Tag Archives: Interest

POLL: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted a criminal offence. What should be done with him?

Smirking: Yet again, Jeremy Hunt seems to have got away with it.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is a criminal.

He may never go to prison for his offence because he is a Conservative cabinet member and that means corruption – but we can all see the truth of it.

Hunt bought seven luxury flats in Southampton with his wife – they acted as a company called Mare Pond Properties – then failed to notify the Register of Members’ Interests in Parliament within the required 28-day period, or Companies House. When the registration documents were filed in September 2017 only his wife was named, constituting a breach of regulations. His failure to declare his interest to Companies House is a criminal offence. It took him months to rectify these omissions.

According to The Guardian, “He also breached the Companies Act, which requires anyone with more than 25 per cent control of a company to be declared ‘a person with significant control’. The act was introduced by David Cameron’s government in 2015 to tackle money laundering and came into force the following year.”

Hunt says these were genuine errors – an “honest mistake”.

His spokesperson said Hunt notified the Cabinet Office in good time but did not realise he was supposed to register the holdings with the other organisations.

Do you believe that? Even if you do, does it make a difference?

They are indeed. In addition to the new offences against money-laundering legislation, Mr Hunt is also a tax dodger, having avoided £100,000 in tax in 2010, days before a 10 per cent rise in the tax on dividends in April 2010.

Let’s let the Telegraph, of all periodicals, explain:

“[Mr Hunt] and his business partner, Mike Elms, transferred ownership of their company’s office building in Hammersmith into their own names in April 2010, just before the tax rate for the transaction rose to 42.5 per cent. They then leased the property back to Hotcourses, their jointly owned education company, for 10 years.

“By paying themselves the building as a dividend before the change in tax rules, the two men saved themselves an income tax bill of £202,000 on the £1.8 million deal, by paying tax on it at the rate of 32.5 per cent. The company now pays them £60,750 a year in rent. No stamp duty was payable on the property, which at the time would have been 4 per cent.”

Nauseating.

The Tory government is adamant that there is nothing to be done about this. Hunt has apologised and the matter is closed.

Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett disagrees. He has referred the case to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. He said: “Faith in politics and politicians is at a historic low. Any minister flouting the rules designed to prevent big financial interests corrupting politics must be held to account, especially when that minister’s own government introduced the rules.”

What do you think, though?


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Conflict of interest call for Esther McVey to be removed from DWP

Labour expressed ‘grave concern’ about Esther McVey because HSE prohibition notices are an area covered by the DWP [Image: Alastair Grant/AP].

The government wants you to think there’s nothing to this.

Esther McVey, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, was a director of a company served with health and safety prohibition notices in the past – and this is problematic because it’s an area covered by the DWP.

The Tories are saying it’s no big deal – but this is a 180-degree about-face from the situation when she became Employment Minister.

That was in 2013 – 10 years after the notices were served on JG McVey and Co because of unsafe scaffolding. Ms McVey’s brief would have included oversight of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) but that element of her job was removed after her connection to the infringements became clear.

So the question is simple:

If it was sufficient reason to prohibit Ms McVey from responsibility for the HSE then, why isn’t it sufficient reason now?

This seems to be a subject the government is keen to avoid – and the message appears to have been passed down to its compliant media.

When Barry Gardiner raised the subject on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, presenter Sarah Smith tried to shut him up.

Quite rightly, he stuck to his guns, as this clip from the Skwawkbox blog shows:

The issue seems to be clear: If Ms McVey was incapable of preventing breaches of Health and Safety law as a company director, how can the public have faith that she can correctly carry out her duty in that respect, as Secretary of State?

The Departmental spokesperson’s claim that the compliance notices were handled “to a satisfactory standard at the time” is neither here nor there.

We have no evidence that Ms McVey understood the reasons for the enforcement notice – and, after being a part of a government that participated in a wholesale “bonfire” of “red tape”, that she ever understood the need for such things.

How can we expect her to do her duty properly?

