while spending time at home with wife in main residence.

    Charles Hendry. Worked mainly in PR.

    Lord Morland. Whips office. Founder of insurance company. Business ambassador, Very rich.

    Ed Davey. PPE at Jesus College.

    Civil Sevants in order of importance on website.

    1. Private secretary to John Major. Other administrative positions in various departments described as disfunctional in the past.

    2. Statistician. Worked in nuclear and water industries. Customer service and marketing. Non exec in security and defence companies and FO. Mentor for cathedral managers.

    3. Economist working at Treasury on green taxes. Spell at KPMG.

    4. Department of Work and Pensions working on securing savings for older people. Director for regulatory impact in Treasury. MBA at London Business School and Certified for something from Harvard Business School.

    5. Prof. David Mc Kay. Author of Without the Hot Air, an excellent book on the subject, but over keen on electric cars in countries without low carbon electricity. Senior scientist and FRS. ( sometimes known as Fellow of the Right Sort)

    I can only assume he has lost his ability to think clearly or is just unable to explain science and engineering to the others.

    • stred
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      I have not made this up. It is all on the DECC website.

      • stred
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Following the above, I noticed on the DECC website, there is an opportunity of a £20 million grant for a ‘marine energy demonstrator’ in the form of wave or tidal energy devices in array formation.

        The only member of the management team qualified in this area is Prof. MacKay, author of ‘Sustainable Energy- Without the Hot Air’ available free online. He has provided interested laymen with an understandable analysis of the choices, if one accepts the need for CO2 reduction. The need for this is also clearly explained in terms of climate change stats and projected shortages.

        Page 107 sets out his own estimates for the theoretical or practical renewable resources in the UK, and those by others such as the IEE and Centre for Alternative Technology. He has worked out the available energy from waves arriving around the UK and this is only4KW/d as opposed to the other renewables which total 171. Domestic PV panels are also 4kW/d.
        Tidal energy is estimated at 11kW/d by MacKay, 2.4 by the IEE and 3.4 by CAT.

        The other estimates for wave are around 2.3. PV estimates are 0.3, 0.02, 1.4 and 12. The last is from the Performance and Innovation Unit.

        It does seem strange, given these figures, that Greg Barker has proclaimed ‘ This developmentwill move marine power to the next stage of development’, paid for by the taxpayer and only likely to provide 2.3% of renewables at best in the case of wave power. In the case of tidal stream farms MacKays estimate is 9 or 5.2%. The percentages are not of the total non carbon power but the smaller proportion of renewables which are suggested on page 212 and are around half, depending which plan is chosen.

        And in the case of PV panels the percentage is 5.8% (MacKay) or 0.8%(CAT- who have been trying to make them work for 20 years).

        It really does make you wonder whether the management team can understand the book written by themselves.

        The book also makes clear (page 194) that the main benefit of converting 30 million of our cars to battery power is that the capacity neatly matches that needed to store wildly fluctuating wind energy. So your green machine will have to stay put during times of wind shortage, feeding back to the grid in order to keep industry and hospitals going.

        It also confirms that our recently closed aluminium smelters were sited near hydro electric generation. The electricity was unfortunately green taxed anyway and became too expensive.

        • Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
        • alan jutson
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          Stred

          What can one say, other than they do not have a clue, do they.

          I was in conversation with someone today who is also involved in the housing market.

          The day after Mr Osbourne bought in 7% stamp duty on houses over £2 million, a very well known estate agent operating in the home counties had 14 house purchase contracts returned by interested buyers, who no longer wanted to proceed due to the increased cost of stamp duty.

          Now £2,000, 000 may seem a lot to most of us, but there are a significant number of houses at and above this value in the South East, when purchasers buy such properties they usually spend even more money on modernisation, improvement, redecoration and furnishings, all this now lost to local businesses, as well as the original stamp duty sum which they were going to spend.

          The even newer proposals you outline will hit all new purchases.
          What we need is a boost for the construction industry, not less work.

