Jealousy and aspiration

This week is Queen’s Speech week. Parliament is formally opened on Wednesday. I will produce some pieces this week on the themes of the speech and my advice for the next year’s government programme.

One of the big arguments of the election was about aspiration. Labour concentrated on expressing their hatred of the rich, hoping that jealousy would be the winning emotion. After the results were known they have agreed they overdid the taxes on the better off, and failed to speak to people who want to better themselves. The Conservative message of tax cuts for the many was more popular. Labour has now decided to drop its proposal of a Mansion tax.
Their criticisms of Non Doms were more popular, but always lacked detail over who would lose the status, and how they proposed to tax income and assets owned by people abroad if the people were not full time residents and citizens of the UK. It seemed unlikely they would make everyone who comes to the UK for a given period to invest, spend and employ people pay tax on all their worldwide income and assets that they hold elsewhere. If they did it would dry up a lot of inward investment.

One of the interesting things about democratic politics is that jealousy often does lose elections rather than win them. Labour’s wish to abolish grammar schools was to proceed by asking all the parents to vote in an area, with a large majority of parents of pupils who did not get places at the grammar school. In the first referendum they fought, they lost. Many parents thought it was fine for the winners of the grammar competition to receive the grammar education. They gave up the idea of these votes.

The reasons jealousy often does not work are varied. Some just see it as an unpleasant emotion. Some aspire to the higher levels of income and wealth that left wing parties condemn and wish to tax. Many people who are on lower incomes and have no immediate prospect of being on a higher income may have people in their family or amongst their friends who are better off and they wish them no harm. Some think it reasonable that if someone is a great footballer or singer that they keep a reasonable proportion of the money they earn.

Conservatives too have to grasp that whilst most of us want the rich to pay more, and to pay an appropriate higher proportion of our total taxes, if you overdo the rates or the rules you can end up with less revenue. The message of the election is also that many people do not think the rich should be taxed out of the country or into indolence.


  1. Lifelogic
    May 25, 2015

    Well the left is all about envy, jealousy and robbing the rich to buy the votes of the poor. Thank goodness the voters saw through this even despite the pathetic lefty nature of the current Tory party. Albeit mainly due to the threat that the SNP with the would be landlord thief Ed Miliband might get control of England.

    But then we have Cameron’s ex advisor Steve Hilton talking about “solving” inequality.

    The other reason this ‘rob the rich and buy the votes of the poor’ often does not work is that the poor realise that any money robbed will be spend/wasted by the state and rarely if ever seep down to those who really need it. They are also often rather more in touch with the realities of the poor than are politicians and know the real reasons people are poor.

    Taxing nondoms would have been hugely damaging it has been huge benefit to the country for many years. The aim should be to get taxes down for the wealthy British so they do not have leave the country to avoid paying million in tax. This only to watch the Government waste it on HS2, pointless wars, greencrap energy, augmenting the feckless, the EU, the dysfunctional NHS, second rate schools and similar nonsense.

    It is rather a shame the Cameron never, ever makes the moral case for a smaller state. He too play often the envy game and rob the rich game he is almost as bad.

    Osborne’s current tax regime can easily take away more that 90% of the lifetime wealth a person would have generated without taxes. With the 45% income tax, the countless other taxes and 40% IHT on death. Beyond about 20% of GDP for basic services, governments are far worse and far less efficient at spending money than individuals especially successful ones.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2015

      As Milton Friedman sensibly put it:

      Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.

      We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.

      If I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get – and that is government.

      Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2015

      I mean taxing non doms (on the same basis) – Non doms do of course already more far more tax than the average tax payers anyway with a £30-50K tax charge plus taxes on all UK income and remitted income.

    3. Michael Walzer
      May 25, 2015

      If the current tax regime can easily take away more than 90% of the lifetime weath you would have generated without taxes, it is time either you ask for help doing your tax return, or you change for a better accountant!

      1. Lifelogic
        May 25, 2015

        Well if you imagine someone with say £10M who makes say 10% PA compounded on it for say 40 years before they die. Without tax it would grow to about £450m, but if taxed at 45% PA each year (and then 40% IHT is taken on death too) it would give only about £50m. Hardly growing at all in real terms after tax.

