Labour does not really mean to get rid of inequality

During Labour’s long recent period in government income inequalities in the UK went up. Now they are back in opposition most Labour MPs say that crusading for equality is one of their main motives for being in politics. Why would it be any different next time they are in government, than last time? Why should we believe them that they now both know how to increase equality and will do it?

They could start by saying the Labour MPs will no longer take three times the national average wage as salary for being MPs but would be happy with average wages. They could go on and say that in future their party will put a three line whip on them to turn up every day Parliament is in session, so they have to be more like a factory or office worker who has to come to work every day the office or factory is open. At the moment there are many days when Parliament is in session when Labour does not whip their MPs to turn up and some do not turn up.

They could move on to saying that a future Labour government would show in the way it ran the public sector how income inequalities could be reduced or eliminated. It could promise not to appoint new management, Directors and other senior personnel on salaries offering a many times multiple of the average wage. Indeed, if they really believed in equality they should say that being a manager or Director of a public service is a privilege which people would want to do, whilst still earning the same as the average of those doing the work in the organisation concerned.

They could say that to create a more equal country they need to stop richer parents being able to buy a better education for their children. They could promise to prevent UK children attending the excellent independent schools, leaving them to be export only, inviting in fee paying foreign students.

They could say that inherited wealth is one of the main causes of inequality in modern Britain. Instead of increasing the threshold before paying IHT, and leaving the rate where it is, they could promise to cut the IHT threshold and put up the rate.

They could abolish the state lottery, on the grounds that people should not become very rich overnight for no effort because they have bought a lucky ticket.

In practice Labour will offer to do none of these things, and will do none of them should they return to office. I am certainly not advocating any of these policies myself, but I do not go round promising to do what it would take to enforce greater equality on a complex society. I believe in greater equality of opportunity, and helping people to become better off, not in trying to tax people out of the UK. Tomorrow I will look at why Labour rightly does not even believe in income equality at work.

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115 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Labour (and many politicians in general) seem to believe in saying or promising anything that they think will win or buy them votes from the gullible voter looking for gifts from the magic money tree. Some even making promises in highly publicised “Cast Iron” terms before ratting on them just weeks later and giving the election away in the process.

    You mention Inheritance Tax, just how is Osborne getting on with his £1M per person threshold promise? We he ever un-rat on this or will he remain, like Cameron, someone with zero credibility? Perhaps then we might trust the government a little more on the EU renegotiation promise if they did. Oh and if they perhaps actually said what they want to renegotiate.

    The MPs wage (including pensions and fringe benefits, bars, restaurants, childcare, loss of office, wife’s employment……..) is rather more like 5+ times the average remuneration. Plus they can have several other jobs or more likely “consultancies” as they euphemistically call them.

    Still at least we have seen the back of Tim Yeo at last. I had thought that about Huhne but we still seem to see/hear far too much of him even now.

    Is Cameron really going to go through with HS2 in the light of the clear & huge public opposition and patent economic absurdity of the HS2 project?. Promising the abolition of this might help Cameron’s popularity somewhat, but how long would he keep such a promise this time?

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      We have finally had a few sensible U turns from Cameron on the Green C***(well starting anyway), on payday loans, some fuel duty rises, on Cornish pasties and the static caravan tax just keep them coming please.

      Cancel HS2, abolish IHT, cut CGT and NI, cut government, get out of the EU other than for free trade, control the borders, stop crippling our defence forces, get out of the pointless wars lots more scope for U turns. This as most of Cameron’s “modernised” policies are alas simply daft and (like wind turbines and PV) just will not actually work.

      • Hoped
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        There is no difference between Miliband and Cameron. At the moment he is copying every idea Miliband has. He was the one who followed on the crap green agenda set by Miliband, now Miliband wants to forget it so does Cameron. How many years does he need to get of the equality crap, ECHR, immigration etc.

        Osborne has failed on all aspects he asked us to judge him by on the economy, failed immigration targets and still no accurate means of counting people in and out, ECHR rejected instead of British bill of rights no sign of delivery, early legislation for right to recall MPs, you name it Cameron has failed to deliver on it. He wants to give jam tomorrow pledges and expects us to believe him. Clegg wanted more immigration and has got it, Clegg wanted to reduce the UK defence has got it, Clegg dislikes the British culture and wants to change it he is still doing it ie gay marriage, Clegg and Cameron wanted more EU and they have it. No, the Tory part is now an irrelevance along with the Lib Dems. At least Labour stick to their rotten agenda. That leaves e only hope for a conservative change to come from UKIP. Not really hard to work out even without a PPE degree from Oxbridge.

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          Very little difference I agree. But Cameron has a few perhaps 100 sensible MPs and does not have to play to the Unions and the envious and the “give us some more of other peoples money” voters.

          Anyway, Cameron is surely history despite the open goal he was presented with by Brown.

          • Hope
            Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

            Let’s face it Lifelogic, there is no possibility of Cameron being elected at the next general election, quite rightly as well. He had a bit of clue that everyone hated Brown, yet he followed his policies! You could not make it up.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Equality of what:- health, longevity, sporting ability, intelligence, eyesight, determination, beauty ……………

      Labour just see to mean taking money of those who are good at using it and giving to governments and the feckless who are not. How on earth could this improve the economy or the sum of human happiness?

      Equality is just a justification to attempt to justify the governments theft.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        Giving how the rich keep getting richer it’s more likely that they’re not using their money but are instead hoarding it.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

          Uanime5

          No wonder you’re a socialist, why on earth would the rich hoard money? What possible use would that be? If by hoard you meant invest in savings then of course that is a good thing where do you think banks etc are supposed to get the money from to lend to small business and home buyers?

          I despair at the financial ignorance of the left

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

            Companies are hoarding large amounts of cash from the boom times. Individuals hoard cash in offshore accounts. You seriously believer that when a bank gives a mortgage for a house buyer that this money comes from savers? You should be despairing in yourself.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            Who mentioned companies? Uanime5 said the rich, that’s individuals not companies. Companies spend their money all the time, who do you think pays the production costs, overheads, wages and taxes? The money fairy?

