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Category Archives: London

Tax Avoidance Creates Jobs And Boosts The Economy – Livingstone

Yes, that’s today’s excuse from Red Ken about why he avoided £50,000 of tax/National Insurance by channelling his earnings through a limited company rather than as an employee of is various ‘engagers’, or as a Schedule D* self-employed taxpayer.


OK, so it might not have been as much as £50,000 – it may have been more – but this figure was not calculated by a Ken-bashing swivel eyed right winger like me. It was Richard Murphy; he who, if you asked him if tax avoidance was worse than paedophilia, would have to pause and think about his answer.

Anyway, speaking on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show this morning, Ken said that the £50,000 saved enabled him to give jobs to two people. Clearly Ken isn’t an accountant or economist, but it seems he implicitly recognises the phenomenon of tax incidence and the extent to which much business taxation ends up being borne by the employees – his reasoning for his tax avoidance pretty well says as much. So, his tax avoidance helped create jobs. He could have added the observation that this was an example of him choosing how to spend that £50,000 rather then the government doing so, but let’s take that as read.

His response also acknowledges that fact that tax removes money from the economy. Again, this is a significant departure from the conventional nonsensical leftist line that reducing public expenditure (and thus, by definition, reducing taxation now or in the future) is ‘taking money out of the economy’. Not that Livingstone would see it this way, but when you’re still digging in as deep a hole as he is, I’m surprised he can see anything.

* Showing my age now. Heck, I still find myself talking about SC60’s** sometimes.

** My fellow accountants will understand.

So Farewell The #OccupyLSX Asylum

OccupyLSX defaced walls

#OccupyLSX revolting ... I mean, leading the revolution

This morning St Paul’s emerges from behind the human-scale petri dish that was #OccupyLSX and will be relegated to the pages of history … or, spoken of in reverential tones in two decades’ time in BBC retrospective documentaries in the same way as, not so long ago, was the Greenham Common Wimmin’s Camp. That exercise, too, proved just as pointless and ineffectual, though at least the sisters managed to keep a fairly consistent and clear message throughout their time there, in some contrast to the comparative rookies at #OccupySomewhereAnywhere-AsLongAsWeDon’tHaveToPayForIt.

I thought that as one of my first posts after my annual blogging sabbatical I would reflect on my own visit to the site – yes, I did go there and see it for myself, shortly before Christmas.

Of course, there were others like me surveying the camp, but one couldn’t help but get the impression they were viewing it not in awe, but going to see it out of a mixture of curiosity, quiet amusement and pity. I was put in mind of the old style Victorian mental asylums which admitted the general public as spectators. Surveying the poor wretches, living in their own little world, surrounded by others of the same affliction, convinced that their perception of reality was the truth … yes, I too felt I was having the same experience as those 19th century gawpers.

Ask any spectator what they thought, and the least offensive opinion could be summed up as “meh”.

OccupyLSX remember them?

Occupy St. Paul's ... remember them?

What is noticeable about the SquatLSX camp is the variety of ‘causes’ that have taken up residence there. Now to the organisers this is undoubtedly looked on as a ‘positive’ – yet in fact it only serves to dilute whatever could be loosely termed their original ‘message’. As with so many public protests of the Left, quantity trumps quality. A corner was devoted to protesting about an imprisoned Turkish socialist – what a way to get an obscure issue into the public domain than to hide it among the noise of every other trendy and tired leftist cause. And it is wholly Leftist, for all the talk from the SquatLSX organisers of representing the 99%.

Yet maybe I’m being unfair. Perhaps in the middle somewhere was the Ayn Rand bookshop, or the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tent. Perhaps the Finsbury Square satellite site is where they are holding the Friedman lectures.

I also noticed the portable loos were in place, though their presence clearly hadn’t stopped some from answering the call of nature at the door of God’s house. It was wholly unsurprising to sit in Starbucks and watch some of the nemeses of capitalism taking a seat on one of the evil capitalist comfortable sofas long enough to take advantage of the evil capitalist free wifi.

Now, once again the 99% can enjoy the magnificence of Wren’s creation without the added authentic squalor of Sir Christopher’s London that was provided by the squatters. Oh, and Starbucks can re-open their customer toilets.

