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Back to the future

Nick Robinson | 13:12 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010

In the week when Gene Hunt has been deployed by both Labour and the Tories, when it's emerged that Saatchis admen are working on all three main parties' campaigns and when the Lib Dems unveiled a re-working of the Tories' old tax bombshell ad this election is rapidly taking on a "Back to the Future" quality.

Gene HuntIt's not, however, simply the ads or the admen who seem trapped in the past. So, too the debate. So far we appear to be locked into the tediously familiar pattern of political leaders promising that they could deliver gain for little or no pain whilst costing their opponents' promises and declaring that their "sums don't add up".

Yet all parties agree that we are in a new world in which thanks to a vast budget deficit whoever forms the next government will need to make cuts bigger than those made in any recent decade and to increase taxes as well.

It's worth pondering on when you hear:

• the Tories say they can head off one tax rise (national insurance) whilst cutting other taxes (inheritance tax, council tax and some, as yet unspecified, marriage tax breaks) whilst also cutting the deficit faster than Labour and protecting spending on health and international development.

• Labour say they can give voters service guarantees in schools, hospitals and from the police whilst holding some taxes - income tax and capital gains - and cutting others - stamp duty on house sales whilst cutting the deficit in half.

• and the Lib Dems say they can cut the deficit more, but not quicker, than Labour and cut most workers' tax by £700 a year at a cost of £16bn by closing tax loopholes.. oh, and taxing mansions... and flights... and pensions and, of course, capital gains. Ask them who will actually feel the pain and how much they'll be and you are told "it's very complicated and depends on your behaviour".

I don't doubt that all the parties could deliver what they promise. Indeed, the civil service are, as we speak, working up the ideas for whoever forms the next government. The mandarins will, however, include the the downsides as well as the up.

It will be interesting to see who's willing to tell the truth over the next few weeks that our deficit could mean cuts in public sector jobs, cuts in pay, cuts in pensions, cuts in services, cuts in benefits... oh, yes, and higher taxes too. As my colleague Stephanie Flanders has reported, they are happening now in Ireland.

We could see a return to some of the things that Gene Hunt saw when he was firing up his Quattro but, I fear, we may not be in for a burst of his refreshing candour.


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  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    "when it's emerged that Saatchis [sic] admen are working on all three main parties' campaigns"

    Is there no such thing as a concept of "conflict of interest" in the advertising world?

  • Comment number 3.

    The economy question appears to be basically about who will hit the public sector least or most...this depends on who you believe. I suggest that any comments/proposals by politicians once an election campagn has been launched are legally a contract with the electorate for the lifetime of the parliament at least, or for the lifetime of the government. If they do not hold to it they are forced to have a referendum on the issue or hold an election.

    The whole debate is shocking to the vast majority of public sector workers who don't earn much and at best average salaries..who got a minimal pay rise last year.. are getting none this year and promised none the next year etc.

  • Comment number 4.

    The problem is Nick is that the Great British Public don't know how much in the financial doo-doo we are. The vast majority of people have their heads in the sands and are taking's Brown's soundbites at face value.

    A good example was yesterday when Brown claimed that the Tories NI initiative would "take £2 billion (or whatever it was) out of the economy".

    This is, as you must be aware, complete and utter rubbish. he means that it will _withhold_ (not take) £2billion from the government's coffers - a very very different thing from being taken out of the economy. The money is still their BUT it is now in individuals and companies pockets and not the governments.

    The MSM - and you in particular - must pick up these soundbites and expose them for the garbage they are.

  • Comment number 5.

    Labour have a history of slamming 'Tory cuts' one day, then announcing 'tough choices' themselves the next. (Remember 2005??)

    So far, the whole argument seems to be that the Tories will try to cut earlier, whereas Labour will make the same cuts but leave it a year.

    Labour also accuse the Tories of taking money out of the recovery, but their tax rise also takes money out of peoples' pockets in a year's time, making a double dip recession more likely then (once they've been re-elected, of course). The only reason Labour don't want to face up to reality is because they're trying to win the election.

    This is pure deceit and dishonest and the more shrilly they shreak about it, the more desperate they look.

    Labour have led us to a national fiscal disaster; the Irish experience awaits regardless of who's elected. I feel sorry for whoever wins: they will have to sort out the mess. But the tax rises Labour will make if re-elected make my eyes water. We need to sort our problems out asap, not fiddle while the deficit burns.

    We need change. Even if the Tories are useless, could they be any worse, any more corrupt, any more useless? I just don't think so, despite all of Labour's desperate hype.

  • Comment number 6.

    Let's just put up VAT to the European average of 20% and have done with it.

  • Comment number 7.

    There certainly seems to be a conspiricay among the main parties to dilute the problems facing us in the future.

    I think we have to look at Ireland to see where the solutions lie. I'm sure some of the overpaid civil servants and local government middle management would not miss the same 10% or so pay cuts that we see in Ireland. Nor would they be too slow in volunteering for early retirement so they could enjoy the rest of their lives enjoying their golden pensions.

    None of this would affect front line services and would lead to a streamlining where younger people were able to move up the ladder instead of waiting for the 'dead man's shoes' syndrome.

    Jobs will go as all the parties have had to admit so what better way than natural wastage for a start. Isn't that the way the trade unions would negotiate with their members if cuts had to be made in a private company?

  • Comment number 8.


    Can you please ask the Lib Dems the following: if the impact of their tax plans "depend upon behaviour," won't people simply change their behaviour to avoid the additional tax, thus not raising as much revenue as they claim?

    The targetted demographic have the funds to use tax accountants to avoid behaviourial based tax liabilities. I don't think the Lib Dem numbers add up

  • Comment number 9.

    For the LibDems to claim to be able to get £16bn by closing tax loopholes is fantasy! HMRC has been closing loopholes for years and there are less loopholes left to shut now than there were. Chances are any changes they make to the tax system will just introduce more loopholes.

    Looks to me that it is the Lib Dems who are trying to con voters and thier figures that don't add up!

  • Comment number 10.

    Interesting comments from Lord Adonis, telling Lib Dem voters they should vote tactically for Labour to keep the Tories out. Somehow that reminds me of the 1980s as well. Wasn't tactical voting in fact the main (only?) policy of the Liberals back then?

    Only trouble is most people who vote Lib Dem probably do so because they want to keep both the Tories and Labour out, so that's a bit of a flaw in Lord Adonis's plan.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hmmm, isn't the BBC supposed to give equal time to the parties - so far this week we have had a blog following the red team and the yellow team on their travels, but what about the blue team? Or the greens? Or the purple? etc.

  • Comment number 12.

    'Dull' would be another word.

    it's what happens in state controlled economies; for that is what we have become.

    Taxi for Brown!

  • Comment number 13.

    '... The Tories say... Labour say... and the Lib-Dems say...
    I don't doubt that all the parties could deliver what they promise.'

    Guess what? MPs lie to gain power! Then they lie when they get in to power! Then they lie about the reasons when they are kicked out of power! Their promises are worth precisely nothing!

  • Comment number 14.

    The oddest thing so far is that the BBC has a chief political editor, but his Newslog doesn't appear on the main BBC Politics page.
    Why is that?

    There's plenty of wind about the prospect of jobs being "lost" in the public sector.
    Whichever party gains power, the total number of public jobs will fall.

    The question really is "Why have there been so many new jobs created?".

