Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gale's View - The Clunking Fist

Those of Kent's Labour MPs - and it appears to be most of them - who see Gordon Brown as the next Prime Minister following the departure of Tony "I will serve a full term" Blair, might do well to invite "The Clunking Fist" to bang on a few doors in East Kent. All the signs are that Mr. Brown's `last budget` has all the lift-off of the proverbial lead balloon!

Out on the pre-council election trail over the weekend it became apparent that it took all of five minutes for the great British public to see through the thin smoke and cracked mirrors. There are a very large number of disillusioned people out there and that two groups, in particular, are unlikely to be `illusioned` again as long as `the present lot` are in office.

First, the pensioners. Those who have modest retirement incomes derived from state pension and, perhaps, a little occupational pension have become used to paying their taxes at, mostly, the 10 pence. rate. Seeing that disappear in a cloud of dust and the rate "lowered" to 20 pence has not overjoyed them.

It's not much comfort, either, to be told that by April 2011 their personal allowance will have risen to £10,000 tax-free or that "the poorest" will receive additional pension credit. The Credit System is, as many know from bitter experience, a nightmare and there are few who would wish to rely upon the Revenue and Customs computer to dispense the largesse with which they will be required to pay increased gas, electricity and council tax bills.

One of the other key areas of concern is the situation now faced by small businesses. Kent's commercial economy is based, to a very large extent, upon the hundreds of our local small firms who individually each employ a handful of people but collectively are responsible for a huge slice of the County's household incomes.

The Lord only knows why this Chancellor of the Exchequer has, in his last gasp, chosen to punish small firms - but punish them he has. With immediate effect, appropriately from All Fool's Day, firms which make profits of up to £300,000 will face a one per cent rise in Corporation Tax. That tax will rise again in 2008 and again, to 22% in what many believe will be election year, 2009. That may not seem, at first, like a huge rise but it could well mean the difference between a small company - a corner shop, a hairdressers or a taxi company, say - deciding not to take on an extra employee or to invest in larger premises or more modern information technology or other equipment. In short, it's another slap in the face for those entrepreneurs that bring home the bacon.

A colleague who is more adept at high finance than I tells me that Gordon Brown has raised tax by 5p in every pound to a current 38.3%, that his annual debt interest bill is only £2 billion short of our entire defence budget at £30 billion and that it represents enough to wipe out the student tuition fees now paid by every aspiring graduate some eight times over - every single year!

Remembering, as I painfully do, the long and harsh political night of 1997 I would say in friendship to my Kent Labour colleagues that they would do well to either find someone else for Her Majesty to invite to form a government or make arrangements for a premature change of career direction.

38 comments:

Tony Beachcomber said...

At last a few pre May election comments. I always find doorstep comments depend on which part of Thanet you are canvassing. Westgate in general always has been conservative territory with a small "c". So if I was to canvass Westgate Bay Avenue I would expect to find conservative voters which is hardly a surprise. Then it depends on the subject you are canvassing on, and budgets are never popular. Now if the Turner Centre is mentioned on the doorstep it is like waving a red rag in front of a bull, mention dreamland and the state of margate and the response is the same. Then there is the case of Bowen Fuller the conservative councillor who did nothing in salmestone ward. Margate has not moved forward in these past four years under the Conservative TDC controlled council. No doubt they may have scapegoats like teenage mums,unemployed youth and god forbid "foreigners". But the evidence of failure is visable and this should be a interesting election.

DrMoores said...

Quite right too! "Now if the Turner Centre is mentioned on the doorstep it is like waving a red rag in front of a bull, mention dreamland and the state of margate and the response is the same"

I have been canvassing the Linksfield rd side of Westgate with Roger Gale and Brian Goodwin this afternoon. Some die hard labour supporters "always voted Labour", lots of defectors "Will never vote Labour again" and a surprising number of people who "never" vote, which is worrying for the declining state of our democracy.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Simon, I have heard it all before I have been in local politics 25 years.Mind you it is not the Labour party you have to worry about in westgate is it, I do believe the independants are building up a challenge, especially if Flash Harry is standing, So it is a war on two fronts for you. You may suceed in picking off a few labour votes but on the other side of Margate I am picking up tory voters who vote tory nationaly but not local and I wonder why. This is because I am standing in a ward where the tory councillors have never worked the ward ,canvassed or even produced a newsletter as is often the case. I have even started a case work folder should I get elected. When I won a tory seat in 1995 I found so much neglected ward work then, so nothing really changes.