        How much richer would the UK be if the funds were invested wisely by companies and individuals, rather than largely wasted by governments & the state sector?

        I have no wish to pay millions every year to the UK government just to watch is being wasted on HS2, the climate change act, pointless wars and other endless nonsense. So I have left.

        1. Michael Walzer
          May 26, 2015

          The way you present things is right, and your numbers are roughly correct. However, I would continue to argue that, specially for someone with that amount of money, there are completely legal ways to save and pay less than 90% “tax”, and these would involve investing in starter companies, and getting 30% tax rebate, and not waiting one’s death to pass money to next generations.

          1. Lifelogic
            May 27, 2015

            Yes but these types of EIS investments are full of conditions and rules that increase the risks and decrease the returns. In particular you can often only hold a maximum of 30% of the company and so do not even control it. The restrictions also increase the running costs and are not applicable to many investment areas anyway.

            Yes you could give away money before death but transfers into trusts are also taxed during one’s lifetime and people do not know when they are going to die. Not only that but we have all the other taxes on top. VAT at 20%, energy taxes, fuel duty at nearly 60%, 12% stamp duty, insurance premium tax, flight taxes, NI, landfill, car taxes …. on top of these.

      2. James Sutherland
        May 25, 2015

        “If the current tax regime can easily take away more than 90% of the lifetime weath you would have generated without taxes, it is time either you ask for help doing your tax return, or you change for a better accountant!”

        I wouldn’t be so sure. If you work as a consultant charging VAT, for example, the first 17% gets taken in VAT before you get to take a penny in salary. Then 28% of what’s left in tax/NI, if you’re on £50k. A lot of the things you’ll spend it on get hit with VAT a second time. Leave those possessions – on which you’ve already paid three batches of tax – and your descendants lose another 40% in inheritance tax. Then you can get CGT popping in to grab a slice. (Of course, any time you fuel your car, that’s getting taxed three times over, with excessive fuel tax, then VAT on top of that, all paid out of income after income tax and NI.)

        It all mounts up pretty quickly; 90% may be a worst case scenario, but it’s far from impossible.

  2. Mick Anderson
    May 25, 2015

    Conservatives too have to grasp that whilst most of us want the rich to pay more….

    I don’t want anybody to pay more, despite being neither rich or aspiring to be rich.

    For me, the solution is for Government to spend much less. This leaves everybody better off through lower taxation, and means that those in office are interfering less in our lives. It may even do something to alleviate the problem with over-population, if potential immigrants and baby-farmers can be shown that this will not be a land of milk and honey for them.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2015

      Exactly, we want the government to spend and waste far, far less there is huge scope ever where you care to look.

      A couple of minor examples;

      £400k spent on legal costs in trying to keep Prince Charles’s ‘black spider memos’ private.

      Total cost of David Cameron’s bonkers Happiness Index soars to £8m.

      and two major ones:

      The climate change act, costing circa £18 Billion PA to achieve absolutely nothing and destroying much of the beauty of countryside.

      The billions perhaps even approaching a trillion on the pointless & counter productive Blair and Cameron wars.

  3. Brigham
    May 25, 2015

    Removing the spare room subsidy is, basically, a fair thing to do. I can see, however, a problem. If I were in council accomodation, and was asked to move into a smaller place, it would be a terrible hardship. I am in my 80’s and have a bad back. Moving house is regarded as one of the most traumatic things in life, and, no matter what help was on offer to move, the whole thing would be very difficult. The answer is more houses and less immigration.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2015

      Indeed and on balance it will not save that much anyway. Probably less than is spend on the staff administering it.

    2. JoeSoap
      May 25, 2015

      Perhaps the council would have to be allowed to let the room out. It is their property so let them deal with the situation!

    3. English Pensioner
      May 25, 2015

      A lady friend of ours was brought up in a three bedroom council flat which was fully justified when her parents were alive and both she and her brother were at home. But she left when she married, her parents died some years ago, and as a result her brother is still living in the flat and objecting to any suggestion that he should move on the grounds that he’s lived there all his life. Surely that’s wrong.