Better not to risk any wrong decisions. Better not to give her the opportunity. Better to admit Ms McVey’s appointment was a mistake.

But Theresa May doesn’t have the right qualities. She has too much arrogance and not enough courage.

So we must wait for the mistakes to happen and highlight any cover-ups that may follow.

Labour has called on Theresa May to rethink the appointment of Esther McVey as work and pensions secretary because McVey was a director of a demolition company served with health and safety prohibition notices, an area covered by her department.

Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, has written to the prime minister saying he had grave concern about McVey’s promotion in this week’s reshuffle because of the two notices served on the firm in 2003 owing to unsafe scaffolding.

The notices from the Health and Safety Executive were against JG McVey and Co, a now-closed firm run by McVey’s father. Esther McVey was a director of the company from February 2003 to March 2006.

In July 2003, HSE inspectors issued an immediate prohibition notice, stopping work at a demolition site in Liverpool after workers were seen using scaffolding without proper protective edge rails. In September that year, work was halted on the site for the same reason.

In 2013, McVey was made employment minister in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), a brief which initially included oversight of the HSE. However, after her connection to the infringements came to light, that element of the job was removed.

As work and pensions secretary – a job she gained after Justine Greening opted to leave the government rather than take on the brief – McVey now has overall responsibility for workplace health and safety among her duties.

Source: Calls for Theresa May to reconsider Esther McVey’s move to DWP | Politics | The Guardian


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Tory concession to young voters is too little and too reluctant

Theresa May has pledged to listen to young people. This is what she looks like when she tries [Image: Getty].

It’s also too obviously focused on the privileged young.

The announcement that tuition fees will be frozen is pointless, coming as it does after a rise of £250 a year was introduced earlier this month. When tuition fees were brought in, by Tony Blair’s New Labour, they were pegged at £1,000 per year and means-tested. Considering the astronomical increases since then – mostly under the Tories – it seems clear that Mrs May’s party has already done its worst here.

An increase in the repayment threshold will mean little to people who do not earn much after finishing their university courses as they are never likely to earn enough to do any more than pay interest on their loans. The offer to consider cutting interest rates on student loans is neither here nor there. Theresa May will probably u-turn on it as soon as it becomes expedient to do so.

Obviously, considering the cost of tuition fees and the debt burden of loans, being a student is now an occupation intended for the very rich; these are offers to the privileged, not to the population at large.

As for Help to Buy, which is intended to allow first-time buyers to get a mortgage – the scheme has been hit by several scandals: Some buyers were forced to pay ground rent at prices that increased hugely; others on Help-to-Buy ISAs found they could not use the money to actually buy a house. And in the meantime the scheme created an artificial increase in house prices, making them even less affordable for people on average or below-average wages.

So, again, this is a concession to the rich. It would be a trap for the poor.

It seems incredible that the media are touting this as Theresa May’s answer to Labour’s overwhelming popularity among young voters.

All anybody younger than 24 has to do is think about it, and they’ll never want to vote Tory again in their lives. I predict a u-turn on the whole idea.

Theresa May is set to announce that tuition fees will be frozen at £9,250, as part of an effort by the Tories to appeal to younger voters.

Speaking ahead of the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister told the Sun on Sunday there will be an increase in the repayment threshold, meaning graduates only start paying their loans back once they are earning £25,000.

The changes to the loan system will be accompanied with another pledge to extend the Help to Buy scheme, with Ms May acknowledging that the generation gap in terms of wealth and opportunity has opened up in the country.

With the number of first-time buyers falling steadily, the Prime Minister will pledge another £10 billion to expand the Help to Buy scheme, which attracted criticism for artificially inflating prices in the already overheated London housing market.

The extra funding will go to a further 135,000 first-time buyers, allowing them to get a mortgage on a new-built home with a deposit of just five per cent.

The Conservatives are also considering cutting interest rates on student loan repayments – which have rocketed for recent graduates.

Source: Theresa May pledges to freeze tuition fees and extend Help to Buy scheme ahead of Tory conference


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Is Labour’s plan to relieve credit card debt really controversial?