    Does anybody feel they have any experience of benefit from us having another 60-80,000 new public posts over the last 12 months?

    Labour says it will have to reduce spend in most government departments but won't be honest about where, when and how.

    Reduced central government spending (promised by Labour) will obviously impact on the private sector. Hopefully, private sector companies will re-think their target markets and accept that for the predictable future, central government will have to operate with much less extravagance than Brown and Co have shown for a decade.

    Brown authorised spending of OUR money (and credit) on a massive scale - like a drunk in a bar using somebody else's credit card.

    Brown simply can't admit that his regulatory system failed to over-see finance houses and contain his (HIS) credit bubble.

    Let's have proper public enquiries into how the banks were allowed to operate in such a profligate manner.

  • Comment number 15.

    Here in my butcher’s shop in Smolensk, where today assistant Yuri is make some more of his excellent potato and beetroot moonshines – plenty aspirins is need after! – we are laugh until wee in pant at strange attempts British politicians get glamour through advertisings. In managed democracy of glorious Vlad Putin we no need for photoshop and Sarkie and Sarkie. All need is get shots of Vlad do judo, or hunt animal, all bare chest and ripples muscle, and footage him play simultaneous chess game with 300 grandmasters - beat all - while address Russian Chambers Commerce, and election in bag.

    And why are English politicos all sit on stupid little car? Lesson of Cold War years, learn well by Mrs T from Kremlin bosses, though not by successors, is that best image is drive tank.

  • Comment number 16.

    At the moment politicians of all colours seem to be saying, "We can fix it" but none of them are actually saying how.

    Now, my father was a senior civil servant, and I well recall the preparation of two briefing packs - one in a red folder and one in a blue one - to give to whoever got appointed to the ministry he was the head civil servant in. Each was shaded according to the manifesto commitments made by the relevant party, based on what the party had said that they would do in that area of government.

    Handy for the politicians, perhaps, but not much use to us, the electorate. We need the politicians - with the help of whatever advisors and experts they can hire - to lay out the detail of what they propose, and how they hope to fund it.

    I've done budget planning (for schools, I'm a governor) and it's hard detail work, best done with a spreadsheet package. But without that draft budget in front of you, there is no way you can decide how that school will cope in the coming year, let alone the 3-year plan. So where are these documents from the parties seeking our votes?

    I would be an irresponsible employer to attempt to choose who I want to hire to administer the country on my behalf without them.

    So, open call to any party: produce your draft budget so we can decide if your proposals are worth our votes.

  • Comment number 17.

    Only cutting government expenditure is going to sort out the finances, the British have been taxed to the hilt.

    We need to work on the basis of Simplify to Save. The over complication of benefits, tax reliefs and general legislation requires an army of civil servants to control and monitor it.

    We need simple welfare benefits, simple tax and simple legislation. Without that we cannot cut the cost of Government.

    My suggestion is to pay everyone in the UK a simple basic income of say £5,000 then pay tax on all income above that figure. No welfare, no tax reliefs no pension reliefs but then no tax on pensions either as they would be saved income.

    Keep government simple.

  • Comment number 18.

    Failing political party seeks replacement candidates for the upcoming general election.
    Applicants must be able to exercise self-control and moderate their language.
    No experience necessary.

  • Comment number 19.

    This election is not a matter of who you trust or believe, it’s a matter of who you distrust most. Such a small proportion of the population is interested in what a probably the key issue for the nation - the national debt.
    Voters fall into 3 simple categories:
    • Those who for whatever reason – family back ground etc, will ‘come hell or high water’ vote for the same party.
    • Those ‘floating voters’ with no particular party allegiance – these people are more self-centred and will vote, for the party whose policies will leave them better (or at lease less worse) off. But you then have to add in the ‘trust’ factor to deliver on the promises. Here is where a good slogan earns its keep.
    • The apathetic or disillusioned voter who either decided not to bother or vote for one of the ‘minority’ or even ‘silly’ parties.
    The first of these categories is quite static and predictable, the movement between the other two categories, in particular this third element is going to be crucial to the outcome. Looking at all of the opinion polls, it’s clear that they identify between the 3 main parties and ‘others’. On the basis of past turnout at elections, it’s clear that ‘others’ does not include those that have decided not to vote. Why is it that none of the pollsters seem to count this significant element of the electorate?

  • Comment number 20.

    Totally agree, Nick, it's all for the birds. We should start the campaign again; this time ban mention of ANY of the following:

    - tax cuts.
    - efficiency savings.
    - waste.

    If politicians (of all parties) won't be honest, let's at least force them not to glorify in being dishonest. We will be the better for it.

    (also not keen on them using the term the "Great Ignored" when the plan is clearly to keep on doing so - cheap - tacky ... enough).

  • Comment number 21.

    Bonzodog has hit it on the nose, you guys in the media need to expose the blatant lies that these politicans are spewing in order to get themselves re-elected. The £12 billion 'efficiency savings' highlighted by Cameron will not take money out of the economy IF they're going to re-invested elsewhere. Also, why have you, or your media chums, not asked Mr. Brown why these already identified waste savings that Mr. Cameron is going to make even exist? In essence that means for 13 years this government has been wasting £12 billion a year?? If the government hadn't been frittering away our money for the last 13 years then Mr. Cameron and Mr. Osborne wouldn't have been given the opportunity to take the political advantage in this debate.

  • Comment number 22.

    "The whole debate is shocking to the vast majority of public sector workers who don't earn much and at best average salaries..who got a minimal pay rise last year.. are getting none this year and promised none the next year etc."

    I'm sure it is indeed shocking to them. After all they have been protected from the recession so far by Brown while the private sector gets anihilated. Time to take the pain I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 23.

    NR: "It will be interesting to see who's willing to tell the truth over the next few weeks that our deficit could mean cuts..."

    Well how about no-one? It seems to be on you to shine a bright light on the things they don't want you to see. And also to call time on Brown's strategy of repeating lies often enough until they are no longer questioned by the press and they are ingrained on the public's subconsious.

  • Comment number 24.

    We need a dose of the Irish treatment if we are to quickly re-establish the economy. The Labour/Lib-Dem approach of trying to avoid a recession at all costs does nothing to address the long term problems of an unaffordable public sector.

    I would cut public sector wages above the national average by 5% and impose a public sector pension levy to allow for the fact that the scheme benefits are safeguarded by the taxpayer.

    I'd also increase the higher rate tax to 45% above £100,000 but leave personal allowances alone.

    These measures (in addition to 'efficiencies') should allow for an increase in the personal allowance to something close to that proposed by the LibDems but on a realistic basis rather than through fanciful loophole savings.

    Net Result: The lowest incomes benefit and a serious start is made on cutting back the ever expanding cost of the public sector.

  • Comment number 25.

    The main parties will continue to give the electorate 'fluff' until someone actually starts to question them.

    All the time they can 'bat-away' any probing question they will continue.

    One of the most remembered interviews in my memory was Paxman on Howard where he asked him the same question (about over-rulling a judge?) repeatedly until he gave an answer, why don't you try that?

    Next time you interview a Labour candidate and they mention unfunded Tory plans, just ask isn't the deffinition of unfunded plans running a defficit for 13 years?

    When the Tories keep talking about the £6billion NI non-increase, just ask where the other £154billion that needs to be cut from the deficit will come from.

