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Warning: This post was published more than 11 years ago.

I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might have changed in the 11 years since I wrote this post.
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Many thanks for your understanding.

They’ve sent me some ‘News from Conservatives.com’. Let’s see what it has to say.

Conservatives have announced a £1.7 billion tax cutting package aimed at tackling the nation’s pensions time-bomb, and at repairing the damage done to basic rate taxpayers by Mr Blair’s pensions tax.

A bit of Labour-bashing there, but at least they’re actually announcing a policy, too.

Under the plan, the Government will add £10 to every £100 a person saves towards their pension pot. The aim is to encourage people of all ages to put more money into their pensions.

And, obviously, this policy reward those rich people who have lots to save with more money than the poor who have less to save. So the rich literally get richer, whilst the poor… well… don’t benefit quite so much.

The scheme will mean that for a person on average earnings, the relief across a working lifetime could boost their pension by up to £500 a year. It is expected that around 10 million basic and starting rate taxpayers will benefit from the tax relief immediately.

But the ‘pensions timebomb’ is less than a working lifetime away. So it isn’t really going to kick in properly until long after we actually need this cash. So, all-in-all, it’s good protection for the next generation of pensioners, but the one’s clocking off for the last time right now are in the poop, and need help now.

Speaking to Conservatives.com about the announcement, Mr Howard said: “When I meet people they often say to me “too many politicians are interested in the short term – tomorrow and next week, rather than ten years time. Today, we’re announcing a detailed, carefully considered and fully costed proposal to repair the long term damage done by Mr Brown’s pension tax.”

People he meets on the street are announcing proposals now?! Oh no, I see, he’s not quite got a command of punctuation yet. I don’t know who exactly it is that Mr Howard is meeting on the street, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say anything like that, in this consumerist buy-now-pay-later credit gobbling society.

He went on:

And on.

“Only by encouraging more people to save can we ease their anxieties about their long-term security and give our economy a brighter, better future.”

I’m not convinced that’s the only way to go about it. Compulsory saving would cut out the ‘encouraging’ middle man, and stop us ending up with penniless grannies who didn’t bother saving, who would end up getting support anyway, making the people who had bothered to save feel like muppets. But not Cookie Monster, because cookies are only a sometimes-food. Whereas these muppety feelings would be an always-annoyance.

The latest announcement is the second of the Conservative Party’s package of targeted tax cuts worth £4 billion.

I’m not entirely sure I call this a tax cut. It’s giving money away, not cutting tax. So that’s a little bit miselading.

Conservatives have already announced they will halve council tax for more than five million pensioners aged 65 or over in their first Budget.

But as the population shifts to have more people aged over 65, that’s going to mean that tax rates have to go up at some point to compensate. Once you give this kind of discount, you never get to repeal it, so this increases the burden of tax on the next generation, in order to reward the previous generation. A bad move. Far better would be to use this money to have a blanket reduction in Council Tax, which may only be relatively small, or to prevent council tax rises for a few years. Alternatively, you could of course swap to a local income tax, which (at least to me) seems like a far more sensible solution in the long run (though with its own inherent problems).

A third tax cutting announcement will be made later this week.

You are a little tease, Mr Howard, aren’t you… Are you trying to seduce me?

Conservatives believe that tackling the pensions crisis will be one of the key challenges facing the next Conservative government.

I don’t think I can disagreee with that.

Under Labour, the amount of money people save has fallen by more than a third.

But is that really Labour’s fault? Well, actually, I think it probably is, partially. They’ve helped to create the current economic climate, and so should take responsibility for the bad as well as the good. But that’s just my opinion.

Gordon Brown’s £5 billion a year raid on pension funds and the spread of means-testing have damaged pensions and savings.

I’m not sure they’ve actually damaged pensions and savings per se, but they’ve clearly damaged the image of them. Which, I guess, is effectively damaging the schemes in themselves. I’ll let them get away with that one.

Conservatives believe that the tax system should encourage people to save for the future – not penalise saving.

I don’t think any of the parties beleive differently to this, so the point is somewhat moot.

For me, the crucial difference between Labour’s (unsolicited) emails and the Conservatives’ (solicited) emails is that Labour’s have, thus far, been doing nothing but ridiculing the Tories. They have not used this, nor any of their other major campaign tools, to announce policies of their own. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have sent out this email to inform me of what they plan to do to improve pensions. Yes, there’s a little bit of Labour-bashing in there, and it’s not all necessarily warranted, but that isn’t the main thrust nor the main point of the email.

Which do we really want running the country? A party which rubbishes everyone else’s proposals whilst doing nothing about telling us its plans, or one (of two) that tries to come up with creative solutions to long-standing problems, and tells people about these? I know which I’d prefer, but at the end of the day, who you vote for is up to you, not me. But since you’re reading this, you’re clearly a voter of the highest calibre, and I’m sure you know what to do. What a wonderful personage you are!

This 518th post was filed under: Election 2005.






More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th February 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 31st December 2016)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 30th November 2016)

GCSE results day (published 25th August 2005)

MTAS designer rehired after £1.9m failure (published 14th July 2007)

Pope ‘stable’ in hospital (published 2nd February 2005)

Photo-a-day 325: Big wheel (published 20th November 2012)


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