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Funny thing, politics...

Nick Robinson | 17:25 UK time, Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Just as the Tories refused to rule out tax rises today the Liberal Democrats are lining up to promise them. Nick Clegg told a Journalists lunch today that he'd fight the next election on a "radical tax cutting programme for people on low and modest incomes" and he's lined up to spell out more detail in a document on Thursday. I understand that he's set to promise to seek to reduce the overall burden of taxation - if sufficient savings can be found.

Funny thing, politics. The Conservative leadership believes that it's crucial for their economic credibility not to look committed to tax cuts at all costs whilst the Lib Dems have spotted an opening for a party that promises to do what's necessary to do just that.

It'll be intriguing to see if Clegg stirs the voices on


  • Comment number 1.

    Seems odd that instead of examining the idea of any party committing itself to tax cuts at a time when the economy is not in a strong position, Nick, you seem to take another opportunity to be snide about the Tory position.

    Clegg can make these promises knowing that he is never going to be in a position to implement them.

    LibDem economic policies have long be full of unfunded (and unfundable) promises - no-one really listens to them or lends them much credibility.

    Vince Cable can speak with authority and conviction - but when it comes to putting forward policies, they have always had high spending pledges with pledges to cut taxes.

    So, instead of focussing your attacks on one party - why not examine them all with a critical eye?

    Is that too much to ask Nick?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick, you know the Lib-Dems are being opportunist they always are. They dont believe in Taxcuts at all as they are more leftwing than most of you at the BBC!

    However Cameron should be saying we need massive tax-cuts. He like is going to inherit a total mess from Labour (as always think 1979!) The Tories have to repair the damage done by Brown, this needs a cut in govt waste and taxcuts to everyone including industry.

    5 steps for the UK to be the no.1 economic power.

    1) Leave the EU - join NAFTA.
    2) Flat-tax of 15% starting at £10,000. (no deductions or credits, the same for everyone)
    3) Cut out all goverment waste sacking the 1.5million diversity co-ordinators Labour have hired. Sell off BBC as well!
    4) Reform NHS bring back Grammar schools.
    5) Slash corporation tax to 10% from 28%.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree that some effort should be made to reduce the direct tax burden on the lower/est incomes (partly to repair the damage that Brown committed to and Darling had to wriggle around).

    But Clegg is a happy position.

    He could promise to raise GDP by 50%, banish fairies from Cornwall and build a bridge to New York.

    There's little chance the electorate will trouble him to stick to his manifesto after the next election.

    Cameron is in a position where any commitment needs to be carefully evaluated.

    His ideas about a Chapter 11 equivalent may be worth considering. But beware of the detail. Competitors and suppliers don't like it when a company is relieved of the immediate burden of paying debts.

    Unless there has been some totally unpredictable, catastrophic event that caused a company to scamper to Chapter 11, the Board and Management that took the company to the brink should be kicked out.

  • Comment number 4.

    Yes, strange, although not quite as strange as you may think, Nick.

    The LibDems, I believe, are looking to increase tax on higher rate tax payers and also seeking to close some, if not all, the tax loopholes exploited by the rich/extremely rich. This they think will provide the funding for tax cuts aimed at the lowest earners.

    I think it's about time that direct taxation was fairly applied - it's a shame that neither of the main parties has got the guts to tackle this very real imbalance.

    We have been described by the IMF as the World's largest tax haven and I find that frankly disgraceful, something must be done.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm not really sure why there's so much interest in what the opposition parties would or would not do if in power.

    The next general election is almost two years away, and there is this minor thing called "running the country", which seems like almost an aside to the government at the moment.

    On columnist recently described Gordon Brown as "spending the past 10 years as a presence rather than a person". This "lack of substance" issue is a smokescreen to hide the fact that the country is heading for meltdown and the government - GB and his team of failed wannabes - do not seem to be able to do anything to prevent things getting worse, let alone make things better.

  • Comment number 6.

    I've just realised who "Me Too" Clegg reminds me of. Anyone else remember the 2nd-former who always hung around the 4th form smokers at the back of the bike sheds, jumping up and down to try and get a glimpse of the lunch break porn mag?

  • Comment number 7.

    #1 (simonofoxford), the LibDems have been talking about this for ages, they've worked out the figures and now come up with a policy which is a process that we don't see from either of the main parties.