    When you interview the Lib Dems just ask them why?

    Polititians have built moats and castles between themselves and the public so we can never ask questions, it's up to the reporters and journalists from the media to do it for us, and they are all failing miserably.

  • Comment number 26.

    Can we simply ask Labour to stop critisising the Tory plans and tell us what they plan to do. Where are their cuts going to come. How on earth can they expect to gain votes without this detail. I guess the tribal labour vote is so imbecilic that they don't need this information, but it is up to the MEDIA to stop Brown/Darling waffling and press them on excactly their plans. After all, they have access to all the numbers.

    It's pathetic work by the media in this regard.

  • Comment number 27.

    My suggestion is to pay everyone in the UK a simple basic income of say £5,000 then pay tax on all income above that figure. No welfare, no tax reliefs no pension reliefs but then no tax on pensions either as they would be saved income.

    The Labour voters (benefit layabouts) will be gnashing their teeth at this one. What - only 5k a year? How am I supposed to live on that? How will I afford my Sky? My plasma telly and my holidays? Can I pop another kid out and get it increased?

  • Comment number 28.

    QUOTE - public sector workers who don't earn much and at best average salaries..who got a minimal pay rise last year.. are getting none this year and promised none the next year etc... UNQOTE

    You mean you actually had a pay rise!!! Most of us in the private sector had our pay frozen, a hiring freeze, and expense cuts the moment a recession was here to stay, while fearing the sack!!!

    What is a disgrace is civil servants generous pensions, year long maternity leave on full salary [I've heard], the vast quangos, the list goes on. It's time the civil service, public sector and unions were forced to work according to the tougher parameters we all have to deal with in the private sector...

  • Comment number 29.

    Brilliant post no 15 Konnolsky. Maggie / Krushev oh and that actor guy Reagan make the present offering look like pussycats. Oh forthe cold war!

  • Comment number 30.

    Is a Vote for the Lib-Dems

    A Vote for Labour.

  • Comment number 31.

    Watching the Lib Dems this last week has been highly amusing. Cleggo and "Unstable Cable" (in between jumping on nearby bandwagons) have been promising better schools, better hospitals, more jobs, more police, no top-up fees, more affordable housing and yet the only bits of actual policy I've seen is a mansion tax and closing loop holes...oh and the first 10K tax free. I'm suprised they aren't offering a free easter egg for everyone, iPods for christmas guarantee and a life elixir...that might even buy them a few more gullabe votes!

  • Comment number 32.

    Number 17 (Skynine): its a nice idea but ignores the fact that some needs are greater than others - how do you deal with people with kids, with the disabled, with the elderly all of whom have greater needs but to a massively varying extents. How do you deal with regional variations? What we have now is a tangled mess and more simplicity would be good, but complexity is inevitable because we have a complex society.

  • Comment number 33.

    What is not being discussed is why we are in this economic downturn and who caused it. The bankers and the governments caused the financial oversight, no regulation and a complete lack of honesty and character in banking....and the same things and people are in place today. They will all say they can create jobs but not why the jobs disappeared because they own the balme...they will not discuss specific banking reform because they do not plan to change anything the bankers do not want changed. They are corrupted by the money and have sold the public out to banking interest. Pick either side and nothing concerning banking will change and your money will be stolen again. If you want a better economy banking and financial services must be changed and regulated. If you think thieves should be controlling the governments just keep electing the same people. No consequences and no change in behavior...we all know this. An unpunished thief will steal again.

  • Comment number 34.

    David Cameron's big problem is having the common sense not to fall into the trap, which Labour expects, of supporting the rich.

    If he chooses to repeal the 50% tax,restore foxhunting etc which affect the lifestyle of the rich he will not only leave himself wide open to criticism but also prove to ordinary voters that the Conservatives have not changed,they look after their own, which will have a devastating effect in future elections.

    It will also make him less of a credible policitian if it is seen that he puts favoured interests over resolving the nation's recovery and dealing with the deficit and doing so at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.

    If the Conservatives do adopt a Thatcheresque style of management I can see not only a season of discontent but massive opposition and strikes from the unions at a time when the economy is at its most vulnerable.He will also prove that Gordon Brown is right.

    Any cuts in public expenditure or rises in government income will need to be gradual as we need to keep more people working to generate growth, so that will also mean getting the unemployed back to work quickly.

    Ideally, it would be great to see MPs leading the way with cuts in their salaries too which are way ahead of the average person's wage.

    Cameron needs to have a well thought out long term plan which has the support of the public and the unions because if as George Osborne says " we are all in this together" the rich need to pay their way as the poor do not have enough to spare.

  • Comment number 35.

    " 20. At 2:18pm on 09 Apr 2010, sagamix wrote:
    Totally agree, Nick, it's all for the birds. We should start the campaign again; this time ban mention of ANY of the following:

    - tax cuts.
    - efficiency savings.
    - waste."

    SAGA - the fundamental reason for the utter failure of this government is waste, so banning it can't be done I'm afraid. I suggested the government attack Blair on this in 2005, but they went off down some other route. Now it must be done (albeit 5 years too late).

    The key points above all others:

    Reduce waste
    Restore trust

  • Comment number 36.


    what to fail to mention in all of this is that the stage has been set by Labour creating a situation where no one can be accurate about what they will do in power.

    They should have held a Comprehensive Spending Review but for narrow party reasons this was not done.

    This leaves them room to draw up dossiers attacking their opponents and peddling half truths while obfuscating about their own plans.

    The electorate are being treated like mushrooms by the parties ( kept in the dark and fed on manure) but the reason is all down to Labour.

  • Comment number 37.

    "30. At 2:49pm on 09 Apr 2010, lostvoice wrote:
    Is a Vote for the Lib-Dems

    A Vote for Labour."

    Answer 'no', but it is a vote for 5 more years of Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nick says:"It will be interesting to see who's willing to tell the truth over the next few weeks........"

    In the unlikely event of that happening would anyone actually believe them anyway?
    Politicians are now held in such contempt that even telling the truth would be regarded as suspicious and be subjected to forensic analysis to indentify what they really mean.

  • Comment number 39.


    I would say that the basis of the argument is puerile.

    If the Government spend is £750 Billion per year.

    Then if any of these parties who want to be elected are truly saying that they can't find £6 Billion in saving then are not fit for the job they are applying for.

    Especially when they are going to have to spell out how they are going to cut £175 Billion per year over the long term.

    We have to get to a situation where the deficit £175 Billion is cut to 0 and we actually go into the black because we can't go on borrowing more than we earn for many more years the sums have to add up.

    Gold fiscal rules and all that.

    Now who was it that had GOLDEN RULES????

    That can now can be seen to have been MIDAS RULES.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm in broad agreement with skynine (#17), the whole of taxation & welfare needs to be rationalised and simplified.

    A good starting point is the National Minimum Wage. That should both be the level of handout to anyone over 18 not working (irrespective of reason - no job, disabled, ill, caring responsibilities or retired) and the point below which no taxation is levied. Thereafter, anything more earned is taxed but nothing else is handed out. No extra money for more children, no tax credits, no waiver of council tax, no rent support. You want more, go earn it (and get taxed on it).

