JUNE 8th 2006
Updated 21st September 2009
I have to admit that Ming Campbell's
tax proposals make perfect sense. They have been ritually rubbished by
the other two parties but this time they are wrong. The move away from
the present tax structure to one that makes sense is something we have
never had to do before, but now we have to. It is a trend that has to
be started now. It may well be that there are flaws in the draft plans,
and it may well be that international cooperation would be needed in
some cases, but the principle behind these plans is correct. At the
moment, the world's liberal democracies are failing to govern
themselves well and the UK and the USA in particular are
mind-bogglingly complacent in their view of what can't be done.
has the bare bones of it.
Paddy Ashdowne has remarked that these policies of rational taxation to
achieve desirable and necessary aims will be adopted by the other
parties, as have been other Liberal policies. I agree, though not all
Liberal policies in the past have made sense. These will be adopted
because they have to be. Just like an identity system and card, which
is not Liberal policy.
SEPTEMBER 19th 2006
Now the new tax proposals are up for approval at the Liberal Party
conference. In the course of the discussions some amusing verities have
surfaced. There are those who think that putting much higher road tax
on heavily consuming and polluting private vehicles are penalising
motorists. This is because they assume people will ignore the need to
control climate change and pay the extra tax.
The aim is that because they will not want to pay the extra tax, along
with the high cost of fuel, they will sell their polluting vehicle and
get a cheaper one. Alternatively they will keep it but use it very much
less to save on fuel. If most people do not do this, we will have done
nothing for the climate change problem in that area and will need all
the money raised from the tax to promote technological solutions in
There are others who say that the British public are so stupid that you
cannot propose an intelligent tax system as they will not vote for the
party that proposes it. Er, excuse me, you only have to get enough reasonably intelligent
people to vote for you. They may have voted Labour, Conservative or
even Communist or UKIP or anything before.They may have never voted in
their lives. All you need is a majority.
To slow climate change requires immediate and MASSIVE change in
taxation that hurts all those who DO NOT respond to it. Those who
respond to it by ceasing to fly when they could stay at home or take
the train will be taking the required action. They will be better off.
Those who do not respond will be paying an immense premium. They would
continue to cause climate change but the money they will contribute in
tax can be used to counter their failure in other ways.
Finally, by proposing an intelligent tax system you will get it
discussed and the other parties will have to adopt it anyway, so
whoever wins we will get an improvement. What we do NOT want is
any party proposing to carry on as usual.
I wrote that this morning. This evening I see I am not alone in finding
it all obvious. Ming, talking to Jeremy Paxman tonight, is looking 10
years younger. Paxman's point that if successful the tax take would go
down is relevant but not the killer point Paxman thinks it is, nor is
it penalizing the poor. Paxman is not one of the world's thinkers. Ming
held his own easily.
SEPTEMBER 17th 2007
Here we are over a year later and I am glad to see Ming is still here
and the policy proposals I have admired are being stuck to and refined.
Of course it is not easy. I think that nuclear power should definitely
be part of our national energy plan for a great many reasons covered
elsewhere. With regard to the policies that are focussed on climate
ccontrol and energy sustainability it is likely that a coherent Lib Dem
policy can force the issue in the next parliament even though Lib Dems
do not win the election. They may well hold a critical number of seats,
so a vote for the Lib Dems will not be wasted. Other Lib Dem policies
may need further thought. They are right to look at the local-v-central
government issues but the Post-Code Lottery paradox is indeed complex.
Some Lib Dem news links here below.
SEPTEMBER 17th 2007
Ming Campbell is absolutely right to call for a referendum on whether
or not the UK remains part of the European Union. A referendum on the
new treaty is ridiculous and impossible - it would require a referendum
on each clause, most of them on matters that have no consequence for UK
citizens, and the rest of them a matter for our representatives in
Parliament to study and vote on on our behalf. The hectoring Carolyn
Quinn on the BBC Today Programme, after the situation had been
painstakingly explained to her, said: "Why can't we just have a
referendum on the constitution?" Because there is no constitution, dearie.
There is no constitution because some major members have understood
that the public in their countries are not ready or willing to sign up
to one, precisely because they cannot be sure they understand the
implications in the short, medium or long term of the many clauses in
it, and these clauses may have to be negotiated and modified for
particular cases. But because there are so many people of bad faith
screwing the debate, hoping to manipulate British public opinion, and
because much of the UK press falls into this category, we need to clear
the air with a referendum on whether or not we intend to go on arguing
for ever about the EU or getting it to work properly.
SEPTEMBER 20th 2007
Ming Campbell was in competent and commanding form at the conference.
As someone pointed out, he has nothing to fear from the 'Young Turks',
it's the 'Old Gits' who are boring everyone to death with their their
moans. Campbell is wrong about Nuclear Power and ID Cards, but no
matter. Nuclear will be done as it is a necessity interim power source,
ID cards will come because the very freedoms and rights that Lib Dems
value can only be given to people who have a known identity. This
simple fact is the basis of all citizenship systems and of
civilisations since historical records have been available. When it
comes to the very great privileges available to modern UK citizens, it
is quite obviously needed. In the world of the 1950s, the thought of
anyone being able to operate a mobile phone without a license would
have been laughable. Today, anyone is free to do anything including
have personal access to free global communcations. The only quid pro
they should have an identity, and establish it beyond doubt.
