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Frontal assault

I am back in the warm embrace of the West – the weather being considerably warmer in London than in Bratislava. I shall write more about my ‘adventures’ abroad, suffice to say that towards the end of my trip I was genuinely looking forward to coming back home.

The politics and the public life in Eastern European countries usually make me appreciate the subtlety(!) of British politics, but my first encounter with the news in Britain quickly dispelled any reluctant appreciation of developed western democracy. The most upsetting development is the tax rises awaiting the British taxpayers in 2003 or as Francis Elliott of the Sunday Telegraph calls it, a ‘triple whammy’, which could add up to as much as £1,200 per family:

  1. A one per cent rise in National Insurance
  2. An average seven per cent rise in council tax
  3. Congestion charges in major cities

According to the same article, taxes are rising more steeply in Britain than in any other European country, while in America, the tax burden has fallen in recent years by 0.7 percent to 29.8 percent.

As Maurice Fitzpatrick of Tenon, a national accountancy firm puts it:

“This is the year that Labour will break cover as tax-raisers. People will feel a direct impact for the first time. In the past, the Government has been chipping away at the margins. This time, it will be a straightforward assault.”

I suppose Labour has no need to fear the opposition anymore, as the Tories oscillate between moribund and ridiculous. Their feeble and seriously confused proposals to reduce public spending by ‘saving’ money confirm just how clueless the Conservatives in Britain are:

“It’s too early to say how much [public spending can be reduced], but it could be up to 20 per cent. There is waste going on all over the place. It’s completely ridiculous. Everywhere there is a massive spraying of money, without it actually delivering anything.”

Shock, horror, Mr Flight. And you are going to sort it out how exactly? By setting up commitees of advisors to find ways of simplifying the tax system, and by providing government support for company directors who set up employee share schemes as a way of promoting ‘democractic capitalism’!?

Oh, and first let your comrades know, because they were very surprised to hear about this.

“We had a memo about this in November but since then, nothing. When I heard about it on the radio you could say I was more than a little surprised.”

Watching the Labour government unmask itself and the Conservative Party to hasten its demise, I wonder how much longer it will take for a decent opposition to emerge. Not that I put much hope into any opposition arising within the existing political meta-context or know what would make an opposition ‘decent’ under the circumstances. Any ideas?

2 comments to Frontal assault

  • Ant1

    It’s not all bad news. I believe that motorcycles are exempt from the congestion charge. Otherwise get yourself certified as “disabled ” and pay about £10 per year. Alternatively, buy a German number plate and pay nothing. Of course what London needs is a pedestrian congestion charge to clear the pavements of Oxford Street and King’s Road of beggars.

  • It is splendid to have you back in England… We at Samizdata, and of course Gordon Brown and all the Inland Revenue Service, welcome you back to Britain!