    They simply provide a reactive form of government so that all we get are newspaper headlines and nothing of substance.

    By adding a small amount of tax to the higher rate and closing the ludicrous tax loopholes exploited by the very rich, you will probably find that everything adds up.

    It disgusts me that we are described by the IMF as the World's largest tax haven - we have some serious priorities that require money but are too scared to risk taxing the major contributors to political parties.

  • Comment number 8.

    Funny how you havent asked how he will pay for them.

    Which schools or hospitals will he close

    If he does cut taxes to the poor, will he increase taxes on the rich.

    Funny thing political commentary

  • Comment number 9.


    it doesnt matter what anyone promises on taxation, or spending -at least for the next two parliaments anyways. why?

    well its pretty obvious that there is going to be a Tory Govt next up - the voters in 2010 will not have been affected by the Thatcher/Major Govts cockup in the past - which is why everyone voted Labour in the first place! us older folk dont trust the Tories!

    As for the LibDems -shame! if only they could string togehter a coherent policy on something they'd be in with a chance...but they cant, so they wont.

    After that? thats when Gordon Broens PFI bill lands on the mat - thats right -all that "investment" in the NHS, schools and what have you - its all been paid for by loans from the private sector. Until then we pay "rent" on those buildings - at the election after next we have to actually pay for them!

    Billions of pounds of taxpayers monies required - and Gordon wont be there to take the blame...

    and they want us to fund political parties out of the taxpayers purse?

    no wonder theres no faith in politics anymore!

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Nick,

    How many pennies did the PM get in the post today ?

    Looking to find out what he can do with some real money from real poor people.

    Every penny sent costs him £1.23 in unpaid postage.

    send Gordon a penny at 10 Downing Street. London today ! Forget the stamp.

  • Comment number 11.

    to #2 LeaveEUNow

    Just a couple of thoughts...

    "5 steps for the UK to be the no.1 economic power" (Do I hear Jerusalem...?)

    1. That's right cling to a 'worthless' dollar when we mainly trade in the Eurozone - that makes a lot of sense. Let the bankers rip us off by manipulating exchange rates and by devaluing our currency reduce our pay and salaries.
    4. So you still want to keep the NHS - a great socialist invention. (I sense that this must hurt you.)
    6 What about benefits - in your World do we stop paying all state pensions?

    Sorry, I do not like your World and it is my belief that the British people do not like, and will never like your World. (But I would fight for you to have the right to express your views.)

    I find it quite touching that you want to swap one Tory government (our present one) for another (under DC or whoever) and believe that something/anything, will change.

    You seem to believe a party whose only policy is to have no firm policies, just platitudes is worthy of consideration as a government - particularly as you must be aware that they have already ruled out the essential elements of your policies. (If you can believe them.)

  • Comment number 12.

    I don't know why we bother to listen to all these muppets blabbing on about how they will out do the other party with this or that cut, tax or new law.

    The best thing this country could do is to sack them all. Yes, all of them.

    The conservatives, labour and liberal democrats. None of them seem to have any idea what the average person on the street wants any more.

    Look at the turn out at elections, mostly they are just a turn off.

    I would propose that at the next general election everone votes for the independant, Don't even vote for the greens or the 'loony' partys and definately don't vote for any of the current three old boy networks. None of them are in it for the country, only themselves.

    That would certainly stir things up in the next Parliament.

    The elected members would really have to work together to run this country instead of doing what they believe will keep the in power for another term at the next election.

  • Comment number 13.

    The one about DC having no policies is wearing a bit thin now. He has been coming out with announcements on a weekly basis for some time now. Where have you been? GB on the other hand has been announcing policies and initiatives which have almost immediately been subject to u turns.

  • Comment number 14.

    #11, John_from_Hendon, yes, it sounds dreadful (that World) and, I agree, Cameron certainly hasn't mentioned anything yet. Probably because, as you suggest, he does want to win the next election.

    #13, waldorf29, I wholeheartedly disagree with you, there is some distance between making vague announcements and coming up with policies..... come on, I don't think that argument is wearing thin at all.

  • Comment number 15.

    There is no onus for DC to come up with detailed policies until he publishes his Election Manifesto. They'd only be nicked anyway! Consequently we'll agree to differ.

  • Comment number 16.