            Oh and if banks don’t get money from depositors where do they get it from?

          • Edward2
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

            In some posts Baz? you criticse companies for over borrowing and risking the jobs of all who work for them and now you criticise them for having retained funds and no borrowing.
            Make your mind up!

          • Bazman
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            Its called fractional banking libtard and and is amusingly explained in South Park Season 13, Episode 3 (Margaritaville)

          • Bazman
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

            Well theirs a coincidence. I started to watch a little of the South Park episode and after a few minutes I get a call from a boiler room trying to sell me unmined gold! How spooky is that? It’s not that I ever get calls like that or at least only once in a blue moon. He was sent away with flea in his ear. LOL! Dead cert for sure..

  2. Brian Taylor
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    What did Mandelson say he had no problem with some people becoming Filthy Rich.
    Him with his EU and MPs pension and like Blair making (big money ed) from contacts (after leaving government ed), good luck to them both just don’t let them tell you that the gap between rich and poor was not widened when they were in power!!!

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      We can only guess at what was edited out of your post Brian, but if you have been reading what I’ve been reading, people like Blair have a lot to answer for, and perhaps more than the ordinary man in the street fully appreciates. Sorry to say, I can’t say more than that, or my words would be edited too, but those who supported New Labour, should recall the Tory slogan that was dead right – New Labour, New danger. Does the term ‘Neo-cons’ ring any bells?

      Tad

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I remember being totally shocked by Milovan Djilas who noticed that in his native Yugoslavia, there was an entirely new class springing up of bureaucrats and party officials. They got better school, better health, better pay, better shops, better travel (they could go abroad even!) and were treated with more respect than ordinary people.
    More recently, studying Stalin, I notice exactly the same phenomenon in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
    Do you remember in the Tony Blair years, too, the way we were not allowed to mention Diane Abbot’s sending her children away to school? Or the fact that most of the Cabinet had been to posh school? Or the fact that Peter Mandelson was on the same yacht as George Osborne with young Ghadaffi?
    You have really hit the nail on the head here!

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Mike

      Yes, I always fear when politicians talk about getting rid of inequality, because it usually means levelling down everyone else but themselves and their own families, as you have suggested.

      I am all for equality of opportunity to learn, but unfortunately our masters of Government have for the past 40 years, experimented and trashed the education system in this Country, to such an extent that bye and large it is not fit for real purpose.

      I have to say it is my belief that we have gone down so far in many aspects, that the gap between good schools and poor Schools is greater now than it has ever been.
      A good education is the key to so many people being able to move forward (recognised by many immigrant families) to improve their lives.

      I dislike inequality of opportunity, but I dislike even more penalties against knowledge, performance, effort and success.

      The government has a duty to put forward a programme that will educate all to a minimum standard, that will enable them to earn a living in this challenging World.
      What people do after that is down to self determination, and effort in their chosen field, be it in further education or work.

      One thing for sure, you should not be able to go from School straight onto Benefits.
      50 years ago that was not possible, it should certainly not be the case now.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        We were all conned Alan. When Blair talked about ‘Education, education, education’ we just assumed he meant New Labour would go all out to improve overall standards. After thirteen years, kids were leaving school so dense that they couldn’t do simple maths and string a sentence together. Yet we were paying an awful lot for failure in the first instance, and will continue to pay until our people become better educated, and better equipped overall.

        Tad

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        Well given that there’s currently 1 million people aged 16-24 on benefits unless you can create a million jobs for them some people will have to go from school to benefits.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

          Yup no problem, plenty of jobs about, they just need to right help to get them.

        • Hope
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

          Get out of the EU would Improve their job chances considerably.

        • alan jutson
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

          Uni5

          If some of them had tried harder at school then they may have been offered a job, providing they had applied in the first place.

          We have been here before, you can create your own work to earn a living.
          You do not need to respond to an advert, or wait for someone to knock at your door and ask if you want to work.

          I would however agree that the benefits system needs to have more simple rules for signing on and off when doing temporary work.

          Cleaning windows, washing cars, cutting grass, delivering leaflets, etc etc.
          All above can be done without much investment, ladders and mowers can even be hired.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The state lottery is a quite effective way of taking money of those daft/innumerate enough to buy a ticket. It does alas divert a lot of money to the government usually to waste. Also some rather dubious good causes benefit (the Olympics for example) and through winnings it distributes large sums to others, daft enough to buy a ticket. They then seem to get divorced quite often I note.

    But it is not an industry that creates any net wealth for the country it is a net loss to the economy overall, like litigation it just transfers wealth and takes a large cut.

    • bigneil
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      I am neither daft nor innumerate – I have a go on the lottery in a known very slight hope of winning enough to change my life – As a born and bred Brit I have worked 45 yr in a hard condition factory floor job – 24/365 – to end up retired early through injury – and now entitled to NOTHING from the government – -while thousands of a certain group are about to cross our borders – to be given a free life, house, money, benefits and healthcare – for contributing not a penny – and they never will.

      my hope -however slight -with the lotto, is to get me out of this soon to be hell hole of a country, created by the “elite”? intelligent who are supposed to run this country for the british people – but have clearly run it for themselves and their cronies. – -to me it looks like Cameron is now trying to make it so bad here for the next government – just like blair did – –

      A couple of pound a week saved would give me no chance of going – whereas a ticket might – just might -allow me to go to a place where I could spend the last few years of my life not being hassled by (present uk policy ed)

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Well I wish luck and if you enjoy it fine. But there are far better ways to gamble and with far better odds, odds that are on your side & not hugely on their and the governments side.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        Welcome Big Neil,

        Sounds like you’re not a fan of the EU and New Labour, because they’re the ones who have done the most to wreck the place and make it the nonsense it is today. Mind you, none of the three main Westminster parties can escape censure. To put right the wrongs you describe, will take a different approach, and a different party altogether. One that isn’t tainted with the mistakes of the past.