          I am so pleased I retired from the construction business recently.

          • stred
            Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Alan,

            I have done all my own work for the last 20 years on my few properties, which were slums but occasionally become desirable properties between tenants. I dread to think how I can keep up with the crap coming out of the DECC, as I am now an OAP and doing the work of a 40 year old. The idea that the cost can be passed on to tenants is farcical. They often cannot pay at present, as many are hard pushed financially or drug addicted and unable to organise a washing machine.

          • uanime5
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

            Won’t the current owners of the £2 million house continue to pay for modernisation, improvement, redecoration and furnishings? If so then there’ll be no loss to the economy.

          • alan jutson
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            unanime5

            Why would you want to spend a fortune renovating a house you really want to sell, when the improvements you make may not be liked or valued by the next purchaser !

  15. colliemum
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Great post, John.

    Government should only play a very small role in our lives, it should not run our lives and especially should not attempt to change our behaviour by taxing us on what they perceive to be ‘bad’.
    One welcome side effect would be that people would have to take responsibility for their choices and behaviours.

    Isn’t it strange that those who condemned local charities and “Lady Bountifuls” as demeaning have been working for decades to turn government and bureaucrats into ‘Lady Bountifuls’?
    Isn’t it more demeaning to be made to ask bureaucrats for support, cap in hand (that’s all one’s financial circumstances laid bare), than to ask the local vicar or squire who at least knew what was really going on?

  16. sm
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Now the government sees the need to define aggressive tax avoidance, a legal but morally repugnant activity. The best way to stop morally repugnant tax avoidance is to define it and make it illegal.

    Yes….. and it should instruct judges how to interpret the provisions in the law with respect to the economic substance of the transaction not letting the legal form predominate where it is at odds with the general thrust of the principals and objectives outlined. (Hoffman reversed Ramsey, and parliament needs to return to the subject, to clarify the approach that should be taken)

    One could argue the very fact it has not returned highlight how democratic oversight has failed by the current arrangements. All judge made law and interpretations of law should be reviewed and be conditional on parliament approval.

    (I think Theresa May understands how the will, intent of parliament matters and interpretation matters with respect to immigration also, we the people were failed by parliament). Pace.. recent non uk expulsions in various EU countries where ECHR rulings were sidelined. Interpretation matters, sovereignty matters and requires exercise, if only to highlight the ultimate outcome to judges in their deliberations.

    The government should just introduce a General Anti-Avoidance Rule, the narrow anti-avoidance rule is a start.

    Even better it would attempt to minimize the differences in the tax landscape which make artificial professional avoidance profitable for the promoters.

    Lets face it this is a problem easily solved, but politically its difficult- vested interest etc. Its

  17. merlin
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    There are too many layers of government and they are expanding
    parish councils
    local councils
    metropolitan councils
    district councils
    holyrood
    the welsh assembly
    the uk parliament
    the irish parliament
    the eu

    There are too many taxes
    vat
    income tax
    corporation tax
    inheritance tax
    national insurance ( which is not insurance but a tax)
    insurance tax
    council tax
    energy taxes
    green taxes
    vehicle tax
    road tax

    In fact I could list even more if necessary. I think probably if you added up all the taxes an ordinary person pays it would take them nearly 6 months of working to pay their taxes ( approximately)

    We are over governed and over taxed and if you even considered refusing to pay any of these taxes you would be thrown in jail. It reminds me of the Godfather , taxes and govermenment are relentless and it’s probably going to get a whole lot worse when the EU really gets going with even more government and even more taxes. Always remember the Ronald nReagan quote ” I’m from the government and I’m here to help” All governments benefit themselves first then the general public. Governments operate on the principle that they know best and they love bossing ordinary people around and telling them what to do. I rest my case, this will not change.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Since I started voting, two extra levels of government have been added. There use to be just local authority and central government. Now there is the EU and the GLA (in London), plus the Mayor. Next we’ll have Police Commissioners, courtesy of Blue Labour. Then, we must not forget, the hidden layer: the quangocracy.

