Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cameron and Human Rights

So, the Tories are still on this kick about abolishing the Human Rights Act (story).

The thing is, that the 1998 Act is not so easily taken out of existing UK Law. I know that DC claims to have a load of experts ready to dissect and remove this 'foreign' legislation, but they can't. If they can, they'll undo a lot more than just the last 8 years' worth.

Why? Well, the 1998 Act incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into Law. However, it had already been heavily influencing our law, as since its inception in 1950, the Council of Europe (not the same thing as the EU) has been the main body looking after Rights law. And several times the UK Government was taken to the European Court of Human Rights - and it lost.

Not only is it logistically difficult, not only is it nothing to do with the EU, but it's actually a betrayal of Tory values.

Why? Well, who was the man who made the call for the Council of Europe? Why it was that great 20th Century hero of Conservatism, Winston Churchill.

As it is, the ECHR is more lenient than the UN Human Rights aims, and we can hardly condemn countries like Cuba and Zimbabwe for their abuses of human rights if we are rolling back our own.

The main issue that DC is addressing is the idea that the 'victims' of the rights culture are ordinary people, and that criminals etc are using the Human Rights Act to gain things they shouldn't have. Now, instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, what is wrong with actually using the Act to push the balance back? Already the family of a murder victim are trying to sue under the Act because the killer was released early. If they succeed, then surely the HRA has actually done what the Tories claim it does not - recognise everybody's rights.

Anyway, I'd love to see what the Tories proposed 'British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities' would contain if it can't ever be used by people who the majority of people in the UK don't really like (travellers, immigrants, petty criminals). Will it be like the Magna Carta, which was great for establishing the rights of people who already had them (the gentry), but did little for those who needed them (the peasantry)?

Like a lot of current stuff from DC, is this posturing to try and build support, or is it a real policy - and which is the more worrying?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Labour's 41 Stealth Tax CUTS

We all know about 'stealth taxes'. The Daily Mail will relish in describing how Middle England is being ravished by a miriad of tax increases, all introduced in secret by the evil gnome Gordon Brown. Such as in this article: Tax rises under Labour

Gosh. Thats a lot.

But wait, Gordon Brown doesn't just raise taxes. He also cuts them. In effect, the 'tax burden' or the average amount we pay in tax is about the same as in 1997, it's just that the balance between the lower earners and higher earners has shifted. 'Middle England' is really not that badly off - How often do we see figures of '£50,000' or '£100,000' as 'middle england' type wages or household incomes, and how many people actually have that kind of money coming in? The Average salary is less than £25,000.

But, courtesy of snowflake who got the details from the Treasury, I can list 41 of the tax cuts since 1997 you may not even have noticed! Now we can reveal how that sneaky Mr Brown has been putting money right into your pocket. Do you wonder why you feel better off under Labour, while people around you are moaning...

1. Cutting VAT on domestic fuel (electicity and gas) from 8% in 1997 to 5% now.

2. Cutting basic income tax from 23% in 1997 to 22%.

3. Introduction of the 10p starting rate of tax (lowest starting rate since 1962) for £2150 of earnings above the personal allowance.

4. Cutting large company corporation tax from 33% to 30%

5. Cutting small business corporation tax from 23% to 19%

6. Capital gain tax for long term business assets cut from 40% to 10%

7. Stamp Duty threshold raised from £60,000 in 1997 to £125,000 now

8. Vehicle excise duty for 38 tonne and 41 tonne lorries cut by 500 pounds; the 40 tonne class lorries rate cut by 1,800 pounds; for all other heavy lorries rates frozen. (2000 budget)

9. Abolition of the 2% employee N.I. "entry fee" payable on earnings from £0 - LEL, when earnings crossed the lower earnings limit.

10. Abolition of the 3% employer N.I. "entry fee" payable on earnings from £0 - LEL, when earnings crossed the lower earnings limit.

11. Abolition of the "stepped" employer N.I. rates, saving companies administration hassles.

12. Alignment of the LEL with the Income tax personal allowance. This involved increasing the LEL sharply from £64 per week in 1998 to £87 in 2001 and £97 per week today, which means the exempt threshold has increased by 51% since 1998 (or at a rate of 5.33% per annum, considerably faster than the rate of inflation).

13. Class 2 flat rate of self-employed N.I. reduced from £6.55 to £2.10 per week.

14. Freeze on duty on spirits since 1997.

15. Employee shareholders capital gains tax cut to 10%

16. Business investors in new and unquoted companies who invest between 5% and 25% have capital gains tax cut to 10% on investments above 5% held for four or more years

17. For small and medium companies, the 40% capital allowances are made permanent

18. Research and development tax relief introduced for business

19. Tax relief for intellectual property and goodwill introduced (2001 budget)

20. Abolition of withholding tax on payments of interest and royalties between companies in the UK.

21. Abolition of withholding tax on interest paid on international bonds

22. Working families tax credit introduced

23. Child tax credit introduced and extended for families who earn £58,000 and below

24. Introduction of stakeholder pensions which for the first time are available to the unwaged, giving then a tax-free savings vehicle where a contribution up to £2808 also attracts tax relief of 22%.

25. For businesses with turnover of up to £58,000, VAT is not charged at all.

26. To bring disused properties back into use, VAT on residential property conversions cut from 17.5% to 5%

27. For cleaning up contaminated land, an accelerated tax relief, set at 150%

28. To help revitalise high streets, government provided 150% first year capital allowances for bringing empty flats over shops back into the residential market.

29. For churchs, for repairs started after April 1st 2001, a new grant, the equivalent of a VAT reduction from 17.5% to 5%. This was further abolished to 0% in the 2004 budget.

30. Vehicle excise duty abolished for tractors

31. Betting duty abolished for pools.

32. Exemption for companies from corporation tax on the gains from the sale of substantial shareholdings. (2002 budget)

33. Automatic entitlement for business to reclaim VAT on bad debts after six months, introduced for the first time.

34. Betting duty abolished for bingo players

35. A 20p per litre reduction in fuel-duty for bio-ethanol

36. A 20p per litre reduction in fuel-duty for bio-diesal

37. Fuel-duty frozen for petrol and diesal since 2003.

38. Halving of beer duty for pubs that brew their own beer

39. People with disabilities who got back to work entitled to tax credit

40. Child-care tax-credit introduced for people who place their children in nurseries

41. Vehicle excise duty cut to £0 for cars emitting less than 100 CO2 g/km (saving of £65), cut to £40 for cars emitting between 101-120 CO2 g/km (saving of £35) and cut to £100 for cars emitting 121-150 CO2 g/km (saving of £5).

Please note that while the Mail lists 80 rises, they had more time than snowflake to do the research, and they put every single year for Council Tax (so if it was the Tory County Council who whacked up the bill, they still blame Labour). There may be more than these 41 cuts. Who knows, that Brown is so sneaky, he could be cutting more taxes AS YOU READ THIS!!!