DrMoores said...

Interesting point Tony. I'm aware of the independent challenge in both Westgate and Birchington but have yet to see it appear on any canvassing expedition. I'll be really interested to see it rear its head on a face to face basis.

What confuses me more is why anyone would vote Labour anyway, given the appalling mess we are in at present!

earwigger said...

Dr Moore- I find it strange that in order to secure a council seat you have the services of Roger Gale MP no less to help you,this would indicate your party is taking the challenge of the Independents seriously. I for one,am sick of party politics and will be giving my vote to the Independents -as soon as they 'raise their heads'

Tony Beachcomber said...

Simon,I find local politics interesting because people actually vote for the person and not the party. A hard working councillor will always go that extra mile and win votes. All the sitting labour councillors in Margate have represented their wards well holding surgeries, listening and representing the people who put them there. That is where the labour vote comes from. Sometimes it is not all about politics it is about representing people.

DrMoores said...

Good point Tony but what prevents a person from switching allegiance from a part gone bad? After all, I was privileged enough to see No 10 from the inside and the corruption persuaded me to transfer my efforts elsewhere. All over Europe we can see the centre-left socialist politics is a disaster, so it's time that people selected representatives who are not prepared to sustain the rot in any form. The challenge is to find political representatives who are up to the job of running both central and local government in any party.

DrMoores said...

Inanswer to earwigger, the MP is out across all the wards during a local election, not just Westgate, whose turn it was yesterday.

Here's a question for you. You vote independent and it pushes someone like me out. Who is the loser, you or me?

Remember, I was asked to run as an independent but declined because being one could a) split the vote and b) even if I did win, I would have no influence and no ability to try and change things for the better around here.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Simon, all we hear from centre right policticians at present is negative campaigning with groundless accusations of corruption and what terrible people they think the Labour party are. On the doorstep people want to hear what the people they are voting for are going to do for them. So what are the conservatives going to do for Margate what are their policies, if the past four years are anything to go by I would say not a lot.

DrMoores said...

At the central government level, perhaps we can accept that Labour are incompetent at best, corrupt at worst?

At the local government level we need to consider the what's best for Thanet in the light of what Labour has achieved in the past for the island and the potential direction and quality of any Labour cabinet. And while voters may be dismayed by some of the more controversial decisions of the incumbents, the alternative is too ghastly to imagine!

Chris Wells said...

I would agree with Tony Beachcomber to the extent that the local labour party are good at opposition. They oppose everything, even those things that are a continuation of the projects that they heralded when in charge of the administration at TDC - Westwood Cross, shops and housing; Turner Centre; Pleasurama; wheelie bins; to name but a few. You will all note the sudden rash of newspaper and scrutiny stories of valiant labour members representing residents groups, views, and popular causes - brilliant timing....with the Theatre Royal, Planning decisions, asset sales, the Conservatives seem a little set on scoring own goals with an election on the horizon.

Its a little more complicated than that, most of the timescales worked to are dictated by legislation or external events. Facing the electorate with controversial decisions in the air may not be politically the smartest move, but it is honest in the sense these decisions are not hidden away.

I have seen many labour newsletters over the last 4 years. Almost always they push the boundaries of acceptable comment verging on absolute untruth, and many have formed the view that local labour would rather see thanet fail miserably to get themselves re -elected than acknowledge any good stuff that is going on.

Nationally it is just such habits of dishonest presentation and spin that has more than anything else destroyed the new labour project, and is visible and audible everywhere when people assess or comment on the budget.

Tony suggests locally people will still be fooled by such tactics. I hope not, but we will see, Tony, we will see.

Tony Beachcomber said...

I see the gun boats have turned up.

Chris, I do not for one minute believe people are easily fooled this is not the 1980's. Today, people are better informed thanks to the internet etc,

Take Margate for instance, the sudden decline in the past four years is for all to see. No amount of leaflets and political properganda alter that fact. Margate is heading for a crisis with the loss of tourism and manufacturing, the council should be fighting our corner.They are coming across as if they do not know which way to turn.

Mind you, they are struggling to empty wheelie bins on time which says a lot.

Anonymous said...