    • APL
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Airport duty tax – AKA the holiday tax.
      Fuel excise – AKA the tax on existing.
      Vat on Fuel excise – The tax on tax tax.

  18. Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    We just want people in in government who are vaguely capable. Sigh.

    • Bob
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      David Cameron just want people in government who will obey orders.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      People who actually have the interests of the population at heart – rather than as now often is the case those of themselves, the industry lobby groups, the unions and their political party.

      • Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        rather than people who actually understand how society works and are capable of correctly predicting the consequences of policy lifelogic.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      Oh, they’re capable alright, Rebecca.

      • Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Capable of pretending to be hard men on ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ it seems. Heaven help us all.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      No, capability isn’t enough. It is necessary but it isn’t sufficient. I want capable people whose first instinct is to favour benign neglect. It seems to me that there are 3 types of people. There are those who believe that Darwinian evolution didn’t occur (the fundamentalists of various hues), those who believe it did occur but that it is not for the future, and those (like me) who believe that it did occur and should continue. I long for the day when the normal habit of thought for a politician is to think of a possible answer to a problem and them to ask himself/herself whether doing nothing would not be better.

  19. Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    100% agree.

    On the health one I would point out that there is significant evidence that health improves & sttress falls when people feel they control the3ir own lives. If that was factored in it would considerably exceed almost all the proposed health benefits from doing as we are told. Thus the net effect of these healyh bul;l;ies is megative. I think a similar case could be made in each of the other instances.

    Which leaves the question of how to bell the Big Dovernment cat? I would only point out that this is made far more difficult by us having a corrupy FPTP electoral system which effectively disenfranchisesw opposition parties. Galloway’s triumph, in a by election, shows the pent up fury at our nomenklatura rhat exists.

  20. norman
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I do not provide financial advice, do your own research, etc. but for those wanting to make a quick pound here’s a pro tip: invest in companies that make prosthetic limbs and shotgun shells (preferably both!). As the latest fiasco, the home improvement tax, shows this government is letting both barrels off into their feet so often that there has to be a shortage of these soon.

    I’m already cleaning up after investing heavily in Elastoplast and Duct (or Duck if you prefer) tape last year – so many of them have been used to try and hold our creaking economy together the price has shot up! In two years time I’ll move that capital into buckets and squeegies as I expect the dam to come apart not long after May 2015.

    • A Different Simon
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Perhaps buy some Centrica shares whilst you are at it . Ofgem like to encourage them to widen their margins to make renewables look more attractive .

      Less risky than investing in companies with onshore licences with extensive shale deposits which might disrupt the cosy relationship between Ofgem and the existing gas and electricity suppliers .

      We’ve seen the result of regulatory capture with the banks , do we really need to repeat the mistake with energy ?

  21. Mactheknife
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I find it unbelievable that the government is still driving the “greenwash” agenda and wants to force people into extra home improvements at great expense. This must be stopped.

    Its also been shown by a recent FOI request that the government spent £11 Million supporting overseas “green” organisations in promoting “climate change awareness”.

    John – what on earth is going on in the minds of these politicians ?

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Mactheknife

      It is reported in todays press that the EU has lent China £210,000,000 to plant some trees as part of a project to tackle climate change.

      The UK has underwritten some of this money.

      It is reported that the Luxemboug based European Investment Bank of which the Chancellor is a govenor, is the lender.

      Reply: Another provocative waste of our cash.

    • A Different Simon
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      MacTheKnife ,

      All those subsidies for wind turbines and photo-voltaic panels were in effect subsidies for foreign companies and shipping lines because none of it is made in the UK .

      The Westminster crowd really hate UK manufacturing .

    • APL
      Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Mactheknife: “Its also been shown by a recent FOI request that the government spent £11 Million supporting overseas “green” organisations in promoting “climate change awareness”.”

      This illustrates the incestuous relationship between the government and the green movement.