    Whats the definition of Tax cuts? if it is from direct taxation then it's a tax cut, an allowance change or reduction in base rate or % in £ are all "tax cuts"

    Changes in Duty, Vat, council tax and all the other stealth taxes brought in over the last 11 years are not tax cuts but changes in the rate/duty . Cameron is correct to to be cautious at this time and election could be 2 years away, Cl egg is being opportunistic without substance.

    Only a fool would predict cuts at time like this, and we have one of those as PM.

  • Comment number 17.

    Funny thing Politics isnt it Nick, first you try and suggest that Jacqui Smith didnt really do a u turn, then you stick the boot into DC, Balance?? just about as balanced as the BBC trotting out Gordo's CPI inflation figure that didnt exist pre 1997 and is impossible to compare to anything. Of course , real inlfation is nothing like the BBC version of events. Not suprising giving its trotting out the Govt line. Does anyone believe it?? I doubt it.

  • Comment number 18.

    Why nothing on Labour cancelling their spring forum. Surely that is much more important?

  • Comment number 19.

    The LibDems with Vince Cable in the lead have worked out consistenet and attractive economic policies for the mess we are now in; and these policies seem to add up. Labour and the Conservatives have achieved nothing comparable.

    The question for the rest of us is how we get these policies implemented:
    - Get the main parties to steal the policies? Dangerous if they do not understand them.
    - Vote LibDem and hope to find that Cable is Chancellor in a coalition? Can't do any harm in the minority of areas where the LibDems have a chance, but we would ned some pretty incredible luck to get Cable as Chancellor.
    - try and get as much of these ideas into discussion and into the media as we can, in the hope tha they will become common ground? Maybe that is just beginning to happen. It looks the least worst way to put some effort in.

  • Comment number 20.

    Have to agree with no: 17 Nick! What's going on? It really seems like you're being leaned on by our useless government. Which wouldn't surprise me. If Labour spent half as much time governing as they do lying, cheating and stealing then we'd own half the globe like we did in the good old days of Empire.

  • Comment number 21.

    Whats with the Conservative home site link when you are talking about the Lib Dems? An excellent Idea from Nick Clegg to take more tax from the rich so that ordinary people can pay less. Give these ultra rich something else to to worry about, other than their civil liberties being infringed by speed cameras.

    Nice to know Maggie isn't dead, good for her!
    For a bit of balance, I would also like to find out who isn't dead in the other main parties.

    The only one's leaning on Nick Robinson are the Conservatives and dubious neutrals linking here from Conservative Home.

  • Comment number 22.

    Just watched Osborne on Newsnight.

    There is hope for Brown yet.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.


    "The only one's leaning on Nick Robinson are the Conservatives and dubious neutrals linking here from Conservative Home."

    Yes, because it is we Conservative supporters who keep forcing Nick to post favourable articles on Brown et al, ignore stories which harm the government, and stick the knife into Cameron et al at every opportunity.

    We are all clear about where your political loyalties lie so give up with the innocent protestations.

  • Comment number 25.

    In all the talk about politics and the economy I wonder why nobody is referring to pensioners and the effect of the rise in inflation. Now remember that most pensioners who are actually in receipt of works pensions are doing quite well.

    Their pensions are linked to the RPI, not the CPI. The pensioners are receiving increases far greater than the public workers and yet some of these pensioners are actually receiving pensions far greater than actual workers. They also do not pay any National Insurance on these pensions.

    Take into account the fact that they have been receiving their state pensions without tax being deducted even though they are liable because of the size of their private pensions. This is an absolute disgrace and is nothing short of theft. The middle class pensioners have been getting away with exploiting the system but no longer.

    If I was a young person trying to live on low wages I would be angry, very angry. Yet these pensioners also seem to want to continue to work so they even take the jobs which should go to young people, young people who should be paid the proper rate for the job, not receiving state sponsored working tax credits. The employer should pay a proper rate and not be subsidized by impoverished taxpayers.

    There is a fallacy about pensioners which should be exposed for what it is, a fallacy. They are doing very well thank you very much and an awful lot are receiving far more out of the system than they ever contributed. Oh, and don't please tell me they fought in the wars to give me what I have today, that is an insult to my own efforts, and the efforts of many of my age.

  • Comment number 26.

    25 TAG

    You are slagging of pensioners, and would not wish to insult you as you are prepared to insult them.

    You don't understand the tax system as pensions are not tax free and the state pension is taxable.