OCTOBER 15th 2007
The only reason for Cambell to resign
now is to give whoever takes over as much time as possible to prove
their mettle before the next election. I can see the logic, but they
are all to young and wet behnd the ears or too boring to be PM anyway.
I don't think I will enter politics till I am 75 and there is a chance
of forming a completely new party around a completely new manifesto
which would take some of the ideas from each of the present lot but be
incompatible with either their current leading or current following
movers and shakers. The current polls are of course utterly
meaningless. It is clear that this resignation was a decision taken
entirely by Campbell on his own, and it must have been very painful. It
is a great loss to the Liberal party but it is the right
decision. For Ming to have gone on to lead the party into an
election in some years time would not have been right - not because of
his age, but because the party has to have time to sort out and, if it
wrong, get rid of yet another leader.
Liberal Democrat leader resigns
Sir Menzies Campbell has resigned as leader of the Liberal
Democrats, "with immediate effect".
Senior Lib Dems Vincent Cable and Simon Hughes made the
saying the party owed Sir Menzies "a huge debt of gratitude".
Deputy leader Mr Cable will take over as acting leader for now - a
leadership timetable will be announced on Tuesday. Mr Hughes said Sir
Menzies had taken the decision in the "interests of the party and of
Sir Menzies took over as leader after Charles Kennedy quit in
OCTOBER 15th 2007
Paddy Ashdown had some sensible words to say this morning on the BBC's
Today programme. Later, Ming himself had a few pithy remarks on the
press and their trivialisation of politics. I agree. Although we have
some excellent journalists like David Aaronovitch, they are swamped by
the comedians and the damaged goods who are bathing their own personal
wounds in public. The BBC gives room for some fine contributors and
analysis programs, but why they have to give a platform on Question
Time to a pile of shit like Kelvin McKenzie when he already has a mass
circulation newspaper in his pocket is beyond me. I suppose it is
because, as with the Sun, unfortunately there are a lot of people just
like him who can buy the paper and feel better.
OCTOBER 31st 2007
Well now, Nick Clegg has just ruled himself out of any
singificant role in UK politics by saying that he would not abide by
legislation introducing ID cards. It is clear he doesn't understand
parliamentary democracy, or how ID cards will be introduced, or why ID
cards are now needed in order to protect and grant the very freedoms
his great party has championed since its foundation. The man is
clueless as Cameron on this subject.
MARCH 9th 2008
Nick Clegg has been criticised and even ridiculed for causing his
party, which had the strongest position on the EU, to walk out of
Parliament when efused a debate and vote on whether to hold a
referendum on whether or not the UK should remain in, or withdraw from
the EU. It resulted in the Liberals actually abstaining on the vote to
hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. However, as Ken Clarke pointed
out, the position of the Tories is so absurd and the position of Labour
so buttoned up in response, that there is no other position for
Liberals to take. They just do not want to take part in such a bogus
voting procedure. I understand. Clegg is looking further ahead. He took
the right decision, though whether that will be understood in time for
him to get the credit is still unknown.
Personally I can understand the Labour position. Because of all the
other matters that have intervened that affect Labour's position woith
the electorate, there has been no chance to do what Blair envisaged
which was a full blooded campaign to explain to the semi-literate
semi-educated British public why e should cease our dithering and get
stuck in to the EU and make it work better. The EU is the hope of the
world, make no mistake, but to get this generation to understand it
would require forcing every citizen to sit through the 20 hour viewing
of THE WORLD AT WAR now showing on the History Channel. Not that we
risk a similar war now; it is the history embedded in that documentary
which they need to understand.
SEPTEMBER 21st 2009
Tim Farron MP is worth much of the rest of the Liberal Party.
He is their spokesman for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He is
right up to speed on every one of these areas and a brilliant speaker.
I hope Labour and Tories will be seriously
scared by this man and take
on board what he says needs to be done when we end up with a hung
parliament. OK, he is a talker, a comedian, but he knows what he is
talking about and I think he knows how to move from speech to action.
Vince Cable is the other big player. Not everything he says makes
sense. Some of the programmes he would abandon to save money should
instead be put on a slower burner, that is all. Abandonment would be a
disaster, not save the money he estimates now and add to the cost
later. Abandoning Trident would definitely not be right or lead to
quicker reduction in nuclear arms. Abandoning ID cards would be
ridiculous. But the spending on each could be controlled.
However, real savings can only come from right-across-the-board
reduction in the salaries of a great many people who are absurdly
over-paid and over-pensioned- about a million of them. If those paid by
government will not accept a reduction in their salaries then the money
will have to be taken off them by other means. In the private sector,
the same will have to apply. The argument that those who don't like it
will leave the country does not wash. Let them go. Call their bluff.
The argument that others will go on strike will not wash either - call
their bluff. That is what Cable would do and he is right. However, many
of the Liberals traditional policies will have to be dumped.
The big thing in Cable and Clegg's proposals is the concentration on
employment for school leavers, but I think the government is already
aware of the problem.