Tag Archives: tax break

Private schools can keep their tax breaks now that Tories are in government again

Yes, that’s right. Theresa May managed to dupe some of you into voting for her in the belief that she’d tax those incredibly expensive private schools properly – but, now that she’s back in Downing Street, she’s not going to do it.

What does that make her?

A liar.

In fact, This Writer reckons it’s time we all admitted that she – and all the other Tories – were lying through their teeth throughout the general election campaign.

The Conservative Manifesto was a blatant work of fiction.

Still, no use crying over spilt school breakfasts, eh?

Instead, let’s just remember the lesson to be learned from the general election:

Conservatives are liars.

Next time you vote, remember that.

Theresa May has been accused of “yet another U-turn” after dumping a pledge to strip private schools of their lucrative tax breaks if they refuse to help their state school neighbours.

The Conservative election manifesto vowed that independent schools would be required to sponsor academies, forge partnerships, or offer extra bursaries to poorer children to retain their charitable status.

However, it now emerges that an advice service has been set up instead, suggesting that the plan has been quietly dropped.

The move was criticised immediately by Angela Rayner, Labour’s education spokeswoman, who said: “Ministers are ripping up the manifesto on which they stood just months ago page by page.

“The Education Secretary has had to give up on providing free breakfasts, abolishing free lunches, opening new grammar schools, sticking to her free schools target, the healthy pupil fund, and now she is refusing to deliver yet another election promise.”

Read more: Theresa May quietly drops manifesto promise to strip tax breaks from private schools

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Soon you will have to prove your nationality before receiving NHS treatment

'Papiere, bitte!' An NHS nurse checks a patient's claim to be British in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat idea of a 'fair' NHS.

‘Papiere, bitte!’ An NHS nurse checks a patient’s claim to be British in the ‘fair’ NHS of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government.

Suppose Michael Schumacher had moved to Britain and had his accident here after new government plans for the NHS were put in place – would he have been refused treatment?

Admittedly, that is a bad example to use. Mr Schumacher is undoubtedly wealthy enough to buy any healthcare he needs, and we should not wish poor treatment on him in any case.

It does show up the poverty of the Conservative-led government’s moral attitude, though. The fact that he is German adds another dimension, in that his people may have a particular aversion to any situation in which their papers are demanded by officials before they are allowed to do anything.

The proposals demonstrate the depths to which the UK is falling under the current despotic, unelected right-wing administration and the petty would-be tyrant at its head. We are drifting ever-closer to totalitarianism and comparisons with 1930s and 40s Germany are becoming ever more accurate.

They mean patients admitted to hospital in an emergency would have to be able to prove they are not immigrants, or be refused possibly life-saving treatment.

Ask yourself this: Before you leave your house, do you make sure you have papers on you that prove your nationality? If it isn’t a part of your daily routine, then under our government of new totalitarians, it will be.

Is this so far from the Germany of 70 years ago, where the phrase “Ausweis, bitte” was not only a part of daily life but a hallmark of the Nazi government?

Do we really want that here? Are we really saying we will allow an unelected regime to impose it on us?

Never mind the pretext that it will save money that would otherwise be spent on people who do not deserve the care and will not pay their debt – this is about our freedom.

Do you want to trade your freedom for a saving that isn’t even worth very much – around 1/240th of the yearly national deficit at the current level – and will not benefit you in any way at all?

The government says nobody will be denied medical care – but it also said it would not impose a top-down reorganisation of the NHS, and how long did that promise last? Andrew Lansley had been working on it for many years before that infamous campaign announcement was made, but was under orders not to speak about it until a Conservative-led government was firmly installed in office and nobody could do anything to stop it.

The government says the changes will ensure that the system is “fair” – but then, this government has a strange notion of fairness. According to David Cameron, it is fair to deny life-saving benefits to the disabled and long-term sick in the name of deficit reduction, while granting huge tax breaks to the spectacularly wealthy that ensure the deficit will not go down.

I don’t even know what my NHS number is – but soon I will have to, in order to satisfy Britain’s new immigration officials, otherwise known as doctors and nurses.