      Government covertly funds the Greens, the Greens lobby the government for funds for ‘green’ projects, the greens publish scare stories in the media, “we’re all gonna drown!, we’re all gonna roast to death!! then government responds with overt subsidies to the Greens. For example the CO2 reduction legislation, which shovels more public money to the Green movement.

      By the way, this wouldn’t work quite so well if the Greens were obviously part of the government party, they need to be seen as ‘outsiders’ or the relationship between the hand and its glove would be all too obvious.

  22. Brian A
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Another excellent post. Unfortunately, too few, even in your own party, appear to share your robust analysis of the manifold failures of government . The gap between much of the electorate that wants efficient, value for money public services, and the government machine that seems more interested in maximising its budgets than cutting waste, appears unbridgeable. The state will not shrink without a fight and we need courageous politicians willing to take on vested interests, whether they are public sector unions or rent seeking crony capitalists etc, by making the case for smaller government and less corporate welfare at every opportunity.

    For all the talk of market failures, it is surely government failings that cause more long term damage, after all, which private companies have the ability, without government connivance, to load potentially unsustainable debts on to your grandchildren?

  23. Peter T
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    There is a lot to be said for adopting a one word motto “Simplify”.

  24. David John Wilson
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    If the government needs to raise taxes, then surely it is reasonable that they do so in a way that potentially reduces their spending and so minimises the need for those taxes.

    Thus it is extremey reasonable that taxes that potentially reduce NHS spending are more desirable than other forms of tax. Thus it is desirable that the government concentrates some of the tax burden on reducing obesity, smoking excessive alcohol consumption etc.

    Another issue that we expect the government to address is the country’s overall financial position. We should thus expect it to concentrate on major issues like reducing our oil imports. The energy improvement requirement on home extensions ahould mainly be directed at this objective. The fact that it also meets some green requirements that some people question is hardly relevant. This argument similarly applies to subsidies that are aimed to help people use public transport.

    The conclusion is thus not that the taxes are necessarily wrong but that the government fails to emphasise the real reasons why they are directed at particular targets.

  25. Winston Smith
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Whilst, I agree with many of your opinions and proposals on here, I feel they are increasingly futile and you are almost inhabiting a fantasy alternative government. You have little influence and you are sidelined by your quasi-socialist leaders. You are feted by the BBC to only undermine Cameron, for they seek an even more left-wing government.

    I sat with 10 others at a family gathering yesterday debating the current issues, whilst the kids played happily. (Yes, we are one of those traditional, aspiring working-class families, with views so detested by the modern political/media elite). Every one, a former Tory voter and, every one, refusing to vote blue again. Some like me will choose UKIP, the majority will not vote. All feel completely disenfranchised and denigrated for concerns and ambitions for our children and grandchildren.

    As Tim Montgomerie said at the weekend, there will never be a Tory majority again, whilst Cameron and his fellow travellers pursue the liberal agenda.

    • Yudansha
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the Tories will be defeated at the next General Election.

      Guess what ? It’ll be because they were ‘too nasty’.

      What will it take for us to be free of Leftism ???

  26. Dr Dan H.
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Sir,
    All that these proposals will achieve is to convince more and more people that the Government is out to get them. From this we are certain to get ever-less compliance with regulations of all sorts, and the inexorable rise of the cash-in-hand job. After all, if by doing things the officially-sanctioned route you get hit with an enormous bill for other things jobs that don’t need doing, will cost you money short, medium and long term and which you cannot actually afford at the minute anyway then there is a tremendous incentive to simply stick two fingers up at all officialdom and circumvent it by fair means or foul.

    Why does this government wish to rob its self of yet more power?

  27. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Ordinary people feel as though they are being harvested for tax whilst being treated as enemies of the State.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      A while back I spoke to my MP. He said “People knock us politicians, but broadly speaking we’re getting things right.”