        Tad

  5. Iain Gill
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Yes the politicians who insist that average parents should have no choice in their childrens school, and work to dumb down those schools, who simultaneously send their children to fee paying schools or pull strings to get their children into one of the best state schools, really do upset me.

    • Hope
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Like Clegg. His manifesto was against the discrimination of faith schools, where has he sent his son, a faith school. but he does not want us to discuss it because it is personal. So it is alright for him to preach and pledge against faith schools for others to send their children( personal to them) but it is okay for him and we must not mention it. Goodness I hope the Lib Dems are wiped out at the next election. You cannot believe a word he says, whether it is the economy, EU, schools, energy, parliament, MP expenses, immigration and defence of this country. And above all he dislikes the UK culture so intends to selfishly wreck it for his own beliefs and interests.

  6. Alte Fritz
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    In other words, take a look at the old Soviet bloc which was Labour (even the CoOp) with hob nail boots.

  7. Old Albion
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Shouldn’t paragraph two apply to every MP?

  8. Acorn
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    This “taxing people out of the UK” is a myth, it doesn’t happen, except for a few idiot celebrities. Since the eighties and deregulation of the finance industry, the planet has been taken over by a tightly networked gang of Trans-National Corporations, run by an even tighter network, designated by the Swiss as the Trans-National 
Capitalist Class.

    Project Censored, “added the top asset management firms from 2012″ to the Swiss dataset. They then traced the “people on the boards of directors of the top ten asset management firms and the top ten most centralized corporations” and determined the overlaps. This reduced the study sample to 13 firms and the 161 individuals who control $23.91 trillion in funds. The next 25 “most valuable asset management firms” control a further $18.8 trillion in funds. In terms of the concentration of control over the TNCs total value, the study finds “that only 737 top holders accumulate 80% of the control over the value of all TNCs”, which signifies a very concentrated industry sector.

    “So while the deregulationists invoke mainstream economics textbook ideas about increased competition, and the alleged benefits that are expected to flow from that, the reality is that financial market deregulation, which accelerated in the 1980s (at the time, real wages growth started to falter and flatten out (then fall)), has led to an increased concentration of power and a reduction in competition.” (Billy Blog)

    US polling [Guardian] shows that: ” … two-thirds of adults believe their children will enjoy less financial security than they do and face more challenges than opportunities … This lack of confidence in the ability to get ahead is twinned with almost total despair that the political class has neither the means nor the will to reverse the trend … [and] … Both parties supported the financial deregulation and international trade liberalisation that laid the foundations for this despondency.”

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Acorn:- “This “taxing people out of the UK” is a myth, it doesn’t happen, except for a few idiot celebrities”

      Nonsense you perhaps just hear of a few celebrities because they are celebrities clearly tax is not the only thing that matters to people but if you have to pay say £400K PA more to live in the UK than say Switzerland, Ireland, Monaco or Gibralta it is quite tempting and there may well be very many other good reasons too. Also the thought that the government might take a few million of you on death in IHT and worse then usually piss it down the drain.

      Also it is not just people tax renders businesses unable to operate in the UK at all profitably.

      Labour and the left need the poor anyway in order to incubate their evil politics of envy. The last thing they want is real equality, just an imaginary vision of a land of milk and honey. This is all they offer to voters. While making nearly everyone but bureaucrats and the elite poorer.

      • Acorn
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        You may have heard this morning (R4), that those TNCs and the TNCCs that own them, are saying that the UK is overall the best place to be a taxpayer, or more accurately, a not-taxpayer. The prime directives of this group are, (A) never have your FINANCIAL assets in the same place as you are. (B) if you are onshore, your REAL assets must always be offshore. 😉 .

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          Indeed the UK is a very good tax haven for rich nondoms with overseas assets. Or for people on benefits, otherwise not too clever unless you like earning money for others to waste on HS2 and Green CR**.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Labour and the left need the poor anyway in order to incubate their evil politics of envy. The last thing they want is real equality, just an imaginary vision of a land of milk and honey.

        Given that income inequality also increases under the Conservatives would you mind explaining whey they don’t want real equality.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

          Income inequality is a nonsense statement. In psychology its known as a Barnum statement its a statement that always applies no matter what you do

          More leftist poor thinking

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Well, maybe there are only 737 people who control 80% of those tens of trillions, but those tens of trillions are actually owned by far more people than that.

      Maybe as many as a few tens of thousands of individuals around the world!

      🙂

      It was that kind of extremely wealthy international investor who got the lion’s share of the money taken from the Irish people to bail out the banks in Ireland, although of course the Irish government pretended that it was ordinary people with their small pension funds who were being rescued.

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    One of the “benefits” of reducing the wages of the highly paid is that it would mean that more people would find themselves earning more than the average. They would, of course, not be any better off.

    This is similar to increasing the number of undergraduates funded by requiring them to pay for their education on the grounds that the qualification is the passport to higher than average earnings.

    And it chimes with the call “that something must be done” about the very high interest rates charged by payday loan companies.

    All of the above nonsense is avoided by ensuring everyone receives a good schooling in basic mathematics!

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      This comment confirms that measuring the effect of changes should be in terms of median not average wages. I was disappointed that this blog referred to average rather than median wages.

  10. JoolsB
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    John,

    What about the gross inequalities created by this Tory led coalition between citizens of the UK based on where they live?

    If you are young and live in England and go to university, expect to pay an extra 9p more in income tax for every pound you earn for most of your working life than the rest of the UK’s young. Future scenario – four people doing exactly the same job for exactly the same company on exactly the same salary, one from Scotland, one from Wales, one from NI and one from England. One of them will come out with much less of their salary at the end of every month as the price for being English.

    Educational maintenance allowance, whether you agree with it or not, no longer available for youngsters in England but still available in Scotland, Wales & NI.

    £75,000 care home bills plus the rest for England’s elderly.

    The introduction of more toll rolls for England only. No tolls for Scotland. The New Forth Road Bridge will be built with a £500 million pound ‘Barnett consequentials’ gift with a UK Government loan to build the rest. The Mersey Gateway project in Cheshire however will be funded mostly from the private sector with tolls to pay them back.