Tony, who was in charge of TDC when Westwood Cross was planned and who was going to allow a house-owner on Haine Road to be compulsory purchased out of his home until Mr Gale and Tory councillors took up the cause on his behalf?
The sudden decline in Margate, as opposed to its long slow decline, is surely a direct result of Westwood Cross. Until, Margate can attract Thanetonians to spend money by visiting it regularly, its decline will continue. Last Saturday afternoon, Margate and Cecil Sq was deserted. To blame this situation on the present administration is nonsense.

Tony Beachcomber said...

I not blaming the current administration or anyone else for the decline, I am concerned that they are doing nothing about it.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Simon,I've been out canvassing today and it does look as if a certain deselected lady westgate conservative councillor who is popular in westgate is standing as part of the independant line up with the support of a few not very happy conservative party members. Also the grey party are putting up candidates in the west seats incluiding mine, It looks as if democracy is alive and kicking. Great stuff!!!

DrMoores said...

Yes, I know about this and with the emphasis on "few". Readers might rightly ask what level of activity and service to the local community might lead to a sitting councillor to be de-selected and it's not for me to comment.

Tony Beachcomber said...

More or less endorsing what I said earlier,it does sound like a case of elected conservative councillors neglecting their wards again?

But then from what I can gather it was a case of holding a selection meeting why she was on holiday. tut tut

Anonymous said...

Tony B is right to say that he beat a tory councillor in 1995, but bear in mind that a dead cat with a red rosette would have won then. (In fact, rumour has it that a few did!)

Whilst I accept Tony was hard working,The ward that the was part of a team in was in a reasonable state, and was , I am assured, an 'Easy ward' to represent.

DrMoores said...

Your'e in danger of misrepresenting the facts Tony!

Anonymous said...

I wonder where Tony Beachcomber is getting his information from ? The selection meetings are not publicised so I assume that the de-selected councillor is feeding him information to, dare I suggest, gain sympathy and maybe pick up a few extra votes. Common sense should tell you that hardworking councillors, of any party, who put the needs of their wards first, who have a proven track record and who actually go out there and work, are not de-selected. If you are unfortunate enough to be 'dropped' by your party, then that should tell you that the person must have done, or not done, something pretty appalling.
It is not enough to simply have the title of 'councillor', it is hard work, often thankless and very time consuming. Lazy councillors obviously get their 'come-uppance' at election time ! Hey ! How about this for an idea, if you've been helped in the past 4 years by her, then vote for her - if she wins the independant seat then obviously her former party was wrong about her. Whatever the case, this will be a very interesting election !

Chris Wells said...

No Tony, you are not blaming the administration for doing nothing, but for doing either not what you would like, or, worse doing what you would have done and now have to oppose!

Thanks for considering me important enough to be a gunboat - perhaps I should chug off to Iran. Gosh, is this the local labour party's new tactic - getting all who may damage them abroad out of the way....mmmmm

Earwigger said...

Dr Moores-Your opinion that an independent is without influence is wide of the mark.If elected you will be subjected to the party whip-that is if you want to make progress with your party and assume some sort of office-so your influence will also be curtailed.
Perhaps you should consider this,the Tories hold 29 seats,Labour23,with one independent so a decent return of independent candidates taking tory seats - eight? - could just see the minority obtaining the balance of power,is that enough influence for you?

DrMoores said...

It's a good argument for sure but I'll bet you £10 that Labour will only pick-up more seats than it already has if an independent splits the vote.

This is why Labour are busy tacitly and sometimes openly encouraging the independent vote because the overall consensus across the country is that the party will face decimation. Thus the only way that Labour can really gain is to encourage the independents.

It's also why - the rumour from Westminster - Labour may possibly call a snap election during the European elections, to leverage the UKIP protest vote. Trouble is that UKIP is in a mess, so it's not quite going to plan.

Remember it was me ages ago that suggested that Milliband might run against Brown and I was told I was crazy to even consider such a thing.

So.. are you on for that bet?

Tony Beachcomber said...

I don't know why people think that voting independant splits the tory vote. Independants do well at attracting the would be Lib dem vote simply because the lib dems have no organisation in some parts of Thanet.
When it is a two horse race, would be lib dem voters have only the choice of labour or conservative, but when it is a three horse race many would be lib dem voters feel happy with the third option which is generaly independant.
The trouble the conservatives have is when they gain lib dem votes in a two horse race they start to assume it is their natural core vote turning out for them and and take it for granted.
Bert Tree for example had a knack of attracting that type of voter.

DrMoores said...