The shadow chancellor is planning new rules on credit card interest [Image: David/SilverHub/REX/Shutterstock].

Some commentators are tutting about John McDonnell’s plan to limit credit card interest repayments to twice the amount borrowed.

They say it may reduce the discouraging effect – people would no longer be put off borrowing when they can’t afford it.

But Conservative policies have driven people into the hands of payday lenders who charge huge rates of interest anyway!

People are being forced into debt by Tory pay repression and benefit persecution.

In such an environment, Mr McDonnell’s pledge must be welcome.

If not, why not?

People trapped in a spiral of credit card debt would be protected by a cap on their interest payments under a Labour government, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, will say on Monday.

Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Brighton, McDonnell will announce plans to help the more than 3 million people in Britain who are paying far more in interest payments than they borrowed.

Under the proposals there would be a total cap, meaning people would not have to pay back more than twice the amount of their credit card borrowings.

Source: Labour to pledge help for millions trapped by credit card debt | Politics | The Guardian


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Vox Political proved right over Grant Shapps’ business interests

As his name tag ('Michael Green') shows, Grant Shapps is not a novice in the art of bending the facts.

As his name tag (‘Michael Green’) shows, Grant Shapps is not a novice in the art of bending the facts.

Remember when Vox Political took issue with Grant Shapps over the business he ran while sitting as a member of Parliament?

Back in October 2013, this blog stated: “As ‘Michael Green’, in the run-up to the 2005 election and afterwards, he “charged clients £183 an hour for advice on how to make money from the web as well as offering tips on how to beat the recession blues, including splashing out on a jet-ski or learning to play the guitar,” according to the Daily Mail. Apparently he said his use of the name was to keep his business interests separate from his future political work, but he ended his involvement with that business in 2009, four years after he entered Parliament.

“‘Sebastian Fox’ was another alias he used on Howtocorp, the web publishing company he created in 2000.”

Today – March 16, 2015 – the BBC tells us: “Mr Shapps admitted he had ‘over firmly’ denied continuing his writing career – under the pen name Michael Green – when he entered the Commons in 2005.

“In an interview with LBC Radio three weeks ago, Mr Shapps said it was ‘absolutely clear’ he was not doing business as Michael Green while he was an MP, saying ‘I did not have a second job while being an MP, end of story’.

“However, Mr Shapps has now acknowledged that he was mistaken ‘over the dates’ of his outside employment during the interview.”

“This came after the Guardian issued what it says is a recording of a sales pitch made in the summer of 2006 in which Mr Shapps, using his Michael Green pen name, says he will be running his ‘mentoring programme’ to hire staff and produce software to create websites.”

Shapps has told us he fully declared all his business interests, but Labour wants an inquiry. After all – if he can get his dates mixed up in a radio interview, who knows what else he has “over firmly” denied?

Meanwhile, the fact he was making a sales pitch in 2006, at a time when he reckoned he was “winding up” the business, suggests that Vox Political was right to pick up on it.

As Labour MP Chris Bryant said in a tweet yesterday, “So, basically, Grant Shapps has been fibbing all the while. Is that right? Or was it Michael Green that was fibbing?”

This writer responded: “Definitely Grant Shapps. Michael Green only does what Shapps says.”

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Cameron cold-shoulders calls to limit commercial corruption of MPs

Cameron's attitude to Parliamentary corruption: When he brought in the Lobbying Act, it ensured that rich corporations had unfettered access to MPs and the Prime Minister, while effectively banning the public from speaking out against it.

Cameron’s attitude to Parliamentary corruption: When he brought in the Lobbying Act, it ensured that rich corporations had unfettered access to MPs and the Prime Minister himself.

The Labour Party is banning its MPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies, to ensure that their only interest is their duty to their constituents.

Labour MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates have been put on notice that, from the coming General Election, the party’s standing orders will be changed to prevent them holding such second jobs.

The measure, which Ed Miliband has confirmed will be included in the party’s manifesto, would ensure no Labour MP holds a paid directorship or consultancy.