    Then decide what other core services are required. Health, education, justice system, defence. Once you have decided what will be kept, you know what tax income is needed to maintain it at current levels (Expansion is just not affordable yet!) and hence can set income tax rates, probably best to leave VAT and other indirect taxation as it is, unless you are not going to cope. Any surplus can go to paying off national debts. It's much like an individual in debt, once you have calculated what things you just HAVE to pay for to survive, all the rest, the surplus that you have goes towards reducing your debt.

    Fripperies, inititiatives, wars, Olympics, ID cards & other databases... those are expensive luxuries we cannot afford right now. Maybe later, if anyone really wants them.

  • Comment number 41.

    For once in my life I am going to stick up for politicians in opposition parties here. Its not that they do not want to tell the truth to the public its the fact they cannot tell the truth. To a great extent the media is as much to blame as anyone else for this. Labour have never admitted, nor have been forced to admit, how bad the economy is in Britain therefore how can the other parties. No one would vote them in. Look at when G. Osborne talked about an age of austerity at the Conservative Conference. Labour and the media accused him of talking Britain down in a recession. Labour have deliberately cushioned the public from knowing the truth about Britains dire debt problems by propping the economy up with more debt. This was not to save jobs it was to save their own skins because the longer the debt is allowed to mount up, the more jobs and services will have to be cut in the public sector. Do Labour care, not a bit of it, their precious party staying in power is more important than Britain. If it was not for the fact that I know that they will destroy Britain further, I would wish the Labour Party would be voted back in. They could then take the rage of the public to come, when they discover the real truth.

    Look at when Cameron talks of broken Britain, hes not allowed to say that is he. Britain is broken both socially and economically. The UK has a bad education system which leaves children without the life skills for proper employment leaving them to become benefit fodder for the rest of their lives in a lot of cases. An underclass has now developed and needs to be solved. Violent crime has increased, there are gangs, drink and drugs, a poor justice system that serves no one except the guilty, poor parenting, lack of morals, fraud in our benefits system, too high a population which will most likely never see full employment again, a once wonderful pension system in meltdown which will see much poverty in old age and many more issues. Now what is not broken about all of that.

    The media should behave better, they can see the debt problems the same as anyone else. They should point out to the public what this will mean for the future. Look at the fuss being made by the media over a small cut for NI by the Conservatives to try to keep jobs in the private sector. You know, a small cut in taxation for the sector that actually makes some money. The Private sector has taken enough of a hit with high taxation, complicated legislation and pension raids to fund the public sector. Now its time for the public sector to take some pain, so Britain can actually make some money to help pay for this debt. I also wish people would stop confusing businessmen with bankers. Businessmen have lost Britain no money, all they have done is put up with all the punitive measures from this Government for 13 years.

    The politicians are afraid of the public and with good reason. Living in denial is what the British have always been very good at, that and apathy. A lot of the public were not at all bothered when this Government was doing awful things in their name, they were much too busy living on happy credit, nothing else mattered. It was only when they thought their purse was being robbed by politicians that they become interested. Well now the consequences are there for 13 years of not holding this Government to account and it is time to acknowledge it will not be pain free.

  • Comment number 42.


    Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. It'll never happen, though. It's too radical. Politicians don't like radical ideas.

  • Comment number 43.

    23. At 2:22pm on 09 Apr 2010, magic_2010 wrote:
    NR: "It will be interesting to see who's willing to tell the truth over the next few weeks that our deficit could mean cuts..."

    Well how about no-one? It seems to be on you to shine a bright light on the things they don't want you to see. And also to call time on Brown's strategy of repeating lies often enough until they are no longer questioned by the press and they are ingrained on the public's subconsious.

    Yup, as Heinrich Goebbels said "If you believe a lie long enough it becomes the truth."

  • Comment number 44.

    Sorry, just realised #27 was quoting #17.

    So, good idea #17.

  • Comment number 45.

    The campaign is now hotting up a bit. Following on from the foul tweets from Stuart McClellan, have you seen who was following his tweets? Some very' very senior people in the Labour Party have questions to answer regarding why they have not acted on this idiot sooner. And there is still another scandal brewing in Scotland. Who will start the investigations into Labour's behavior on Glasgow City Council?? It's all going to get messy.

  • Comment number 46.

    nemo @28

    Just to add to your post about Civil Service pensions.
    My late brother was a career, civil servant who worked his way up from the lower ranks to a more senior position under the 'Buggins Turn' principle.
    He retired aged 60 and continued to draw virtually the same pay until his death at 67. In fact, after allowing for the fact he no longer had travel costs to pay, he was probably better off in retirement than he was working. Meanwhile his wife continues to draw 50% of that pension 'in perpetuum'

  • Comment number 47.

    "SmilingEdBalls wrote:
    My suggestion is to pay everyone in the UK a simple basic income of say £5,000 then pay tax on all income above that figure. No welfare, no tax reliefs no pension reliefs but then no tax on pensions either as they would be saved income."

    I have long thought that would be a fair system, everybody gets an allowance and anything they earned is taxed.

  • Comment number 48.

    Cuts in service provision,higher taxes,incomplete sketches of how it can all happen,the same PR men working on all three main parties campaigns..Does anyone else think that it's a stitch-up? What exactly do they take us for?,idiots obviously...The contempt in which the politicians of the Lib/Lab?Con-trick clique hold the electorate is nothing short of astounding..Mark my words,we are in for really tough times ahead..Not because WE did anything wrong,particularly,but because THEY are so corrupt and uncaring,incompetent and ideologically blinkered,that they could not be trusted to administrate their own expenses without making a complete mess of it..They are all partisan,all mercenary,all unqualified to practice economics,(except Vince,and his party are as bad as Labour or Conservative)Vote for a local Independent,not for any of the "Big Three",they are all essentially the same...Same policies,different faces...Oppressive and dictatorial...Heedless of the electorates desperate calls for Honesty,Integrity,Service,Loyalty and Intelligence..Fat chance of any of that!...

  • Comment number 49.

    > We need change. Even if the Tories are useless, could they be any
    > worse, any more corrupt, any more useless?

    Well all the evidence is there. They didn't see the financial crisis coming. All the policies that fuelled it, from deregulation and liberalisation through promoting home ownership, represent conservative thinking with Labour's shame having been to follow US Republican policy on the economy. During the crisis itself the Tories' calls were worse than New Labour's (Northern Rock, etc.), and since the crisis the Tories really seem all at sea about what they would actually do next.

    Labour doesn't deserve our support given the policies it's been following on the economy, but since most of these were copied from conservatives in the first place, it is hard to see why voting Tory makes much sense now?

  • Comment number 50.

    susan @ 41

    "For once in my life I am going to stick up for politicians in opposition parties here."

    ** croftspeak to normalspeak translation service **

    "As always I will do my utmost to promote the interests of the Conservative Party."

    No charge.

  • Comment number 51.

    Here here - in a 'nutshell'

    Susan-Croft @41 for PM!

  • Comment number 52.

    Odd that you mention "truth" this seems to be last thing on the political agenda. They are all running scared of the truth, because they all know it is a vote loser. This is why we cannot expect to see the harsh realities of life spelt out for us - the future's grim, at least for a few years.

    It therefore comes as no surprise that the current tactic for winning votes is to try to make the other parties look a bit silly by muck-raking, one-upmanship, humour, mixing with the rif-raf, subliminal colour psychology - in fact, any method they can find that means they do not have to tell us how bad things are going to get for us.