      1. Jerry
        May 25, 2015

        @EP; “Surely that’s wrong.”

        Depends were he is being expected to move to, it’s not just a case of the number of rooms, room size might be an issue if one is expected to move from a typical pre 1960s type of property into a modern built rabbit hutch and can’t afford to replace [1] furniture that will not fit even if they wish to part with perhaps family heirlooms, then of course locality is an valid issue if the person is being expected to move away from friends and/or support.

        Before removing any spare room subsidy and expecting people to move, or pay a surcharge, there first needs to be suitable local accommodation available!

        [1] that is not the same as down-sizing, having more furniture than needed

    4. Denis Cooper
      May 25, 2015

      Trying to force somebody from their home should only ever be contemplated as a last resort, and in particular individual circumstances. I would have no truck with those who want to make it a matter of public policy that elderly people should be taxed out of their homes to release that accommodation for others to use.

      1. James Sutherland
        May 25, 2015

        “I would have no truck with those who want to make it a matter of public policy that elderly people should be taxed out of their homes to release that accommodation for others to use.”

        Agreed – which, of course, is why I have yet to see anyone suggesting anything of the sort. If you want to rent Buckingham Palace for your personal use, that’s between you and the owners – up until the moment you expect the taxpayer to pay your rent for you, at which point of course you should only ever get funding for the accommodation you actually need, rather than the accommodation you once used to need in different circumstances.

        A benefit cut is not a “tax”, bedroom or otherwise; it’s a great shame the media went along with that dishonest spin.

        1. Denis Cooper
          May 26, 2015

          I have seen it mooted, and not just in extreme left-wing circles.

          And I didn’t say that a benefit cut was a “tax”, which it isn’t.

    5. a-tracy
      May 25, 2015

      I thought pensioners were exempt? Was your HB reduced at the age of 78?

      Social Housing was and is allocated on the basis of need, as everyone is living much longer the housing recycle has stalled, not helped with the Conservatives Housing sales which I personally disagreed with. People who were allocated a large home, because they had three or more children, when those children leave home require much less space, freeing up the home for another family who are overcrowded or paying extremely high private rents, especially if the rent is met by housing benefit I.e. The taxpayer isn’t a bad plan as long as there are alternative smaller homes in the vicinity.

  4. agricola
    May 25, 2015

    Yes aspiration is a good thing. I look forward to seeing how your government intends to appeal to the aspirational. Jealousy is a minor sport designed to play to the baser instincts of a minority who think that success in life is to win the lottery.

    Much more important today is a report by Daniel Hannan in the DM on the smokescreen of sham re-negotiation being conducted by Cameron. Apparently everyone who is involved in the EU is amazed at how little he is asking for. The suggestion being that he intends after the acceptance of a few cosmetic changes to come to our referendum claiming all is well in the hope that the electorate will swallow it. Another Harold Wilson sleight of hand.

    We deserve to know what he is asking for on our behalf, he is after all our servant in this matter. So when are you in the conservative party going to start asking the questions that matter. I have a feeling that all that has been said of DC’s duplicity is going to come to pass.

  5. Gina Dean
    May 25, 2015

    I would like to see someone sometime stand up and say on budget day there will be no more change. We have it just right.. wishful thinking on my part.
    On a different subject I hope there will be a balanced discussion on the EU referendum. Not a scare story with all the old chestnuts broken out.
    Will the BOE publish there results on the EU, in plenty of time for it to be discussed.

  6. Richard1
    May 25, 2015

    It is remarkable the extent to which the Labour Party is in denial as to the reasons they lost. It’s all about how the Tories hoodwinked the voters into blaming Labour for the recession. As discussed many times on this site, Labour’s running of one of the highest structural deficits in the OECD in the 2000s, the explosion in banks’ balance sheets and the regulatory changes which meant no-one noticed or acted on this ticking bomb, were all absolutely Labour’s fault. It will be interesting to see whether one of the more sensible Labour leadership candidates such as Mary Creagh or Liz Kendall will own up to this. Only if they do will Labour have a chance next time.