I would remind the terminally unpleasant individual who calls himself "One Voice in Thanet" that he is banned from this site, so kindly have the decency to stay away or I will have to turn comment moderation back on. Before he re-appeared readers were enjoying an intelligent level of debate, so take the hint and leave!

Anonymous said...

One Voice might spend his time better by posting on his own site; there has not been a new posting on Thanetonian since 17th February.
I might not agree with what he says there, but it is an alternative view and merits an airing.

Anonymous said...

As Gerald Ford once said "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have"

Gordon Brown seems to me to be testing this theory to destruction.

DrMoores said...

Unless you haven't noticed,this weblog, has in recent weeks been a civilised and intelligent forum, which has been enough for others to comment on how comfortable they feel making posts in an environment which does not tolerate the petty and very personal animosities displayed by "One Voice".

His presence is not welcome here and either I'm forced to turn back on comment moderation or he does what he has been asked to many times before and leave, so that he can direct his twisted personality in a direction where it may be appreciated.

DrMoores said...

Sadly, our obsessive and delusional troll, refuses to leave quietly and wishes to inconvenience everyone else. So I'm afraid that comment moderation is back on again.

I assume that the long and peaceful gap between his present and previous comments is a result of his managing to temporarily free himself from his straight-jacket.

Mr Friday said...

What angers me the most is the financial cost to the UK of the ongoing invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Latest estimates are that over £7.4 billion has been spent on this madness at a time when pension funds are crumbling and most of the country are being forced onto means-tested benefits.

Who thinks this represents value for money ?

Anonymous said...

I am a Westgate resident and have not received any profile information/canvassing from Dr Moores as yet. I would be interested to read some - could you direct me to any? I see from an earlier blog that you used to be a Royal Marine Commando. Do you think this will give you an advantage in local politics?

DrMoores said...

There should be some material on candidates and councillors in circulation soon. I hope so anyway.

The Royal Marines was a very long time ago and I'm reminded how long, this week with 25 years since the Falklands. Would it offer an advantage, I doubt it, unless it's the Iran/Iraq sympathy vote you are thinking of or simply just a short haircut?

Anonymous said...

I was thinking more of kicking some butt where it's needed in the Council! Walking in Westgate shopping area last week I was disgusted at the amount of rubbish blowing around on the road and pavement. I also understand that because the crime level in Westgate has fallen thanks to the CCTVs installed, they have been removed because they are now needed elsewhere!!! the day after this was done, a shop window was kicked in and unfortunately there was no longer any CCTV to capture the culprits. Out of interest were you in the Falklands conflict and which unit of the RMCs did you serve with?

DrMoores said...

I will look into the CCTV issue. I didn't know that.

I was pre-Falklands 41 Cdo RMR and funnily enough I was in a little presentation at CTCRM Lympstone once where they were looking for volunteers for the garrison there. I guess I was in danger of being called-up if it had escalated further but was working in the middle east at the time.

Anonymous said...

This exchange just shows how easily information can be misinterpreted or twisted by unkind readers of your blog, doesn't it Simon?

Your 318 post confirmed your membership of the Royal Marines and by making a reference to the Falklands conflict could have led some to conclude you were involved in it (and make something of it). You have set the record straight on that.

And you have also, helpfully, made clear that you were in the Royal Marines Reserves rather than a "full-timer". Both are laudable outfits of course.

DrMoores said...

So? The Falklands anniversary was this week unless you hadn't noticed, hence the reference. In fact, I very nearly went in full-time, which is what the RM wanted and which was my eariest ambition but circumstances and a new career got in the way!

Did you have a point to make?

Anonymous said...

Simply that some could have sought to make mischief out of this casual and innocent exchange.

They would probably have alleged a)that you were misleading people into thinking you were a full-time commando rather than a reservist, and b) that you were implying a personal involvement in the Falklands conflict which was not the case - as you have now pointed out.

DrMoores said...

Thank you for your concern. I'm very much aware of the importance of being absolutely straight, particularly where any involvement in politics is concerned. One chap I knew, who was President of Lotus Development corporation, made the mistake of implying an USMC Pilot record in Vietnam. Ultimately, it was revealed that the only service he saw was in Air Traffic Control in the States. It wrecked his career.

I should add though and I'm sure that your'e aware that the line between a Reservist and a full-time member of HM Forces can be very thin indeed. Even in my time, one could opt to spend months at a time with a regular unit if time or inclination allowed.

It's a very committed person indeed who joins a reserve unit today and they are worthy of our respect.