Labour is also consulting on legislative measures including placing a strict cap – similar to one that exists for members of the US Congress – on any additional money they can earn beyond their salary as representatives of the people.

Mr Miliband’s actions follow a series of allegations over recent years, about how MPs from both sides of the House of Commons have risked a conflict of interest by seeking or taking paid work from outside organisations.

Most recently, former Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw (Labour) and Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Conservative) were secretly filmed apparently offering their services to a private company for cash.

It is claimed Mr Straw – a major figure in New Labour – said he had used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who is chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, is reported to have told reporters posing as representatives of a fake Chinese firm that he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world.

Mr Miliband has written to Tory leader David Cameron, challenging him to impose on Conservative MPs the same restrictions as are being placed on Labour’s.

The letter states: “I write … not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.

“The British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.”

He added that Labour “is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs”.

Vox Political applauds this move by Mr Miliband and Labour.

Long-term readers may remember this site’s e-petition, on the government’s website, to ban MPs from speaking or voting in debates on matters which could lead to them, companies connected with them or donors to their political party, gaining money.

Labour’s move goes further than that, by banning MPs from having any financial connection with commercial operations and interests.

It seems unlikely that Mr Cameron will do the honourable thing, though.

He has removed the party whip from Rifkind, but said he has no control over the chairmanship of the Intelligence committee. Rifkind has stated that he will not willingly step down from it.

Cameron said he approves of MPs having second jobs.

He said Labour would allow someone to be a trade union official but not “to run the family shop” or something similar, which is a gross misinterpretation of the issue.

This is not about running family shops; it is about taking money from huge corporations, to impose commercial priorities on the nation to the detriment of the general public. But Cameron will never admit that, or speak out against it.

He supports it.

Setting the record straight on Sturgeon’s fiscal policy

The Resolution Foundation's predictions for government spending, based on the different parties' declared plans.

The Resolution Foundation’s predictions for government spending, based on the different parties’ declared plans.

Vox Political’s article on Nicola Sturgeon’s London speech provoked a disgruntled response from Jonathan Portes. The NIESR boss sent a message stating that the article’s fiscal arguments were out of whack.

He didn’t ask for this blog to straighten them out, but the information he sent, coupled with some other pieces he suggested – by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis and the Resolution Foundation – make it inevitable that another stab is required. If you support the SNP, you’re still not going to like it.

The first comment from Mr Portes is as follows: “1. SNP plan is slower deficit reduction than Lab/LDs, which in turn slower than Cons. All consistent with falling debt/GDP ratio. So all are sustainable.  Haven’t looked at detail, but Simon WL & I both think Lab too cautious – so SNP not obviously crazy.”

Simon Wren-Lewis’s article states:  “In reality what Sturgeon was proposing was still deficit and debt reduction, but just not at the pace currently proposed by Labour.”

And the Resolution Foundation adds: “The SNP would commit to delivering existing 2015-16 plans, as each of the Westminster parties have, before changing course.”

There’s a major point to make here, which all three of the sources above have missed. It’s that the SNP and its adherents have been cursing Labour from High Heaven to Low Hell for committing to Tory austerity policies because Ed Balls promised a Labour government would stick to Coalition spending – note that word, spending – limits for the first year after the general election.

Why have SNP adherents been slating Labour when the SNP has committed itself to the exact same Conservative spending limits, for the exact same period of time? Doesn’t this also make the SNP a party of austerity?

This leads us neatly to a point made by the Resolution Foundation. Ms Sturgeon wants to put a lot of space between SNP plans and those of Labour by claiming that Labour is committed to eliminating the UK’s structural deficit by 2017-18. They say Labour signed up to that when it voted to support the Charter for Budget Responsibility. You may recall there was another big fuss about Labour supporting Tory austerity, being just the same as the Tories, and there being only 17 MPs who oppose austerity (the number who voted against the CBR). Bunkum, according to the Resolution Foundation.

