Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Labour Party: You couldn't make it up

I have stopped voting, but I take a (generally bemused) interest in British politics.

The Labour Party bemuses me. Led by Tony Blair, its most hated member, it won three elections. Led by Gordon Brown, its most hate-filled member, it lost one. So what does the Party do? It gives Brown star billing at the latest party conference where he woos them with such gems as "I take full responsibility". Well, if that's the case, why didn't they take him out and shoot him? Instead, with tears in their eyes, they applauded him. They must be nuts.

As for the leadership election, they would have done better to toss a coin: David or Ed? Much better, David and Ed should have taken a lead from Ant & Dec and stood on a Job Share ticket. They would have won hands down. The electorate could then (five years from now) savour the choice between David & Ed or David & Nick.

As for policy, Labour Has No Alternative. It has to oppose Tory cuts to public services. That's because its members and backers work for those services and don't want to lose their jobs. Opposing cuts in public services implies that it wants Britain to go further into debt until it loses its AAA credit rating (and goes bust) or that it wants higher taxes (Soak the Rich).

Unfortunately, the Rich are not easily Soaked. Try to soak them and they disappear to Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. These are the Crown Dependencies which Parliament licences to operate as havens for those who want to avoid or evade UK taxation. It is unthinkable that a Labour Government, which always grovels to the Crown, would vote to incorporate these Dependencies into the UK and its tax system.

There is an absurdity here which bemuses me. All our governments have hung on desperately to Northern Ireland, never allowing it to be suggested that mainland Britain plc should divest itself of this heavily loss-making subsidiary. At the same time, they would never ever contemplate a take over of the profit-making Isle of Man and Channel Islands. Parliament has the right to do that, but it never would. Indeed, in case the Crown Dependencies are not enough tax havens, there are also a score of Overseas Crown Territories - headed up by the Cayman Islands - also licensed by Parliament to help people avoid and evade UK taxes. You could not put a cigarette paper between Labour and the Tories on their commitment to these arrangements.

So what we have is a political class united in its determination to make it as difficult as possible to raise the money which would balance the books and fund decent public service provision. It's very strange.

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