It’s Still the British Government

As the euphoria of Labour’s ejection from Government recedes and the novelty of the new coalition Government wears off, it’s time to realise that the more things change the more they stay the same.  Here’s what to expect:

There wasn’t much conservative left about the Conservative Party before the General Election. David Cameron was already on the left side of his party with the Thatcherites severely marginalised. Now that he in in coalition with the LibDems, he has sold off the rest of the family silver. That was the price of the deal.

There is no question about the UK becoming less socialist. In this country it is not a matter of whether socialism but whose socialism. The new Government promises to spend more on the NHS year-on-year, but it will be spending less than was being spent. All the other money went to the banks. There will still be rationing. After promising that everyone will have access to the health care they need, the new Health Secretary admitted that there will never be enough to meet the demand, but that by shuffling around the nurses into various roles everything will be gloriously better.

Having poured the public purse into the bankers’ bonuses, new money to run the Welfare State will have to come from somewhere. They aren’t talking about the tax increases. It’s all about the spending cuts. However the reality is that the Conservatives have dropped the marriage (and civil partnership) tax break they promised during the campaign. That’s £150 per year per couple. They have dropped plans to raise the inheritance tax limit. (Inheritance tax is the tax penalty for dying after saving any of the money that has already been taxed.) There will be a very significant rise in capital gains tax (this means that everyone will dump whatever shares they can before it comes into effect and will drive down the market). VAT (that’s sales tax) will rise to at least 20%, though it could very conceivably go higher. The Tory promise of not implementing the Labour Government’s rise in National Insurance tax is being kept in part. Employers will not have a rise in their NI contribution, but employees will pay more.

The new Conservatives are every bit as liberal on social issues as Labour. They partners the LibDems are even more so. The man who would have been expected to take over as Home Secretary has been left out of the Government because he unwisely sided with a family who would not let gay couples share a double bed in their Bed and Breakfast. Since David Cameron took over from Iain Duncan Smith (an actual conservative Conservative), the Tories have tried to be pinker and greener than any other party. Abortion is not even a political issue in this country, despite the 200,000 that are performed every year.

What remains to be seen is just how the new Government will deal with Labour’s surveillance society. Both the Tories and the LibDems have promised to get rid of ID cards. How far they will go in otherwise getting out of the lives of individuals and families has yet to be seen.

There will be no conserving of the British constitution. The House of Lords, already nearly bereft of the hereditary peers who populated it for 800 years, will be turned into an elected Senate, elected by the LibDem’s preferred method of proportional representation. Like the Lords it will be an upper chamber in name only, with the centre of power still firmly in the Commons, even if it will no longer have the claim to the greater legitimacy of being democratically elected.

As a trade off for the Conservatives taking on the LibDem tax increases, the LibDems only lose one significant one significant policy, which is the only one for which I had any sympathy. The Tories are opposed to amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants, so there will be no amnesty for at least the length of this fixed-term five-year Parliament.

I’m glad to see Labour gone. I’m hoping that the new Government will not be as arrogant as the last, though the British Government is typically quite arrogant, regardless of who is in power.

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Ten Things Barak Obama Cannot Do

With a H/T to Greg, who reprinted William J. H. Boetcker’s “Ten Cannots”, I’m doing the same. Ronald Reagan misattributed them to Abraham Lincoln. As Greg and others have noted, they present a great juxtaposition to the values of presidential heir presumptive Barak Obama.

  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
  10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

As I have been writing this post, I’ve been watching a documentary with the former deputy prime minister John Prescott – the token Old Labour socialist in the Blair government – constantly trying to fight the class struggle and refusing to see that no one else is at war. This is the same manufactured conflict that Obama wants to resurrect from the grave of dead ideologies.

Living in the Discredited Past

Someone forgot to tell these kids that the 1960s are over.

I am always amazed at how the most left-wing, commie organizations always like to use the word “democratic”. I think the idea is that if they can finally convince 50%+1 of the population to adopt their radical socialism, they can collectivise the US and finally turn it into a communist paradise. After all, look how it has worked so well everywhere else in the world.

They know it’s not going to be easy: “This demands a broad-based, deep-rooted, and revolutionary transformation of our society. It demands that we build on movements that have come before, and alongside other people’s struggles and movements for liberation.” Maybe Mao’s Cultural Revolution didn’t go far enough.

The comforting thing is that these are students for a democratic society. It’s why the first incarnation of this group didn’t outlast the 60s. Everybody has to grow up at some point. Well, most everybody.

Stealing From the Poor

You would think that a socialist Labour government would stick it to the rich and go easy on the poor. After all, that’s the point of socialism , isn’t it? Yeah, but Gordon Brown isn’t your dad’s socialist. This is New Labour, remember?

Gordon tried to impress everyone by lowering the main rate of income tax from 22% to 20%. Somebody has to pay for this, though. Gordon’s chosen the poor. The UK doesn’t have as many tax brackets as the US. In the US there are six brackets, ranging from 10% to 35%. Before April 1, the UK had three: 10%, 22%, and 40%. Now it has two. The 10% bracket has been taken away. Tax is payable at 20% from the first pound. At £36,000 ($72,000) it jumps to 40%. By contrast, an American at that income is still at 25%, $5,000 away from paying 28% on anything else he makes.

The 10% only covered the first £2,230 ($4,460). That is admittedly less than the $7,825 covered by the same bracket in the US, though as the Unnamed Women pointed out to me, it will still hit women working part time or students working their way through university the hardest. Obviously the lower the income, the greater the proportion of tax increase.

The Government are planning on a £6 to £8 billion increase in revenue from the change. To raise that money, it is estimated that 5 million households will be worse off. That would be the 5 million poorest households.

Just to re-emphasise the point I have made in the past about an elective dictatorship . . . After the Commons Treasury Committee condemns the changes tomorrow, they will be debated in the House of Commons in two weeks. It doesn’t really matter. They have already gone into effect. Despite the opposition from large numbers of his own party, the Prime Minister said there is no plan to change the policy. Not much point in having a Parliament, is there?

Eroding Property Rights

An Englishman’s home is his castle. That is, until Gordon Brown gets his way. He wants to give local councils the authority to snoop around and make sure that local houses are owned by local people. It will be one castle per Englishman.

Councils will have the power to require planning permission for any house that goes from fully occupied to a second home. If councils find out that a house is owned by someone who does not live in it as a permanent residence, it is not clear what they will be able to do. However, they may also get the power to ban outsiders from buying newly built properties as well.

This is socialism through and through. The State will tell you how much property you can have and where it can be located. You will live where you are told. It will also tell you to whom you may sell your property, and under what circumstances, thus effectively controlling the prices.

The property market is already in turmoil. What we don’t need is the Government stepping in with social engineering policies and making things even worse, while chipping away at historic rights and personal liberty.

Textbook Agenda

I’m not suggesting that textbooks in this country are biased and driven by a political agenda, but I’m looking for another satisfactory explanation for the following definitions in a textbook I’ve been given to teach history.

Socialism: movement to make the country fully democratic, with equal rights for everyone

Left-wing: believing that society should be made more equal

Right-wing: believing that the country should be strong and that ordinary people should have little or no power

Why, how could I think that somebody (like author Andrew Boxer) has a “Left-wing good/Right-wing bad” or “Socialism good/Capitalism bad” message they are trying to get across to 14- to 16-year-olds? Of course he never comes out directly and says it. He doesn’t need to, really.