    I suggest you check your details before you shout, or as us older ones would say engage brain before using mouth.

  • Comment number 27.

    Re 25

    If you think pensioners live it up large on state pensions then why don't you try living your life on it?

  • Comment number 28.

    Nick you have been sucked in again.
    When are you go to be objective. The key is in the line "If sufficient savings can be found"
    That is pretty much Identical to the true Conservative position. The only reason that DC didnt "promise" tax cuts is because he knows the current shower are going to leave the economy in such a mess that a lot will have to be done before tax can be cut.
    Strangely that is exactly the same position Labour left the torys in the last time they left power. Funny thing politics

  • Comment number 29.

    That was a bit silly, wasn't it!

    The state pension is taxable and HMRC are quick to pick up on individuals who have recently started being paid.

    What you call "works pensions" with index linked increases disappeared a while back - and not many schemes were available with that benefit anyway.

    Many private companies took "pension holidays" way back, when their schemes funding was apparently massive after the stock market soared. I thought that was pretty dumb, but it was supported by government which assumed the extra money would be put back into their businesses. There was then a shortfall when the market dipped (as it does). So they had to make an effort to restore funding levels. That's when Brown made his £5Billion per annum attack on the funds. Madness. Sheer bloody madness. Why would anyone attack the most sensible of saving schemes?

    Public employees are paid pensions from current tax income. That's mad too. Every new state employee simply puts a direct burden on future tax payers.

    Prudence? If it had been thus, the state would now have a huge pot of ring-fenced money to start the process of limiting the dependence on future tax takes.

  • Comment number 30.


    I actually found your post quite baffling so let me enlighten you with some facts:

    - According to the latest figures released by the DWP 2.5 million pensioners are living below the poverty line.

    - This is an increase of 300,000 on the 05/06 figures.

    You are quite wrong to assume that pensioners are living it up while the rest of us struggle.

    If you are looking for ammunition, try the rich - we are described as the World's biggest tax haven by the IMF.

  • Comment number 31.

    PS - Dear BBC, your website has been acting erratically over the last few days.... on several occasions I have created postings only for them to disappear entirely.

    Would you mind having a go at fixing it? Please, I would really appreciate it.

  • Comment number 32.

    Rather than cutting taxes Nick Clegg has come forward with a proposal to rebalance the tax structure so that the wealthier pay for the privileges they enjoy and the poorer pay less for what they don't get.

    This is an excellent proposal which I heartily endorse. I am just amazed that this has not been proposed by anyone before.

    I can quite understand Cameron being reticent about promising tax cuts given that, as you have reported, there is a growing black hole in the public finances.

    As a consequence there will have to be swingeing cuts in public sector budgets in the near future or massive tax increases. Tax increases are a political non-starter.

  • Comment number 33.

    15 Waldorf, I know that I have asked this question before, but I guess I must be thick because I dont get it. If as you claim that Cameron cant reveal any policies because Labour will pinch them, and as you and others say this has happened in the past,then why do you and others say that all Labours policies are either wrong or at the very least flawed if by your assumtion they are policies that Labour wait with bated breath to steal ,from the Tories,heaven forbid!
    Even an answer in Janet and John fomat wlill be acceptable.

  • Comment number 34.

    LeaveEUnow, you are being satirical right? If so, you are rather funny. However, I am going to suppose for a minute that you are being serious, and consider the points you made. To do this, I must also leave aside your North Korean-style slogan of "5 steps for the UK to be the no.1 economic power".

    1) Leave the EU - join NAFTA.

    Most of Britain's trade is with the European Union. Joining a loose economic bloc that has the world's most powerful country at its core will hardly make Britain the "no.1 economic power".

    2) Flat-tax of 15% starting at ?10,000. (no deductions or credits, the same for everyone)

    There is limited evidence that flat taxes stimulate an economy. The Baltic states that have tried them have prospered because of EU membership. Their unemployment rates have fallen because of emigration to other EU countries, which has been a great boon (at least economically) to these countries. What this suggests is that Britain is the "no.1 economic power" - as part of the European Union.

    3) Cut out all goverment waste sacking the 1.5million diversity co-ordinators Labour have hired. Sell off BBC as well!

