Well I certainly have to start with an apology. Been a long time since I posted and indeed a while longer since I posted with any regularity. No doubt both my dutiful readers, in an effort to find similar levels of mental stimulation, have returned to watching paint dry or with the advent of summer are perhaps out in the garden watching grass grow. Why? New job, long hours and I suppose also the fact that the news cycle has been repeating itself very much over the last month. Thus, whilst things are still gripping me, they seem to be pretty much the same things I have already written about.
So what to post about? I am nearly there with my human rights follow up as it has reared its ugly head in the press recently, but that may have to wait until next week, time permitting. I suppose I could write about super-injunctions, but then, I think that's the point, so I can't. I could reiterate the point that most commentators are happily ignoring that, crap though they are, the Coalition plans for student fees are progressive and by virtue of everything being paid back only when one is in work and when one can afford to, only taxes the rich graduate, not the poor applicant. One such fool was Baroness Kennedy of Mansfield College, Oxford on Any Questions this evening, who was either shockingly ignorant of the policies or deliberately misrepresented them. I could write smugly about winning the AV vote (not personally, you understand, but as Terry Leahy says, "every little helps"). However, I'm quite happy with the fact that the crap idea of AV has just gone away now, so think that best left alone. I am not, however, leaving it alone because I feel the need to buoy up the Conservatives' Coalition partners after a pretty shoddy few weeks.
Yes, now I think of it, I think that as got me riled enough to fall upon as my target for today. Why, oh why, is it accepted wisdom that the Tories should start bending over backwards for the Lib Dems, "shoring up" the embattled Nick Clegg and generally making them feel a bit better about themselves after they had their first taste of what taking decisions as opposed to taking the moral high ground, and hang the practicalities is like? My that was a long sentence. I like those. You may have noticed. Short ones can be fun too, though. Occasionally.
The leverage in the partnership is very firmly in the Tories' court, to horribly mangle metaphors. They did rather well in local elections for a governing party making cuts in a harsh economic climate; surely far better than they thought they would. Not only have they not lost much ground to Labour, but they have gained crucial support back from the Lib Dems. This was vital as one of the largest reasons the Tories failed to win a majority was the number of seats taken from them by Lib Dem votes, not Labour ones. They have also very easily won the AV vote. It has been a pretty good couple of weeks for them, in fact.
As some shrewd political commentator or other mentioned recently, a large number of Lib Dem voters vote for them exactly because they are unelectable; a protest vote. That vote no longer makes sense when they are in power, so they lose a great deal of support. Also they were always going to cop an enormous amount of flak from the largest demographic who support them; the dreamers who love the idea of Lib Dem policies but aren't too fussy over doing the maths. They simply cannot understand why or how the Lib Dems could be doing so many un-Lib Dem things. The reason, of course, is that the Lib Dems in Government realised that you might have to compromise your abstract principles when faced with the reality of Government.
So why the rush to help the Lib Dems? They are fixed for 5 years in this Parliament, and bound to the Coalition agreement. They would neither dare renege on the Coalition deal nor depose Nick Clegg. Who is waiting in the wings? Chris Huhne? Now that's a political joke. Certainly not Vince Cable. Danny Alexander would be a fool to run and David Laws is currently incommunicado. In short, the Tories are in the driving seat, and the Lib Dems have lost their leverage. They are still bound to deliver their Commons votes on Coalition Agreement, but cannot threaten to take their votes in the plebiscite away - that support has evaporated.
So please let us see no Lib Dem freebies. Most importantly of those, I hope the Chancellor ignores the idiotic rebranding of Vince Cable's ludicrous "mansion tax". The increasingly worrying Cable is blowing the trumpet of fairness again. Yes, it is his view the rich should "pay their fair share". As I have said before, nobody is willing to actually put a number on "fair", because they know they are already taking a disgusting amount from them in comparison to almost any world economic power. They always forget to mention how much they already pay in tax, what they do for the economy, and how little most take from public spending. Yes, fairness, the banner under which you can apparently justify theft.
The mansion tax policy is abhorrent. It is a tax on an asset - what people choose to spend their hard-earned post-tax money on. The Government has no right to this money (like it has no right to levy inheritance tax). It is totally unfair that someone who chooses to buy an expensive house with their taxed money be taxed on it more than they already are. There is already the dubious stamp duty, and council tax that somehow links size of house to how much you should pay for identical services, used or otherwise from local Government. Someone of the same earnings could buy many smaller homes, overseas homes, gamble it all away, snort it all, or burn it all. The state should, according to Vince, differentiate between the two of these identically rich people because one put their money in a property.
It isn't about "they can afford it" and not just because many people with large homes are cash poor and couldn't, but about the concept which is morally wrong. What is even more ridiculous is that Cable thinks that he is in a position of power whereby he can demand a swap - the dropping of the 50p rate (which has caused UK tax revenues to drop as businesses fled to more tax-friendly countries) for an introduction of his disgusting policy. The 50p rate needs to go, and if the Business Secretary can't see that it is an enormous barrier in front of the sign the Coalition wishes to hang stating "Britain, open for business", perhaps it is time for him to go too. Perhaps it has been so long since the Tories were on top they don't know how to deal with winning. There's being magnanimous in victory and there's handing back the prize to the losers. One can only hope Dave, George et al know where the line is.
MPs expenses next methinks…