There has been much said about Gordon Brown’s accession to Prime Minister.Most of it seems to revolve around how he has surprised the Tories, by not causing a massive poll slump after taking the keys to Number 10. Quite why anyone would have thought that Brown’s accession would have caused such a down-surge in popularity I do not know.
Image, one of the areas where people said Brown would err, has not got the same hold over the public that it did in 1997. The ‘Cool Britannia’ hysteria of that era has dissipated, to be replaced by a more image-weary media and public. And, in any case, all media appearances can be heavily managed and choreographed, interviewers can be handpicked and speeches carefully constructed; leaving little chance of the voters seeing the real personality of Brown shining through.
The other hope, I suppose, was that Brown would quickly be seen as a 1970s dinosaur, whose socialism would send the voters of the ‘middle’ ground back into the arms of the Conservatives. It should have been fairly obvious by now, however, that Brown does understand that you need wealth creation and lower-than-1970s direct taxation to make an economy tick.
In saying all that Brown does have some severe weaknesses. The economy has performed well in a number of ways, but it is certainly not the ‘miracle’ economy that Brown and his media Toadies like to paint out. Most damning of all is the question of who has benefited from Brown’s policies, who has lost out and what effects will they have on our country in the future.
The City has been full of praise for Brown, and why shouldn’t they be? He has kept direct taxation reasonably low, and resisted the temptation to clamp down on record bonuses. Furthermore, there is non-domicile tax status in which foreigners (many of whom hold British passports) pay about 25% tax rather than the 40% top rate. That is great for them, and many would argue that this has lead to top foreign talent descending on the City making it the powerhouse (or, indeed, the only working engine at all) of the British economy.
This windfall has allowed Brown to throw the money at the people he regards as either too important too annoy votes-wise, or as ‘worthy’ of government help. So we now have a protected public sector retirement age of 60; whilst those of my generation have been told that they must work till 68 before retiring. Then there are those who are technically called ‘economically inactive’, including all those who live off welfare, the black economy and crime. Many of these people are classed as ‘poor’ by the government and the likes of Polly Toynbee, but are, if they have plenty of children, more than likely far more cash-rich than those who work on low to middle incomes.
Brown’s recent machinations in which the income tax starting rate of 10% has been scrapped, is yet another kick in the teeth for these people. Indeed, the marginal tax rate for the poorest members of society who try to better themselves through work, is now 90%. True, many of these people have ‘benefited’ from House Price inflation over the last ten years, but nowhere near as much as the upper-echelons of society.
The effects of this are obvious: by subsidising the unproductive you breed more and more of these types of people, often alienated from general society and shorn of the civilizing nature which the act of working brings to a person. More than likely, you’ll also force those who are on the bread line to drop out of work and maybe even split-up relationships, to benefit from the Prime Minister’s beloved tax credits. This policy is, therefore, undermining the moral fabric of the country.
It is true that these policies will have pernicious economic effects too, but due to the strength of the City and the global economy, these problems will only manifest themselves of the long term. So what needs to be attacked now is the immoral aspect of Gordon Brown’s economic policies, not his financial policies. The degenerative aspects of this should be obvious to any conservative; why then does it seem that only a Member of Parliament for Labour, understands that?
Labels: Gordon Brown, Middle Class, Tax