    I don't know about your first point. But as for the latter, the BBC is the largest media organization in the world, as measured by gloabal reach (rather than by revenue). It is a marvellous exercise of soft power, and a way of projecting Britain's influence overseas. If, as you suggest, you wish Britain's influence throughout the world to expand, you could not think of anything more counter-productive than selling off the BBC.

    4) Reform NHS bring back Grammar schools.

    I assume by "reform" you mean getting rid of the things you personally disagree with, which has been the tenor of the "reforms" of the past ten years. What we need is less of this and more quality medical care, without the intervention of constant revolution.

    5) Slash corporation tax to 10% from 28%.

    Britain has the lowest corporation tax rate of the G7 countries. Do you propose a race to the bottom? If you cut corporation tax rates, will Ireland cut its further to remain competitive? Will this give the Baltic states ideas, thus undercutting everyone else? This pernicious aspect of globalization has one solution: stronger regional organizations such as.. you've guessed it, the EU!

    Britain is part of the world's leading economic power. What you propose would absolutely destroy that. Good luck!

  • Comment number 35.

    In Janet and John form 'I fear you may have a little chip on your shoulder'. At no time have I or anybody else for that matter said that all Labour policies are either wrong or flawed. I'm glad they listened on inheritance taxes. Unfortunately too late for me. I'm also glad that they have u turned on numerous more. They have also had good ideas of their own on a number of other fronts. Please don't talk down to me. You know it riles me.

  • Comment number 36.

    None of them seem to get it do they? Tax is not an arbitrary thing to cut or not cut; tax incidence is. You can 'cut tax' but still have the burden of a public sector deficit, funded by borrowing, which in turn (given the size of the public sector) has an impact on the economy and, thereby, taxpayers. All of the parties would do well to return to the question of what we ought to expect the state to provide - although, post-Thatcher, I hope we can do that in a more measured and rational way. That is the only sensible way to manage taxation.

  • Comment number 37.

    I can never understand why some people, especially politicians, harp on about 'soaking the rich', with taxes.

    Give it even a moments thought and you can surely see that 'the rich' have a number of attributes which preclude being able to 'soak them'.

    For example, they can simply up sticks and leave if the taxes become too onerous.

    They can afford to employ smart accountants, who can find the cracks in the over-complex tax system, which enables their clients to slip through.

    I suppose politicians come out with this stuff to deflect attention away from the fact that it is primarily those 'middle-England' PAYE drones who stump up.

    There is patently not much mileage in politicians being honest about taxation.

    The truth is simply too painful.

  • Comment number 38.

    #25 TAG

    I don't like comments which are personal, but must make an exception in your case. You are a callow fool, and I only hope your intelligence will increase with age, and your 'big' eyes will see what life actually is for most pensioners.
    Of course, many pensioners wish to continue working. This ageist society condemns its citizens to premature senility, forcing strong bodies and agile brains to rot away. This is often the result of stupid management and HR, probably types like you are. Government continues this vile practice making people resign after a certain age, then leaves them to rot away.
    The basic pension is so low that it has to be suplemented with fuel allowances, etc. Many UK born citizens, of the 'old school' feel it demeaning to claim benefits and so struggle on silently. The middle classes are in an awful situation. Too poor for a good life and too rich for benefits. They pay full council taxes, are taxed on their private pensions.If they become sick and need to enter a nursing or care home, they pay through the nose until their homes have to be sold, and all for the priveledge of third rate care by untrained staff, living on foul food dumped by their bedsides. Think carefully, TAG, this could be your fate!

  • Comment number 39.

    Too true. He is implying that you have the mind of a 5 year old with his reference to Janet and John. Don't take it lying down!

  • Comment number 40.

    Ouch, the pensioners are on the war path but tell me where I am actually wrong.

    I was born nine months after the birth of the NHS so was brought up on the basis that I would be looked after from the cradle to the grave. Note well I was conceived by my parents almost on the day that the NHS came into being, 5th July 1948.

    Let me tell you how it will work when I get to 65. I will have my pension from my employer, already £12,000 pa and due to increase by RPI. I do pay tax on this but no National Insurance.

    I will also receive my full state pension of about £5,000 paid without deduction of tax so I will have to decalre it so that the proper rate of tax is deducted, as it should be.

    I will have no mortgage, I will have some accumulated savings from a maturing endowment policy, an amazing investment made in the early 70s.

    Now then you critics that exactly is how it should be. I will not have to rely upon the state, I have been well cared for by the NHS but the same could not be said of my parents when they came to the end of their lives. I too expect to be let down because in the end we all die, it is the way of dying which has been identified as a problem.