Perhaps the government is hoping to make a saving by scrapping the UK Border Agency that Theresa May has so hopelessly failed to reform into an effective force (but I doubt it). Perhaps she was wrong to criticise the previous Labour administration about it as harshly as she did.

Perhaps they will use the money they save to buy jackboots.

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Has the Coalition set Labour an impossible task – to rescue politics from corruption?

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: "They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don't believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden."

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: “They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don’t believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden.”

Yesterday’s article, DWP denials: They would kill you and call it ‘help’ received an unprecedented reaction – considering it was only intended to prepare the way for a larger discussion.

In less than 12 hours the article went viral and galvanised many of you into vocal support, sharing your stories of government (and particularly DWP) ill-treatment and urging others to follow this blog – for which much gratitude is in order. Thanks to all concerned.

The aim was to show how low politics and politicians have fallen in public estimation. The general consensus is that our politicians aren’t interested in us. They make promise after promise before elections – and the party (or parties) in office often set up tax breaks for sections of society their focus groups have told them are needed to secure a win. After they’ve got what they want, they don’t give a damn.

Look at the Coalition. The consensus is that this is a failed government. That it has broken one promise after another. That its ministers are liars and its Prime Minister is the worst charlatan of the lot.

That its rallying-call, “We’re all in it together”, refers only to Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament and their close friends in the most lucrative (and therefore richest) industries, along with the bankers (of course), and that they have all dug their noses deep into the trough and are (to mix metaphors) sucking us dry. Look at the way Mark Hoban employed his former employers to rubber-stamp the DWP’s new plans for the Work Capability Assessment.

In short: That the Coalition government is the most incompetent and corrupt administration to blight the United Kingdom in living memory, and possibly the worst that this land has ever endured.

We fear that these tin-pot tyrants are carrying out a eugenics programme to kill off people who have become sick or disabled; we fear that their economic policies are designed to put anyone less than upper-middle-class into the kind of debt that current wages will never permit them to pay off – a debt that can then be sold between fat-cat corporations who will hold the masses in actual – if not admitted – slavery; that they will dismantle this country’s institutions, handing over everything that is worth anything to their buddies in business, who will make us pay through the nose for services that our taxes ought to cover.

And yet a recent poll suggests that we would prefer this corrupt gang of asset-stripping bandits to run the economy of the country (into the ground) rather than give Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Labour Party, an opportunity to restore the country’s fortunes.

Are we all going schizoid? Are we really saying that, while we don’t believe the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could organise a binge in a brewery without stealing the booze from us while we’re drinking it, we do believe them when they say the current economic nightmare was because Labour mismanaged the economy?

(In case anyone hasn’t really thought it through, the current lie is that the international credit crunch that has cost the world trillions of pounds was caused, not by bankers (who have never been punished for it) but by the UK Labour Party giving too much money away to scrounging benefit cheats. In fact, only 0.7 per cent of benefit claims are fraudulent and, while they cost the taxpayer £1.2 billion a year, that does not justify the £19 billion the Coalition has given to its private, for-profit friends to make a pretence of dealing with it.)

Are we really saying that even though we all now know that George Osborne’s economic policy is nonsense, based on a theory that has been comprehensively rubbished, we’re all happy to give him and his miserable boss David Cameron the credit for the slight improvement in the UK’s economic fortunes that we have seen in recent months? It was always going to improve at some point, and the current upturn is more likely to be part of that kind of cycle than anything Osborne has done.

If we really are saying that, then we all need to put in claims for Employment and Support Allowance, on grounds of mental instability!

That’s not what’s going on, though.

It seems far more likely that the general public is having a crisis of confidence. As a nation, we know what we’ve got is bad; we just don’t have confidence that we’ll get better if we put our support behind the Opposition.

This is the Coalition’s one great success: It has damaged the reputation of politics and politicians so badly that nobody involved in that occupation can escape being labelled as corrupt, or liars, or worse.

And Labour is doing far too little to fight that.

A BBC article on the problems facing Labour states that the Coalition has sharpened up its messages on, among other things, welfare and immigration. The message is still the usual hogwash; the problem is that Labour has made no meaningful response. Her Majesty’s Opposition appears to have given up Opposing.

