Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The UK must get off of our knees

It has been some time since I blogged.  I have been somewhat distracted by Twitter and this has provided an outlet enabling responses to fast-moving events.  But…

Twitter can’t be used to convey my current thoughts on the EU “negotiations” and the state of play in UK politics.

Firstly, the EU “negotiations”.  I use inverted commas because it is difficult to truly call them negotiations.  What we see, in an admittedly, and almost universally, biased media, is Theresa May’s government offering concession after concession and getting nothing back in return. 

Most of us have been involved in low-level negotiations throughout our life – trying to avoid a parking ticket, getting excused for delivering homework late, asking for a pay rise or a price reduction.  We know that throughout these low-scale negotiations – the very essence was give and take. A kindly Traffic Warden could maybe just let a harassed mother, with screaming kids in the car, off of a ticket, with a ‘please don’t do it again’.  A store worker might allow a discount for a display model etc. 

We also know that trying to negotiate with a ‘jobsworth’ traffic warden is futile. They simply won’t be moved by any consideration of human understanding.

Right now, the EU is that ‘jobsworth’ Traffic Warden.  They are not negotiating with the UK.  The EU want to punish the UK ,and its people, for having the temerity to vote to leave the organisation and, just as importantly, for failing to have another referendum to get the ‘right’ result as has always happened in other EU countries.  The UK has offered concession after concession and is now in the very dangerous position where the very union that unites the UK, seems to be being offered-up to placate the unplacatable EU.  

The pro-Brexit lobby are gung-ho about the EU needing easy access to UK markets more than the UK needing reciprocal rights in the other direction.  Certainly, the very clear trade imbalance, in favour of EU countries, supports this.  Also, if World Trade Organisation tariffs were used, then the result would be a duty level more than sufficient to fully subsidise UK exports, should that be needed.  That is, WTO rules would be cash-positive for the UK and cash-negative for the EU.   In a real negotiation, this would be a very strong driver for compromise from the EU but that isn’t the case, here.  The impetus here comes not from what is palpably best for the peoples and economies of the EU but from the drive for ever-closer union. 

So, the way forward.

Given that the EU don’t want to negotiate, recognise that and act accordingly.  Apart from anything else, this will restore some dignity to the UK’s standing in the world.  Instead of offering concession after to concession, to the EU, David Davis and the British negotiating team can get off of their knees, stand-up for the UK and then, simply walk-away. 

We can stand by our offer to EU nationals living in the UK, that those currently here, can remain.  Though, they must be subject to UK laws and not, as a concession, to European Court of Justice laws.  That’s how things work in other sovereign countries.  Hopefully, EU countries will reciprocate for UK nationals living within their borders – if they don’t well, frankly, we cannot allow the needs and clearly expressed wishes of the people residing in the UK, to be ignored or damaged by a small minority of people who have chosen to leave the UK.  Two points – the Referendum majority margin exceeds the number of UK people that are living in other EU countries, and, these EU dwellers have made a choice to live in the EU but more importantly, the British people have made their choice.

We will continue to fund the EU until we leave on March 31, 2019.  Then we leave the ‘club’ and we stop paying our dues.  For those UK persons, eligible for an EU pension, then arrangements need to be made and the UK should pay those.  Though I would suggest that they be more in line with UK standards rather than the over-generous, gravy-train EU rates.

As for the border with Ireland, well obviously we will need some arrangement to be put in place.  This can be achieved without resorting to physical barriers. 

Vehicle Number Plate recognition technology is very advanced – if I drive over the Dartford Crossing, near London, or speed on a motorway, then this is known to authorities.  This, plus the fact that much customs clearance is already being done, in advance, shows that a solution is out there. 

The Common Travel Agreement has existed since 1923.  This could continue.

Of course, if the Republic of Ireland followed my advice, then none of this would be necessary. See here.    

So, end the “negotiations”, get off of our knees and go forward into the free world as a sovereign nation and fulfil our destiny to remain the greatest country on earth!

Now my second gripe.

What’s wrong with the Conservatives?  If you’re a Labour supporter or so-called ‘Social Justice Warrior’ I am not talking to you.  Rather just Conservatives.

The Conservatives have a great message to shout about – so why aren’t they?

I know that some Remainer MPs are obsessed about Brexit but all Conservatives should be driving home the message of what Britain has achieved, under the Conservatives, since 2010.

  • ·      Unemployment down by 76% to lowest levels for more than 40 years

  • ·      Employment up to 75% and this at a time when immigration has also continued to increase.

  • ·      Employment, at 75% of workforce amongst highest in leading economies and those in the EU

  • ·      Deficit reduced by 2/3rds

  • ·      Tax allowance for lowest paid increased by more than 77%

  • ·      Millions lifted out of income tax, altogether.

  • ·      National Living Wage introduced

Every time a Conservative MP appears on television or radio or speaks in the House of Commons or elsewhere, they should repeat one or all of these achievements.  Right now, Labour is being allowed to get away with its lies and in suggesting that the UK is an economic basket-case in need of a dose of Venezuela-style socialism.  This has to stop.  Conservatives and fellow libertarians cannot allow the very dangerous McDonnell and Corbyn and the rest of their economic illiterates into power nor to control the message with their lies.