    It is very heartening that the politics of envy went down so badly – Miliband was in the leftist tradition of Foot, Kinnock and to an extent Brown, in seeking to stir up artificial resentments and divisions, encouraging people to blame perceived woes on some anomymous greedy others. The electorate have blown a loud raspberry as they did in 1979, 1983, 87, 92 and 2010. Let’s hope Miliband’s Labour was the last gasp of socialism in the UK. Although if the unions succeed in putting in Burnham, there will need to be another electoral raspberry in 2020.

  7. JoeSoap
    May 25, 2015

    OK, so jealousy lost, but taking into account Libdem votes, over 30% of people still thought theirs were good ideas. Labour’s brainwashing tactics still work on some people who are well meaning but naïve. When you work in the public sector, and all around are warning you of Tory cuts – fellow workers, the BBC, London metros…. a proportion of people will be taken in. You need to get into these places and explain the way the world works to these people.

    If it was just jealousy you had to tackle, that would be easy.

  8. majorfurstration
    May 25, 2015

    Yes the voters want many things and appreciate that its not all jam tomorrow. What about providing the voters with some honesty and some real straight talking. Politicians could also try doing what they say will do and before making promises ensure that any process has in place a real implementation programme. Sweet words……..

  9. Stephen Berry
    May 25, 2015

    Jealousy is a powerful force in human relations but mercifully, it is not all powerful. If people in this country were given the choice between increasing their income by £5,000 or decreasing the income of the top one per cent by £100,000 I think the majority would plump for the former and take the money.

    It was natural that the party of redistribution should play the jealousy card in the last election. But for most people, the desire to improve their lot trumps any jealousy they feel. The Tory party, the party of opportunity, only needs to tap into this. In 1979, voters showed that they preferred to think about purchasing their own council house rather than glorying in the fact that the rich were then being taxed at 98 per cent. In 2015, I believe that promises by the Tories to cut taxes were way more important than all the non-Dom and mansion tax blather.

    As for the July budget, is there any movement in the Tory party towards a flat tax with all its obvious benefits? Not the least being the decimation of the number of staff working for the Inland Revenue.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    May 25, 2015

    John Prescott on Today: ‘What the heck does that mean, “aspiration”?’
    I heard Labour were going back to basics and re reading Marx – someone should tell them it’s Karl not Groucho.

  11. Ex-expat Colin
    May 25, 2015

    Thanks for your words on R4 this am.

    O/T a bit….Mr Helmer (UKIP) mentioned this today on his blog:

    “The government proposes to exclude most non-British “EU Citizens” — but to include around 800,000 Irish citizens! (Despite the fact that they’ve already had an EU referendum!)”.


    1. Denis Cooper
      May 25, 2015

      True, because as per the Wharton Private Members’ Bill the proposed franchise is that for general elections, plus peers and also Commonwealth citizens resident in Gibraltar.

      That is better than the franchise which was proposed for a referendum on the EU Constitution in a much earlier Bill originated by the Tory MP John Maples, that used for EU Parliament elections, but it still means that Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK would be able to vote in the referendum.

      Why? The Irish only allow Irish citizens to vote in their referendums, and if you take Australia as an example it no longer allows UK citizens to vote even in its elections, apart from those who had the right at some now rather remote point in the past, 1984 if I recall correctly.

  12. Bert Young
    May 25, 2015

    The prime focus of this government should be to restore and maintain democracy . Yesterday I responded emphasising the value of wealth creation and stimulating the economy through the taxation system . Highlighting these two conditions does not mean there are not certain important social issues – maintaining a first rate NHS is one and providing for the genuine needy is another .

    In my past I have had much to do with the improvement and efficiency of businesses – concentrating mostly on the skills and contribution of its management ; I still believe this to be a priority because , when it is got right , the whole scenario creates more enterprise and profits . Stimulating and rewarding success always works for a better economy ; there is more employment and better opportunity for everyone .

