Thursday, 24 April 2008

Remove sock, take aim, FIRE!

You don’t have to look far in the world of politics to find some of the ‘B’ in this blog’s title. Almost by definition, politics is about not quite telling the truth, not really revealing your intentions. And occasionally, outright lying.

Take dear old Gordon for instance. Back in his halcyon days as Chancellor he brought in his Tory-killing, poverty-stomping 10% starting income tax rate. Millions of people would be all but taken out of the tax system, goodness and light would prevail all around. Fast-forward a few years and the lovable old Scottish dear thought up an even better ruse. Axe the 10% tax rate and reduce the basic rate from 22% to 20%. What a masterstroke. The first reduction in the basic rate of income tax in, well a bloody long time. (OK, 75 years – I looked it up.) And you thought the Conservatives were the party of low taxation! But there was a subtext: Gordon’s strategy was to succeed Tony Blair into No.10, and here was a headline-setting way of helping along that process. From brilliant Finance Minister to brilliant First Minister, sheer class.

But it seems Gordy had merely pulled out the twelve bore and taken aim at his pinkies.

What he failed to consider (or if I’m less generous, knew but ignored) was that certain low-paid types would actually have to contribute more to the tax system from this change. Yes, I know – memories are short and those people can be forgiven for forgetting he gave them the 10% rate in the first place. And I know it’s the middle income families that are supposed to be leached for ever more cash. But once people cottoned on, the master stroke started to look more like a millstone.

So you have to ask, why’d he do it? Why did the Iron Chancellor, outstanding economical wizard and World Leader in waiting make such a hash of it? And why did his backbenchers, and the opposition, take so long to spot what was going to happen? Could it be that Gordon and his pals were putting self before nation? No one started to raise the issue almost until pay packets started hitting doormats. Yesterday, after weeks of denial, provarication, then finally submission dressed as concern, the big G announced some (weak) measures to fix the problem. But without admitting there was a problem to start with, or that it was one of his making.

Now what you have here is a serial collection of errors, but you would have a hard time getting the government to admit as much. And that failure to admit mistakes is the ‘bollocks’ in the politics. Instead of the truth we get spin, interpretation and deceit. When all along we’d have settled for the truth, now we have had to watch them squirm to get it we’re even less impressed than if they’d just come clean in the first place. In fact if it weren’t for Labour MPs’ rising panic that with local elections only weeks away the party could take a trouncing, the issue might have been buried. That just smacks of political self interest. And the 'opportunistic opposition' are no better. These numbers have been in the public domain for months, but it's only when they smell political blood that the Tories mention any defects in the proposals.

Voters are curious animals though, and no matter what harm you might think Gordon and his crew have done themselves with this debacle there will still be people ready to forgive, forget and put a cross in the Labour box. It will be very interesting to see what message is sent to the Government in the local elections. Even more interesting to see what they spin it to be.

(Thought: a similar thing seems to be happening with Hilary Clinton, who abjectly LIED about her landing in Bosnia under sniper fire, only to pass it off as a ‘mispeaking’. Do the waving minions at her rallies not consider this just a little disingenuous of the potential new leader of the free world?)

Well perhaps we’ve seen the last blunder of the Chancellor/Prime Minister over tax. Once bitten, twice shy eh?

Maybe not. National Insurance Upper Earning Limits have been increased dramatically, meaning a lot of what some people have gained in the income tax rate reductions will be lost again in NIC payments. Nobody seems to have noticed that one yet...

Have a good day Gordon!

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