    Now, I cannot say that everybody has lived their lives as I have, it has been achieved through hard work and effort. Your retirement is your reward. It was not me who voted for Thatcher and took all the silver leaving the utilities in the private sector, it was mostly the work of those people who are now pensioners who moan about living in the society they created.

  • Comment number 41.

    35 waldorf,I struck a nerve did I. if you look carefully you will find that although the question was posed to you it inferred that not only you but many others have come up with "they'll pinch the Tory idea's" also both you and many others have rubbished labour and their policies to deny that would be ridiculous.
    As for talking down to you I think you won the medal for that long ago, but nevertheless I wasn't talking down to you , I'm sad waldorf that you think so ,it's just that I have asked this question a number of times not of you I dont think, but the question was asked and was not answered and to be honest with you I dont think you have answered the question.
    As for your not to well concealed threat I must say I thought better of you, I am also shakin in my boots.

  • Comment number 42.

    Interesting point number 29

    'The state pension is taxable and HMRC are quick to pick up on individuals who have recently started being paid'.

    Why the caveat 'recently being paid' what that tells me, and is now the subject of remedy, is that HMRC were not correctly applying the tax because tax returns were not being made by some pensioners.

    I think you know this, so do not be rude and accept the obvious, some people have been ignoring their tax obligations and they know who they are. That is unless they claim to have some sort of dementia when relating to their tax affairs.

  • Comment number 43.

    ga wrote 33:
    "why do you and others say that all Labours policies are either wrong or at the very least flawed if by your assum p tion they are policies that Labour wait with ba i ted breath to steal ,from the Tories,heaven forbid!"

    I wrote 35:
    At no time have I or anybody else for that matter said that all Labour policies are either wrong or flawed.

    ga wrote 41:
    "both you and many others have rubbished labour and their policies to deny that would be ridiculous."

    Your response shows me that you don't bother to read what is in front of you. I took exception to your comment that we blindly rubbish *all* of Gordon Brown's policies. That is simply not true!! I actually agree with his stance on 42 days and the erosion of individual liberties. On other matters too I also agree with him including our continued presence in Iraq. You are doing an incredibly good recruiting job for your political opponents as well as alienating those who are still sitting on the fence.

  • Comment number 44.

    #42 Tag

    We have both expressed our points of view, both completely different. So be it. There is one point, however, that I feel compelled to make. I have seen postings in the past criticised, quite rightly, because physical illness was used as an excuse for the considered behaviour of famous people. Thus, a previous minister was mocked for having bulimia, and a prime minister's sight impairment was used as a metaphor. I feel you shouldn't use dementia in such a flippant way. It is a tragic disease that can strike anybody at anytime, so let's call tax cheats nasty names, but leave diseases out of the equation. Thanks.

  • Comment number 45.

    39 Nigela awsome,you apparently as we have seen before, have not got a sense of humour.
    I began my post to Waldorf by saying,
    "but I guess I must be thick because I dont get it."hardly a disrespectful opening gambit if you want to insult someone, would you say.
    I then posed the question the same question that I have asked others before and not received an accepable answer.
    so once again in self denigration I answered
    "Even an answer in Janet and John fomat wlill be acceptable".
    So Waldorf as I say disapointed with you. nigella why haven't you taken that break you promised us and take a humour check while your away.

  • Comment number 46.

    "but I guess I must be thick because I dont get it"
    hardly a disrespectful opening gambit if you want to insult someone, would you say.

    I'll tell you what this says to me. It says that the argument you are referring to is so thin and badly put that even a thick person wouldn't understand it. Insulting? Yes.

  • Comment number 47.

    Nothing wrong with you talking about your life - but that's no reflection of the generality of people.

    A pension paid with annual RPI index linkage is - and always was - rare. Probably non-existent for any new intakes for many years. Many if not most large companies have dumped final salary schemes in favour of money-purchase.

    Remember when government crowed that the UK private pensions schemes were the envy of Europe and there were fears that the EU may try to tap into our resources? Long gone! Not helped by Brown's change of tax relief on dividends. This from someone who wants people to save - then withholds UKL50Billion from pension funds.

    UK state pensions are very low.

    From what I understand, you won't need to declare your state pension in order to have it taxed - HMRC will be onto your case within a month or so.