I’m Bored. Let’s Have a Go at a Green.

Green Patio Heater

What? It's green isn't it? (You can get them in silver too, I think.)

Darren Johnson is a Green Party member of the London Assembly. He’s a ‘London-wide’ member, which means he wasn’t popular enough to be voted in for an actual GLA constituency.

Anyway, not having to service a constituency means he has time to pen missives to every local paper in London and the surrounds, such as this:

Londoners are facing high unemployment, falling real incomes, soaring rents and fares, as well as environmental problems such as dangerous air pollution and cold homes.

I want the Mayor of London to set a budget which responds to these basic concerns.

Freezing the council tax will help slightly, but Londoners travelling to work are having to pay out far more in fare rises, than they are saving in council tax.

Did you notice what was missing? The one major cost pressure he didn’t list was fuel prices – over half of which are made up of taxes and duties. Oh but of course, cars are evil aren’t they?

Rewarding people for using environmentally friendly public transport should take priority over car driving in London.

In the short term we can lower fares by raising the central London congestion charge for the most polluting gas guzzlers and setting up a new ‘anti-pollution’ charging zone around Heathrow airport.

In the longer term, this may well solve the problems of people travelling in to London, since once the congestion charge has been raised so high that no-one can service the place, they’ll be out of a job, or working outside (Inner) London*. Yes, it will have to go up for every vehicle, since it has always been about revenue-raising and not reducing congestion (which it doesn’t).

This is just one of the ways in which the Mayor could improve our environment, whilst helping the poorest to cope with hard times.

You know, Darren, this isn’t the 1950’s; the era when estates for ‘poor people’ were laid out with no provision for cars because poor people just couldn’t afford, or didn’t need, to drive.

Outside Inner London, there are many people – ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ – for whom a freeze in council tax is worth more than the rise in the fares they pay for their occasional trip into town. Of course, what would really make a difference to their living costs – whether it’s transport (those evil cars) or “cold homes” – is reducing the cost of fuel. That’s the cost, for instance, of filling the car up so they can get to work, since not everyone toils in Zone 1 (and yes, that may include charging up the Pious Prius). The trouble is, Darren Johnson’s solution to that probably involves windmills, and the sort of financially myopic interventionism in the energy and oil industries that would just bring forward the day when the lights do actually go out.

But hey, by then at least we’ll have this global warming licked and we can avoid that traditional spike in demand for sun cream every February.

* Indeed (for the sake of completeness) once no-one can be bothered to use Heathrow anymore because the cab fare costs more than the flight….

Forgiving LibDems Give Far-Left Paddick a Second Chance

Brian Leonard Paddick (born 24 April 1958), th...

He's Back: 'Very Red' Brian Runs Again

The Lib Dems have selected Brian Paddick to run as their candidate for Mayor of London. Again. As David Cameron might say, everyone deserves a second chance.

What this also means is that, apart from the 2012 election being a re-run of the 2008 contest (at least among the three ‘main’ parties), the LibDems have either a short collective memory, are very forgiving, are actually further to the left than their leader (which we know anyway), or a combination of the above.

Those who recall the weeks following the 2008 election might recall that Brian Paddick, by that time a battered and dissillusioned former political innocent with limited campaign experience, had vented his frustrations with his own party in his London Mayoral campaign diary.

More tellingly, Brian revealed that he had voted, as his second preference, for the far left ‘Left List‘.

The 2008 election had not been a happy one for the Lib Dems, who had been in danger of becoming a single issue party with their (consistent) opposition to the Iraq war. Brian complained that he and they had been squeezed between Labour and Conservatives. For the Lib Dems as a party nationally, they had to cling to their eternal hope of some unlikely General Election result giving them a place in a coalition.

Well, who have thought it? Strange things do happen, and so here is Brian again … and the far Left in London can count on at least one more second preference vote.

A Message From Ken Livingstone

Wow. I don’t know what to say.

Actually, that’s  lie. This little message was left on my answerphone:

“Hello, my name’s xxxxxxx I’m calling on behalf of the Ken Livingstone for Mayor campaign.”

Eh?

“Ken’s asked me to give you a quick call to ask your opinions on London …”

Oh, has he really? How could he not have read the less than complementary things this highly regarded and respected blogger I have ever said about Ken (too many to link to)?