    As time has marched on one would think that the mistakes of the past would be overcome ; sadly this is not true . There is far too much interference by Government and its levels of bureaucracy ; Quangos are still there as is the red tape from Europe . Education is the bedrock of this country and maintaining the aspiration of its results essential .

  13. English Pensioner
    May 25, 2015

    As a pensioner, the idea of increasing taxation on the rich seems, at first sight, to be attractive, especially if it led to a bigger state pension. But then, I think about my daughters and their husbands, and realise that they are likely to be amongst those who will be more highly taxed because they have done well for themselves, so perhaps it’s not such a good idea after all!
    Any significant taxation increase changes peoples habits and as a result rarely brings in the amount expected. Would the “non-doms” continue to live in this country and spend their money here? How many jobs would be lost if they were no longer employing staff or spending their money? And perhaps, more importantly, how many of the people we need such as doctors and nurses would decide to leave the country for pastures new?
    The government needs to find ways of reducing taxation and spending less. I’m still waiting for the “Bonfire of Quangos” which was promised five yeas ago!

  14. bigneil
    May 25, 2015

    Jealousy and Aspiration – your title for this post. After hearing Mr Cameron say that he wants alterations to the £700 a month we pay/donate/hand-out to people who turn up – -having done nothing except get here, can I say that after being born/bred here and working/paying-in for 45 yr – and now getting nothing in return for my taxes – -can you guess who I’m jealous of ??? – just a touch of sarcasm if anyone is wondering. What does it feel like to be part of a govt that treats anyone who turns up, better than the people whose taxes helped for 45 yr?

  15. Peter Stroud
    May 25, 2015

    The way Labour is dropping its old policies and accepting ours, must be really confusing to many of its rank and file members.

  16. Tad Davison
    May 25, 2015

    Just prior to the election, my lad summed it up pretty well. He said people would have to be mad to vote Labour. Evidently, a lot of people were indeed mad enough to vote Labour, so Mr Cameron has some work to do to make them realise their error and encourage them away from the populist mantra, and onto something that works for everyone. It isn’t a crime to want to improve one’s lot in life, and we need to make it easier for everyone to do so.

    Labour wanted to take us back to a period in our nation’s history that produced social upheaval and divisions, and destitution for many people, rather than concentrating on the positives of a freer and less-restricted way of doing things. I do feel Labour rightly condemned the bankers though, some of whom made a lot of money out of the crash because of the way the banking system is skewed, and that needs to be put right if we are serious about creating fairness.

    I think Mr Cameron is missing out by not having your voice in the Cabinet John. Your wise counsel would be a valuable asset to any government, and a voice for those not presently properly represented.

    Tad Davison


    1. agricola
      May 25, 2015

      Cameron’s loss is our gain, were John in the cabinet he would not be able to publicly speak out, nor would he be able to run this diary which is a very useful two way conduit.

      1. acorn
        May 26, 2015

        If JR was even within sniffing distance of getting back in the cabinet, this website wouldn’t exist!

        Reply Not so.I have promised to run a website for the duration of this Parliament and will do so. I am not expecting to join the Cabinet, but if I was I would still run this.

  17. Javelin
    May 25, 2015

    A minor technical point. Jealousy is when somebody is taking over your role (eg flirting with your wife) whereas envy is wanting something another person has. So it’s envy not jealousy. I think it sounds better to say earnings envy.

    I do think there is a place for stricter corporation tax. There is something very wrong about Amazon and Starbucks using loop holes to avoid paying corporation tax. Also directors who obviously live in the UK and avoid income taxes even though their earnings are from a uk company. I think these are minor points that will take wind out of the Labour Parties sails.

    Politics has moved on from the days of the unions. The labour party has not. However some issues of social justice still need to be tackled by the Tories.

    May 25, 2015

    There is some evidence suggesting Labour Think Tanks,if that is not an oxymoron, made assumptions that Labour had “the immigrant vote” and the “ethnic vote” in much the way American psephologists believe the US Democratic Party carries the “Latino vote” and the “Black vote”.

