My pol­icy on VAT? Tre­bles all round!

Daily Mail - - News -

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!

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