My policy on VAT? Trebles all round!
A MerICaN songwriter Tom lehrer said satire died the day they awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger, President richard Nixon’s Secretary of State during the Vietnam war.
That’s how I felt when I learned George Osborne had been appointed editor of the london evening Standard. This is the same George Osborne who was the second most important member of a government which brought you the vindictive leveson Inquisition against the Press and sat back as the police rounded up dozens of innocent journalists simply for doing their job.
I spent ten happy years on the Standard, as industrial correspondent, newsdesk executive, leader writer and, latterly, columnist. But I have to admit, I’m not sure any of that would qualify me actually to edit the paper.
So you can understand my amazement when it was announced that Boy George was to succeed my old colleague Sarah Sands as editor. He has no obvious qualifications for the job, which he will have to fit around his various other lucrative commitments.
as Peter Preston, a former Guardian editor who now plies his trade pontificating about the media in The Observer, remarked on Sunday: ‘you might as well make richard littlejohn Chancellor of the exchequer.’
Fair point, guv. But it got me thinking that perhaps I was being a bit harsh on Osborne. In time, he may come to be mentioned in the same breath as the giants of my trade. The Standard has a special place in my heart, so I wish him well.
and if he can edit a newspaper, then why shouldn’t I become Chancellor of the exchequer?
Be honest, I couldn’t do much worse than the current incumbent, the hapless Philip Hammond, whose recent bugger’s muddle of a Budget created a full-blown political crisis. OK, so I don’t have any specific experience to justify my being put in charge of the nation’s finances.
But, frankly, neither has Hammond. Nor Osborne, for that matter.
Spreadsheet Phil was a property developer, who dabbled in flogging used cars when he was younger. George has never had a proper job outside politics.
So what would I do if I became Chancellor? For a start, I’d sack every single one of the mandarins at the Treasury, who believe all the money we earn belongs to the Government and it’s simply a question of them deciding how much to let us keep.
Their track record is abysmal and their role in Project Fear was a disgrace. In case you haven’t noticed, at the time of writing Britain is in debt to the tune of £1,833,405,357,162. By the time you read this, that figure will have risen nearer to £ 2 trillion, since our national debt is increasing at the rate of £5,170 every second.
according to some estimates, when you chuck in public pension liabilities, the real total is nearer £5 trillion — equivalent to the thick end of eighty grand for every man, woman and child in the country.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that the best way to tackle the debt mountain is by increasing taxes, even though all the evidence shows that raising tax has the opposite effect and brings in less, not more, revenue.
Brexit has given us a once-in-alifetime opportunity to overhaul our economy. The merchants of doom say that after we leave the eU, we mustn’t become a low-tax, low- regulation country like Singapore. Why not? Sounds good to me. We are an enterprising people who thrive when government gets out of our way.
despite the burden of bureaucracy and taxation, Britain is booming. Just think what we could achieve if we incentivised enterprise by lowering taxes and scrapping unnecessary rules and regulations.
Instead of hammering the selfemployed and small business owners, we should be encouraging them. Sadly, the Treasury thinks differently. It wants to make the self- employed pay more tax in exchange for state benefits such as paid holidays and maternity leave.
This is complete madness, but is consistent with the patronising, age- old view that the Man In Whitehall Knows Best. No, he doesn’t. Most people choose to become self-employed because they don’t want to be supplicants of the State, or in servitude to big employers.
I’d go further and let everyone become self-employed, no matter what they do for a living. I’d lower income taxes, introducing a flat rate for all — not higher than 25 per cent for a start, reducing to 15 per cent in the following years.
OK, I can already hear the squeals. Who would pay for state pensions and the NHS? Over time, there’d be no need for either.
let people keep their own money and decide how to spend it themselves. let them buy private pensions and health insurance. The Big State model is broken and should be consigned to the last century, where it belongs.
I’d get rid of stamp duty, inheritance tax and eliminate all reliefs and exemptions. The plan to make the self-employed file four tax returns every year would be torn up immediately.
The entire tax system should be simplified so nobody’s annual return should take up more than a single side of a4 paper.
To help balance the books, I’d get rid of the foreign aid budget altogether, offering help only where it is needed most and in emergencies.
as we’re leaving the eU, I’d cancel all transfers to Brussels immediately, on the grounds that we’ve given enough already.
I’d also stop subsidising the Scots, so that folk north of the border realise exactly what an independent Wee Burney government would cost them.
Business rates would be scrapped, too. and I’d lower duty on strong drink to help the pub trade.
all local government services would be put out to tender, with the only proviso being that the dustbins must be emptied at least once a week. and if you think what we’ve got now is ‘austerity’ just wait until the littlejohn axe really starts swinging.
I’d abolish most Government departments, starting with the Scottish Office; international development; Culture, Media and Sport; whatever the Min of ag calls itself this week; anything to do with climate change or ‘diversity’; and every single quango from the equalities commissariat to the Welsh language Commission.
The Treasury wouldn’t escape the chop, either, nor would HMrC. With simpler taxes, there’d be no need for so many civil servants.
They’d be made redundant overnight, with a golden goodbye of 20 grand each so they can go and do something useful like starting a small business, creating wealth rather than confiscating it.
as for my policy on VaT? Mine’s a large one, dave, easy on the tonic. Grey Goose if you’ve got it, but absolut’s fine.
Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.
Trebles all round!