    Labour failed to appreciate the cultures, countries of origin,traditional political orientation and the diversity of settlers HERE. Many from Eastern Europe cringe at the very sight of a red flag. The fact Labour also, doesn’t mean what it says despite its “anti-rich” stance rings an historic bell with them.

    Even in the 1970s I met Chinese from Red China, here legitimately and with their country’s blessing who set up restaurants in London.
    Of course Indians too are famous for their business expertise.
    The chant of “I’ve always voted Labour ” in Labour heartlands is dying out.
    The Labour Party will now try to be a”nice” Tory Party. Its red rose emblem will soon change into a limp bluebell.

  19. petermartin2001
    May 25, 2015

    The Conservative message of tax cuts for the many was more popular.

    That’s good. However, I’m not sure that message was delivered as clearly as it could have been. The way to give tax cuts to the many, just about everyone in fact, would be to cut VAT.

    Maybe I just missed it and I wasn’t following closely enough?

  20. petermartin2001
    May 25, 2015

    “The message of the election is also that many people do not think the rich should be taxed out of the country or into indolence.”

    I don’t remember anyone actually suggesting that. Of course, everyone will have an opinion on what taxation levels for the very rich should be.

    How about we look at the empirical evidence at how levels of taxation on the wealthy have impacted on economic growth in our recent history? So, rather than just have an opinion on whether high taxation on the ultra wealthy might be the cause of our present economic malaise, and lack of growth, we look at the evidence in a scientific manner.

    In the post WW2 period tax levels on the highest earners in the western world, generally, were very high. Economic growth rates were also high. Tax rates in America weren’t quite as high as in the UK, but even there the highest tax rate was 91% until it was reduced to 70% in 1964. Of course, when scientific observations don’t give us quite the results we’d like it’s tempting to say something like “oh but correlation doesn’t mean causation!” If the observations were the other way around, I doubt there would be those kind of comments though.

    We should have some real evidence, not just opinions, that lower taxes for the very wealthy will bring about the growth we need. Where is it?

    1. Richard1
      May 25, 2015

      A nonsense comparison. The US and Western Europe were in a recovery period in the 2-3 decades after WWII and faced no competition from emerging economies. The question is, when like for like comparison is made, do lower taxes generally produce greater prosperity or not? The evidence that this is the case is overwhelming and the evidence has been offered here many times before.

      1. petermartin2001
        May 26, 2015


        Yes the U and Europe were in a recovery period. So would they have recovered more quickly or more slowly if the same ‘sound money’ thinking had been applied to the economy?

        Fifteen years after WW1 Europe was mired in depression. So why no recovery then? Fifteen years after WW2 ended the economy was all go. Why the difference?

        Why weren’t the western economies in depression as they struggled under the supposed burden of too much public debt which had been accumulated during the war years? Aren’t we always told that excessive public debt is the cause of the present malaise?

        I’m not necessarily suggesting we put income tax back up to 90%, but I am suggesting we learn our economics from the way real economies behave, and have behaved in the past, rather than on how we think they should behave. We need to be more scientific, in other words.

    2. Edward2
      May 25, 2015

      The evidence is simply that high rates and uncompetitive taxes imposed in one country, in a modern world where the jet aircraft can take you far away in a day and the internet means you can work wherever you happen to be, will now not work.
      More than 50% tax is theft.

      1. petermartin2001
        May 26, 2015

        No the evidence isn’t simply that. That’s just your opinion.

        So why is 51% tax “theft ” and 49% not ? Or is that just another unscientific opinion?

        1. Edward2
          May 27, 2015

          There is evidence, I’m sure you can find it for yourself Peter if you really want to.
          One example is the fall in CGT revenues when the rate went up to 28% from 18% and the rise in revenues when top rates of income tax went down to 45% from 50%

          Trying to impose high tax rates that worked in the 1940s in todays world “in my opinion” will not work.
          My other opinion is that if you work and earn money and the State takes more than half then that is theft.
          We are already at that rate when you add NI and Income tax together.
          There are many countries with pleasant weather and working environments where you can run a company and earn money whilst paying lower rates than the UK, just a few hours away by plane.
          But you still think business owners will just sit around happily in the UK being taxed at absurd historic high rates in 2015.
          Have you seen the figures for emmigration recently?