    I have met one or two 'honest' socialists in my time, none of whom were politicians as it is a bit of an oxymoron here in the west. This makes me lean to the other lot, at least they appear to be a little less dishonest than the current bunch.

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh - nearly forgot. NI Labour hike will make the cost of employing Public Sector staff increase. The taxpayer / private sector NI hike will have to pay for it. Why does anyone think that increasing the cost of government a good idea right now?

  • Comment number 54.

    If Lib Dems can close £16bn worth of tax loop holes then presumably the other parties can as well (after all every party is in favour of closing loop holes).

    In which case it would be extremely easy to avoid the NI tax increase. So why on earth are they saying the job destruction tax can't be avoided ???

    Once again the Lib Dems all over the place.

  • Comment number 55.

    Having read through a great deal of the posts I am still wondering about the phrase "which party will tell the truth?". My thoughts are going back to a time when the House of Commons' had a role which was to challenge the executive. Or basically keep them honest. Which is difficult when a senior minister is asked a direct question and is then allowed to waffle about whatever he likes. So I think the Speaker is to blame, my view was that the responsibility of the position was to ensure that debate was fair and that questions asked in the HoC were answered there. So the erstwhile speaker has a lot to answer for and not just about letting police arrest a member and search his office. For a Speaker to be fair he must be above Politic in a similar way to the Sovereign.

    So if the Speaker is at fault by not forcing the Government to answer legitimate questions then who else should be pressing for the answers? Is this not the role of the Press/Media shouldn't they be pushing for the truth rather than accepting the waffle from all sides. The tractor production output from the Prime Minister is appalling. The fact that he has not been pilloried for lying to the Iraq inquiry is shameful?

    I am not making a party political point here, I have mentioned the PM as he appears to be the worst at it. Those in the press corps who are following this election would do well to recall that their wages are not paid in the Westminster village, unless they are being deceiptful, but by the public. We pay, Sky, our license fee, and buy newspapers surely the loyalty should be to those who subscribe to whichever of these organs they work for.

    Until we have some journalists worth the name it is unlikely we will get to the bottom of our current state. Woodward and Bernstein went after a story and look what they acheived. Unfortunately, I can not see anyone in the UK press corps who want to get to the bottom of the story.

    I think the best we can hope for is more waffle from all sides, and that Bercow looses in Buckingham and we can get a Speaker who truly wants to re-establish the integrity of the House of Commons, which appears to have been treated with contempt by its current incumbents.

  • Comment number 56.

    As the first week of campaigning nears its end it`s worth stepping back and asking where are we now?

    Both the main parties will cut jobs and services,the pain will be real whoever does it,although the conservatives promise an accelerated programme,halting recruitment,freezing IT spending and removing 12 billion from the economy this year.

    Behind the cut and thrust,claim and counter claim lies a deeper malaise.Two years ago with a poll lead of over 20%,David Cameron,the personable and liberal young pretender seemed a shoe in for the forthcoming election against an unpopular PM,an economy in crisis and a promise unfullilled.Now the polls have narrowed,Cameron from being heir to Blair is now heir to Thatcher,the bruised and battered Brown is clinging on.

    So what`s going on? The economic determinists point to a recovering economy but it hasn`t recovered much and there`s a debt mountain to climb which people are well aware of.Although Conservative popularity has weakened,the Labour and Liberal parties have only improved marginally and their support remains conditional.

    The fringe parties,UKIP,BNP,English Democrats remain marginalized and lack a charismatic leader to fire up their support.So the missing millions of non-voters and the disillusioned will not be going to them in any numbers.

    What has happened is a toxic combination of an unliquidated economic crisis whose consequences are yet to be faced and a collapse of belief that parliamentary democracy can solve our problems.A crisis of citizenship fuelled by political corruption,blown by the winds of economic crisis,exarcerbated by what we have become in the past thirty years,one of the most unequal societies in Europe, whose elites have failed us.In short,politics are impotent,the perfect storm.

    At present there is no extra parliamentary force to pick up the gauntlet and challenge a system thought to be unfit for purpose.If the economic crisis deepens,either through sovereign debt or social conflict,the struggle will move to the factories and the streets.
    If parliamentary democracy proves inadequate to the challenge,expect dissident members of the political elite to break ranks.Whether they will comes from the left or right, only time will tell.

  • Comment number 57.

    DB 43

    Did you mean Heinrich?

  • Comment number 58.

    The post @45 about the Glasgow Council and the Labour donnor is a point in case. Why is this allegation of malpractice not being investigated by the authorities or the press, are they frightened?

    Smiling EdBalls does make sense with his point about give everyone a straight allowance, not sure of the amount but it does make some sense to me.

  • Comment number 59.

    #49 Ian
    Our political elite (Ha!) do seem to be travelling in ever decressing circles don't they?

  • Comment number 60.

    Isn't it time for politicians to provide strong leadership for a change?

    Too much policy is driven by focus groups and the anticipated media response.

    I would have much more respect for politicians who came out honestly and said that we were in a mess and unfortunately there would have to be some cuts and tax rises in the short term until the economy recovers.

    If they want to spell out their ethos and long term aims as the backdrop to this fine but please don't take us for fools.

  • Comment number 61.


    You say-

    "Yet all parties agree that we are in a new world in which thanks to a vast budget deficit whoever forms the next government"

    Perhaps we wouldn't have got in such a mess in the first place if the media (e.g. the BBC and yourself) hadn't given Gordon Brown such an easy and unquestioning ride over the years that he was overspending so recklessly and building up an £800bn debt.

    I like how the BBC treats this "vast budget deficit" almost like a natural disaster - it just suddenly appeared - and never quite gets round to saying that the debt was caused by the Labour government's years of overspending.

  • Comment number 62.

    "we may not be in for a burst of [Gene Hunt's] refreshing candour."

    Probably because of the PC environment which the BBC has had a hand in creating.

  • Comment number 63.

    Ian, I am sorry to disagree, but how do we know that the Northern Rock decision was the correct one? Once the decision was made all other options are off, so we will never know.

    What we can say is that the light hand regulation of the Financial Industry appears to have been catastrophic. As was blindly following the US who repealled the Glass Segall act allowing the Casino operations to take root.

    So if you accept my last two propositions then why believe what the perpetrators of such follies are telling you now?

  • Comment number 64.

    The Labour Party's strategy appears to be to build up a large, Labour-voting public sector by running up a huge debt and then when an election comes round to sit back and challenge the Tories to make cuts.

    The BBC is complicit in this.

    Nick, you say,

    "It will be interesting to see who's willing to tell the truth over the next few weeks that our deficit could mean cuts in public sector jobs, cuts in pay,"

    But if the Tories announced such, would the BBC headlines be "Honest Tories announce sensible cuts to deal with the country's crippling debt", or would you scream "Tories Slash Public Sector - Tens of thousands of civil servants to be sacked"?

    I think we know the answer.

  • Comment number 65.

    'It will be interesting to see who's willing to tell the truth over the next few weeks'

    Here's some truth (truth it would be nice to see you point out yourself at some point)

    A large part of the reason we're in this mess is because of the wreckless spending spree that Gordon Brown embarked on post 2001. Gordon Brown has his finger prints plastered all over the deficit crisis and no one should ever forget get it.

  • Comment number 66.

    And what is the betting that if a prospective tory candidate had called the elderly 'ugly old boot' or 'coffin dodgers' we would have had an article about it on here within minutes?