    The diverting of £650,000 of EU funds intended for England’s poorer regions diverted by the coalition to Scotland instead.

    We are still seeing the people of England receiving up to £2,000 less for every man, woman and child than those in the rest of the UK. We are still seeing only England’s sick paying for their prescriptions and exorbitant hospital parking charges, both free in Scotland, Wales & NI.

    The list is endless John and these inequalities were all either created or allowed to continue on the coalition’s watch by a Tory party which would not exist if it were not for those people it is discriminating against. The Tories have proved they don’t give a stuff about inequalities either, the only difference is they are doing it against their own – the people of England!

    • Old Albion
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Good try Jools, but Westminster ain’t listening.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      And out of the 9% lower wages English workers will need to fund higher mortgage payments.

  11. Bert Young
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Labour could easily say that exploiting position to gain wealth is sinful , goes against the Party’s moral , and , should always be publicised to make the public aware . Were this the case Blair would be seen not as their “hero” example of leadership and principle but as a man of (money making ed) opportunism (after he left office ed) ; they would want to show that his example is not one to follow ; they would want to confiscate his and his family’s property and return it to the poor and needy. In exposing his case they would make sure that the advantage of position and influence did not spin off to other members of his family ; that they did indeed continue to put their moral case to the public at all times .

  12. yulwaymartyn
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    They could put VAT on private school fees and end the absurdity of these places having the status of a charity. They could put that money into the state system and ring fence it.

    Acorns yes but a start. If I was in government I would do it within a week.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      If they did that it would cost the government far more as far more would then have to use the state sector and fewer would pay for themselves. A far better approach to save the government money would be to encourage rather more to use private education with vouchers or some tax relief. This so as encourage them not to use the expensive state system.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Given how many spare places their are in Gove’s academies it’s unlikely that state schools will have to accept any more pupils.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          Given Uni that it is a legal requirement to send your children to school and a legal requirement of local education authorities to provide places for those that require them, please explain what would happen.

    • Edward2
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I think the huge increases of money poured into education and health during the Blair/Brown years has shown beyond any doubt, that getting better results in both these public services is more to do with methods and systems, rather than just more and more money.

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        I agree with you -see below. Throwing money at an education system is not the answer. It may have some effect upon morale etc but in my experience this soon dissipates.

    • Mark B
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      What other people choose to do with their monies is none of your, or for that matter, the governments business.

      Taxation is the primary means of raising revenue to fund government expenditure. It is not, and indeed should not, be a means to punish people.

      It seems to me. that your politics is not so much one of ‘social justice’, but envy !

      And in any case, it is unlikely that your wish is likely to come true. Many of the Labour front bench have themselves benefited from private education, or have children in private education.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        The Tories should never have copied Labour and the Liberal Democrats by talking in terms of “social justice”.

        Fine to give serious thought to “social cohesion” – we don’t want our society to disintegrate into warring factions – and also fine to give serious thought to “social mobility” – we don’t want to waste talent by having bright people stuck at the bottom of society doing menial jobs because their parents did menial jobs, and nor do we want dull people to inherit positions of power – but “social justice” is a different kettle of fish altogether.

        • yulwaymartyn
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you. I do genuninely believe that private schools do not contribute to the social cohesion of the country and that this issue is a taboo that sometimes sparks into life following a comment by a politician say Dianne Abbot or John Major.

          As I have said elsewhere on these pages I believe private schools are divisive.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Well Martyn

      That just shows why you are unfit to run a whelk stall. You see as a businessman I’m staggered you have no idea how VAT works. As a charity those schools that are registered charities don’t charge VAT but then again they can’t claim it back either, any idea how much you would lose if they could claim it back? By the way some schools are trusts that would be forbidden from continuing to operate if they were no longer charities and would be forced to close, sending the kids back into the state system. 700,000 extra kids to teach and no more money, blimey Martyn you’re a financial genius…. NOT.

      Er please explain why its absurd for a school to have charitable status. In fact for 500 years it was one of only 3 reasons that you could be a charity, ie education, health and religion. Of the 3 personally I think religion is the least deserving and the richest by a country mile.

      Oh and state schools don’t pay vat either so not sure what basis you would write the legislation on. Oh and you can’t ring fence vat either its an EU tax…. blimey Martyn I think you let the green eyed monster get in the way of rational thought on that little post

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        Sorry but I don’t think private schools have anything charitable about them so I don’t think they should be classified as a charity.

        Its not about money its about opportunity. The country cannot afford private schools – they are divisive and open to ridicule.

        By the way it costs £4500 to educate a child at our local comprehensive. The school fees at the local private school are £19,000.

        Nothing to do with running a whelk stall.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Martyn

          Typical drivel from you. Couldn’t care less what you want to think politically. You claimed that VAT should be levied without understanding there’s no benefit to the treasury in doing that. Typical poor thinking on your part. If you levy VAT on private school fees you would have to levy it on all other education too and that my friend truly is divisive. So a state school costs £4500 per year ( i think thats wrong but can’t lay my hands on the numbers) v the cost of a BOARDING school place. So what? If someone CHOOSES to spend their money on their child’s education whats that got to do with you or me?

          Your views on charities are immaterial, the definition of a charity is EDUCATIONAL. 1) What do you think a charity is? What benefit do you think charitable status has on private schools ( hint check before you answer this because so far you are talking nonsense)

          Yeh right private schools are open to ridicule….really? really? Only by (foolish people ed). Whilst private schools cover a huge range of different opportunities and philosophies I’ve never seen one ridiculed oh except Slough College ( Eton) as thats a Toff’s school innit.

          There is no logic in any of your arguments here your objections are based purely on envy. You just want to punish parents who send their kids to private schools as a political gesture and that is pathetic

        • libertarian
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          “By the way it costs £4500 to educate a child at our local comprehensive. The school fees at the local private school are £19,000”

          Wrong
          according to this data in London state schools are around £7-8,000 per pupil meanwhile here’s The City of London private school fees

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12175480

          you will note £4600

          http://www.clsb.org.uk/Fees

          But why let a little research stand in the way of jealousy and envy ?

