So what is new?

As we are just over through way through the party conference season here in the UK. So what has been the main policy announcements?

For the Liberal Democrat’s free school meals for all children in years 1 and 2 saving parents about £400 a year per child. The scheme will cost the tax payer around £600m per year. The announcement was welcomed by the Child Poverty Action Group, many parents, and the Chair of Local Caterers Association. It was seized upon by the opposition because not only those parents of the less well off would receive the benefit so would sons and daughters of rich bankers, footballers and millionaires. It sort of made the policy rather bananas! As one group stated “There is no such thing as free lunch, especially one doled out by a politician”. This announcement means taxing those on low and middle incomes to pay for hand-outs to affluent families. It’s incredible to see it proposed by Nick Clegg, who was, until very recently, rightly arguing against universal benefits for wealthy households.

Twenty months will tell if this is the right policy or if polls are correct and the Lib Dems seats in parliament as predicted will be halved.

The big announcement from Labour was a 20 month freeze of gas and electricity prize while reforming the power regulator. Tories and powers companies were quick to point out ‘Red Ed’ was back and Labour were taking us back to the 1970’s, with power cuts and black-outs. The big energy companies fail to mention they have been over charging business and domestic customers by manipulating the market by a tune of 125m per year for at least the last 5 years.

The Tories would ever admit to do such as thing because it would be an acknowledgement that privatising the energy market was a complete failure. Michael Portillo on this Thursday’s ‘This Week’ stated it made on economic sense to fix prices. So all those -like myself – who have been on a fixed pricing plan (in my case 2 years) don’t know about economics? The point is the policy may help those who pay day-to-day via meters. Many already have fixed term deals so I hardly think the lights will go out!

Buried within these announcements was a commitment to lower the voting age to 16.

Not wanting to be outdone the Conservative Party would like to take the country back to the 19th century by announcing tax breaks for married couples. The prime minister said four million couples would benefit from a £1,000 transferable tax allowance from 2015. Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the policy recognised the value of the institution of marriage.

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves said: “David Cameron’s so-called marriage tax break won’t even help two-thirds of married couples, let alone millions of people who are separated, widowed or divorced.

“He’s so out of touch he thinks people will get married for £3.85 a week.”

The battle lines for the next general election have been drawn – only 20 months to go!

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No Booze we are British

It seems moves to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in the UK have run into trouble. Last week doctors’ leaders said a price of 50p per unit was needed to have any impact on people’s health.  David Cameron is championing the plans but others in the government are not so keen.

Comment: Latest reports involving 28 focus groups feel the measure will hit moderate drinkers and will do little to reduce binge-drinking. In-fact, some like the free-market think-tank the Adam Smith Institute believe any reduction in binge-drinking is based on ‘false assumptions and wild speculation’.

Comment:  The row over Andrew Mitchell, the chief whip continues with The Police Federation and Labour calling for an inquiry into the incident.

David Cameron stated he “has full confidence in Andrew Mitchell and said he had taken the “correct action” in apologising for his outburst at police”.

What can we make of the situation? Most people think the whole situation is rather ‘funny’ over one word ‘pleb’. Hardly the most offensive word in the English dictionary!

It would seem The Police Federation after the wave of sentiment after two police officers murdered last week sees an opportunity to do a little political bashing with the story being leaked to the Sun newspaper, surely by The Police Federation. Yet I would suggest a story is hardly in the public interest.

You can sort of forgive the Sun newspaper for the political stirring but what is most concerning is obsession with such a minor story. These people run our country and police force; surely they have much more pressing concerns than the word ‘pleb’? An inquiry will do little but I’d suggest with people in charge our country is in deep serious shit!

What is happening in education?

Comment: Something concerning is lurking in the world of education. In 2010/11 Ofsted inspections of maintained schools decreased from 6,171 to 5,726 and since 2009/100 there has been an increase in satisfactory and inadequate schools. Only in 2010/11 did schools in the inadequate fall what would seem would be many falling schools turning themselves in academies. So you have to ask yourself is the current UK government using Ofsted to do their dirty work in a two pronged attack on education. Many teachers within schools feel so – the good schools become academies – the bad ones also become academies. It would seem the government harbours a secrete policy to destroy the UK educational system for ideological reasons. For years education for politicians has been about economic value not growth and development of young people. Anyone who does think this must be living in a different world. For teachers who see their primary job to educate young people they are in a loosing battle. The government attack is academies and free schools where they can cut teachers pay and conditions by taking them out of local authority control and ripping up national agreements. It is unlikely that these new schools will produce and better results however at least your child can stay at school longer allowing you more time at work.

Send in your comments.

Protecting children from internet pornography

The government is to consult on tough new measures aimed at better protecting children from internet pornography.

Plans are being drawn up byDowning Streetthat would involve customers having to “opt in” to receive adult content online when they sign up for a broadband contract.

Campaigners have claimed that children can too easily access explicit pornographic content on their computers, smartphones and connected devices.

Under the proposals, internet service providers (ISPs) would be forced to ask customers to say that they wanted to access adult sites when they purchase a broadband package. This would essentially mean adult sites would be automatically blocked unless the customer specifically asks for them.

The industry is worth an estimated £3bn a year but the issue has proved sensitive with Conservative MPs. Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, welcomed the consultation as a “positive step”, but said ministers needed to focus on giving parents the ability to restrict their children’s access rather than trying to censor the internet.