“… and if you have any main issues or concerns at the moment.”

Funnily enough yes. Particularly the concern that there might be a theoretical chance that he could get in again. I could have a moan about some things that Boris hasn’t done yet (getting a grip on TfL for one) but he has still done a far better job like Ken did.

“We’ll call you back at a more convenient time.”

Yes, try 4th May 2012 – I expect Ken will have plenty of time to call me in person then.

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.

New Olympic Park Named

From a parallel universe:

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has revealed the name of the new Olympic park. The Fidel Castro People’s Park will be at the heart of the Games’ site.

Thankfully, Londoners (and those of us in the outer boroughs) saw sense and gave Ken his P45 a couple of years’ back, so instead we have this welcome news:

The 2012 Olympics will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The name was announced by Mayor Boris Johnson exclusively on LBC 97.3 on Thursday morning.

Quite right too, even if Boris did spoil things by then babbling on about “masterplanning” the area.

Tut tut. I am merely a product of a grammar school – so what do I know – but don’t they teach the difference between nouns and verbs at Eton?

Labour Chooses … And It's Good News

Labour have chosen Ken Livingstone to be their candidate for London Mayor in 2012. This is excellent news. It gives Boris’ team the chance to showcase their sustainability credentials by reusing the old but still effective ammunition that was so well employed last time, such as:

London Elections 2008, City Hall. Ken Livingst...

Ken giving his loser's speech in 2008. So that's one aspect of his 2012 campaign sorted already.

Financial issues at the LDA

Bloated bureaucracy at City Hall

*cough* Lee Jasper *cough*

Doubling of Council Tax with little to show for it

*cough* Al-Qaradawi *cough*

That’s just for starters. Add in a few dinosaur references and mentions of how comfortable Ken must be in the (striking) transport unions’ pockets offices and with a little luck one may well find that Robert will be your father’s brother … and Boris will still be Mayor.

Yes, I suspect “cock-a-hoop” might be a good way of describing Team Boris’ reaction to the nomination.

Update: An upbeat view of Ken’s nomination seems to be pretty common among the right-wing blogosphere today, with the likes of Iain Dale, The Lakelander and Mark Wallace (who also looks forward to an Ed Labour leadership victory) to name but a few, and Dizzy suggests we should be spared Ken’s weekly skit on LBC.

As High Streets Struggle, Assembly Calls for More Aspic

It is tempting for us politicians to think that we can make things better by intervening, without stopping to take stock of our previous efforts, and whether they had any effect or even made things worse.

This is something the Mayor would do well to be aware of now that the London Assembly has delivered its opinion on the struggle faced by local shops; troubles not helped by the recession of course.

The report …

…. calls for changes to local, regional and national planning policies – including the Use Classes Order – to offer them more protection…

Deputy Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee, Jenny Jones AM, said:

“People in residential areas need local shops that provide essential services that they can walk to.  They do not need rows of betting shops and internet cafés, or to have to travel to supermarkets by car.”

Whether they need rows of betting shops and internet cafés is hardly for government to decide. They may not need to have to travel to supermarkets by car … yet they might want to.

It seems that some people have an idyllic view of the corner shop, open all hours, which is then brutally crushed by the big supermarket opening up down the road. Yet it’s not the supermarket that closes the shop – it’s the fact that so many people prefer to shop at the supermarket. Tesco et al know this. If they thought that their offer wasn’t better than the existing provision, they wouldn’t waste money opening up.

“Use it or lose it” goes the old saying.

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Are Labour Looking to Pension Off the Ken Dinosaur?

With Boris apparently seeking a second term as Mayor of London (possibly), and Ken Livingstone looking to crawl back into the top office, one does wonder who would be so interested in commissioning a YouGov survey, running today, on how voters would react to either Ken, (current) Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell or Sir Alan Sugar running against BoJo.

It does rather have the fingerprints of someone at the London Labour bunker on it. Perhaps there’s a school of thought there that Ken has had his day?

(Being the loyal Tory, I naturally answered that I wouldn’t have any of them.*)

Any other theories out there?

*Any of the Labour choices, that is. Ahem.