“The ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ is highly elastic: it’s not based on a firm commitment to reach balance in 2017-18,” states the Resolution Foundation article. “Instead it represents a rolling ‘aim’ of planning to reach current balance three years down the road.” The article adds: “Most economists are sceptical about how much difference it (the charter) will make.

“So what if Labour targets a current balance in 2019-20 instead? Based on current OBR assumptions this could be achieved with as little as £7 billion of fiscal consolidation in the four years to 2019-20 (including the cost of extra debt interest).”

Labour has made it clear that it plans to make only £7 billion of cuts. As this coincides exactly with the Resolution Foundation’s figures for a 2019-20 budget balance, logic suggests that this is most likely to be what Ed Balls is planning.

So SNP (and Green) adherents who crowed about Labour austerity being as bad as that of the Tories need to apologise – sharpish.

Now that these points are cleared up, let’s look at the substantive issue. Here’s the Resolution Foundation again: “The first minister’s headline was that she favours £180 billion of extra spending in the next parliament relative to current coalition plans… an increase in ‘departmental spending’ of 0.5 per cent a year in real terms over four years [we’ve established that the first year’s spending would adhere to Coalition-planned spending levels]. Our estimates suggest that raising departmental spending by 0.5 per cent in each of the four years after 2015-16 would indeed yield a cumulative increase in spending of around £180 billion (in 2019-20 prices, £160bn in today’s) compared to existing coalition plans. So that seems to fit.

“Another, more conventional, way of putting this is that in the final year of the next parliament, departmental spending would be around £60 billion higher in the SNP scenario than it would be under the coalition’s outline plans. This means that departmental spending would end up in roughly the same place in 2019-20 (in real terms) as it is now. We’d see £8 billion or so of departmental cuts in 2015-16 broadly cancelled out by a rise of around £7 billion across the following four years. It also means that, all else equal, there would still be a (small) UK-wide current deficit come the 2020 election.”

As you can see from the graph, the scenario that suggests a Labour balance in 2017-18 would imply a big difference with the SNP, particularly in the first half of the next Parliament – but, come 2019-20, “there would still be a £48 billion gap between Labour and the coalition plans; not that far short of the £60 billion gap that would exist between the SNP and the coalition”.

The scenario in which Labour balances its budget by 2019-20 “would in theory be consistent with spending roughly £140 billion more than coalition plans.

“The SNP proposal implies increases in total departmental spending of £1-2 billion per year over four years whereas Labour’s 2019-20 scenario implies cuts of £1-2 billion per year over the same period. This is against total departmental spending of around £350 billion. By 2019-20 this difference adds up to roughly a £14 billion gap between the two parties. Now, that’s a real difference but given the scale of the numbers involved, (and the fact that some of Labour’s consolidation may come from tax increases rather than spending cuts), it’s also a relatively modest one.”

It’s more or less the same amount the Coalition Government borrows every month, in fact.

Now let’s throw a spanner in the SNP’s works. The Resolution Foundation points out: “Fiscal discussions of this type tend to suffer from a severe case of false precision. None of the party leaders knows any better than you or I what will happen to productivity next year, never mind in 2020… Any difference between, say, the Labour and SNP spending plans would be dwarfed by the fiscal implications of even modest boosts (or dips) in productivity. Indeed, even the very large difference between the SNP (or Labour) and the coalition’s plans could be overshadowed by a significant shift in productivity trends. And, to Sturgeon’s credit, her remarks this week emphasised productivity.”

Yes – productivity. Does anybody remember that, prior to the referendum, the SNP wanted Scottish voters to believe that any borrowing that might be necessary in an independent Scotland would be offset by increased productivity? What did Simon Wren-Lewis have to say about that? Oh yes: “Governments that try to borrow today in the hope of a more optimistic future are not behaving very responsibly.”

But that is exactly what Ms Sturgeon was proposing for the whole of the UK; borrowing on the assumption of increased productivity.