  21. Greg D
    May 25, 2015

    I would agree Labour’s campaign was poor, there was hardly a thought to the Non Doms policy, it was just thrown out there to be populous. No structure to their campaign.

    The issue I would raise is yes, Labour failed to reach out to those who want to better themselves, but does that maybe imply there are a substantial number who don’t want to improve themselves. I would argue close to 99% of people want to improve their situation – either for themselves or their children, it’s a natural human instinct. I suggest many just don’t know how to, they are in a bit of a rut and have lost confidence, it needs a long-term approach to rebuild confidence, and bring fulfilment to their lives. I think inequality needs to be tackled from many angles all under the umbrella of ‘reduce inequality, improve economy’

    I also agree there is too much jealousy towards people who have it good (hence why Labour used this), even if they know it has taken people years of sacrifice to study or to build their business they still see them as having opportunities, guidance and knowledge they didn’t have. How can we reduce this jealousy factor? – and help people understand they are not a failure, they can have happy and stable lives without being too materialistic.

  22. Denis Cooper
    May 25, 2015

    I reckon that if the poorer people in a society feel that they are living in comfort then usually most of them will not be overly concerned that some richer people are living in luxury. If the poorer people are reduced to destitution then that good-natured tolerance of inequality will no longer endure, and if they also feel that the richer people are living on ill-gotten gains at their expense then the situation can become revolutionary.

    1. petermartin2001
      May 26, 2015

      Yes I think this is the right way of looking at it.

      The problems arise when the economy stagnates. The GDP per capita, in the UK now, is not much different from what it was ten years ago. Any rise in GDP is due to the population rise.

      So, a child might ask why things aren’t like they were ten years ago, and why there is more now more economic hardship than there was then? It’s a good question. We all know the answer I’m sure, but explaining it to that child isn’t easy.

      1. Edward2
        May 27, 2015

        I would say to your child, the State is strangling the private sector.
        Its too big, it spends too much, it borrows to much, it takes too much in taxes out of the pockets of its citizens and it wastes too much.
        That is why standards of living are not rising as they should.

  23. ian wragg
    May 25, 2015

    No John, we don’t want anyone to pay more we just want you to stop pissing the money down the drain.
    Giving money to non charities to lobby the government.
    Wasting billions on overseas aid.
    Wasting billions on windmill which as of now are producing less than 1% of the demand.
    I see Hannan as it about right, CMD is asking for little or nothing from the EU negotiations so he can claim a complete victory. We are not that stupid.

  24. Mercia
    May 25, 2015

    Jesus had rich followers, Joseph of Arimathea paid for his tomb. The Bible says we are rich when we have wisdom and knowledge.

    Proverbs 16:16
    How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!

  25. Bill
    May 25, 2015

    I think there was research to back up the abolition of Grammar Schools even if, from this distance, it looks like a mistake. The USA has used the ‘common school’ as a way of melting together an ethnically diverse population loyal to the Stars & Stripes – at least this has been the theory. Sweden offered comprehensive schools, even if the thinly spread population would have made it very difficult to support a selective system. The research used to justify the dismantling of the Grammar School system (pushed by the Benn family) appeared to show that one could increase the average performance of pupils by putting them into a similar school. In the Grammar Schools the bright children did well and the less bright struggled in Secondary Modern Schools. In the Comprehensive it was thought there would be an average of more O level passes per thousand pupils.

    Of course, in practice it did not work out like this. Huge schools with more than a hundred teachers and upwards of 1,800 pupils produced social problems. The doctrine of mixed ability teaching was a nightmare to handle for the teachers and impeded the intellectual progress of the gifted and did little for the retarded. And, whereas previously British Sixth Formers could compete with first or second year undergraduates in the USA, the advantage was lost and performance in the UK declined – which is why successive ministers of education since the 1990s have wrestled with ‘standards’ in an attempt to restore us to our prime.

