Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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If you don’t do politics, politics will do you

So said Rick Edwards on ITV’s #LeadersLive debate during his introduction to an online only Q&A programme with our political leaders targeted at the under 30s age group, which started yesterday. First up was Nigel Farage.

You can find the video below.

Today’s Autumn Statement proved the point young people need to engage with politics or the politicians will not listen to them. Politicians only listen to people who vote: it’s as simple as that.

The headline announcement was the reform of stamp duty. This is good – in the short term (more on that in a moment) – for house-buyers of today but a redundant announcement for the hundreds of thousands of young people who can’t even cobble a deposit together to get a mortgage never mind work out if they can afford the stamp duty on top. But by the time these young people – if they ever can – are able to pull the required deposit together the stamp duty reform will have helped to increase house prices as sellers will now accept bids above the old stamp duty thresholds because they will know buyers will have more money to play with because the artificial cliff-edge barrier which saw stamp duty rise by thousands of pounds (e.g. from 1% to 3 % when £250,000 was passed, as in the old system) will no longer be there.

Nearly all the announcements were aimed at middle income earners with families and older people: the two groups who vote the most. You always hear politicians talk about “hard working families” or pensioners who’ve “worked hard all their lives”. You will never hear George Osborne talk about the childless singletons who pay huge amounts of income tax and VAT but very rarely take from the public purse (they even have to pay for their bin collections – around £100 a month considering they don’t use any of the other council services).

The NHS will receive another splurge of tax (£2bn a year for the foreseeable future) but in my view this is just throwing good money after bad. The NHS is a highly inefficient organisation that is ripped off by drugs manufacturers because there is no competition to drive prices down with wasteful spending by doctors, nurses and managers from top to bottom, such as spending £80 million on paracetamol prescriptions which cost as little as 19p in supermarkets. This is allowed because there is no incentive to keep control of costs when the organisation is so sacred and revered by all political parties, even including UKIP! The taxpayer will just keep footing the bill, won’t they?

Weirdly, the general view amongst young people is the NHS is great, although I did hear a young man in his early 20s on the train a few months ago complaining to his mate about the woeful NHS care he had experienced and how he didn’t understand why people criticised an insurance based system like in the US – as the young man put it: “at least the care in the US is better and it’s not as if the NHS is “free” anyway, it’s paid out of of National Insurance.” I could not have put it better myself.

Back to our young people: what was the policy in today’s Autumn Statement aimed at those below 30? Oh yes, a personal debt. The chancellor announced Government-backed student loans of up to £10,000 are to be made available for postgraduates!

If you’re under 30, you’ve got to do politics and VOTE or politics will just keep doing you!

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Coalition Government deems all parents unfit to feed their kids

All infants between 5 and 7 will now get free school meals

All infants between 5 and 7 will now get free school meals at a cost of £600m to the taxpayer

Yes, that’s right, Nanny has determined every parent in the country can no longer be trusted to feed little Johnny so the State will just have to do it herself. Oh, but you’re paying for it. If you pay taxes that is.

So we now have, thanks to Matron Clegg, the perverse policy of providing free meals to the sons and daughters of millionaires paid for out of the taxes of a 16 year-old earning the minimum wage stacking shelves at Tesco’s. That just about sums up this Coalition Conservative-Lib Dem Government doesn’t it? We’re on the side of hardworking people. Give me a break. You are taxing us until the pips squeak (hat-tip Denis Healy)! The deficit is already £120bn – it’s just about to get larger which will mean more higher taxes in the future to pay it off. Cheers Nick and Dave!

We now have a situation where people who decided to have children – no one forced them – are now receiving MORE money from taxpayers who do not have children. These same taxpayers are likely to be children of the baby boomer generation: they cannot afford to have children as they are taxed to the hilt in professional jobs which thirty years ago would have paid a handsome wage but now just about get the person from one end of the month to the other. And then we have the baby boomers themselves who have done very well – thank you – from being born at the right time in the right place and are sitting pretty on gold plated final salary pension schemes. But let’s not forget these same gold plated pensions are topped up with the taxes of their children who are compelled by law to pay their heating, TV licences and public transport costs.

I think I am entitled to be a little peeved…

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UPDATE (1): The Lib Dem Deputy Leader is against free school meals for those who can afford them: http://order-order.com/2013/09/18/libdem-deputy-leader-opposes-free-school-meals-policy/

UPDATE (2): Boris has spoken – he’s against free school dinners where parents can afford them. The London Mayor told Guido: “I tell you, it would be very easy to say, I think.. I think that it’s real you know errr I, what I think is there should be compulsion to eat the school meal, but I am in no means against getting parents who can pay for to pay for it.” Hat-tip to Guido.