Archive | April, 2017

Signs and signals

24 Apr

Last Friday Phillip Hammond, our esteemed Chancellor of the Exchequer, indicated that after June 8th he would be free to raise both income tax and VAT. Theresa May declared that she would be ending the triple lock which secures the value of state pensions. She also said that the foreign aid budget would remain at the current level.

Now the possibility of raising taxes is in marked contrast with the manifesto promises of George Osbourne, and I genuinely salute him for his honesty. We can presume that taxes will be raised because he wouldn’t have said such a potentially damaging thing without making plans.

Theresa May’s statement about pensions could possibly alienate a fair number of Tory voters. The commitment to foreign aid spending is a little more curious. This spending is a favourite target of the right wing press and Mrs May normally pays close attention to their agenda. So the question that needs to be asked is why this is being maintained.

In order to do quick trade deals with countries once we exit the EU we need to offer sweeteners. It seems fairly clear that Mrs May offered access to the NHS for US health insurance companies as just this kind of sweetener. Her problem is that he areas remaining unprivatised are few and far between. The family silver has already been sold off to speculators.

It would not be too difficult to arrange part of the foreign aid budget to be used for developments which would help to sweeten trade deals. Such help is normally of the brown envelope kind. And this is necessary because the reality of doing trade deals is that they are not fair and even, in no way a level playing field.

BrownEnvelope

I was told that I was cynical for thinking this, but will I be proved right?

Vote 48%

19 Apr

Theresa May is set to call a General Election for 8th June. This despite repeatedly saying that she would not call a snap election and in contradiction of the rules of the fixed-term parliaments that came in with the first Cameron government.

This election is, according to Mrs May, all about giving her the backing she needs to negotiate Brexit from a position of strength. She also said that she would by-pass parliamentary scrutiny, but let that pass for the moment.

If the election is all about Brexit, then it is, in effect a second referendum, only held under the rules of a parliamentary elections. If it is a referendum, let the 48% of people in the UK who voted Remain treat it as such, and vote accordingly.

With a simple sum it is possible to show how this election can be turned around. If two-thirds of those who voted Remain vote for whichever candidate in the constituency opposes leaving the Single Market and has the best chance of winning, then that candidate is almost certain to win.

This is very little to do with party politics. There are Tories who are still strongly opposed to the May hard Brexit plans. If your MP falls into this category, and does a reasonable job as an MP, by all means vote for them, if you wish. If your Labour MP is pro-Brexit, vote for the most best candidate from amongst the others.

What is at stake here is the future of our country. Any form of Brexit is going to impoverish us to some extent. A hard Brexit will be disastrous to the economy and will hit the poor hardest. a hard Brexit will mean changing the nature of British society.  If it happens you can kiss goodbye to employment protection, environmental rules, and the NHS as we know it. And it will also impact on jobs and opportunities for decades to come.

Every promise that was made by the Leave campaigns has been broken. All the promises about the wealth of the country after Brexit have been demoted to aspirations, as David Davis and his cabal of Brextremists know, these promises cannot be fulfilled.

In effect, Theresa May is saying, ‘Trust me,’. If a politician ever asks you to trust them, then it is time to vote for someone else. If Theresa May is returned with an increased majority, then I fear for parliamentary democracy in this country. You voted with your head at the referendum. It is time to do so again on June 8th. Be clever, vote 48%.