Archive for octobre, 2012

Reflections on our Welfare Discussion – Michael Webster

mardi, octobre 30th, 2012

I thought the brief a very unsatisfactory one (and this does not refer to Paul?s handling of it, which was excellent.) It should have let us know the overall total of the Welfare budget and its relation to overall government spending and to G.N.P. and some idea of the rapidity of its growth. Then we would have had a context in which to make judgments.
The most important problem was to decide between taking a rigorous stance to reduce the opportunities to abuse the system, even if it resulted in eliminating some meritorious cases or a more permissive stance to ensure the coverage of a maximum of deserving cases, even if it resulted in permitting cases of abuse of the system. A knowledge of the total financial situation would have helped in this.
We should also have been given an idea of the cost of the different items. I could have taken a more generous position when dealing with an issue with a total cost of 50 million pounds rather than one costing 5 billion.
As it was, I felt I was making snap decisions on some items, with little relation to decisions on others. No context.
I would hope that these opinions could be passed on to the designers of the brief.

What about UKIP?

mercredi, octobre 10th, 2012

What to do about UKIP is a question facing the Conservative party, looking forwards to the next General Election in May 2015. There has already been talk of some sort of UKIP-Conservative non-aggression pact. This allowed the UKIP leader Nigel Farage at their party conference the opportunity, which he of course took, to suggest a possible trade-off in exchange for an In/Out referendum on membership of the European Union (EU).
UKIP is currently riding high with some 10% of the popular vote in the opinion polls, benefiting not least from some Conservative right defections, including many who came of age under Mrs Thatcher. These are « Thatcher?s no-nonsense, self-made & self-employed people » who also contributed through UKIP to the failure of Prime Minister Cameron to obtain a clear majority in 2010. That is, according to this article on UKIP by Andrew Stuttaford of
With the economy also still struggling to come out of recession, it is perhaps then not so surprising to find the Labour party rallying behind a « One Nation » marketing slogan, and not having to reveal any details their policy solutions for the country’s problems, given their comfortable lead of 10-14% over the Conservatives mid-term. Certainly Labour should explain how delaying cuts to major budget items , borrowing more to fund growth, increased taxing of wealth creators (when the top 10% already pay 50% of income tax), all taken together will not continue to increase the deficit & associated total debt, undermine confidence in the financial markets and increase the cost of UK borrowing, in a vicious circle.
Still, many things can happen between now and the next General Election, including the economy finally developing a regular growth pattern. The way also seems to be clearing towards a two-question (In/Out) referendum on Scottish independence, which would have a major and negative impact on a core vote of Labour if Scotland voted to leave the Union. It is also becoming increasingly likely that some sort of referendum on EU membership will be offered to the British people, an ?everything to lose but small chance of success? situation for UKIP to savour.
However, reading the above article & whatever one might think of the rather controversial Nigel Farage, it would appear that UKIP currently relies too much on him to promote their cause. It also remains a single issue (anti-EU) party, now trying to think of other policies beyond the EU question and to redefine itself as more than a simple depository for protest votes. This does not mean that UKIP should not be taken seriously by the Conservative party. Being rude about UKIP and insulting their intelligence, is no way to win back those natural Conservative party voters who have defected to UKIP.