Here’s a chance to put another SNP myth to bed, from the same writer. In his article about Ms Sturgeon’s speech, Professor Wren-Lewis states: “Of course this is the same person who, with Alex Salmond, was only six months ago proposing a policy that would have put the people of Scotland in a far worse fiscal position than they currently are, an argument that has been reinforced so dramatically by the falling oil price. You could say that it is a little hypocritical to argue against UK austerity on the one hand, and be prepared to impose much greater austerity on your own people with the other.”

The argument he mentions ran as follows: “Scotland’s fiscal position would be worse as a result of leaving the UK for two main reasons. First, demographic trends are less favourable. Second, revenues from the North Sea are expected to decline. This tells us that under current policies Scotland would be getting an increasingly good deal out of being part of the UK [and therefore independence would be detrimental].”

He added that the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which had independently analysed the SNP figures, had made a mistake on interest rates. The IFS analysis, he wrote, “assumes that Scotland would have to pay the same rate of interest on its debt as the rUK. This has to be wrong. Even under the most favourable assumption of a new Scottish currency, Scotland could easily have to pay around one per cent more to borrow than rUK. In their original analysis the IFS look at the implications of that (p35), and the numbers are large.”

The Resolution Foundation notes that “the flipside of higher spending, all else equal, would be higher debt and higher debt interest payments”.

So the SNP plan, as this blog pointed out, could create an interest-payment problem for the next government that bites into the extra money said to be for services.

Mr Portes made two other minor points, as follows: “2. Your stuff about Lab could spend more if economy does better wrong way round. If economy worse, we need higher deficit. Over time, as income goes up, so does/should spending. But short-term macro should be countercyclical.”

When I wrote the material about Labour spending more in a better-performing economy, I was thinking of the Labour government immediately after World War II. The current Labour Party has mentioned this period in recent speeches and releases, and it seems clear that Messrs Miliband, Balls et al consider their task, if elected in May, to be similar to that faced by Mr Attlee and his party – the reconstruction of the UK after a long period of destruction.

Are we to believe the economy is likely to worsen, in which case more borrowing will be needed? It’s certainly possible that major shocks are on the horizon. This writer is in no position to speculate.

“3. Finally, stuff about credit rating agencies/bond markets/Greece is absurd propaganda. I’ve written on this many times.” He’s right; it wouldn’t have been included it if Yr Obdt Srvt had stopped to think about it, but the article was up against a deadline and this writer was throwing in all the cautionary words he could find.

So let us forget about them. Here are a few more. Simon Wren-Lewis, at the end of his article, notes: “I read a blog post recently that suggested this was an election Labour would be better off losing… A Labour government dependent on SNP support would be abandoned by the SNP at the moment of greatest political advantage to the SNP and disadvantage to Labour. However if we assume that the oil price stays low there is no way a rational SNP would want to go for independence again within the next five years. It might be much more to its long term advantage to appear to be representing Scotland in a responsible way as part of a pact with Labour.”

Is the SNP rational? All the evidence available so far suggests it isn’t.

It put forward arguments that were deceptive about an independent Scotland’s economic future.

Its representatives and followers spread lies about Labour economic policy.

All indications suggest the SNP will try to create the conditions required for Scottish independence at the earliest opportunity, and then leave the rest of the UK hanging.

The original article on Ms Sturgeon’s speech ended by saying the SNP would be hard to trust.

After the findings of this one, it is nigh-on impossible to do so.

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Revealed: Cameron’s lies over Euro bill

– Verbal malfunction: “I’m not going to pay that bill on 1 December. If people think I are- I’m going to- They’ve got another thing coming.” Cameron can’t even announce his complaint properly.

David Cameron has lied and lied again about the £1.7 billion bill from the European Union, it has been revealed.

An investigation by Full Fact has shown that the UK has been taking part in an exercise to revise the way payments are calculated since at least May this year, meaning that discussions on the subject must have been taking place previously.

The Treasury must have known about these discussions, meaning George Osborne would have been aware of them – and this means that Cameron himself should have been told. If he had not, then his government has not been doing its job properly. He says he knew nothing until he was presented with the invoice this week.