    You have an RPI-linked works pension. Lucky you - but it has nothing to do with government policy. Companies decided they could afford to look after their former staff. That's been blown out of the water. There are now some FTSE100 companies who take pensionable salary as below - less than - the basic salary (regardless of any additional shift or overtime earnings).

    You will pay tax on your state pension - so it doesn't come tax-free as you implied.

    The NHS does some wonderful things. New hospitals have largely been built on PPP/PFI deals. Not a bad idea - just negotiated by people who knew it wasn't their money it was spending, just tax-payers'. So really bad contracts. UKL58Billion of PPP/PFI deals. Commitment to pay back UKL190Billion over 20+ years, because deals included inflated servicing costs.

    Do you really think that has been a good deal?

    This has been the most profligate government of the century. Run by a bunch of lawyers and lecturers with no exposure to the realities of having to earn a living because people pay for real products.

    Probably even worse than Atlee's. He at least thought he would help by nationalising companies that had been developed by private initiatives. Sadly, real management was sacrificed at the altar of union power. The old GPO had world-leading innovators in the area of telecoms. BT as a private company is much more customer focused. British Leyland was a basket case. There were opportunities to make it a real business, but governments did nothing to create viable partnerships. (Byers chose to make the remnants hook up with a bunch of people who took a lot, bit did little to rebuild a UK manufacturer.)
    Shipbuilding was scuppered because unions could not recognise that making things to sell was more important than following a rule book.

    So what point were you trying to make?

    Uncontrolled market activity can be disastrous. We can see that with the current banking problems. But if Brown's regulatory framework had been made to work, we would not have had the Northern (Labour) Rock stupidity.

    Saying that pensioners have it relatively easy is just plain stupid. And when Brown gets up in the Commons to say he will give more heating allowance demonstrates the problem. "He" has no money. It's our money he choses to apply. If pensions were more realistic, it would not require decent folk to beg for money that should never have been taken while they worked in order to pay for dumb government initiatives.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think the crux of this whole problem lies in the fact that contrary to what you are saying I do have a well developed sense of humour but sadly it is wildly different to yours. Making fun of other's comments is not my bag.

  • Comment number 49.

    46 waldorf , Ive tried to be pleasant to you there was no offence meant in my post and you cant accept that so all I can say If you didn't like it tough! now get off by back .

  • Comment number 50.

    48 Nigella awsome. I am so glad that we have cleared that up I only have to read your pseudonym to know that our idea of a sense of humour are miles apart and I hope thats how they'll stay,As for making fun of other peoples comments its not my bag as you [so eloquently] put it mine either.
    Waldorf and I have in the past although being at loggerheads always managed to bring a little mutual respect and humour into our posts to one and other but he appears to have taken umbrage possible partly inspired by your interference and misguided post.
    I stand unbowed and wish you both well into the voyage of the unknown,Fairwell and good sailing.

  • Comment number 51.

    My voyage to Crete, Rhodes and Patmos begins very soon. Really looking forward to it. Will miss some of you but hope to come back in one piece after a series of frightening health scares.

  • Comment number 52.


    Just to say something else which may just cast even more light on the subject of pensions.

    For my sins I worked for a bank in the City and what was my role? Why to reconcile all the accounts of the funds which we used to manage together with the responsibility of calculating all the performance figures for those pension funds. That is as well as the Charitable funds, managed funds and UK institutions, a very responsible role I think you will accept.

    Now what this did was to give me access to all the funds, I got to know everything there was to know. I can therefore speak with some knowledge on the subject and I can tell you now that there are a substantial number of pensioners out there who will never be short of a penny or two, especially the senior executives!

    Now what you must understand is that the scheme I am part of was available to an awful lot of employees of not only the City banks but also the clearing banks. I must say that you do not have a clue.

    Finally, why should you give me an even larger state pension when I will be quite well off. That is why there should be means testing, just like the thirties though, I mean real means testing!

  • Comment number 53.

    52 Tag

    For someone with such a responsible job you have a very poor pension.

  • Comment number 54.


