Warning: This post was published more than 11 years ago.
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A bit of a two-in-one today. The Conservative email arrived first, so it only seems fair to deal with it first:
Millions of home owners will be saved an average £270 a year in council tax bills when the Conservatives win the May 5 general election.
More than questionable. Actually, few home owners will be saved £270 a year, actual figures will fluctuate around this, that being the nature of an average. And there’s some difficulty in saying whether this is a genuine ‘saving’, since they actually mean that they won’t raise Council Tax by that much. Oh, and it seems a bit premature to be talking in terms of ‘when’ – it doesn’t look positive, it looks Blairingly arrogant.
Party Leader Michael Howard has promised to halt Tony Blair’s latest stealth tax by cancelling a revaluation of domestic properties which is expected to result in seven million homes moving into a higher council tax band across England.
So instead of using the latest information, we’re going to use out-of-date archaic information which is unfair to people in new properties, whilst giving people in older ones a tax-break. Not exactly the fairest thing to do, but at least it makes you look good.
He made the pledge at an election press conference in London, which focused on the Conservative local government campaign, and where the party launched its manifesto for the local elections – also on May 5.
Well that’s nice.
Mr Howard declared:
He didn’t merely say it. He didn’t just announce it. He declared it. Which is a poor choice of words, really, since it implies that he was concealing it before. What else is he hiding?
“We will stop Mr Blair’s next stealth tax dead in its tracks by cancelling revaluation. Based on what happened in Wales, this will save seven million homes in England from paying more – £270 more, each and every year, for the typical household.”
The ‘typical’ household? What exactly does this mean? It’s an inaccurate way of communicating the average figure. ‘Average’ and ‘Typical’ are different. I could have a box of pens with 10ml of ink in 19 of them, and 100ml of ink in 1 of them. That would make the typical pen have 10ml of ink, but the average pen would have 14.5ml of ink. Typical is modal, average implies mean. Someone should give Mr Howard a maths lesson.
The commitment is part of a straight-forward five point action plan designed to keep your council tax down.
Well, actually, as a student, I don’t pay any council tax. But thanks for looking out for me.
This involves easing the burden on councils, by abolishing unnecessary and costly regulations;
There must have been a reason for introducing these regulations. I’m sure they weren’t seen as unnecessary and costly at the time. Are you sure they no longer serve any useful purpose?
ensuring fairer funding from Whitehall, by introducing greater transparency over grant distribution;
Transparency doesn’t necessarily breed fairness. You can visibly screw people over as much as you can discreetly con them. And transparency general means red tape.
delivering a fully-funded settlement for local government, with an above-inflation increase for local councils, and significant increases for schools, police and health and social services;
Whoopee… try and show me a party that doesn’t want this.
halving council tax bills for the elderly by reducing the charge levied on millions of adults aged 65 and over by up to £500 a year;
That’s part of your five point plan to keep my council tax down? Last time I checked, I’m not quite 65 as of yet. And you’ll have to be in power for some considerable time for this to benefit me.
and by scrapping the planned property revaluation throughout England.
Which, as we’ve already discussed, leaves in place inherent inequity and unfairness.
Denouncing the way Labour has hammered home owners with relentless council tax increases,
Some home owners. And it’s not as if that’s not the trend they inherited anyhow.
and warning that Liberal Democrat plans to replace the council tax with a local income tax would cost a typical hardworking family in England, with two earners, at least £600 more, he said:
What’s a ‘typical hardworking family’? I think some people would highly dispute your £600 figure. Besides which, I notice that you fail to mention how this would help single-earner households.
“I believe in rewarding families who work hard and do the right thing.
And there’s the sting: ‘do the right thing’. He wants to reward families who do what he wants them to do. Isn’t that just the same as what Labour like to do?
So I am going to stop Mr Blair’s next stealth tax by cancelling revaluation.
I think I got that message already.
While he has talked, families have been struggling
And no family will struggle under the Conservatives?
last year, for the first time in a decade, their average incomes fell thanks to Mr. Blair’s stealth taxes.
‘For the first time in a decade’ simply reflects badly on the last Conservative government. Not a good line to use. The electorate are good at maths.
The most punishing of all Labour’s stealth taxes has been the council tax.
Actually, that’s probably true. But in what way is this a ‘stealth’ tax? It’s a tax. What’s stealthy about it? Have they started issuing bills that sneak through the letter box in the dead of night and hide under the doormat?
“For most families, their home is their most valuable asset.
In a monetary sense, yes. But that’s not the terms I would’ve used if I was trying to show I lead a party that valued people.
It’s the bedrock of their security – both financial security and personal security.
Okay, fine, but where are you going with this?
But Mr Blair has used people’s homes as a means of taxing them by stealth.
