Saturday, 2 June 2012

Coalition is Listening not U-turning

You just can't win, can you?  Said Nick Clegg this week. No he wasn't talking about the upcoming general election but the accusations from Labour of policy U-turns and climb downs from the proposals in the budget.

Are they U-turns or are they listening exercises?

The Government has made some "embarrassing" climb downs this week over Pasty tax, VAT on static caravans and Charitable donations but is it as bad as the media and of course the Labour party are saying?

I think it;s quite right for a government when people say, 'Look something's not going to work' or 'We really don't think this is right' to listen and adapt it. That's what we've done. Claims Nick.

Indeed these policies were not set in stone, nor ideologically driven ideas merely proposed policies to try and rise more capital for the already hard hit Public purse.

Indeed the Caravan tax climb down is by 5% to 20% and followed consultation. Nick visited business leaders in Hull personally to discuss the impact of the proposal and said at the time;
as a Government, we want to get this right and I came here to listen to what local people have to say and then extended the Consultation period.

As for the Pasty tax, well it can be seen as a victory for the Liberal Democrats in Parliament. Stephen Gilbert Libdem MP for St Austell and Newquay led a  campaign to help Pastie makers in the West Country and put a proposal to the Treasury that was accepted and being implemented.  The original aim was to level the playing field of all hot food providers but after consultation a new policy has been developed that takes in what they have learnt. This has all been done very openly unlike Gordon Brown's attempt to sneak in the abolition of the 10p tax rate which took 18 months and Billions to rectify when they realised it wouldn't work.

The same is true for the Charitable donations cap.

‘The Government will explore with philanthropists ways to ensure this new limit of uncapped reliefs will not impact significantly on charities that depend on large donations.’ Red book, 2.40, pg59

It came about to, again, stop the rich from avoiding taxes and has undergone a lot of consultation as the proposed Cap would unnecessarily hinder charities and donations would dry up. However there will be an implementation of a cap on tax relief which excludes charitable donations that will go into action this summer and when combined with Mansion purchase tax, changes to stamp duty avoidance will net the treasury a projected £700m in 2015/6 (where as the 50p tax rate was only raising £100m) - The Government is doing its bit against the rich too.

I just hope that kind of give and take is something that most people will accept is a sign of a listening government, not a government just charging a head, not listening to anyone at all. Concluded Nick.

Is this the "New Politics" that I feared was dead? Governments are no longer seemingly plowing ahead with their own notions of what is right by some divine right of Governance and the Coalition appears to be listening on issues that cause concern. No one wants a repeat of the 10p rate fiasco or War with Iraq or even the Tuition fees debacle. Governments need to be listening and adapt their ideas but the opposition seem to happy to score points and shout "U-turn". Why worry about the truth when there are points to be scored eh?

I'd rather have a Government that listened and thought its proposals through than one that did just blaze ahead and make a hash of it all.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you're broadly correct here. Indeed, it is something for which Medway Council is often taken to task by the same Labour party for not taking on board public opinion when forging ahead with one of its policies.

    As you quote Nick Clegg as saying: you can't win.

    In fact, the Marists (via the Frankfurt School and other sources) have a 'criticism' worked out for every possible outcome – whether the government does A, does B instead, or does nothing at all.

    Therefore their criticisms can (nearly always) be discounted as having been manufactured out of pure malice, and of no value to the community, no matter how cleverly they have been dressed up to look as though they reflect the views of ordinary citizens.

    Whether the Government or Medway Council has the better approach is hard to say.

    Because the former is operating within a coalition situation, I think they have to be more prepared to be deflected than the Council does, though the latter suffers from having a Cabinet-based executive, which really doesn't suit councils and never has, if we're being brutally honest about it.

    Whatever one thinks, the common factor remains that it is the Labour party who are the true enemies of actual and proper democracy, however much surface appearances can be made to suggest otherwise.

    I think you have that well sussed too, though!