Sunday, November 23, 2008

VAT reduction on the cards?

The BBC are reporting that the Government proposes to cut VAT by 2.5% in an attempt to stimulate the British economy.

Since the G20 summit in Washington there has been speculation of possible tax cuts including

  • Increased tax allowances.
  • A rebate.
  • Increases in payments to those in receipt of tax credits

Whilst this may be a fair and equitable way of reducing costs, in isolation I doubt it is enough, it works out as ~£25 per £1k spent. Hardly noticeable. In addition, the reduction may not be passed on to consumers as retailers, wholesalers, importers and manufacturers swallow the reduction in increased profit margins.

I do hope you have more to offer Mr Brown.

As things stand, most people have received pay-rises well below inflation, the value of the pound is dropping like a stone, jobless figures are rising and so on.

"No more boom and bust"?

Yeah, right!

The Tories are talking about targeted (funded) tax cuts. This probably is the better policy in the long term. However, many are struggling and can't afford the luxury of thinking long term. In addition, the bank bailout is going to cost us all very dearly as time goes on, why shouldn't the taxpayer have some kind of assistance from this?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

UK Police Officers with criminal convictions

It was always my understanding that to be a Police Officer you could not have a criminal conviction at time of application and that anyone who incurred one during their service would likely be dismissed from the post.

Today, we find out that at least one force has (and presumably still does) employed officers who have a range of criminal convictions from assault to theft and benefits fraud to firearms convictions.

The story is reported on in Portsmouth Today.

I'm sure that on occasion there might be exceptional circumstances but by and large, do not feel the law should be upheld by convicted criminals. I'm not one and I could not recognise or accept the authority of a criminal in a uniform, could you?

Perhaps it is time for a campaign of FOIA requests to UK forces to see just how widespread this is?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gordon Brown on "Baby P"

PM Gordon Brown has denied his government are passing the buck in the tragic case of "Baby P".

His spokesman said

"There is an appropriate body for complaints regarding social care

"It is right that complaints should be directed to the Commission for Social Care Inspection to take appropriate action."

I'm sure that baby would agree had it become old enough to know the difference.

As it stands, a whistleblower alerted a number of Ministers of the situation in Harringey and were just bounced around difference organisations instead of someone realising the significance and taking ownership.

Quite frankly these despicable people have blood on their hands today.

Anyone working in industry knows that taking ownership of issues as they arise is critical. Why do ministers (elected to serve) not share in this?

And now, the cold hearted PM dismisses criticism by hiding behind process and procedure.

Nice to know how caring the state is.

Prince Charles, Birthday and succession

It's been a long time since i've updated this blog. Apologies for any return visitors. A lot has been going on over the last 12 months!

Today is Prince Charles 60th Birthday.

British media is full of discussion about whether he should or should not take the crown upon the death of The Queen.

People misunderstand the constitutional position, Charles WILL be king providing he does not die first or abdicate. William is NOT next in line and has no business taking the crown in lieu of his father.

But I think the biggest issue in this is simple: The UK does not have an elected head of state, there is no say in this matter for the public. This is not democratic, this is not the way a 21st Century nation should conduct itself.

As a republican, I appreciate the history of our Royal family but believe firmly that they are very much a relic of the past. The time has come for an elected head of state with powers similar to those of the US President. We need a figurehead we can believe in, someone who is selected by the people, not birth.

The only arguments I've heard to retain the Monarchy are:

They attract tourists

Is that really a good reason to have an unelected head of state? Someone offered immense privilege by birth, not merit?

I believe the tourists would still come and would have greater access to our historical buildings and sites.

Who would be head of state instead?

Surely this is an issue for the electorate? If this was open to anyone then this country has some of the greatest minds in the world. Could be someone from any walk of life.

Of course, if we were to abolish the Monarchy, this would be one of the greatest constitutional changes in our history, perhaps it would be time to create a written constitution giving us rights that have been rode roughshod over in the last decade or so.

Ultimately though, this won't happen any time soon. The political will just isn't there. I dare say that when the Queen is gone and we're looking at Charles as King, questions will start to be asked. Lets hope so.