Conservatives, wake-up - our country is at risk and petty infighting and jockeying for position for a post-May leadership is not in the interests of the UK. 

Put bluntly – do your job!

Might have just lost the 2nd Test but I feel better for getting the above, off of my chest!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hammond's chance

Assuming he is not replaced, UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is shortly to present his Budget, outlining spending and taxation plans.  This will be the first time we have the budget in the Autumn.

There has been conflicting talk of loosening the reins and then of tax rises. 

First, let us  be clear, we have not really experienced so called austerity.  That is just a lie put about by Labour and its fellow travellers in the media and the self-interested grievance industry. 

So, spending must be cut and cut significantly.

The minor spending reductions that we have seen since 2010 have had some effect on reducing the deficit but zero effect on National Debt.  This continues to climb.  Not surprising really – we are now borrowing money to give away in foreign aid – of course, this is madness but what could we expect from Red Tory Chancellor Osborne and virtue signalling call me Dave Cameron?

I outlined, last November  the spending cuts that could be made.  These were the work of the Tax Payers Alliance (a worthy champion of taxpayers and very deserving of your support)  These are shown  here  (  The effects of some will take time to filter through but stopping HS2 must be an immediate action.  Spending £50, 60, 70 or 80 billion so as to save 20 minutes on a trip to Birmingham, is simply madness. 

In the post-Brexit world, Britain needs to increase its attractiveness for business.  This means lower Corporation taxes and lower personal taxation.  We need to become a low tax low spend economy.  Yes I have no doubt this will upset the other EU countries but that is tough!  We will once again be an independent sovereign nation and can do what we want.  Probably, such an approach might influence the Brexit talks – so be it.  We are a free nation and that freedom includes the ability to simply walk away from the talks if Barnier and company seek to hobble our ability to run our country as we see fi

The UK, for the benefit of future generations – your children and grandchildren – needs to urgently reduce public spending.  At the same time, we need a simplification of the UK tax code.  I would contend that one of the major contributors to the industry that has sprung-up around tax avoidance, is the current complexity of tax law.  Indeed, I would suggest that there are parts of it that no one really understands!

In addition to the cuts proposed by the Tax Payers Alliance, I offer the following:

Public Sector Pay
The 1% pay cap should be maintained, however, in the NHS Jeremy Hunt should be encouraged to take more direct control over hospital trusts.  Trusts should immediately undertake a complete review of all of their middle management positions.  That is, not doctors, nurses or direct support staff but those other roles that hold the NHS up for ridicule.  Posts such as Diversity Directors or Assistant Diversity Directors or Equality Directors or Nursing Management coordinators etc.  Any role, yes any, that is not involved in the direct hands-on care of patients or in the day-to-day support of them (porters, cleaners, catering staff etc.) should be terminated.  The funds ‘freed-up’ can then be used to fund increases for nursing and/or extra nurses.  An Assistant Director of Diversity can easily command a salary of £45,000.  Add in around a minimum  20% for other costs and you could have £54,000 to distribute – do three or four of those and all front-line nurses in a given NHS Hospital Trust, could have a flat £1,000 increase.   No extra cost to the taxpayer, increased efficiency for the NHS and happier, better remunerated staff – simples!

Talking of simples – end the translation farce which costs the NHS £millions each year.  Signs and pamphlets shouldn’t need to be translated into 12 or 14 different languages.  English is the language of NHS England and that’s it.  I know, you’ll say that’s racist and such but think about how many commercial, private sector businesses put up menus and price lists in 12 different languages.

Public Sector Salaries
In addition to the current 1% cap, set a ceiling on public sector salaries.  The level should be £140,000.  No public sector employee, none, should be earning more than the Prime Minister. May and Hammond should ignore all of the usual ‘pay the best to attract the best‘ clap-trap from self-interested civil servants and town hall employees. At just under 6 times the national average wage £140,000 would still give the country a wide range of candidates.  There is a strong feeling that many of the current crop of public servants would have a very hard time commanding salaries of 50% of their current level, outside of the cossetted public sector.

Time to ‘bite the bullet’.  Yes people are living longer and other such arguments matter but fundamentally, we cannot afford the current provision.  So, from 2037, increase the current pension age from 66 to 67.  Then from 2040 increase it to 70.  This will give people plenty of time to plan for the change – some will and some won’t but none can say that they didn’t have time and so on.

Also on pensions, remove the ‘triple lock’.  Pension increases should be linked to an agreed and then non-changeable, version of the Retail or Consumer Prices Index.  That’s it.  State Pension income shouldn’t be allowed to accelerate ahead of other incomes.

Finally on this subject, end so called Final Salary schemes for Public Sector workers or rather, end all new entrants.  We must honour commitments made to existing staff, even if those commitments are over-generous but we don’t need to keep digging ourselves ever-deeper into an unfunded pensions hole.

This is what a Conservative Chancellor should be proposing – cuts to expenditure, cuts to the deficit and cuts to National Debt and of course, to promote growth and invectives, cuts to taxation.

Don’t think it will happen though.  Hammond will be timid (maybe he would be less so if he focused on the economy and kept his nose out of the Brexit talks) and he will show his Red Tory credentials by punishing core Tory voters and rewarding the various special interest groups who make the most noise.

Shame really but that’s the likely outcome.