One rule for the rich, another for the poor

I like to think of myself as a sceptical idealist.  Which may surprise some of you.

I’m not nearly as cynical as I make out, and on occasion, am wont to daft naivete.  Especially where politicians are concerned.

Deep down, I look for the redeeming qualities:  everyone has some surely.  And I like to think that all politicians will come good in the end, once the folly of their ways has been shown to them.  I may hae ma doots, but more often than not, I’m keen to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

That was before.  This is now.  And I have come to realise that this Conservative-Liberal Democrat lot in government are the worst I have ever known.

It only takes a modicum of research to find them out.  Five minutes in fact, was all I needed, lurking on the House of Lords’ webpages to discover that it really is one rule for the one per cent and a whole different set of mores for the 99%.

Last year in the budget, the Chancellor announced that private jets would be subject to air passenger duty.  I commented on it at the time, in a budget review for Newsnet Scotland before its spat and its split, along the lines of not having realised that private jets were exempt from the tax the hoi polloi had to pay (something that the last UK Labour government either allowed or tolerated or both).

Thanks to the Lords – my new heroes after their good work in demolishing some of the worst excesses of the welfare reform bill in the last two weeks – we now know that those poor wee souls who fly privately are getting a long lead-in time before being hit by this new tax.  Lord Palmer asked on Wednesday why air passenger duty on private jets would not be implemented until 2013.  This was the reply from one of the UK Government’s front bench team, Lord de Mauley (no sniggering in the cheap seats please):

My Lords, from April 2013 air passenger duty will for the first time cover passengers travelling aboard private or business jet flights. The changes will bring a substantial number of new operators into the regime and will require the introduction of special rules, tailored to business aviation. Given that the sector comprises many small operators, the Government decided to implement the change from 2013 in order to ensure that burdens both for HMRC and industry were minimised and that the system functions effectively.”

How thoughtful, giving folk time to prepare for the change.  Shame they refuse to do the same for the lesser mortals, whose burdens will be increasing hugely from this April, thanks to changes to the tax credit regime and other sundry attempts to reduce the UK’s public expenditure deficit.  All those pop stars, oliogarchs, footballers and global business people who fly hither and thon on their very important business need time to ensure they can meet the burden of paying tax every time they and their entourages visit Blighty.  Because when you are very rich and can afford to own or charter a private jet, you might just not manage to pay the additional whack that air passenger duty is going to put on the cost.

Worst of all, this same courtesy has not been afforded to people on benefits.  The welfare reform bill has not yet passed.  Given the views and votes of their Lordships, there might be a bit of ping pong to happen still, at least until someone blinks or the Parliament Act is invoked.  In any event, the earliest we are likely to see the act passed and on the statute books is Easter.  It might even take until the summer, yet the bulk of the changes come into effect by April 2013.  There has been a nod to the complexity or impact of some measures which have been given longer roll-out periods but mostly, the single biggest upheaval to welfare benefits in a generation will come all at once.

With little consideration of the burden it’s going to place on some of the poorest and most vulnerable individuals and families all across the UK.  Worse, many of the systems have yet to be developed, let alone tested for effective functionality – as the Scottish Government has been finding out every time it asks to see the modelling done to gauge the impact of many of the changes.  One of the reasons for the Scottish Parliament’s reluctance to pass a legislative consent motion allowing Westminster carte blanche over measures that affected devolved areas was because of its inability to make an informed decision on the impact, thanks to the tardiness of the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC to provide the necessary information.

But whatever the consequences, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats do not want to hang around and find out.  They’re bashing on, ignoring the gloom and doom-mongers that make up the voluntary sector (mostly) and who know the potential effects of some of these measures because they work with those most affected by the reforms day in and day out.  Organisations’ calls for caution have been brushed aside.

This reform is necessary, they say, on so many levels.  We haven’t got time to work out the consequences of all the measures, they reckon.  Time is of the essence.

But only when it’s about sweeping away some of the founding values and principles of the welfare state and pushing potentially hundreds of thousands of people into deep and abiding poverty.  When it comes to rich people, then time is yet another luxury afforded to them.