Is this because the main political parties are now so similar that Labour is now supporting Coalition policies? That would make sense in the context of statements made before the summer recess by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, in which Labour appeared to capitulate over welfare and the economy, even though the Coalition had lost all the major arguments.

When they did that damned stupid thing in that damned stupid way, Vox Political was the first to say “watch their poll lead disappear” – and it has more than halved from 11 percentage points to five, according to The Guardian.

This lackadaisical attitude from the Labour leadership has not gone unnoticed among the backbenchers and the grass roots, and the last few weeks has been notable for the rising chorus of dissent against Ed Miliband’s leadership. Some have described the Labour front bench as “Plastic Tories”.

Even Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham took a pop, saying Labour needed to “shout louder” and produce attention-grabbing policies by next spring – or lose any chance of winning the 2015 election.

Miliband’s response to that was to claim that Burnham was really saying the Labour Party was “setting out how we would change the country”. This is nonsense. He was saying that was what Labour needed to do, and Miliband rendered himself untrustworthy by suggesting otherwise.

It is very hard to put your support – and your vote – behind somebody you don’t trust, who seems completely unable (or unwilling) to fight your oppressor on your behalf; in short, someone who seems just as corrupt as the government in power. At the moment, Ed Miliband doesn’t stand for anything – so there’s no reason you should stand up for him.

What, then, should Labour do?

Easy. The party needs a clear, simple message that everybody can understand and get behind; one that members can support because it reflects Labour beliefs rather than whatever Coalition policy currently seems popular, and above all, one that comes from verifiable truth.

He could take a leaf from Paul O’Grady’s book. In a clip on YouTube, the entertainer says: “We should be vocal in our fight against oppression. We should let them know that we are not taking these draconian cuts lightly!

“We should fight for the rights of the elderly! Of the poor! Of the sick! And of the children!”

Rapturous applause.

Labour needs more than that – but a commitment to protect those who have been most harmed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat doomsday spree would at least be a start.

Underhanded and doubletalking, Cameron is pushing us into totalitarianism

‘The leader knows best.’ Denis Skinner’s sarcasm pulls the wool away from our eyes; despite invoking the fight against Hitler, David Cameron becomes more like him every day.

It’s funny how Tories like to say the Labour Party would have us all doing as “Comrade (at the moment) Ed” tells us – and then gets back to whittling away our democratic rights, sometimes by huge chunks at a time.

Today the BBC is reporting that our right to challenge government policies is to be limited. Planning is the area that is singled out for closer examination but my reading of this is that any branch of government may use this stick to beat the plebs.

Opponents will have less time than the current three months to apply for judicial review of policies they oppose, will face higher fees (so that means most of us won’t have a chance), and will have our chances of appealing against a decision halved from four to two.

Cameron is trying to tell us this is to prevent time-wasting and boost the economy, but gave himself away when he said “We urgently need to get a grip on this” – he means he wants to tighten his grip on democracy and choke it hard.

The Beeb tells us Downing Street figures showed that more than 11,000 applications for judicial review were made in 2011, compared with 160 in 1975. Around one in six applications was granted. One-sixth of 11,000 is 1,833, which implies – to me – that more than 11 times as many judicial reviews are successful now as in 1975. That’s good for democracy. The people get to have their say.

Cameron wants to stop this.

Is this really the action of the Party of Freedom and of Choice?

Of course not.

It is appalling that he has chosen to compare the present day with the fight against Hitler – when he himself is behaving more like the German dictator every day.

He was expected to tell the Confederation of British Industry today (Monday) that “Whitehall underwent a revolution” in wartime. “We need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ – and we need to throw everything we’ve got at winning in this global race.”

But we are not living in wartime, no matter how much he might like to push that on us. We aren’t even living in hard times, when you consider how he has handed more than £30 billion in tax breaks to the rich and large corporations, while talking about economic crisis to justify victimising the poor, the sick and disabled.

The changes he cites were reversed after the war ended. And his mention of Hitler is Tory doubletalk. He’s hoping that, by using the fight against one of history’s vilest dictators as his comparison, we won’t realise he’s attacking democracy, not increasing it.

What a miserable little underhanded goblin he is.