    Four hours later and the BBC are barely even covering it. This is the kind of attitude newlabour really have towards the elderly; not only do they want to make you pay a £20,000 death tax but they want you to clear off your mortal coil as soon as possible so that newlabour can trouser your cash.

    What an utter shower.

    Where's the equality agenda when you need it? Why isn;t Harriet Harman immediately on the newswires telling us how young and old alike are valued by newlabour and society; equality of opportunity and outcomes for all.

    They never meant a word of it in the first place; it really meant we in newlabour intend to trouser all your cash and keep it.

    Taxi for Brown!

  • Comment number 67.

    Labour given 170 million in aid to China. Labour wasted billions on stupid stockpiling swine flu vaccine.

    They cannot really enter any debate about saving can they?

  • Comment number 68.

    48. At 3:42pm on 09 Apr 2010, aristotles23 wrote:

    .......THEY are so corrupt and uncaring,incompetent and ideologically blinkered,that they could not be trusted to administrate their own expenses without making a complete mess of it.......


    Tend to agree with your post but, where their expenses are concerned they did not 'mess it up.' They knew exactly what they were doing. They knew to the nth degree what they could get away with and milked the system for all its worth.
    Does anyone really think they still wouldn't be doing it if the scandal hadn't come to light? No, thought not.
    If only they had been so diligent in boosting the Country's finances as they were their own, the UK might not be in the dire straits is currently is.

  • Comment number 69.

    I must admit I have to laugh when I continually hear members of the public complaining about politicians not telling the truth.Who can really blame them,most of the public may want to hear the truth,but they certainly won't vote for it.
    Ask who has been the most successful politician of this generation,without doubt Tony Blair with 3 easy elections wins,yet how many members of the public now think of him as honest.
    A year ago the Tories were well ahead in the polls,then they started taking about austerity and what happened,their poll lead vanished.
    Unfortunately we get the politicians we largely deseerve,honesty simply doesn't pay.Blair and Brown have been shown to lie over many things,Iraq,the Chilcot inquiry,immigration statistics,the 'bottled' election etc etc yet still millions of people will happily still vote for them.

  • Comment number 70.

    64. Serge. You are dead right. The BBC is well known throughout the country as being left leaning. The public are heartily sick of it and them that is why they prefer independent news programmes and reporters. We aren't as stupid as the BBC think we are.

    It stands out like a sore thumb that most of its presenters have been recruited for their alliances and allegiances to the Labour party and it is always a function of Labour governments to get everybody into the state sector so they can control them and get their votes.

    Hopefully this will come to an end May 6th.

  • Comment number 71.

    #49 Ian

    Re: Northern Rock

    Remember that all three parties initially resisted nationalisation of Northern Rock, and that Labour spent many months trying to find a private sector solution (Virgin Money, etc.) before that approach failed.

    I've seen this subject covered on labourlist and other pro-labour websites. The impression given is that Labour favoured nationalisation from the start. They did not.

    I'm tempted to say that Brown and Darling dithered.

  • Comment number 72.

    Of course you are right NR to castigate the early exchanges from the parties. All it seems about is a disguising of policies, as attacking one,or more, out-group(s) against the other(s) in-groups.
    Taxes versus efficiencies.
    Big governement versus the individual.
    Business leaders(and business workers) versus civil servants(and public/ordinary workers).

    How many original ideas does one expect to hear from the major parties in the forthcoming election. I'd say a depressing 3, one each.

    Back To The Future ??
    If Labour do lose to the Conservatives, or any other party, I think there will soon be a rendition of c.1994,C:REAMED's''Things Can Only Get Bitter'...

    things can only get bitter.
    can only get bitter,
    now I blame you,
    (that means you!)
    (will you leave me now*)
    and you! and you!

    you... showed me prejudice and greed,
    you showed me how,
    I must deal with this diseases,
    I look at things now,
    in a different light,
    I found the cause,
    and I think you could be the cure , you leave.

    (repeat Chorus)

    Split/Counter song, by the other half...c.1976,Chicago's ''If You Leave Me Now''

    Already I think the feature of this election will not be a battle of the big ideas, but it will be the little things that count.

    E.G. the failed, outwith the short term, of the PosterGate clash using the topic's ''inspired image''.

    You'd think the Conservatives would have the gumption to have used a blue Audi Quattro !!!!

  • Comment number 73.

    Hi Nick,
    When are you going to take a trip over to Northern Ireland? We seem to have been overlooked, (yes - as usual), but I can assure you that there is plenty going on in the election arena.
    If your expenses are running a bit low then we can always put you up!
    Karen and Maurice Browne.(Bangor, NI).

  • Comment number 74.

    Ian 49

    'Well all the evidence is there'

    All your 'evidence' is made up drivel.

    GB created the deficit crisis through his wreckelss spending spree. GB inherited a strong economy from the Tories and has left it in tatters. GB got every major decision wrong including his latest decision to introduce a job destruction tax just when the economy is emerging from recession.

    That's why the whole of British industry is fearfull of 5 more years of New Labour and are desperate to have a Tory government that will get clear up the mess GB created and get the economy back on its feet.

  • Comment number 75.

    #54 jobsagoodin wrote:
    "If Lib Dems can close £16bn worth of tax loop holes then presumably the other parties can as well. Once again the Lib Dems all over the place."

    Yes. The cost may be 22 billion, not 16.

    From what I can see the LibDems propose a variety of new tax measures to pay for it (closing tax loopholes, increases in CGT, a mansion tax, green taxes) without ever spelling out the proportions of each.

    Increasing CGT to 40% would cause a collapse in private sector investment. There would have to all sorts of reliefs, but we don't know how this would work because the LibDems never tell us (and probably don't understand themselves).

    Then some of their loopholes turn out to be higher rate tax relief on private pension contributions. That the LibDems think this is a loophole tells us something about their state of mind, but in any case Labour have already raised taxes in this area.

    Let's be generous and say that the above two measures, and a mansion tax, raise 3 billion. Then the remaining 13-19 billion will be raised by green taxes, doubling fuel prices perhaps. We can call this the LibDem tax bomshell.

  • Comment number 76.

    Saga - Re Blog 99. Please be assured that I would never refer any blog to the moderator. By typing in C14 I was trying to play along if you see what I mean. I read your 99 but before I could comment and then it had disappeared. If I remember correctly you predicted C36.

    I believe in the freedom of free speech and always read your comments in the context they are written and usually with a smile.

    To the blogger that did request the blog to disappear please get a life. The 'game' outlined in blog 99 could have kept us all interested right up to election night. Was it the word gambling or referring Torries to Clowns that offended you?

    Saga - I hope that this clarifys the situation and look forward to tommorows predicition.

  • Comment number 77.

    The Lib-Dems have never been an option for me. Their adoration of the EU and their fixation with all things green is more than enough to put me off.
    However, now that they have floated the idea of a 'pension tax', admittedly with no detail as yet, I can envisage the 'grey vote' heading for the hills en masse.
    Tactical voting - NO THANKS!

  • Comment number 78.

    6. Gonzo.
    "Let's just put up VAT to the European average of 20% and have done with it".
    great idea. now the poorest will be stung even harder. why not add to this and remove the personal allowance and restucture the tax band so..the more you earn... the less you pay.
    credibility 0. morality -9

  • Comment number 79.

    Mark_WE @ 152 on previous blog.