      No. You’re not getting things right. In fact you’re failing in the most basic protection of our society. (Directed at the MP concerned)

      That MP featured heavily in the expenses scandals and lost his seat at the general election.

      • APL
        Posted April 11, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Electro-Kevin: “That MP featured heavily in the expenses scandals and lost his seat at the general election.”

        Did he go to prison?

        If the penalty for crookedness, is simply an affordable fine, then being crooked becomes an integral part of ‘doing business’ and the fines levied simply a ‘cost of doing business‘ factored into the price charged.

        For a crooked MP the cost of being crooked is negligible compared to the odds of being caught and prosecuted, 6/650.

        Thus is dishonest behavior incentivised.

        Reply: The odds of being prosecuted are not as low as you say, as most MPs are not crooked. Some MPs had to pay back items which were both legal and approved under the old rules, because they changed the rules retrospectively to a less generous scheme- that is not the same as being crooked. It would be like saying to you tomorrow that they will prosecute you for travelling at 70 mph today on a motorway, because on reflection they think 70 mph was too fast.

  28. Alex
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    But why is there a problem, John?

    The government coalition is led by a party that promised to reduce the size, cost and power of government.
    But yet you say that many people are being annoyed by increased taxation, more regulation and additional government interference?

    How odd. It’s almost as if the party leadership have cynically abandoned their election promises.
    But surely cuddly David Cameron wouldn’t be that dishonourable. Would he?

  29. Barbara Stevens
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    The working man cannot avoid paying his/her tax, it’s taken at source, but the few who do try and avoid paying should be treated as criminals, its no other than that. While many pay they don’t. I’m all in favour of keeping as much as one can within the law of the land.
    Has for the new suggestion on repairs to homes, its a disgrace this as appeared from a Conservative government. Many will do the repairs without consulting the local council and avoid paying the 10% tax, and I have to admit I wouldn’t blame them. When you’ve struggled to pay the mortage for years and when you can improve they want you to pay more tax, it stinks. Many will simply repair and say nothing ignoring this wholeheartly, and I say good luck to them. There comes a time when one as to make a stand and this might be one of them. I’m glad most of my repairs and upgrading has been done, but if anything happens in the future I might be thinking of just forgetting, like the rest will do.
    What a country we have become, and it’s all the blame of the EU, inept politicians, and people trying to squeeze the last penny out of us. I refuse to be squeezed.

    Reply: There is tax evasion in the country, with people paying cash in hand to avoid VAT, and making payments to friends and relatives in cash for services which may not be reported to the tax authorities. Even on PAYE many get tax breaks for savings/pensions which are legal tax avoidance.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      The more you tax and regulate the more people will opt out. I know several people that got round building regulations inspections through corrupt officials. There are numerous building regs agents who will act as an intermediate, i.e. push through work without the expensive green nonsense and strict rules, using their contacts at LAs. This is largely done through ‘community’ networks.

    • The Realist
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      When taxes become too high I suspect many people massively squeezed resent the Government not doing what they promised John. Governments only rule with the consent of the people. As countries go we are I believe more compliant with paying taxes. A little reminder that when you pay nearly 65% in taxes of your income as I do when you add all the sums paid in one year, one gets a little *issed off that this Coalition Government has failed in cutting Government expenditure to any real degree in absolute terms. This includes all taxes paid VAT,fuel duty, Council tax etc. It is a sobering if anal exercise. By the way Don Porter wrote a sound, sensible article to today’s DT which confirms to me that the Tories are unlikely to get elected to run this country any time in the near future. De-detoxification and focus groups have a lot to answer for!

    • norman
      Posted April 11, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

      So paying for services in cash now makes the payer a tax evader. Interesting take on it.

      This whole tax evasion / tax avoidance is now completely out of hand so desperate have the spendthrift bunch of wasters at the top became to get their hands on our private property and results of our labours.

      I see David Cameron and George Osborne are urging their families to publish their tax records from the last 20 years to show they’re not any of the multi-millionaires who used smart accountants to pay less than their fair share.