It isn’t a stealth tax.
Most people will have just opened their council tax bills with horror.
Actually, I opened my with relative joy, as the council have finally managed to work out that I don’t have to pay, and have finally processed the discount correctly. Hurrah!
Well, my message to them is clear: you don’t have to settle for this.
You can make a difference.
Really? Little old me?
You can vote to stop the relentless rise in council tax.”
What, by voting Lib Dem, since they’ll abolish it?
Now, without so much as a sincere salutation from the Conservatives, we’ll switch to another ‘hilarious’ Labour spam message:
One of those slightly ridiculous phrases that’s slipped into the lexicon. How can ‘all’ be ‘dear’ to you? Unless you’re writing only to your former lovers, or something. But you’re not, you’re writing to some crappy mailing list that my address has somehow found itself on.
I’ll never forget Election Day 2001;
Is that a pledge? Is it in the manifesto? Or do you plan to renegade on it half way through the Parliament?
I spent it driving down posh avenues where the houses were all worth over a million, booming out the message; ‘Vote for an increase in the minimum wage!’
That’s an odd name for a candidate.
I’m sure I saw one lady covering up the ears of her cleaner.
Oh, you’re just hilarious.
This time around if we don’t get our voters to the polls on 5 May, we will have a Tory government in just two weeks’ time.
Well, no, that’s not the way it works. You see, in order for that to happen, you’d have to have people voting for the Conservatives. It doesn’t just automatically happen if you don’t mobilise the cronies.
Simple as that.
Well no, actually, it’s not.
Four years of Prime Minister Michael Howard on the telly every night and the evening news having to have an 18 certificate.
Because of Labour’s increasingly desperate attempts to get back into power?
At this election it will be harder to get our supporters to the polls and we may well have less people with which to do it.
I wouldn’t have used ‘less’ people. It indicates that you see each person as one of a larger mass, instead of ‘fewer people’ which would have signified that you value each one individually. But that’s just semantics. And why will it be harder to get your supporters to the polls? Because they don’t think you deserve their vote? Why’s that?
That is why you are needed from now till 5 May more than at any point since Labour came to power.
Well I’m telling people not to vote Labour, so I doubt it’s really me you want.
So how about warning the boss now that you’ll be taking a day’s annual leave on election day?
Erm… no thanks.
Because what are you realistically going to achieve by going into work on 5 May?
Well compared to what Mr Blair does on an average day – invade a country here and there, spin some lies, break some promises – probably not a lot.
A few hours sitting in front of a computer playing Solitaire? Entering your own name in Google and then being slightly indignant that someone with your name has their own website?
Glad to see you value your workforce, especially since you’re traditionally the party of public sector workers. This tends to support the Tory argument that there’s an awful lot more waste in the system than you care to admit.
Alternatively you could be out there making history as you help Labour win an unprecedented third term.
Or making history by providing the political comeback for Mr Blair’s hugely unpopular actions over Iraq?
And election day is fun!
Every seat Mr Blair loses is fun.
What could be more enjoyable than sitting outside a polling station making small talk with a Tory for two hours?
Poking Mr Blair with a big stick?
Or you could do some car calls. Imagine the satisfaction from discovering that a retired mini-cab driver wanted a lift to the polling station, saying ‘yeah, the car’s on its way’ and then making him wait two hours.
That’s how much you value your voters, then?
And it will have been ages since you had a day off work.
Yep, because you’ve failed to introduce more Bank Holidays, despite apparantly wanting to do so.
Not counting the Monday 2 May which is a Bank Holiday. And Easter a few weeks ago. And then there’s another Bank Holiday at the end of May, but apart from that, when did you last miss a day’s work?
Not a bad return, actually, considering you don’t know what I’m saying.
It’s not as if you are going to be staying up all night on Thursday, so you’ll be full of energy when you get in early the next morning…
No, because you’ve failed to energise the voters, so they’ll be apathetic on election night.
So go on – do something really worthwhile from now until 5 May.
Like criticising your spam?
One day away from the office or four years of Michael Howard in office – surely it’s no contest.
Author and Broadcaster
Alistair Campbell’s not been asked to write another email, then?
Oh grief, there’s more.
If you can’t give time perhaps you could give some money
I think not.
how about £67?
How about nout?
That’s a weekend’s minimum wage
If you work 13.8 hours. Which would be, frankly, bizarre.
or twice as much as Robert Kilroy-Silk spent on that sun-ray lamp on Ebay.
Sure that wasn’t Tony? He suddenly developed a tan. In a day. Apparently by spending that day in the sun.
Well there we go. That’s my political inbox emptied and spleen vented for now. Phew. It took nearly 2000 words, but we got there. Well done if you got through it all. You deserve a medal.