    Many a true word spoken etc.

    Darling has now written to Osborne to seek 'clarification' of how the Tories will achieve their savings of £12billion.
    Could it be another policy about to be hijacked?
    I just hope Osborne replies on the lines of 'wouldn't you like to know!!'

  • Comment number 80.

    sagamix 50

    ** sagaspeak to normalspeak translation service **

    "Once again another excellent post from Susan Croft to which I have no adequate answer."

    No charge

  • Comment number 81.

    So we now have a letter to the Shaddow Chancellor, from Darling. Demanding to know how to save £30billion.

    Why doesnt he first release all the hidden data on the PFI etc and then he could tell us how we are going to get out of the mess. Not a good state of affairs.

  • Comment number 82.

    Just having a play around with the Election Calculator thingy on this site is quite enlightening. Even if you give the Tories 40 percent of the popular vote and assume that the Lib Dems aren't wiped out there will be a hung parliament. This shows what a huge task it is for Cameron to try and shift enough votes his way to get an overall majority. When you mess around with the stats its obvious that what is going to cause the hung parliament is not so much the Labour and Lib Dem vote holding up, but the pernicious effect of the 'Others'. The opinion polls are all over the place with the 'Others' going from 8 percent to fifteen percent just in polls released in the last 2 days. The presence of UKIP and the BNP is a major hindrance to Tory hopes in England because of the dilution of the anti-labour vote, particularly in marginal constituencies. Of course if the SNP vote holds up in Scotland they are unlikely to make any ground up there either, and in a tight contest the Tories are going to need gains in every part of Britain.
    Get your money on a hung parliament or GB to still be PM after the election (when Nick Clegg IS the kingmaker),not even the Sun can get Cameron elected this time around..

  • Comment number 83.

    I wonder how many people have asked themselves why there seem to be so many jobs in the public sector which can be labelled administrative. Obviously the number of frontline workers can and should be the stuff of political debate - and we are getting nothing from any party about that. But what about the back room boys and girls?

    Some are actually managing the frontline, but lots are monitoring and checking, and monitoring and checking the monitors and checkers. Their lives are guided by targets and value for money. Why do they exist? There are two reasons. The first is that that is what good management is about. The second is so that the ruling party (in government or Council) can show that they are fully in control of everything, even the most obscure activity. Why do they need to do this? Every pressure group has access to the media and a failure to have the answer is deemed poor management. The problem is that the more we complain the more people are needed to do the monitoring. One frontline worker not doing their job properly means that all the workers in that sector need to be checked before the ruling party can say that it was a one off incident.

    This is part of our culture and why there are targets, constant monitoring bureaucracy and we all know it is out of control. Worst of all its cost far outweighs, in many cases, the benefits it provides in economic terms. Its benefits to a political party are enormous. Some will say that targets have got out of control because of Gordon's control freakery, but that is to ignore David Cameron saying, "Do you mean to say that the governmnet of this country does not know how many ..." Blair said the same thing to Major - in fact every opposition MP and Councillor says that to every ruling party. Not being able to answer invites ridicule. Hence we have targets and an army of people monitoring and checking. The question is where do we draw the line?

  • Comment number 84.

    Only politicians could possibly beat the mendacity of journalists, Nick, in particular BBC ones.

    I quote: - 'It will be interesting to see who's willing to tell the truth over the next few weeks that our deficit could mean cuts in public sector jobs, cuts in pay, cuts in pensions, cuts in services, cuts in benefits... oh, yes, and higher taxes too.'

    I, and many many other people, have known that for 5 years or more. The only difference is now, the poop has hit the fan and it's now out in the open. You want politicians to be honest? Well, can I suggest that all journalists get together, STOP spinning EVERY word that a politician says, STOP castegating any politician who even suggests public sector cuts as being some sort of heretic, STOP bashing anyone who suggests anything other than the socialist line and let politicians SPEAK without, in particular, the BBC spinning like 10 Downing Street.

    'There is NO option but to cut, cut hard and cut again. The last 13 yeasr has been a financial and social disaster. The UK populations standard of living is going to fall dramatically to pay for Brown's recklessness and my children will NEVER see the level of wealth and wellbeing my generation has seen.'

    There, that's my bit of political talk - I'm telling the truth as I see it.

    I await a cavalcade of abuse. Or even a post that will be moderated off the blog.

  • Comment number 85.

    So the Tories claim they will save 6bn by not filling vacancies and axing agency staff. That easy, eh!? So according to the Tories when someone retires or leaves to find another job, their job suddenly becomes unnecessary does it? Whatever they did before, because they worked for the state their job had absolutely no consequence whatsoever and they really won't be missed, right? I know this a common perception of council workers and bureaucrats, but surely it is our bureaucratic approach to running services that is to blame rather than the people working in them. If you simply don't fill a job when someone retires, who then moves to fill the void? Will work not just pile up and incompetence increase unless the systems governing how a department are run are changed to manage a decreased number of staff more effectively.

    And why are agency staff just treated as dispensable? Ignore their votes at your peril Mr Cameron, for if one looks at the majority of jobs advertised today you will find most jobs, including many specialised professions are offered through recruitment agencies. Gone are the days of a job for life and a steady pension, especially in the private sector.

    For what its worth, I believe the Tories are half right. We can go some way to restoring the deficit by cutting costs in national and local government, and also dare I say it in education and that sacred cow the NHS, without having a noticeable effect on the services that matter. But that last point is the crucial bit, for a lot of services the government provides simply don't matter or benefit very few people. They could also save a fortune on marketing - no more TV ads please!

    But vaguely saying they can slash backroom staff (what do they mean by this? People too ugly for front of house?) or agency staff doesn't convince. If you're going to hit anybody, I want to hear of pointless local government or NHS Trust managers on over £100,000 a year being sacked, or pointless quango chief execs getting their P45. Why hit those at the bottom and not the top? - after all, the majority of government spend goes on salaries.

    And do we need council diversity coordinators, ethnic and gypsy liaison and cohesion officers etc etc and other non-jobs recruited from the Guardian? The charitable sector could actually provide this support (they'd need help from government, but at least there would be less hefty salaries involved), and also minority groups themselves, with the launch of these trained 'Community Organisers'.

  • Comment number 86.

    41. the susan.
    classic right wing guff. i enjoy your long winded "tea party" speaches. brings a comedic element to the blog. lol

  • Comment number 87.

    "Bluecrest Capital, one of Europe's largest hedge fund firms, has announced it is relocating its headquarters to Guernsey.

    The move follows recent speculation that tax changes in the UK could result in businesses moving to more favourable tax jurisdictions including Guernsey.

    Bluecrest Capital, which runs $15.5 billion in assets, has moved two partners to Guernsey and said it planned to recruit several more staff.

    Recently it opened a trading office in Geneva, as Switzerland also operates a lower rate of tax.

    It said it planned to have about 70 employees, mostly investment professionals, in its Swiss office by the end of the year"

    BBC news, today.

    Well done Gordon, who hasn't worked out that 50% of bugger all is less than 40% of a lot.

  • Comment number 88.

    "At 5:21pm on 09 Apr 2010, lefty10 wrote:
    6. Gonzo.
    "Let's just put up VAT to the European average of 20% and have done with it".
    great idea. now the poorest will be stung even harder. why not add to this and remove the personal allowance and restucture the tax band so..the more you earn... the less you pay.
    credibility 0. morality -9"

    Yes, I read all the time in the news about the starving masses in the rest of europe, this being caused by their higher VAT rates. No, wait, actually I don't.