Not only that, the amount does not reflect any increase in the size of the UK economy during the current Parliament, but – humiliatingly for Cameron – during the period of the last Labour government. He reckoned it was based on his own government’s (dubious) economic recovery.

The report states: “EU law requires that member states measure the size of their economy according to EU standards. The UK hasn’t been fully compliant with these standards, so statisticians at the ONS have spent the last year revising old estimates of the size of the UK economy. Some, though not all, of these changes have had a generally upward impact on the figures the EU uses to determine the UK’s contribution to its budget.

“The resulting increase in the estimated size of the UK economy relative to other nations – specifically between 2002 and 2009 – is what’s caused the EU to ask for more money. If the Commission had known the size of the UK economy at the time, it would have charged us more, so the £1.7 billion represents the ‘back payments’ following the counting changes.”

There is some good news for Cameron, though. As the bill is for ‘back payments’, it seems likely to reduce in future years – no matter how the economy has performed under his government. His claim that the bill is because his government has turned the economy around is simply balderdash.

And it seems the largest factor in the increased bill has been changes in measuring the contribution of the not-for-profit sector – mainly charities and universities. As universities are currently experiencing a fall in income as their intake from foreign countries drops off due to “unwelcoming” government policies, it seems reasonable to expect that the UK’s contribution will fall.

zcoalitionfailimmigration

The best way forward now is for Cameron to accept the advice of Denmark’s prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, that he should swallow his pride and pay up.

There’s no reason the UK cannot amortise the amount over a period of time. If it does so in an agreed manner, it may avoid having to pay punitive 2.5-per-cent-per-month interest payments.

But then, Cameron has proven to be an economic idiot and may not understand this.

That’s what happens when you’re born into money; you end up with no idea of its value.

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National interest? Cameron governs in his own – and that of the rich

znationalinterest

We were discussing David Cameron and the respect due to him for his record in government.

You may recall that the phrase used most often when the Coalition was formed (publicly, at least) in May 2010 was “in the national interest“.

This week, his government’s work has included extending the amount of time new claimants will have to wait for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) from three days to seven days. This will be music to the ears of payday lender companies like Conservative Party donor Wonga.com, whose shareholder Adrian Beecroft has given more than £500,000 to the Tories since 2006.

The Coalition also awarded a contract treating NHS patients with brain tumours to the private healthcare company Hospital Corporation of America, a firm that has been accused by the Competition Commission of overcharging for its services by up to £193 million between 2009 and 2011 – but that has also donated at leave £17,000 to the Conservative Party since it came into office.

According to the National Health Action Party, £10 billion worth of NHS contracts have been awarded to private firms since the Health and Social Care Act was passed in 2012. How many of these have donated money to the Conservative Party, and in what quantities?

Meanwhile, a record five million working people are now in low-paid jobs, according to the Resolution Foundation. That’s around one-sixth of the total workforce. This is a direct result of government policies that threaten people on benefits with the loss of their financial support if they do not take any job available to them – at whatever rate of pay is being offered. The insecurity this creates means firms are free to offer the bare minimum, and keep workers on that rate for years at a time, and pocket the profits for themselves – after donating money to the Conservative Party for making it all possible.

There has been no benefit to the national economy from any of these actions; the deficit that Cameron said he would eliminate is currently at £100.7 billion per year and the national debt is almost twice as high as when he first darkened the doors of Number 10. This is because any improvement in the national finances would interfere with his real plan, which is to dismantle all public services (except possibly national security and the judiciary – albeit a court system available only to the rich) and hand the provision of those services to the private sector in return for fat backhanders from the companies involved.

The evidence is beyond question. David Cameron said he would govern in the national interest but has used his time as prime minister to further enrich his already-wealthy business donors, and consequently his own political party, through the impoverishment of working people and those who rely on the State for support.

What sort of respect is due to a man like that?

By custom, here in the UK, the prime minister is given a degree of respect due to his or her position as the head of the government – but respect must be earned and we judge our politicians on their actions.