          Whelk stalls take initiative and common sense to run. You have to research your market and tailor your offer.

          Know any state schools who offer Whelk Stall management courses? No thought not

        • Edward2
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          It is said to cost £4500 per child…. but I would be interested to see just what they have included in this suspiciously low figure.
          Buildings? Pensions for staff? Cost of LEA’s? Cost of the Dept for Education etc.
          My local excellent private school costs around £8000 per year so not far off what I would guess is the real cost of State education.
          Divisive ? Yes in the sense they allowed to exist.
          But I find it sad that some of those who want to improve State education feel the best way is to try to abolish private schools.
          Why not give every child the opportunity to go to private schools whether they are rich or poor?
          That would be real equality.
          Assisted places, grants and scholarships for any deserving candidates who could not afford to go.
          Level up…. not down.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        If the private schools have to close because they’re trusts then they can be reopened as state schools. Thus providing somewhere for the pupils to go.

        Not sure where you’re getting the 500 years figure for what constitutes a charity. In the past anyone who provides a service the government didn’t provide was considered a charity, though they didn’t get any special status because of it. Given that the state now provides education there’s no excuse for schools that charge for education to be given charitable status.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

          We see from your post Uni the real reason for removing charitable status from private schools.
          A state nationalisation of private schools without compensation like some evil communist regime.
          Stealing the freehold assets owned by others by force of law.
          What a world it would be with the likes of you in charge.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            If private schools were banned in this country and the wealthy parents told that they can take their children abroad or they can lump it the standards of state schools would sky rocket, hardly a realistic idea, but without doubt that is what would happen. Count on it.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

            Its a left wing fantasy dream I suppose, but another way would be to ban state schools and make the private school owners take them over.
            Then you would see some improvements.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

            I bet you wouldn’t. As all evidence on privatisation says different. Which one have been a success? Remind me again.

    • ian wragg
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      What about a tax rebate for relieving pressure on state schools. Why is more tax always the answer to all socialist problems. Been following France recently???

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        If you have a state system it has to be properly funded. This country has never believed in my view of properly funding state education.

        You raise an interesting point about education and money though. To my mind there is a more tenuous link between the two.

        The comprehensive system represents the society that exists around it – as 94% of children go through the state system. The school can only do so much; if the parents are out at work all day etc etc the child is neglected. All the research shows that 5 minutes discussion at home per class with the parents or siblings vastly increases the knowledge of the child. 5 lessons per day supported by 5 minutes at home is 25 minutes per day. Unfortunately with the parents at work or separated etc or not interested this is often neglected.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          You need to make your mind up Martyn
          In one post you say all that is wrong with education can be solved by proper funding.
          In other posts you agree with me and others who argue that just more money is not the solution.

          • yulwaymartyn
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            Well its not one or the other. Additional money would of course help but there are many other aspects that are key to a school’s success.

            In my view private schools are about privilege which is damaging to our society and the local community as it undermines and I think this permeates through our society. Categorising them as a business, which, in my view they are, and therefore subject to VAT would in my view be a small step in the right direction.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

            In which case your solution to improving poor state education is to abolish the right to pay for a private education.

            It would certainly make the figures for inequality better in that all children would get a poor education instead of just some.

    • cosmic
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

      No you wouldn’t any more than the landslide Labour government of the late 40s did it, (incidentally very keen on grammar schools), because you’d have no way to give your children who couldn’t quite make the mark, a leg up.

      Be serious.

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        I am not sure that I understand your last line of your penultimate paragraph. I don’t want to give my children a leg up; I want them to reach their level by their own means and by my providing a stable and happy home life. I don’t believe in hereditary wealth.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          Thats highly unfair and divisive why should you give your children an advantage in life just because you are in a position to provide a happy, stable and supportive home life. That is evil. Think about all of those dysfunctional families that through no fault of their own aren’t as lucky as you and can’t provide that for their children. I think that your children should be made to go live with a randomly selected family to ensure you don’t supply them with an unfair advantage.

          What a load of old bull you come out with

          • yulwaymartyn
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

            Actually we live with many dysfunctional families on a daily basis.

            Interesting though that you only link dysfunctionalism with those that are poor. Maybe you should spend more time inside private schools.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

            Martyn

            Maybe you should have spent more time reading at your taxpayer funded comprehensive I never mentioned poor people anywhere. I just caught you out being totally hypocritical so as with all failed thinkers you decided to make up something. Pathetic.

            As to spending more time in private schools, I already know how much more diverse from a broader range of backgrounds and ethnicities and different levels of accomplishment there are, as opposed ti the mostly insular state school. Its actually you that needs to spend some time in the various types of private school and cure some of your prejudices

    • libertarian
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Hey Martyn,

      As you want to introduce VAT on private school fees are you also proposing VAT on University fees, Academy costs, vocational training courses? If not why not?

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        Because I think private schools are a business – that’s the point.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

          Oh dear I knew you didn’t understand. So are Universities and vocational training companies and academies. education is VAT exempt, so even if they weren’t charities they still don’t pay vat.

          Also a lot of charitable private schools are Church schools or religious institutions of one kind or another, so are you basically asking for the closure of all charities or only ones you don’t like?

          Before posting stuff like this I suggest

          1) Read HMRC website on VAT exemptions

          2) Find out what a charity is and what exactly charitable status brings

          3) Understand what private schools with charitable status have to do/comply with in order to retain their charitable status

          4) Find out that some schools would be better off without charitable status but are unable to do that because they are Trusts that prevent them from operating in that way

          However you wont do any of that because this is purely the politics of envy and is an irrational argument on your part

          • yulwaymartyn
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

            No its easy. Change the law. Move on and all that.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Right so we change the law to charge VAT on education or we invent a law that says only rich people pay VAT? Oh dear you really have no idea at all do you?