    Because VAT is not charged on many items and at reduced rates on others and a 2.5% increase would barely be noticed (£5 item goes up to £5.11).

    But, yes, people would have to pay more for their Sky TV subscription and their 2 weeks in Ibiza.

    But you're happier sticking to your 19th century imagery and voting for the champagne socialists who have increaed the gap between rich and poor over the last 13 years.

    Understanding of tax -12, Ability to cling on to the 19th century, +50.

  • Comment number 89.

    "#54 jobsagoodin wrote:
    "If Lib Dems can close £16bn worth of tax loop holes then presumably the other parties can as well."

    It's the new way. Want to increase a tax? Simply call the existing regime a 'loop hole'. Hey presto, you're not putting up taxes, you're closing loopholes.

  • Comment number 90.

    #69 and others, regarding politicians telling the truth:

    I have been saying for a very long time now that perhaps the best short term strategy for Cameron would be to lay it out on the line right now - 'I WILL be brutal in cutting government waste, I WILL be shutting down the benefits culture and the scroungers, I WILL be getting rid of all the excessive and ill-thought out legislation that's been dumped on us by Blair and Brown, I WILL be providing incentives to business to get the economy moving, I WILL be cutting back on the surveillance culture we now live under, etc etc.'

    A Vote-getter? Maybe, maybe not. He may be surprised, and find that there is huge support for this kind of honest approach - and if he does win the election, at least he knows he has a clear mandate to undertake all these measures and plenty more.

    And if being this honest loses him the election? Well, th electorate will get what they deserve - some more years of Brown. That I think will not last long - the economy will simply implode and society with it. At best there will be another election in short order - and it will be obvious to all except the most blinkered (Saga et al) that only a Tory government will sort out the mess. Cameron will then win with a big majority. At worst though, there could be civil strife, as public workers go unpaid because the money has run out, private workers dcide that enough is enough, and so on

    But I fear that no politician is that brave. Pity.

  • Comment number 91.

    The public sector is much too big! To hell with it.....slash and burn!

    Give the people their money back to spend how they decide not how Big Brother Brown decides!

  • Comment number 92.

    AndyC555 87

    'Well done Gordon, who hasn't worked out that 50% of bugger all is less than 40% of a lot.'

    He's worked it out alright it's just that he's also worked out it will gain him a few more votes.

    GB is perfectly happy for the economy to go down the pan just as long as he's in charge while it happens.

  • Comment number 93.

    Labour are oh so rattled. But wait until next week, Brown and Mandleson's teeth will fall out.
    It would be nice to see labour's detailed spending/cuts, ah but a government that has been in power for 13 years cannot do this until after the election - how strange. How did they manage to do spending programs before.
    Labour want the NI contributions just to keep paying the public sector. Just one problem we cannot afford to do this as we need more private sector jobs.
    Labour, the stupid party.

  • Comment number 94.

    On this blog, there are a load of Conservatives who cannot understand
    how the voters of Britain who can remember that far back still haven't
    forgiven their party for 1979-97.

    You Tories would have loved it if we had had mass unemployment, riots
    etc over the past couple of years, but we haven't, thanks to the swift
    and correct actions of Brown and Darling. Tough for the Tories, good
    for the UK. Good slogan that.

    Now Osbourne and Cameron have been shown to have got it completely
    wrong when the economic going got tough you Tories are starting to
    panic. Brown is a monster, attacks on Mandy etc. Anything but face the
    truth about your own leaders. They got it wrong big time, and UK voters
    are now working them out.

    Now Osbourne and Cameron have been shown to be clueless opportunists,
    arguing for austerity and warning of the IMF and bond markets one
    minute and then proposing tax cuts the next, the UK public can see
    them for what they are: 80s-style Tories who revel in cutting jobs,
    wages and conditions for the middle classes and below, while wanting to
    cut taxes for their own people.

    It can only end one way, Tory bloggers, and that's in the election of a
    new Tory leadership team after 6th of May. May I suggest that this time
    you Tories don't go for the minor aristos this time. How about Ken

  • Comment number 95.

    27. mindlessmrsT
    My suggestion is to bring in a law that carries a mandatory 5 year prison sentence for the following offences (could be tweeked).
    1. anyone avoiding paying tax who earns over £100k a year (offshore tax havens or any other doddgy business of similar ilk).
    2.any employer who is paying less than the minimum wage
    3.any employer who attemps to reduce working conditions/pay without proving their business couldnt continue to operate otherwise or would struggle.
    4.any employer who gives themselves a pay rise without offering an inflation linked pay rise to their workers too.
    4. any individual involved in setting up tax saving plans that reduce income tax for anyone earning over £100k a year.
    5. any individual who suggests raising vat

  • Comment number 96.

    Lily (76), ah okay. Wonder who the "no SoH" construct actually is. No big deal, I guess - be boring though (wouldn't it?) if all we did was chunter tractor stats at each other. See you've changed your name ... exciting stuff. C14 eh? No, we're still C36. Let's see how it looks on Monday. And you Jobs (80), stop nicking my jokes. Don't know what you mean anyway about me having No Reply to Susan's "excellent" 41 post. I did reply, didn't I? - at 50. And my reply tells you all you need to know. Not one to waffle, you know. Brevity is the soul of.

  • Comment number 97.

    Post 84 : Bluematter

    You´re spot on mate!

    Can someone tell the truth please? THE COUNTRY HAS OVER-SPENT AND OVER-BORROWED UNDER LABOUR AND BROWN (AS ALWAYS!) AND NOW WE NEED A PERIOD OF SEVERE HOUSEKEEPING (THE BURDEN FAIRLY DISTRIBUTED or should we place the price on all those fools who voted Labour over the last 13 years? What a good idea!). THIS IS FACT! Look at Greece and Ireland for the way forward for the UK..........all down to Brown~s complete mismanagement of the economy............Iron Chancellor....... An old rust bucket morelike!

    The economy is virtually bust.........what do you do in those circumstances?

    a) stop spending and borrowing (cut the state down to an affordable size)
    b) work harder to earn more income (boost businesses)

    There are no easy solutions!

    Thats it!

  • Comment number 98.

    how do you know a vat rise wouldnt be noticed? it would definately all add up..and as you havent ever had to scrape the money together to buy a loaf of bread i can understand your complete ignorance on this issue.
    monetary inequality is larger in the uk than in almost every other european country.... so your vat rate in europe example isnt comparable.

  • Comment number 99.

    95 - Don't foget to add

    6 - Any nasty mill or pit owner who drives their horse and carriage through a crowd of begging orphans

    7 - Any Feudal barons

    8 - Anyone denying that the earth is flat and was created by God 4004 years ago.

    I'd just limit it to 5 years for anyone posting mindless drivel. If the sentences were consecutive, you'd never get out.

  • Comment number 100.

    The Tories really do need to look to their roots if they expect traditional voters to vote for them, and new voters to switch.

    The latest daft announcement of motorway tolls is a classic socialist policy, unworthy of a Conservative government.

    If the Tories are hoping to win the next election, proposing a new stealth tax is not the way to do it.

    Cameron urgently needs to get a grip and get himself some proper advisors.


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