Archive for mars, 2010

Chancellors` Debate

Mercredi, mars 31st, 2010

The Channel 4 Ask the Chancellors debate last Monday evening was an exercise in popular democracy which seemed rather artificial and staged, with initially none of the three would-be Chancellors seemingly at ease. However, nobody lost and George Osborne for the Conservatives enhanced his reputation in showing he could think on his feet under pressure from two experienced political operators. The studio audience responded to the more pugnacious and entertaining style of Vince Cable (the smaller Liberal Democrat purposely positioned between Alistair Darling for Labour and George Osborne), throwing out good sound-bites such as fictional efficiency savings to offset the National Insurance cut of the Conservatives or citing pin-striped Scargills holding the Country to ransom, in reference to City bankers threatening to leave due to higher taxes. Alistair Darling as the Labour Government incumbent had a certain gravitas about him but the audience also appreciated his quip of we are all for cross party cooperation, George, in answer to the charge that the Conservatives had forced Labour to withdraw the so-called death tax of 10% for the care of the elderly. Questions and issues addressed included the £167 billion deficit & associated cuts required, priorities, social care for the elderly, new taxes for middle incomes, tax rises resulting in a brain drain, trust in future judgement, guarantees on future jobs/house purchases for current students and cuts mean less public sector jobs. A more detailed summary of the debated responses can be found under Pages/Chancellors debate 28/03 in the far right hand column.

Samantha Cameron

Lundi, mars 29th, 2010

The accent of Samantha Cameron during her recent interview with Sir Trevor McDonald on British television attracted some comment. With Old Etonian Sir Reginald Sheffield as her father in the family home Normanby Hall, a 3000 acre estate in Lincolnshire, and her mother now married to Old Etonian Viscount Astor, a former minister in the government of John Major, Samantha was expected to have a so-called posh, cut-glass accent. Instead she sounds more in tune with the more egalitarian culture of today, her accent moulded during her education at Marlborough College, followed by Camberwell College of Art and a BA in Fine Art from Bristol Polytechnic. In the more class-conscious past, it was felt that people who were aspirational should change their accents to fit in with their betters and get a good job. The wife of David Cameron is, therefore, a credit to the new Conservative party but then, she is also said to be descended from Nell Gwyn, mistress of Charles II, and her great great great great great great great great- grandmother!

Budget 24 March,2010

Jeudi, mars 25th, 2010

The last Labour government budget before the likely 6 May UK election was partly a political exercise with much not likely to become law due to time constraints before the current parliamentary session ends. The Conservative Party is also committed to another budget within 50 days of the election if they win. However, for your general political briefing purposes only the highlights included:
- Freezing the inheritance tax nil rate band at £325,000 between 6 April 2010 and 5 April 2015.
- Confirming the ISA allowance as £10,200 for 2010/11 and indexing it thereafter.
- Doubling the capital gains tax entrepreneurs’ relief to £2 million per person for disposals after 5 April 2010.
- Doubling the annual investment allowance for investment in plant
and machinery to £100,000 a year from April 2010.
- Confirming that the small companies’ corporation tax rate will remain at 21% for 2010.
- Increasing the stamp duty land tax rate from 4% to 5% for purchases of residential property over £1 million starting in 2011/12.
- Raising the threshold for stamp duty land tax to £250,000 for first time buyers from 25 March 2010 for two years.
- Substantially increasing the minimum amount a VCT (Venture Capital Trust) must invest in eligible shares.
- Imposing standard rate VAT on postal packets and parcels from 31 January 2011.
- Confirming the revised restrictions on pension tax relief from 2011/12.
- Introducing a penalty for tax evasion of up to 200% where there is an offshore element.

Study Groups

Lundi, mars 15th, 2010

The position paper prepared by Michael Webster introducing the Problems of the Banking System for our Study Group meeting of 16th March, 2010 on Financial Regulation has been posted under Pages/Study Groups/Banking system problems on the right.

Proactive leadership

Mercredi, mars 10th, 2010

The gap between the Conservatives and Labour in the polls is narrowing because they are not taking leadership with a well presented alternative vision for the electorate, rather than attacking Gordon Brown and reacting to events such as the Lord Ashcroft tax issue. The financial markets for example are still waiting for a strong signal on national debt reduction and the message for the voters is that governments in Sweden and Canada with comfortable welfare systems have already shown how to manage deep cuts in their national budgets without major social dislocation.

Party Political Funding

Mardi, mars 9th, 2010

Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative Party’s deputy-chairman, is an important asset not only for his financial support but also for bringing his expertise to focus more effectively on the marginal seats that win elections. He is, therefore, under attack from the opposition and in the media and portrayed as a politically influential but unelected rich man who is ””not paying his British taxes in full””. This has naturally caught the attention of the electorate suffering the effects of the recession and made very aware of the massive hole in the government’s budget financing requirements.
Whether Lord Ashcroft is resident and ordinarily resident, and domiciled or not in the UK, and has completed his tax return satisfactorily is a matter for HMRC, in common with other UK-based taxpayers. He is also no different from Lord Paul, the privy counsellor and counterpart on the Labour benches (with additional problems arising from his parliamentary expense claims), and other rich individuals such as Sir Philip Green, knighted for his services to retailing while avoiding millions of pounds in tax by putting his investments in the name of his wife, a Monaco resident. All have adopted the available option of aiming to minimise their overall tax exposure on their world-wide assets. The difference with the majority of PAYE tax -payers, is in these rich individuals also being able to afford expensive accountants to handle their more complicated affairs within the bounds of tax and general domicile laws.
However, it is a sensitive political issue for David Cameron which tests his leadership competence as a future Prime Minister and again brings to the fore the need to address the increasingly devalued “cash for honours” system and party political funding. Certainly Barack Obama showed how to mobilise a multitude of small donors for his successful presidential election campaign.

CPF input 21/01/10

Lundi, mars 8th, 2010

Our input to the Conservative Policy Forum paper on National Security following the CPF group meeting of 21 January, 2010 has now been posted under Pages/Conservative Policy Forum/National Security.