      They’re not?

      Gosh, who’d have thunk it.

      Reply: Whilst the government has found examples of rich people paying very little tax, they need to remember that the top 1% of incoem earners earn 13% of the income but do pay 27% of the total Income Tax, so most of them are facing large tax bills.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Given that the richest 1% possess about 30% of the wealth of the UK it’s no surprise that they pay about 27% of the total income tax. Given that the poorest 50% only have 7% of the wealth it would be impossible for them to match the amount of tax the wealthy pay.

        reply; They earn 13% of the income, and we are talking here on income taxes.

  30. Bernard Otway
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I do my own polling on a daily basis and 7 days a week,in what I am doing I come into contact with as few as 5 people [different people] every day and as many as 50.EVERY one gets asked about [THINGS ie EVERYTHING] and get prompting questions and comments like, Immigration,Crime, Overseas Aid ,the EU,Corruption,broken Promises,I could go on but I will not,but you get my drift.MY POLL tells me that the people are as is said in South Africa
    in Afrikaans GATVOL, that is about 1000 times stronger than Fed up ,they are going to really surprise the HELL out of the political classes and the civil [NON] service and Mandarin classes,IF you read the Mail on Sunday even Peter Hitchens is thinking of standing for Parliament in the next election,the political landscape IS being redrawn as
    we speak,it was BOUND to happen as the classes I mentioned with very few exceptions
    like you John are too STUPID to notice or even care. AS YE SOW SO SHALL YE REAP as
    I said in a post of the last few days.LOOK even Boris has gone ahead of Livingstone because he got MAD and showed it to unproven and wrong allegations made as a form of RED HERRING by Livingstone to COVER UP the fact that the great socialist man of the people,having given hell to legal tax AVOIDERS has actually done EXACTLY the same himself ,POT AND KETTLE AND BLACK springs to mind [That is not RACIST by the way
    before the WITCH HUNT with regard to that issue rears it,s UGLY head AGAIN].

    • A Different Simon
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Bernard ,

      They were discussing nursery rhymes at my Nephews school and the conversation moved on to Ba Ba Black Sheep .

      This prompted one of the mislead children to claim it was racist which got the class taken down the one of the three behaviourologists to reorientate them .

      She came up with Ba Ba Rainbow sheep .

      Next she will be telling them a lions canines are hollow and administer a local anaesthetic .

      They can’t manage to teach them to read though .

    • Trevor Butler
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Bernard Otway – …… but that about sums it up!

  31. Mike Fowle
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your sentiments, JR. I think the question of motivation is interesting and not straightforward. If you start with the assumption that politicians want to improve things, one can see how they become more and more interfering. The feeling of influence and power, however well intentioned is beguiling. And don’t overlook the influence of the media, screeching hysterically every time something goes wrong. It takes a lot of character to ignore that sort of pressure. There aren’t many Ronald Reagans around.

  32. Robert K
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    This sums ups perfectly many of the frustrations that right minded, independent folk have with the direction of travel of the government. We are fed up with the inability of the government to stop interfering every time a news headline or pressure group flags a “problem”. We are fed up with more than half our income being excised to be wasted on stupid infrastructure projects, on subsidising people who should be working, on a health and education system that is hopelessly over-centralised and on fighting wars that we shouldn’t be fighting. We are fed up with the lock-in between the state and the mainstream media.
    One of the great battles fought by Margaret Thatcher was to be able to say “this issue is nothing to do with the state”. As a child of the sixties and seventies, this was a revolutionary idea – that the state did not have all the answers and could not provide an easy fix in the way that a caring parent could for a child. Sadly, that legacy was blown by Brown and Blair.
    Time for a new revolution, I reckon.

  33. alan jutson
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    From all of these comments John, (and those over the past few weeks) I think you can sense the temperature is slowly rising out here.

    I wonder how many of your fellow MP’s are also aware ?

    It just seems like one disaster after another at the moment.

