Friday, 29 October 2010

EU Budget Farce

Forgive me if I treat David Cameron's boast of saving money from the EU with some scepticism. When our local services are likely to be cut by 28% in line with the cut in Local Government grants, a 3% increase in the EU budget is hardly to be celebrated. When 600 jobs may be lost among Armed Forces support staff at Catterick, local people should rebel at such EU profligacy.

Thanks in part to Tony Blair's spiteful hand back of our EU rebate as he was hounded out of office in 2007, this country will still be forking out £6.5bn every year to pay for the EU. What does that pay for? Among other things an increase in EU bureaucrats' entertainment budget! And the extraordinary thing is that the EU budget has never been properly audited. Millions are lost every year and the EU budget office fail every single year to account for it, leaving the EU with qualified accounts (i.e. inaccurate).

The Tories and Liberal Democrats should honour their pre-election promises and have a referendum on our EU membership. As the Germans are insisting on an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty to facilitate the latest Euro-zone bail out of failing economies like Greece and Portugal, the coalition has the perfect opportunity. After all it was part of the Con Dem coalition agreement that there no further powers would be handed to Europe without a referendum.

Will we now see the will of the majority of the people prevail and Britain at last throw off the shackles of EU membership? Don't hold your breath. How many other promises have the Con Dem coalition kept?

Monday, 25 October 2010

Coalition Cause New Recession

UK economic growth in the 3rd quarter has fallen to just 0.4% from the 1.2% in the previous quarter. A two-thirds reduction in growth is likely to bring about another lot of "quantitative easing" i.e. printing another £50bn of fake money by the Bank of England. As on previous occasions when the Government did this, it will undermine the pound, causing yet another fall in the value of sterling.

The cuts and one million job losses (estimate by accountancy firm PWC) that will be caused by the Con Dem coalition's £81bn annual reduction in public spending, is already "damaging household confidence, weakening investment intentions and depressing the economy" (Independent 25/10/10). Along with a devaluation of the currency, the coalition is well on its way to causing yet another recession.

We should be spending money saved from cancelling Trident and withdrawing from the Afghanistan on investing in Green Jobs making our homes, hospitals and public buildings more fuel efficient and saving much more money (and lives) in the long run. All things the Lib Dems promised, but reneged on once elected.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Stop Finger Printing Children

Yet another local school is introducing the finger printing of school children. These systems are used for such things as libraries and cashless catering as an administrative convenience.
As Terry Thomas, Professor of Criminal Justice Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University has said "A whole generation of children not involved with any criminal behaviour may be growing up thinking fingerprinting is just a 'normal' way of being identified, and innocuous phrases like school 'kiddy-printing' only further minimises what is going on. Children are being inducted into the world of the 'surveillance society' without really knowing what it means."

This practice is the thin end of the wedge in an increasingly intrusive state. Deputy PM Nick Clegg denounced the practice in his "freedom" speech just after the election, committing the Government "to end the scandal of children being fingerprinted at school without their parent’s consent".

However, at the same time the Con Dem coalition has provoked a civil liberties storm after reviving Labour's "Big Brother" plans to track details of every phone call, email and website visit in Britain (Independent 22/10/10).

Which ever of the three grey parties is in power, the Whitehall mandarins and local public servants are bent on creating a "big brother" society. Given the scandal of lost computer files and Government IT cock-ups, this personal information is not safe in the hands of the bureaucrats who run our schools and security services alike. Stand up for the rights and stop big brother now!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Politicians support Tax Avoidance

Yet again we have seen crocodile tears about opposing tax avoidance. The chancellor George Osbourne, whilst casually throwing an additional one million people onto the dole, claimed he would crack down on tax avoidance. But he continues to avoid taxing the real culprits of the recession and increase in public debt.

Mr Osborne, himself apparently supported by a £4m offshore trust, a form of legal tax avoidance, has apparently allowed Vodafone to write off outstanding tax bill of £6bn. According to Johann Hari in the Independent ( bankers have just awarded themselves £7bn in bonuses for their part in causing the recession.

Nor are Labour politicians free from blame. As Mark Thomas pointed out last year (see him on You Tube) Government buildings sold off under PFI are paying rent to offshore companies paying no tax. These include the Treasury building where George Osborne hatched his plans. It also includes Home Office buildings, hospitals and even the Albert Bridge House tax office. So the HMRC tax collectors, who are paid bonuses for the tax demands they send out (whether or not they are correct), are paying rent to tax avoiders.

This Con Dem budget will push the country back into recession. The job losses will continue into the private sector as sub-contractors and temporary staff are the first to be laid off by local government and the NHS. The overall loss of tax and additional unemployment benefit will cost more than the savings made and I predict that the public deficit will go up, not down, in the next 4 years. Surely it would be so much better to tax the tax avoiders and use the money to invest in new Green jobs, as the Green Party suggested at the general election?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

There is nothing more shameful than for politicians, only a few months after an election, to renege on an election promise. Abolishing University tuition fees was not only part of the Liberal Democrat manifesto, but it was also a written pledge by every Lib Dem candidate who publicly signed their name to a written undertaking. It was a central part of the Lib Dem claim to fairness, along with opposing Trident and a promise of proportional representation (AV is not PR).

The Lib Dems have now broken all of these promises, but nothing is more shameful than their complete volte-face on tuition fees. Instead of abolishing tuition fees, Vince Cable has announced they could quadruple up to £12,000!

The British Medical Association warned: "Graduates are currently leaving medical school with an estimated £37,000 worth of debt under the present £3,290 annual fee. There is the potential that some students could incur debts up to and beyond £100,000 if fees are set at £10,000 or above by medical schools."

It is no wonder people do not trust politicians, when the Liberal Democrats betray our trust in this way. It is neither liberal nor democratic to lie to us the way the Lib Dems have done.

Compare and contrast Caroline Lucas, the single Green MP, who has already had more impact on the House of Commons than the whole Lib Dem backbench put together. Clive Aslet, editor-at-large of Country Life magazine said, “She appears to be doing the work that might otherwise be done by several dozen politicians.”