Saturday, 25 February 2012

Winning the Arguments on Tax

Courtesy of Mark Pack's Facebook page, which is a fabulous resource for Lib Dem related (and general political) news, here's a link to a photo of The Times' editorial yesterday which considers favourably the principles underlying Lib Dem tax policy: a presumption towards the taxation of wealth as opposed to income.

And it's not just The Times: Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home also advocates tax cuts and (an element) of increased Wealth Taxes, although he comes at this from a somewhat different angle.Tory MP Mark Reckless has popped up on the wireless advocating Council Tax rebanding and closing of Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax loopholes. The Spectator has an interesting report on two papers from the OECD which would also appear to support this position.

Of course, there are still a number of disenting voices on the right... you can always rely on The Telegraph to see moves to rebalancing the burden of taxation as "cynical targetting of the better off"...


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Every action...

...has an equal and opposite reaction. It's an irrefutable law of physics (at least for now, although we did think that nothing could travel faster of light and that is now being questioned...)

It could also be a law of coalition politics - the Tories and Lib Dems are able to press ahead on things on which they agree and give way on other things with with which they don't. Earlier on Facebook, Caron Lindsay posted a link to this Huffington Post piece by Louise Phillips which deals with exactly this. Every time you hear a Lib Dem talk about increases in personal allowances remember that Tories gave up plans to increase the Inheritance Tax Nil Rate Band, (re-)introduce Married Couples Allowances or remove the current 50% "Additional Tax" band.

Caron being Caron, though, she didn't leave it at a just a Facebook link - she's written her own excellent post on the subject. She succinctly points out that the reduced tax has been swamped by people's experience of high inflation and wonders whether it is better presenting the facts as practical examples of what this could have purchased rather than just pounds and pence.

As inflation comes down and this year's annual allowance increase (whether that be the £8,105 previously announced or a new, higher figure urged on Osborne by Lib Dem ministers) kicks in, she'll have to think of bigger examples of how the Liberal Democrats are making a positive difference to people's take home pay, and their monthly finances.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Les Ebdon appointed by Vince Cable

Today, the (Lib Dem) Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary, Vince Cable, appointed Les Ebdon as the head of the new Office for Fair Access (OFFA), the body charged with safeguarding and promoting  fair access to Universities and helping ensure that admission policies do not unfairly discriminate against those in state schools or from less privileged backgrounds.

Tory backbenchers (as well as Michael Gove and, it is said, David Cameron) were against the move, and the right-wing media are crying foul. These pieces, from The Telegraph and The Spectator, are especially sneering (written, coincidentally, by former pupils at, respectively, Eton and Winchester who both studied at Cambridge). Much is made of the rejection of his candidature by the BIS select committee.

These protests smack of faux-indignation at a Government minister rejecting the wishes of parliamentarians and completely overlooking the fact - despite the fact the committee is finally balanced with 5 Tories, 5 Labour and 1 Lib Dem - the sections in the report which specifically questioned Mr Ebdon's suitability were voted down by Conservative members.

The truth is that the idea of a Lib Dem Secretary (with the support of his Tory minister, David Willetts) exercising their right to appoint the person they see most fit for the job. At least two of those committee members - Margot James and Nadhim Zahawi - come from precisely the privately educated, Russell Group University background* that breeds the sort of advantage that Mr Ebdon role seeks to help redress. A group that seem to want to keep the insular cloistered world of the Elite Institutions both insular and cloistered.

I can't pretend to know anything about the merits or otherwise of Mr Ebdon as a candidate, per se, but it does seem from a relatively casual reading of the situation, that Mr Cable has been right in asserting his ministerial power. Judging by the howls of protest from the right, I'm almost certain he is. If so, he has done so at the expense of a conservative/Conservative establishment who seem not to recognise a problem in the system, let alone desire any kind of remedial action.


P.S. Lord Bonkers over at Liberal England has written an interesting piece on current University admission policies and contrasts it with his own experiences in the 1970's.

*In fairness, Simon Kirby, who also voted against Mr Ebdon, did not have a private or "elite" education. I couldn't find any information on Rebecca Harris' background.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

16 Good Things... and counting daily!

It's been a while, but look out for more frequent posts going forward...

This post is to a couple of links which may be of interest... First, with a hat-tip to the great Jennie Rigg upon whose blog I found this link, a blogpost by Andrew Hickey: Sixteen good things the Lib Dems have achieved..

The second link is to Mark Pack's e-mail newsletter's Facebook page where he is posting a daily Lib Dem achievement - you can "like" it here.


P.S. There is still the odd political post over on the widow's world too...