          • Edward2
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

            If you want to abolish private schools by force or by taxing them to death Martyn, then just be honest enough to say so.

            You just need to get Ed Milliband to add it to his manifesto.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        The schools are run as a business in many cases and should pay tax not be charities as many are. Can’t get round that with any of you apologist fantasy, They exist to make money. Will you tell us that any other business should not pay taxes?

        • Edward2
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          As explained in other posts above Baz, it has been an accepted situation for decades that all education is VAT exempt and education establishments can apply for charitable status.
          It is not easy to gain this status and the same rules apply to say Oxfam or the WWF or the National Trust as apply to Eton or Cambridge University.
          It would be very difficult to rewrite the rules on charitable status just so schools were hit and other organisations were not.
          But If you want to kill off the private school sector for political reasons of simple envy of their success then removing these concessions will help do the damage.

  13. Mark B
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    What was it said in Animal Farm ? “All animals are equal but, some animals are more equal than others.”

    Labour need to maintain their ‘client base’. The constantly ‘under-privileged’, the forever poor and angry, the endless strife.

    No, they need to solve all the worlds problems and inequalities. To do that, they need power, absolute power. And when they have, people will come to realise that they have none. And with that loss of power also comes the loss of freedom. Socialists really do believe in their own BS, its the only redeeming quality they have. Except that is when it comes to educating their children.

    Labour will do whatever is in their interests, and that means doing anything and everything to stay in power. The Conservative Party have a really warped view of the voters in this country. Somehow you think we will vote for you because the other is so much worse, or voting for another party will let the other lot in. Its this hubris and sense of entitlement that the Conservative Party has, that will ultimately lead to your demise. You just don’t want to be in power as much as Labour do, and it shows. The Conservatives lack a real ruthless streak. Too many Liberal appeasers amongst your ranks.

    So Labour can promise all they want without shame. It won’t matter once they get in, there is nothing the likes of me can do about it, except prattle on some blog and vent my disgust. Its a game all parties play. They just are a little better at it. That’s why your in a coalition. You couldn’t even beat a third rate Scottish Labour PM who trashed the economy and the nation.

    Pathetic !

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      There is something the likes of you can do about it and that is to start your own party up. It only needs two people initially and a small amount of cash. The Electoral Commission are helpful. Maintaining the party will only cost you £25 per year – and you will find that there are more buyers than sellers in your market.

      • Mark B
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        And what if you do not believe in the ‘political system’ ?

        As things stand, people do not take a sufficient interest in politics and show a independent and inquiring nature to make reasoned and informed decisions. They simply vote for a particular colour as they have always done, never questioning whether or not that it would be wise to give someone else a chance.

        Political parties therefore, are a waste of time. Pressure groups however are more the way to go and I am looking at one right now. Click Mark B, above to see what I mean.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      And if Labour’s client base starts to shrink, guess what they do?

      Import some poor people from other countries, of course.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      Labour need to maintain their ‘client base’. The constantly ‘under-privileged’, the forever poor and angry, the endless strife.

      Care to explain why the Conservatives also want to maintain a large number of poor people. After all it’s not like the current Conservative policies have made the lives of the poor any better.

      • Edward2
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        “the Conservatives also want to maintain a large number of poor people”
        A quite ridiculous statement Uni if you give it just a little thought.

        What the Conservatives need is for people to vote for them in large numbers in order to gain power.
        Keeping many people poor will not encourage them to vote Conservative, it will encourage them to vote Labour.

  14. Kenneth
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Equality – i.e. communism – has never been achieved on this planet and I suspect never will.

    In my opinion equality of opportunity can only be achieved in a market based economy as surplus capital is prevented due to competition.

    Every time a government interferes in a market, it causes imbalances causing a few people to get very rich and the rest to remain poor. Banking and power utilities are just 2 examples of sectors that have been badly perverted due to Labour meddling.

    As well as this, having a large public sector results on salaries that are not market-based either leading to a shortage of people (if they are paid too little) or some very well-off people who do not deserve their riches.

    In recent times the phrase ‘equal opportunity’ has been morphed into ‘equality’. The greatest culprits are the Labour Party, the BBC and the ‘European union’ (the usual suspects). Whether it is wishful thinking or a concerted attempt to introduce communism, it is a deceit.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      The first person to make communism work will make millions from it.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        I suppose communism could work, if it were not for human nature and the human desires. Humans are as they are and as they have evolved.
        Passing idiotic laws like gender neutral insurance will not change them.

        But then now we have quite good robots & very soon robots that are more efficient and intelligent than people but with natures and needs that can be selected during manufacture and honed. Perhaps a working robot communism can be developed?

      • Mark B
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        I do not think he made millions, but he did have a Rolls Royce.

        http://museumsecrets.tv/dossier.php?o=202

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Every time a government interferes in a market, it causes imbalances causing a few people to get very rich and the rest to remain poor.

      What about when they outlawed cartels and monopolies? That benefited the majority of people. Laws that improved working conditions also benefited the poor more than the wealthy.

      • Edward2
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        “the Conservatives also want to maintain a large number of poor people”
        A quite ridiculous statement Uni if you give it just a little thought.

        What the Conservatives need is for people to vote for them in large numbers in order to gain power.
        Keeping many people poor will not encourage them to vote Conservative, it will encourage them to vote Labour.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          Posted in wrong place, Sorry.
          Should have been in reply to the post by Uni at 9.29

    • Bazman
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Massive inequality is often characterised by despotic regimes. You are telling us that there can be a small percentage owning massive wealth with the rest at starvation levels and should be happy? Tories in the main believe they should and nothing can be done as Boris points out for us. In a modern society peasants living off the land cannot exist, so the state must provide some subsistence or if you want equality. How would anyone survive on a less than £500 a month here? Its not just about subsistence though, expectations have to be met in one of the richest countries in the world. In one way or another you will pay and are doing so now due to the massive inequalities that exist here in education and wealth. Desperation does not create jobs.
      Ram it

  15. JoeSoap
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    You are demonstrating, quite correctly, that both Labour and the Conservatives have pretty well the same agendae. This is only to be expected, as they are both run by folk with pretty well the same backgrounds, namely private school, PPE or some arty subject at Oxford, “research” in Central office, nomination as an MP. These people have had both equality of opportunity with each other and equality of outcome, but neither in a good way. Nobody in this circle of elites wants to bring back Grammar Schools. Nobody wants to quit the EU. Equality of opportunity is mouthed, but when you succeed, more of your income goes to the government than you keep, so you never get the chance to truly leverage that ability and success by investing it.

