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Category Archives: Lefty-baiting

Debt, Theft and Job Losses: The #UKUncut Manifesto

Suppose you were chronically financially inept and you regularly spend more than you earn. Now for a few years things work out OK; you figure out that you can get over the income shortfall firstly by selling the family silver gold, then by extending your mortgage every year – the bank’s happy to do it and interest rates are relatively low.

Then the banking crisis hits. Interest rates, driven by a sudden spike in oil prices, burst the bubble and suddenly the bank clams up. You also have to take a pay cut. What to do?

You could aim to cut back on your spending so that you’re living within your means. Yet there is an alternative: you’ve gotten by for years with a big mortgage without any issues, so why should it be a problem now? All these tiresome know-it-alls who say otherwise are just lying.

Sure, so some of your neighbours have had the bank repossess their places, but that won’t happen to you will it? Anyway, you know that the bloke in the big house round the corner is worth a few bob, and so, egged on by your dodgy backstreet accountant, you go round there, break in and nick some of his stuff – that’ll keep your head above water for a bit. After all, it’s not as though he’s your employer who might just up sticks and move to the next town is it? Although now you come to think of it, he did look sort of familiar….

Well, no guessing which is UKUncut’s preferred option.

So, let’s examine the world according to UKUncut.

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Quote Of The Week

LBC News 1152

Image via Wikipedia

“Can’t wait to hear the speeches. Don’t suppose you’ll be able to get a word in edgeways”.

The inimitable Nick Ferrari on LBC radio this morning, after Millie Tant (for that should have been her name) rings in for a rant, and then takes her opportunity to plug a feminist march happening on Saturday week.

How to Solve That Barclays Tax Issue

Barclays on Queen Street, Morley, West Yorkshire

A Branch of Barclays Bank. Spawn of the devil, apparently.

So yesterday various indignant people who are not regular readers of the Telegraph were rather chuffed that they had closed a number of branches of a private business that had, in their opinion, not paid enough corporation tax. Strangely though, as far as anyone can tell, no tax inspectors took part and the action was not sanctioned by HM Revenue and Customs.

These non-core customers of the soap industry were very upset at the news that Barclays Bank had only paid 1% of its profits in corporation tax. Apparently the bank had used an evil slippery tax loophole whereby they had set some losses against tax. Yes, the same principle that allows any business to gain tax relief for years in which business is poor, or where they’ve taken the government up on their incentives to invest in equipment, or on the extended loss relief rules introduced when the recession was looming.

In fact, and predictably (on both counts), the Grauniad have made a number of other errors in compiling their figures, and the actual reasons behind the apparently low figure are more complex. We are indebted to others such as Christie for taking chargeable time out to summarise these.

Yet of course, the protesters are hardly motivated by esoteric arguments informed by the pages of Tolley’s. It’s an evil bank*, so anything short of publicly flogging the girl behind the counter is fair game. I mean, these people have such a tenuous grasp of business, the economy and the public finances, that they actually believe the banks were to blame for Gordon Brown notching up over £1 trillion in public debt.

Anyway, there is a simple solution to this whole messy problem. It will ensure that no corporation will be able to fiddle their taxes, legally or otherwise, and so the protesters can go and do something constructive for society find another excuse to cause criminal damage and avoid growing up.

It is this: abolish corporation tax. After all, all corporate profits will eventually end up in the hands of individual taxpayers, trusts, pension funds, etc, where they will receive an appropriate tax treatment. It may be in the form of salaries, dividends, other forms of debt servicing, etc, but all such income is taxed, so why have the complication of siphoning off some of the tax earlier in the process when a massive simplification could be achieved by scrapping the corporate tax framework? Then think what it would do for the UK’s attractiveness to foreign investment.

I’ve not looked at the detailed figures, of course, but it must be possible to adjust the personal tax rules to make the changes revenue-neutral to the Treasury (and that’s without considering the Laffer curve effects on future revenues). For example, without corporation tax, the implied tax credit that is carried by dividends will finally become redundant. One could envisage dividends being taxed at the marginal rate of tax of the recipient, as they used to be. One would imagine that the additional tax incurred would be negated by the higher dividend rates being paid as a result of higher distributable profits.