    I don’t think the abolition of Grammar Schools was driven by jealousy exactly. It was driven by a doctrine of equality that came from the Left. They confused ‘equality’ with ‘equality of opportunity’. They assumed everything could be attributed to environment and nothing to innate ability.

    1. agricola
      May 25, 2015

      Absolutely correct. There was a messianic detestation of academic success, fronted by one Anthony Crosland who swore to destroy all grammar schools in the 60s. Ever since we have suffered constant erosion of opportunity especially for the children of ability with impoverished parents. The destruction of the Direct Grant scheme was another step to this end. Politicisation of teacher training by unions hell bent on some agenda of their own that had little to do with quality, further diluted education.

      Governments of all persuasions since the 60s are all culpable in the erosion of standards and the subsequent deluding of our youth.

    2. bluedog
      May 25, 2015

      ‘They assumed everything could be attributed to environment and nothing to innate ability.’ And still they haven’t learned. Whenever one reads of fresh incentive crushing taxation to redistribute wealth and solve society’s ills at a stroke, one knows that the Left remains blinded by its own ideology. This is not an evidence based set of beliefs either, it’s an emotional commitment to an impossible equality. The truth is that if the government took every penny off every single citizen and said, ‘Start again the lot of you’, the same people who have already succeeded would succeed again. Equality of opportunity ensures inequality of outcome. Because we are all different.

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 26, 2015

        I don’t think that ALL of those who have already succeeded would succeed again, there are some whose present success is heavily dependent on the past success of their forebears. To some extent part of the government’s role should be to say “Start again the lot of you” to each generation, and that is one reason for state funded universal education, for example, so that the members of each new generation will start off with something more like a level playing field than would otherwise be the case.

      2. Margaret Brandreth-J
        May 26, 2015

        Indeed: the application of equations is not understood.

  26. Jon
    May 25, 2015

    I read that the acting Labour leader now supports an EU referendum. No apology for the venomous attack against it that they pursued,

    What of EVEN? They not only attacked the idea of that English white van man with flags hanging from their window they refused to get involved. What of that and what of an apology?

  27. Denis Cooper
    May 25, 2015

    JR, please can you explain why the government is proposing to allow Irish citizens to vote in our EU referendum on the future destiny of our country when UK citizens are not allowed to vote in any Irish referendums?

    1. Monty
      May 25, 2015

      Indeed, Irish citizens should have no say over the future direction of the UK. And neither should anyone else who is not British, or normally domiciled in the UK. We should also restrict the referendum to voting in person within the territory of the UK, with exceptions only for those posted abroad on government service.

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 26, 2015

        As there are still good reasons to mistrust the integrity of postal voting it should be reduced to the minimum, starting with this referendum.

  28. Stevie
    May 25, 2015


    Aspiration is not the socialist way. Confiscation more like.

    John, I am becoming very worried indeed about Cameron (again). Just when I thought we had a conservative in charge again, after a long, long time, I read Daniel Hannan’s article in the Mail.

    Hannan doesn’t lie – he must have heard that the negotiation is a sham. Is Cameron throwing away our last chance at regaining our democracy?

    John, we are relying on you and a few others to keep Cameron honest.

  29. John C.
    May 25, 2015

    For the sake of clarity of thought, and the preservation of meaning in our language, can we please differentiate between “envy” and “jealousy”? The latter actually means “anxiety to keep and not to share what we think we own”- my definition, somewhat clumsy. Othello was famously jealous of his wife; he didn’t envy her, he was possessive in his attitude to her. You might guard your parking space “jealously”.
    So we might say Labour tries to stir up envy of those better off, but we can’t say they stir up jealousy. They are not the same thing.

  30. Margaret Brandreth-J
    May 25, 2015

    I was chatting to a fellow worker last week on the theme of jealousy and this person was quick to jump and say well what have they to be jealous about in a manner which asserted superiority to the financially better off. Jealousy can rise its green head due to many triggering factors, not least the realisation that there are those who are less well paid, have more qualifications and get things right . It is not all about money.

  31. Iain Gill
    May 26, 2015

    Congratulate the business secretary for saying it like it is… We need more of this from politicians.

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