    It could be different, and would be different, if those folk were state school background, University trained as engineers, mathematicians, scientists or medics, worked either as self-employed professionals or as employees in the wealth creating sector, and then became politicians.

    If we want to succeed as a Country, we need more folk leading us who have succeeded in their lives in the real world.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Largely true I feel but even fairly sound people tend to go off the rails when they can start spending others money. The main problem is, in the main, that those who seek power in politics are, almost by definition, rather unsuitable to exercise it. We want intelligent, honest, numerate and competent people such people are not, very often, attracted to politics and power.

      Clearly we need a lottery or a random ballot of people who could intervene on issues. The people get it right far more than politician. We would not have had Bliar’s wars, no HS2, little Green Crap and we would not be in the EU have we not initially been lied to and we had been asked periodically.

      • Mark B
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        We need to reassert the master-servant relationship. If the people hold ultimate power, and can override a Parliament that is not to their liking, politicians’ would be more responsive to our concerns.

        Once they are past the finishing post of a General Election, they basically can do as they please, without fear from us.

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          Indeed MP take the micky out of taxpayers, just as company directors often do so with shareholders in companies while paying themselves millions and destroying companies.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

            Insider companies run for the benefit of a few, not shareholders or employees and especially not the customer, banking and utilities being prime examples,

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        We need something like the Swiss system, so that if enough people sign a petition they can force a referendum on a particular issue. Once again a proposal which Cameron pretended to welcome in principle while ripping the guts out of it, so that it became a system whereby people could petition for MPs to have a debate on an issue. And then when that highly diluted system of direct democracy resulted in a debate that he didn’t want held he applied a three line whip … today the Telegraph writes:

        “The more China opens up to the world, the more its leadership may realise that democracy and development go hand-in-hand”

        but apart from the fact that they seem to have been doing pretty well on the development without the democracy I don’t reckon much to Cameron as an advocate of the latter.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Even engaging in a debate about ‘equality’ shifts the political parameters leftwards.

    We can’t have equality, as Boris says. We can only aim to have fairness. Fairness to enable our people to be the very best they can be and, therefore, making it the best that our country can be.

    Margaret Thatcher Vs Simon Hughes “You’d sooner have the poor poorer if it stopped the rich getting richer.” or to that effect.

    I’m not so much bothered about Labour banging on about equality so much as seeing Tories trying to out-equality them.

  17. Antisthenes
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    “They could promise to prevent UK children attending the excellent independent schools,”

    A dangerous comment to make Labour may latch onto that and implement it after all in their world of envy politics independent schools are an anathema . They have already destroyed two methods where less well off children could receive a better education. Firstly they did away with the grammar schools then they stopped Conservative introduced scholarships for the less well off to go to private school. We believe in equality of opportunity which in the end will do more to promote equality than their distortions of forced equality which in the end benefits no one as it can only work if all are forced to conform to the lowest common denominator and that only delivers mediocrity and a state education system that is not fit for purpose. To me I believe you are stating the obvious when you ssay that Labour policies are not capable of delivering equality and end up doing the opposite like so much other things that Labour set out to achieve and fail to but what mystifies me is that so many are incapable of seeing that obviousness. Many of the things Labour are aiming at are just as dear to the hearts of Conservatives the difference being that Conservatives know better how to deliver them. The strength of the Labour party is only in encouraging social responsibility for which we should all be grateful but what we should not be grateful for is that they make a dogs dinner of achieving it whenever they are in government.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Firstly they did away with the grammar schools

      Most grammar schools were closed by Thatcher, not Labour. Grammar schools were also controversial because anyone who didn’t go to a grammar schools was considered inferior to those who had (mainly because state schools were so poor).

      Many of the things Labour are aiming at are just as dear to the hearts of Conservatives the difference being that Conservatives know better how to deliver them.

      They why aren’t they delivering them. So far the only thing the Conservatives have done for education is to have academies which don’t have qualified teachers. How is that meant to improve education?

      • Edward2
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        Dont be silly Uni
        Acadamies don’t have to employ teachers who have gone through the quasi Marxist teacher training courses but they have to have a degree in a relevant subject. They are not unqualified as you claim.
        Given the outcomes for children are much better than many state comps your worries have no foundation.

  18. Edward2
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    One method of reducing inequality would be a to move to a system of more democratic localised government.
    It is no coincidence that the rise in power of the multi-national corporations, added to the rise in power of the UN and particularly the rise to power of the EU, has developed a more distant, less democratically accountable, hugely rich new elite governing class, which has resulted in greater inequality.

    The irony is that the global left now fully embrace and enthuse over these new elite organisations, despite bringing with them huge levels of unemployment and reductions in standards of living for the peoples of Europe.
    I find it very strange to now hear the Labour Movement, Trade Unionists and socialists in general, strongly backing the EU, telling us that as most multi-nationals, most big businesses, the IOD and the CBI are all for the EU and that is why they are also in favour of it.

  19. John B
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Inequality is determined at the moment of conception.

    There can be no such thing as ‘equality of opportunity’ for this reason, because not everyone is capable of taking advantage of a particular opportunity, nor may it appeal to all.

    Politicians who imagine it is some how possible by legislation or otherwise, to ensure opportunity is matched by those who might benefit are the epitome of Adam Smith’s ‘man of system’.

    Opportunities arise in different locations and times so unless we all occupy the same Time and Space we cannot have equal access to the same opportunity.