Not that I can be sure without any detailed analysis being carried out, but in that respect the idea is still some stages ahead of the economically and financially myopic activism of the ukuncut mob. They will naturally be horrified that someone could suggest that ‘big business’ be given such a tax break. Need I point out however, that any business, regardless of size, is ultimately a collection of people earning a living? That by definition they must be doing something that is contributing to the economy and thus society? Perhaps some of the ukuncut acivists should try it sometime.

* As opposed to nice fluffy banks like the Co-op, who paid a whopping … err… 1.9% (h/t Christie again).

Quote of the Day

It’s a busy day, so I’ll fall back on one of the bloggers’ trusty standbys: the quote of the day.

I’ve been priced out of the Ferrari market. It’s just not fair. Bloody Nazi Tories.

From a commenter at the Grauniad on Polly Toynbee’s latest rant about the housing benefit cap proposals (akin to the Final Solution according to Pol – no, really. Godwin’s Law anyone?)

Yes, Firefighters' Strikes Should Be 'Banned' – But Don't Stop There

The London Fire Brigade's headquarters is at L...

London Fire Strikes - No, Just No.

I’m not the first by any means to suggest that a strike by firefighters should in some way be prevented by the law. Iain Dale has examined the legal position of the so-called “right to strike” here.

I have a tenuous personal interest here. My grandfather was in the London Fire Brigade, rising to the rank of Station Officer (at Chelsea). He would be spinning in his grave at the sight of firefighters on strike. It just shouldn’t happen. My father, who also has LFB experience, holds similar views.

My own view is that there are few occupations where strike action is even justified these days. Only those where the roles are so specialised that there is realistically only one employer might have a case for striking, rather than resigning and going to work for another player in their particular industry.

That, though, should not take precedence over the status of essential services and the necessity of preventing strike action, in the public interest. Such essential services naturally include the fire service, as well as ambulance medics and many others. In fact, there are probably relatively few occupations that are both monopolised by a single employer (who would usually, such is the way of these things, be a nationalised industry or central government) and are not essential services.

So I would not stand in the way of most employers who naturally interpreted the refusal to work as a breach of contract and act accordingly. If that means unilaterally pulling out of some of the anachronistic provisions imposed by the International Labour Organisation then so be it. For those few remaining cases (and perhaps more widely) I do think that Charles Crawford has suggested an elegant solution to a crude ban: removing the trade unions’ incongruous protection from liability when striking.

Either way, the days of the strike must be brought,  if not to a close, then to the penultimate chapter.

The Tax Gap: More Socialist Cobblers?


Haggling: Or, two men doing something immoral over sheep

Occasionally there arises a term – or to use the correct terminology, an ‘agenda’ – that is conceived and grows within a particular professional sector or group of thinkers, and which then finds its way into public policy without the public themselves ever being consulted or made aware of it. Expensive conferences might be held to discuss ‘The xxxxxx Agenda’, and bodies – usually publicly funded – will either be formed or sprout offshoots to study, engage and develop the concepts. Some people will draw good salaries and make a living on the back of such a concept. Invariably, though, such things often result in the same outcome – a more public spending, more government and less freedom.

The ‘Tax Gap’ is one of these; it is being used cynically by many to amalgamate the practices of ‘tax evasion’ (illegal) and ‘tax avoidance’ (legal) into a single definition that attempts to turn anyone who doesn’t pay the maximum possible amount of tax with joy and celebration into a threat to democratic society. Of course, it plays on the prejudice of those who think that tax avoidance is only practised by fat rich people and if only we could just plug the loopholes all would be well, the deficit would disappear and the nation could advance into a new socialist utopia.

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Carry On Comrades

A bit of a conference catch-up today, since I cannot bring myself to be really interested in yesterday’s promotions and demotions among the crew of the Titanic.

This was the trade unions’ welcoming committee outside the ICC on Wednesday lunchtime as delegates arrived for Cameron’s speech.

Quite a heartening sight … for a Conservative. For the general public to know that the unions are still around, itching to create a bit of 1970’s style chaos, must be worth a good couple of dozen more on our majority come May 2010.