Comment: SuccessiveUKgovernments have been afraid of the power the internet gives to the masses. They have been trying to curb the influence the power it brings for many years. Blocking adult site may possibly be the start of other types of sites that are blocked, extreme religious, political or any other sites that are deemed to influence a group of people? Getting ISP’s to blanket block certain sites starts the UK on the road down political censorship no better than North Korea. It’s a dangerous path!

Dangerous is the view that central government can legislate to take away the jobs that really a parent should be doing. It makes parents lazy; makes it easier for parents to avoid responsibilities that come with being a parent. You can’t blame the parents as it’s the governments fault. So legislation on obesity next?

Plus do you trust the Governement when you ask your ISP to unblock adult sites. It’s just one step away that the government may ask your ISP for a list of those naughty people, with your name on it, who access dirty sites. Just so in the future they can check up on you!

Then there is the whole issue of ISP’s becoming the Government’s internet police force!

All alone!

Comment: David Cameron and theUKare left at the Euro Table all alone without any friends.

Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian former prime minister and leader of the Liberal group, piled condemnation on the British prime minister’s position at the summit.

Jose Manuel Barroso says “David Cameron will come to the conclusion that he has made the blunder of a lifetime,” he told MEPs.

Last week, most heads of state or government of the member states showed their willingness to move ahead with European integration towards a fiscal stability union. They showed that they want more Europe, not less.”

The future holds a two speed Europe in its hands but it’s yet to be seen which part of Europe will come out of this crises in the best position? Time will tell which leader made the most sensible decision early December 2011.

Twenty years ago policy makers stated the initial design of the eurozone was defective and today’s crises really only just begun. Some policymakers now question the value of the eurozone stating: “We gave up the old safety valves of inflation and devaluation in return for lower interest rates, but now we do not even have the low interest rates.” You only need to look at the interest rates ofGreece, Italy and Spain.

Angela Merkel has yet to tell the real truth to the German people that being the guardian of the eurozone its market must provide for less buoyant markets in less creditworthy countries. Currently the problem is not helped by private companies are paying down their debt and are unwilling to invest or expand. If private markets will not provide the cash then the public sector will have to. This spending use to be in large government infrastructure projects creating jobs which increased public spending and consumption yet this cycle has been broken and it will boil down to hard cash.  If Germany opts out of these important decisions by not providing then a series of European government defaults will occur. Ms Merkel, of course, does not see that this is the role of Germany as such moves could decreaseGermany’s competiveness, exports and drag Germany into recession. Whatever the outcome the deal reached last week has consigned many euro countries to years of austerity which will drag the rest of Europe into the largest and longest recession for decades including Germany.

Socially this is going put great strain on society and no-one should be surprised if 2012 or beyond there will be more social unrest, riots and demonstrations in European capitals.

So there is anger at Mr Cameron by pro-European MPs inBritain, anger at Mr Cameron by other European leaders.  Yet Mr Cameron could have made the most sensible decision any European leader has made in the last decade in that he has foreseen the end of the European project and the collapse of the Euro. Many European leaders still falsely dream of its survival and future glory days.  

If Mr Cameron is right then Britain will be in a better position than any other European country to re-build markets after its collapse, if not then there will be many tough times ahead for the UK.

Death of the Euro

Britain will again be seen as the wrecker of European dreams as David Cameron vetoes an EU-wide treaty to tackle the eurozone crises. An agreement involving all 27 countries is now dead leaving the 17 euro counties to sort out the problem. Not finding a deal will now put British/Euro relations to an all-time low and possible create a two-speed Europe.

A two-speed Europe is however not guaranteed, and which part of this two-speed Europe will grow the fastest? Mr Cameron’s insistences that the UK financial services should have exemptions show the UK government faith that the financial sector will lead to future stronger growth in Britain.

To be fair Mr Cameron was in a ‘rock and hard’ place. Signing up to a treaty that many in his own party would have voted against would have left his leadership in tatters. Many in his own party agree with the statement by Boris Johnson this week that we are in danger of saving the cancer and not the patient’ concerning the Euro. Many MPs in the Conservative party would like the whole European project to die a horrible death and once and for all be put to bed. France and Germany in protecting their own interests are trying desperately to keep the Euro and European project life-support switched on.

At the end the life line of the whole European project may depend on the markets. With a compressive Euro deal now off markets are act very nervously that the Euro can be saved. Credit agency Moody has responded by downgrading French credit rating to A1. It is very possible other Euro countries will follow making borrowing for these countries more expensive.

Comment: Germany and France are fogging a dead horse. I can see why, the idea of a ‘European Super State’ was always their dream. They will fight for the survival of Euro and European dream with every last drop of German and French money even if that bankrupts their own country and leaves Europein tatters. It now up to other countries to save Europe!

The problem for all countries in the Euro is that they can’t de-value or print money to help their economy and any countries thinking of joining have to be fools. It is completely clear that those countries outside the Euro are in a better position the weather the global financial storm. The solution of France and Germany and tighter controls and more legislation on national governments that can’t or should not even be in the Euro. Punishing them may seem good in the eyes of the markets but does little to help the problem country.

Amongst some economists there is a growing realisation that the European project and the Euro are not worth saving. Deep down many agree with Boris that the Euro is the cancer and that both Germany and France should be looking for a way countries can exit in an orderly manner. I believe that this will not happen and we will get a disorderly and chaotic breakup more damaging for every country involved.

The British people have never been a fan of European integration, we like our Spanish holidays, our Belgium beer, our French wine but we don’t want the share our currency, our borders, most Brits will be happy the see the end of the European project.