    How "you would love means testing, just like the thirties though". What a really foolish person you are, to want that dreadful procedure applied. Whether you earned it by doing a decent day's work or not, you were allocated a pension, probably paid a lot of money in taxes during your working life, and also contributed to the pensions of others less well paid. With the enormous amounts government takes from its citizens, and the constant steep price rises, you, yes YOU you silly fellow, are rightfully entitled to increases in state pension. However, reading your previous postings, one sees how all your sympathies lie with the terrorists and murderers our troops are combating in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps you would like to donate any extras you get to the Taliban.

  • Comment number 55.


    "Yes, because it is we Conservative supporters who keep forcing Nick to post favourable articles on Brown et al, ignore stories which harm the government, and stick the knife into Cameron et al at every opportunity.

    We are all clear about where your political loyalties lie so give up with the innocent protestations."

    Last paragraph. What are you on about? Its not a crime not to be a Conservative. This is not Conservative Home.

    "We all know where your loyalties lie..."

    Who's "We", is it you and your other names?;o)

    Do you have any evidence that pressure is being put on Nick Robinson to be pro Labour? Can you quote an example?

    I'll give you one to prove he isn't. Check out "Where's the Money coming from?" Labour has finally did what was needed and dropped the 2p increase on fuel duty to help out people struggling with the fuel prices. rewarded with calls of "Where's the money coming from?" That's my evidence that he is far from liberal left biased.

    Good luck with the revolution and the revolution to find out who will be fighting the revolution in 2010.

    What am i on about?

  • Comment number 56.


    not really mikethebiscuit. Consider that the back room boffins get their pleasure from their work and satisfaction of being perfect. Please take into account that I only worked for the firm for just over twenty years 1971-92 and had started on a low wage until I realised my abilities.

    As for means testing did it stop the wasters and scroungers? Did we have the same level of immigration, who would have wanted to come to England if they were going to be means tested before getting any money from the British taxpayer!

    On pensions I have thought for many years that they ought to be based on averaged earnings over the last ten years of work for a firm, not based on final salary. How about that for a good idea?

  • Comment number 57.

    Check your first paragraph, Nick - you imply the Lib Dems are promising tax rises...

  • Comment number 58.

    I wonder why we haven't heard from those nice MPs who jumped ship from the Tories when times were bad and who must now be contemplating Job Seekers Allowance for gross disloyalty to their constituents? Giant among this group is Quentin Davies MP who, with spectacular timing, jumped during GB's finest hour. Indeed, he only had about an hour to do it! He deserves the Cherie Blair award for unbelievably bad judgement.
    I can't wait for a Reg Prentice-style defection to the Tories - but by whom?

  • Comment number 59.

    Once upon a time, in a green and pleasant land, there were two small villages, which had a friendly rivalry on the football pitch. For many years they held regular matches, and all went swimmingly until one day a new referee appeared. It was felt in the local league that a new approach was needed. The new referee was called Mr Fair, although for some reason he loved to refer to himself as Mr Flair. The players shrugged their shoulders and wondered what all the fuss was about - "let's just get on with the game, as we always have." But no sooner had the ball been kicked than the whistle blew. "What's the problem, ref?" The referee answered, "You're being unfair to the opposition, you're running too fast, they can't keep up with you - that's not fair." Or "You look a bit overweight, I have to be concerned about your personal welfare - new health and safety regulations. Get off the field!" And so this went on all through the game, directive after directive, the whistle blowing every five seconds. Mr Fair / Flair even tried to join in the game himself, and couldn't understand why the players didn't admire his prowess and looks.

    Soon the players grew tired of this, and complaints were made to the New Refereeing Council. So it was felt that perhaps Mr Fair / Flair was not being fair after all. Another approach was needed. Someone needed to get a firm grip of the situation. And so Mr Frown was made the new referee. But he was no better than Mr Fair / Flair. The whistle blew even longer and more frequently, and when the players complained he would fly into a rage. So the villagers decided to take action. They would draw up a petition, they would vote to have Mr Frown removed. But nothing would sway the New Refereeing Council. There were even murmurs among the other referees - one young upstart even suggested he could do a better job than old Frown. Another suggested a woman's touch might be better - all these cantankerous men were the real problem. All eyes were on the bitter arguments in the New Refereeing Council, and the villagers, who before had been such good friends, began falling out with each other, their friendly football rivalry long forgotten.

    Then some bright spark came up with an idea: Why don't we go back to the old style of refereeing?! ...

  • Comment number 60.

    re: 59

    Lol brilliant. That's just what it's like!!

    (I'd have replied earlier but I've just seen your post).


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