Cameron has earned nothing from the British people other than our disgust. He is a liar, at the head of a government whose mendaciousness seemingly knows no bounds. And he is a thief; every benefit claimant who has had their payments sanctioned or their claim denied had paid into the system – via direct or indirect taxation – and had a right to expect the support they had funded.

He should be in prison.

Unfortunately, we (the people) do not currently have the wherewithal to put him there. We have to register our opinion in other ways.

This means he gets no respect at all. He is not the prime minister – he is the Downing Street squatter. There is no need to make way for him when he passes – Dean Balboa Farley was right to run into him. There is no need to pay attention to the things he says – if you get a chance to talk to him, just talk over him as though he wasn’t there. He is a pariah; he should be shunned at every opportunity.

He has disrespected and dishonoured the highest public office in the land. He deserves no better.

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Cameron has shown that protecting the NHS from corporate rape is the last of his concerns

What a bunch of... bankers: As mentioned in the article, government ministers are happy to spend your money defending bankers' bonuses in the European Union - but when it comes to defending your publicly-funded health service, they haven't squeaked.

What a bunch of… bankers: As mentioned in the article, the government is happy to spend your money defending bankers’ bonuses in the European Union – but when it comes to defending your publicly-funded health service, they haven’t squeaked.

Remember the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? Also known as TTIP? The proposed agreement between the EU and USA that – in its current form – would lock future UK governments into a legal framework that protects the privatisation of health services in this country?

A part of the agreement called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement would allow any commercial organisation the ability to sue governments that acted in an anti-commercial way such as – for example – re-nationalising health services that the Conservative-led Coalition has sold off to firms in which many government MPs have shady personal financial interests.

David Cameron used to have a cabinet minister responsible for handling negotiations on the TTIP – Kenneth Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio (aha! Now we know what he was supposed to be doing for a living).

But of course Clarke left the government in the July reshuffle. He gave every indication that he was delighted to be going, which suggests that work on the TTIP was not agreeing with him.

Perhaps it was the weight of all those people campaigning against the locked-in commercialisation of the NHS, in which treatment for particular conditions will depend on whether it is profitable where you live, coupled with the weight of Cameron’s determination to do nothing to prevent it – all obscured by the veil of secrecy that all involved have tried to draw across the negotiations.

Unite’s Len McCluskey told the Huffington Post: “First David Cameron claims there are no exemptions [so the NHS will be included in the deal – we should always remember that is Cameron’s default position], then EU Trade Commission[er] Karel De Gucht suggests that the NHS may have been exempted.

“Now civil servants are sending out statements claiming that the NHS was never in TTIP to begin with. It seems the government simply does not know what the world’s largest bilateral trade deal actually covers.”

Confusion! That’s an excellent way to slip in unwelcome changes – but it would mean the government was admitting its own incompetence.

McCluskey added: “David Cameron can choose to exempt the NHS if he’s prepared to fight for it. He was prepared to go to Europe to defend bankers’ bonuses.”

Good point. Despite the fact that bankers caused the financial crisis and many banks are still in debt, Cameron went to Europe to defend the ridiculously high bonuses they continue to award themselves. Then again, Cameron and his ministers have spent the last five years pretending that the crisis was entirely the fault of the previous Labour government. They must think we are stupid if they think we’ll swallow that – and we must bear that in mind when considering Coalition policy towards the TTIP.

Under the TTIP, a few other British standards will also suffer, according to the HuffPost:

  • We will be forced to accept other countries’ rules. UKIP voters take note that your party supports the TTIP.
  • Bosses will be allowed to reduce wages and hammer labour rights.
  • Food regulations will be weakened to allow banned products – like chlorine-bleached chicken and growth hormones in beef – into the country.
  • The UK could be forced to reverse its ban on asbestos in order to match US standards, leading to an increase in lung cancer and mesothelioma.
  • Private information about you could become public under e-commerce provisions – although it seems the Conservative-led UK government is already determined to publicise as much of your personal information as possible.

Put it all together and you can tell why the Coalition, the EU and the USA all want to keep this squalid deal secret!

The question is: Are you going to let them get away with it?

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