Sceptical idealist?  Make that a complete cynic where the ConDem government is concerned.  There is not a single redeeming quality to be found.


6 thoughts on “One rule for the rich, another for the poor

  1. I was really astounded reading an article by Severin Carroll in the Guardian to read this:

    “Curran said Labour would be very sceptical about plans to devolve welfare to Scotland. Breaking up the British welfare state, she said, would be an incendiary proposal to many Scots, not least since a million voters supported Labour’s tougher stance on benefits.

    “It’s just too crude to say we’re better in Scotland and we’ve a better attitude to the welfare state in Scotland,” she said. “The break-up of the British welfare state? If that’s what’s at risk in ‘devo max’, I think people will be very interested in that.”

    I am not replicating that just to have a go at Labour, I have just been trying to work out how she has got herself into that position. And yes there is a big resentment out there against the fabled families living off benefits with plasma tellies, three holidays a year, designer clothes etc etc. And I dare say there are people who know how to work the system. But how have peope like Mararet Curran got themselves into the position of not seeing the wood for the trees? It’s quite bizarre because as an MP surely she has constituents at the raw end of this?

    I really don’t know what can be done about any of it because the reforms will be in place before the independence referendum and, supposing we win, it will still be a hell of a job to unpick it all especially in the context of a newly independent state. All the Lords can do is delay this really, they can’t stop it. It’s pretty grim.

  2. Men (boys?) of my age will probably recall the comic 2000AD (which is still going). In one story, there were a bunch of aliens called Cleggs. Mercenaries, all they were interested in was meat, and would do anything for it. They were hired by the evil dictator who would stop at nothing to have the citizens do what he thought right.

    Funnily enough, a certain Lib Dem has the same name……..

    And the Lib Dems go against their principle and do what the rich want.

    Anything for a scrap at the table…….

  3. I always wondered about this myself, particularly the Scottish Conservatives as they approached their day of reckoning in 1997, that what was needed was even more Thatcherism not less. As unpopular as it was for them, seeming not too care if they were in turn pulled down because of it, they sought to bring down everything that the state provided, from health to education to the provision of public services.

    I realise now, that the need to do this was fuelled by party idealology, not what was in the interests of the country. They needed to push through their reforms before they got voted out. Even if they did lose, the reforms would be in place and far too expensive to remove or do away with. These Tories we have now are not the pragmatic “one-nation” Tories of the 50’s – these people are monetarists pure and simple.

    One of the reasons that the Tories are a dying breed up here in Scotland is that their reforms (what they did manage to achieve) undermined and removed most of their support. Their vote in the post war years was reinforced by the post-war consensus. They got rid of all that and replaced it with the market. It’s very difficult to get teary eyed and patriotic about the market – they thought they were liberating people from the oppressive state. They thought they were delivering devolution through the free market. All they brought was poverty, low wages, and closed hospital wards leading to people with mental illness wandering the streets, which they called “care in the community”. They brought fear and misery into a lot of people’s lives.

    I get a sense that this is what the Cons want to do again, to do the damage now while there is a crisis that makes reform look necessary and urgent. It’s their only chance this generation to undo all that’s left of the post war consensus in England, and bring about their free market nirvana.

    That’s why I think this could be the last century of the Union. There is nothing left to rally round – it’s either been sold off or removed by the Tories and New Labour.
    The Lib Dems are writing the longest political suicide note in history, but haven’t the wits to see it.

  4. “All those pop stars, oliogarchs, footballers and global business people who fly hither and thon on their very important business need time to ensure they can meet the burden of paying tax every time they and their entourages visit Blighty.”

    By which they mean: time to ensure their accountants can find a way of “offsetting” this new tax burden or, if none such loophole already exists, slip one into an innocuous-looking bill about something completely unrelated.

  5. Thanks for finally writing about >One rule for the rich, another for the poor A Burdz Eye View <Liked it!

  6. The Tories……

    and their flying chums……

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