    Equality of outcomes by forced or contrived equality of input is such addled thinking, the fact it prevails among the political class of all shades explains why we are in such a mess, and there is no difference between parties, nominally, of the Left and the Right.

    Or rather I should say, there are currently no parties of the Right.

  20. neil Craig
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The Tories should not be fighting Labour on the “you don’t oppose inequality of outcome more than us” because that is an issue on which they cannot beat Labour and probably cannot even draw.

    They should be saying that all economists agree growth depends on the competent ending up better off and that Labour’s policy of squeezing wealth creators impoverishes everybody – That Labour is ideologically committed to preferring equality to ending recession. Because the incompatibility of absolute equality of outcome and entrepreneurial growth is so obvious this is an argument Labour cannot win & the Tories cannot lose, so long as they actually make it.

    The argument that equality of outcome the exact opposite of equality of opportunity & requires a totalitarian state & the end of human freedom is also true, but probably not so overwhelmingly popular.

    Economic freedom is a necessary and perhaps sufficient condition for success and those who support it should not fear saying so.

  21. zorro
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    John, a bit off topic I know…..but Iam sure that Parliament and its purpose is a subject close to your heart.

    What do you make of the Speaker’s comments about the expenses scandal being ‘displacement activity’ in the face of an impotent Parliament…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/bored-mps-fiddled-their-expenses-as-a-displacement-activity-because-parliament-had-become-irrelevant-says-john-bercow-8968298.html

    zorro

    Reply Many MPs claimed legally under a system which was too generous. There was a strong public reaction against the scheme when the papers decided to attack it. A few were crooks, and they were prosecuted and punished.

  22. Paul
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Of the big three political parties, Labour is the worst for having far too many career politicians who have never had a proper job. I hear they have just selected an 18 year old candidate to fight a constituency in the south-west in 2015. How ridiculous – no MP should be under the age of 30. Labour may still pretend they care about the poor and want to make society more equal, but we all know they couldn’t care less because they have no idea what it’s really like to be an ordinary, hard-working person on a low wage. It would be good to see them advocate some of the policies you have listed JR, just to prove that a cigarette paper can be put between them and the Tories.

  23. petermartin2001
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    It would be fair enough for a party of the centre right to criticise a party of the centre left for being too socialist, for laying too much emphasis on egalitarianism, but it seems rather incongruous to criticise them for just the opposite.

    The Labour party has moved on from what it was in the post war period. But, to be fair to them, even then it did not advocate complete equality.

    I would suggest that criticisms of the Labour Party from a leftist perspective are best left to those with a leftist perspective.

    Reply Why? Becasuse it hurts more? I still listen to many Labour MPs telling me they want equality, so surely I can suggest ways for them to prove that.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      If a political party is being hypocritical then why shouldn’t its opponents point out its hypocrisy?

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Tell me of a party who is not hypocritical. Denis you of all people should realize that power, who ever has it momentarily in their grasp, is naught but a war of words, put downs and pose.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:46 am | Permalink

      Why? The answer is that perfect equality is an ideal which can never be realised. A skilled worker on a factory floor would consider he is worthy of more pay than an unskilled worker. And rightly so IMO. I would expect the skilled and unskilled worker would probably agree too. On the other hand, if either were injured in a work accident then I’m sure all three of us would agree that their medical attention should be the same.

      There are those on the left of the Labour Party, and beyond, who push policies of equality beyond what the electorate would consider reasonable and they would lose too many votes if adopted . That is why the policies you suggest are not included in the Labour Party manifesto as I’m sure you are well aware!

      Equally there are those on the right of the Conservative Party, who push ideas of inequality beyond what may be considered reasonable. They too are, not surprisingly marginalised by the Party leadership.

      Elections are won and lost on what people in marginal areas like BoltonW think. Sensible politicians in both parties know that.

  24. The PrangWizard
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Am a bit late to this one, but for the record that I am a supporter of Grammar Schools. I know it’s another one which will bring forth howls from the Left (not by many on these pages I hope ) They enabled the brightest of what today we might call the disadvantaged to get an education alongside others of equal ability. They were a stab at ‘equality’. They enabled genuine social mobility, at very low cost to the individual and the State, which also benefitted from the talent released which may not otherwise have been discovered.
    And by way of an aside with a kind of relevance I’ve been watching Russia Today on the launch of the hard Left ‘Left Unity’ party here ( which to my great annoyance is using the English flag as a basis for their banner). And Ken Loach was interviewed. Michael Foot resurrected – all he needs is the duffle coat!

  25. uanime5
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Taking opposition policies to extreme degrees and creating a lot of strawmen just shows you lack a real argument.

    During Labour’s long recent period in government income inequalities in the UK went up.

    During the Thatcher years income inequality increased significantly more than when Blair and Brown were in power. It’s also been increasing while the current coalition is in power.

    Judging by the current and past performances by the Conservatives it seems that inequality increases at a far slower rate when Labour is in power.

    They could start by saying the Labour MPs will no longer take three times the national average wage as salary for being MPs but would be happy with average wages.

    Better yet why not have this apply to all MPs. They can also be limited to average wage increases, rather than telling an “independent” committee they need to be paid 10% more.

    At the moment there are many days when Parliament is in session when Labour does not whip their MPs to turn up and some do not turn up.

    Are these MPs not in Parliament because they’re in their constituencies or on committees? If so they have a valid reason for not being in Parliament.

    They could promise to prevent UK children attending the excellent independent schools, leaving them to be export only, inviting in fee paying foreign students.

    Or they could do like Finland and ban private schools. Given that Finland currently has the best schools in the world this decision may result in the UK moving back up the international education table.

    They could abolish the state lottery, on the grounds that people should not become very rich overnight for no effort because they have bought a lucky ticket.

    Well it would save all the people who don’t win a lot of money.

    In practice Labour will offer to do none of these things, and will do none of them should they return to office.

    So you’re criticising Labour for not doing something that they haven’t promised to do.

    Reply Labour offers us increased equality but does not deliver. Conservatives offer increased prosperity and do deliver.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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