  34. rose
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    The best way to get back to the universal payment of income tax with no fiddling, no legal avoidance, and no expensive time-wasting complexities, is to have a flat rate of 20% with the object of getting down to 10% as the country prospers. (Keeping the first ten thousand tax free of course.) This percentage was considered to be quite oppressive enough in the past when it was called a tithe, and it is still considered to be a normal rate in other more go-ahead parts of the world today.

  35. Jon
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Income tax, now there’s an idea, the more you earn the more you pay but its kept as a reasonable percentage of earnings.

    I don’t like stealth taxes, it takes no account of earnings. The last government favoured it and saw the rich – poor gap grow and this government doesn’t want to change the focus on stealth taxes which are not pegged to earnings.

    The problem with stealth taxes rather than income tax is that the effect is likely to end in reduced taxes in the end. That means the government is on the hunt to increase the taxes for those that remain paying (legal) and find new “bad” people to tax.

    Then that system of income tax that worked so well, taxed at source from everyone, swaps to one that taxes those that don’t have the means to use the black market, those nasty horrible people who play by the rules who end up being double and triple taxed.

    Sooner or later we become like Pakistan where just 1% pay tax only I’m not sure if there will be a gullible UK or US who will pay their State bills through some misguided do gooder naive appeaser.

  36. Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Morally repugnant behavior is certainly an area of expertise for the UK & it’s absurd government. Leviathan fears taxpayers that resist its will. A tax strike is long overdue in the UK!

  37. sm
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Why bother with taxes, just inflate away, or do both when really desperate…those that know and are able can benefit, those that cant can well…we see that playing out in real life worldwide.

    Best article ive read for a while on QE,ZIRP. Just rebadge it for the UK, using a find and replace for Fed with Bank of England.

    http://www.currencywarsbook.com/2012/03/rickards-testimony-before-senate-banking-committees-subcommittee-on-economic-policy/

    Look at the proposed solutions, now where have i heard some of these.

  38. peter davies
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I think your about right there John. Government needs to back off a little. If people are abusing the tax system through loopholes, just close those loopholes if they are not acceptable rather than have a go.

    Telling us what to do at every turn doesn’t feel right, a bit too labour nanny state ish.

    We need government to protect their citizens with proper laws (which includes proper extradition laws), spend money wisely and get VFM and manage its finances properly and of course work on reducing the overall tax burden.

    If Euro laws are overiding some of these objectives, they need to be either looked at or something produced to state that UK Law overides anything else

  39. Max Dunbar
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Up here in the land of the chip buttie and deep fried Mars Bar you will see vast numbers of bloated humans, some of whom are barely able to walk they are so fat – and these are the ones who can get out of the house. There seem to be more fat women than men for some reason. (Some-ed) West of Scotland woman resembles a Michelin tyre advert. However, as long as there are obese politicians (names supplied-ed), MPs (and MSPs) have no right to lecture us on eating and drinking habits or force us to pay more in tax for dubious “health”reasons.

  40. Derek Emery
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The ever-increasing cost of fossil fuels will do the government’s job of keeping down the number of cars of the road in the future. Year on year more people will be forced to stop using cars and find jobs locally. Its been reported that already 1 million motorists have given up their cars. I know of several 2 car families that are now 1 car families. To travel 20 miles to work means 200miles/week or £35++ /week for fuel alone and 10% of the average weekly wage after tax.
    Electric cars are only for the rich greens – they will never be affordable for most.
    Public transport where viable is very expensive. It looks as though the future will be localism for the majority as fossil fuel costs rise out of sight.

  41. rose
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    An encouraging development today: I got a letter from HMRC, albeit in patronising infantilising terms and layout, i.e. not a letter at all, but a notice, telling me that they might no longer harass and threaten me with £100 fines for not being a tax payer, but instead consider allowing me to be exempt as a non taxpayer from filling in a self assessment form. I had been drawn into this jobs and fines creation scam during the last years of the Gordon Brown regime.

  • 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.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page