The Village Soapbox - January
So Cameron played his trump card but did he win or lose? It is impossible for us to know what the outcome will be or what the outcome would have been had he agreed with the others. It does seem as though he was under great pressure from his friends (and financial supporters of his Party) in the City, and his euro-sceptic MPs, to act as he did. Did this pressure influence his decision? Seems likely! My concern is that the long term consequence may be that we will become a small, relatively poor, inconsequential island off the coast of a large, strong and prosperous Europe. The Europeans want stricter regulation of the financial sector, so do we don’t we? All we hear from the government is talk but, four years after the collapse of the banking sector, there is still little sign of action.
The Inequity in Our Society Gets Worse
The highly respected Institute for Fiscal Studies issued a statement after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, pointing out that the poor will suffer disproportionately from his actions. They concluded that the Treasury’s new plans will reduce the incomes of the bottom 30% of earners and benefit those in the top 60%. On personal pensions the rich benefit from the tax laws, someone paying the 20% income tax rate gets a 20% subsidy on their personal pension contributions whereas those paying the 40% rate or 50% rate receive 40% and 50% subsidies respectively. It is grossly unfair. Nearly all the actions taken to try and reduce the deficit are such that they are resulting in the less well off in society picking up the bill for the failures of the greedy investors, whilst the well off are hardly affected. It was not the teachers, the nurses, the firemen, the doctors, the care workers and others in the public sector that caused the markets to crash, they did not take billions and avoid paying tax, but they are under attack. There is bound to be growing discontent unless the Government takes more actions to ensure the rich and those largely responsible for the current mess make an appropriate contribution. They must clamp down on corporate excess, tax excessive pay and they should legislate to ensure that pensions in the private sector are at a level that enables people to live with some dignity in their old age rather than attacking the not particularly generous pensions in the public sector.
I read recently that the Metropolitan police have been increasing the number of police trained to use plastic bullets and are giving further consideration to the use of water cannon. Presumably they are anticipating more social unrest and are intending to deal with the protesters in the same manner as the Middle Eastern despots deal with their protesters.
Concern for Others?
I was extremely disappointed to read the summary of the latest report of the British Social Attitudes survey. The most surprising statistic was that 53% believe that the unemployed receive too much benefit. I understand that the standard unemployment pay is