The reaction on Twitter is negative, of course. “Be wary of any government which wants to remove the legal means of you challenging its decisions and abuses of power. Worrying,” tweeted David Green (aka Jack of Kent).

Tom Doran agreed: “It’s a strange kind of small-government philosophy that makes it harder, not easier, to appeal government decisions.”

And Denis Skinner, who provided the picture for this article, tweeted sarcastically: “Whitehall “circumvented”, crackdown on “time wasting” legal challenges to planning decisions. The leader knows best.”

We can all see that, even if he does know what’s best, he’s ignoring it in favour of his obsession with shrinking the state. Fewer appeals means smaller government. The trouble – for us – is that the nation as a whole will suffer from hastily-made, ill-judged decisions based on a drive for short-term profit. It’s practically written into his CBI speech.

Cameron is not a prime minister for the nation – he’s a puppet for big business. We’ve seen that most prominently in his all-out attack on the National Health Service in England, which is now just a big sack of blood on which the corporate vampires are happily sucking.

Other cutbacks are hacking British society into a bloody mess as well. As state services withdraw, my understanding is that the people are expected to take up the slack. That’s Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in action. But ordinary people don’t know how those state services work – they were never taught it at school and they can’t be expected to absorb it by osmosis.

So services are lost, entropy sets in and chaos increases. I predict an increase in frustration and stress, leading to a rise in lawlessness. The police – another target for cuts – will not be able to cope. What will Cameron do then? Martial law?

And so the march to totalitarianism gains pace.

Zones of growth – thoughts on how to improve Mid Wales’ economy

Many of you may be aware of the proposal to create ‘Growth Zones’ in Powys – at Brecon, Llandrindod Wells and Newtown – roughly equivalent to the new Enterprise Zones created by the government elsewhere in the UK. My opinion is that these are a good idea. The Welsh Government has put out a call for evidence on the proposal and information can be found on its website here.

Unfortunately, the deadline for entries is June 1. I’m writing this on May 28 so, if you want to make a submission, you need to act fast!

What follows is my own submission. I want people to see what I’ve put forward because I think it might help them in shaping their own thoughts. I’m not saying it’s perfect because I hope others will have different or better ideas; I’m putting it up in the hope that it will stimulate your imagination, and the Welsh Government will get better submissions as a result.

I would also appreciate your comments and suggestions – just use the form at the bottom.

Here’s my submission:

All three possible locations must be able to compete with the Enterprise Zones that have already been announced, therefore the features common to all of those should be included here. These include: Government support to ensure super-fast broadband, achieved through guaranteeing the most supportive environment and, if necessary, public funding; low levels of regulation and planning controls; a 100 per cent business rate discount over a five year period for businesses that move into a Growth Zone during the course of this Parliament (although I recommend a graded scheme to reintroduce business rates thereafter, alongside a graded penalty scheme for businesses that choose to move away once the discount is removed); all business rates growth within the zone for a period of at least 25 years will be retained and shared by the local authority to support its economic priorities; and Government and local authority help to develop radically simplified planning approaches.

I believe funding should be provided for an office that would help film makers (cinema or television) find locations within Powys. Llandrindod Wells would be the best location (as it is in the centre of the county). Powys has breathtaking natural beauty that has gone unused by film makers, simply because nobody knows about it. A film locations office would bring income to landowners whose land would be used, and to residents who could be hired as ‘extras’ during filming.

Material I have read on Enterprise Zones has categorised them in certain ways, stating what tax breaks, planning controls and broadband levels might be possible, along with a line called ‘Sector Focus’, declaring what businesses should be encouraged into the zone. I would recommend:

Tax break: Save businesses money in foregone business rates.

Planning: Simplified regime permitted the change of use of existing buildings.

Broadband: Explore delivery of superfast broadband with suppliers.

This leaves the ‘Sector Focus’. I would like to propose several possibilities as follows, based on my knowledge of local industry and the possibilities that could be accommodated here in Powys:

Sector focus: Green technologies; Advanced technologies; Movable skills (small businesses that could benefit from working in a rural setting); sustainable agriculture (farming techniques that are beneficial to the environment); creative industries; energy sector (carbon-free/green).