I know quite a few local Conservatives read this blog. Oddly many agree with much of what I've written about the local Tories. Interestingly, one of these seems to be disgraced, former Tory bigwig Brian Coleman. In a recent blog he admitted I've been right all along!
I wish the new Labour Council well especially as they undue some of the dafter decisions of the last few years, Hendon Hub , North Finchley regeneration and of course the horrendous partnership with Capita that has proved a disaster and has had Tory Councillors tearing their hair out .
All of these subjects have been featured regularly in this blog. Anyway enough of that. This morning all of the chat is of the candidates for the Tory Leadership. I was unlucky enough to watch Grant Shapps on Sky News yesterday morning and I've been following the rest of them on Twitter and hearing snippets on the radio. For most, with the exception of Rishi Sunak, it seems the mantra is "We'll cut taxes and abolish red tape". It is telling that the one candidate who has a clue about the finances, Sunak, says this is highly irresponsible. We've had 12 years of Tory government and they are taking more tax from us now than ever. We've had Cameron, May and Johnson and all promised lower taxes and less red tape. Surely if this was a realistic possibility, then we'd have seen it long ago, before the pandemic. Of course many claim that the red tape is all the fault of the EU and now we are in the sunny post Brexit uplands, we can do away with all regulations.
I run a business and I realise that this is compelete nonsense. We import musical equipment from the EU. We used to also export it, but we've totally given up on this due to the red tape and customs regulations that Brexit has imposed. One of the big myths about the EU was that it was wrapping us up in red tape. Much of this was about food production. The truth is that the EU imposed common rules for food, farming and agriculture, so states could trade on an even footing. If we abolish the rules on these, all that will happen is that we'll lose our biggest export market. The same is true with safety standards on electrical products etc. It is all very well saying that we'll abolish red tape, but when your toaster blows up and electrocutes you, you might wish that proper standards had been retained.
The rule surrounding how businesses operate are a real pain in the backside. I seem to spend my life filling in forms. I've recently had a whole swathe of forms to fill from the Valuation office, regarding the lease details of our studio properties. Each one takes approx 20 mins to fill. I have ten of these. If they are not filled in on time, I get a fine. Each one has to be done every three years. It contains exactly the same information as the previous form (except if a rent/ lease detail has been changed). The system is that you get a letter through the post and have to then log into the government website and re-enter all the details that you most likely previously entered. The cost of producing a letter is probably about £2. Multiply that by every commercial property in the UK every three years. Part of the form is to put your email in and you get a confirmation.
If the form was emailed out, the govt could save millions almost instantly. Of course some will get lost etc, but if they only sent reminders via post, it would save a fortune. I have no idea why you can't just be sent a link to the form and change the fields that change. That is just one example of costly, mismanaged bureacracy. I've contacted my MP several times over the years about this. I've never even got a reply recently. Needless to say, my local Tory MP will be voting for the candidate who he believes will most effectively cut red tape, but in truth he's not interested in the reality and the detail.
As to taxes. No one likes paying taxes. But the truth is that whenever a tax is cut, it inevitably means either a rise for someone else or someone receiving worse public services. The right wing philosophy on taxes is that they are bad for the economy and the less taxes we pay, the more dynamic the economy is. What completely baffles me is that they boast about small cuts to the rate of inflation, but the Conservatives never cut VAT which would put money in everyone's pockets. There is VAT on fuel, which means every time a garage puts its prices up, the Treasury make more money. The rules are ridiculous. There was one famous case where McVities and HM Customs and Excise had a long running court battle over whether Jaffa Cakes were cakes or buscuits. The price of Jaffa cakes in Iceland is £1.00 a pack. If they'd lost they'd be £1.20. On petrol you pay 20% VAT, so if you are paying £2.00 a litre nearly 40p of the that is VAT, whereas when it was £1 a litre it was only 20p. The Treasury has seen a huge windfall from this. Until a Tory Leader comes out and say they will reform taxes rather than cut it, the sad truth is that they are not addressing the problems that hold the UK back.
As someone who runs a real business with real premises, I pay rates, People who run online businesses don't. That is why shops disappear and we all get worse service. People come into our shop, ask for advice then order their guitars online. They turn up and are sub standard. They then come in and ask us to fix them. They get upset when we tell them that we charge £30 an your for a repair, they end up paying more as we'd maintain our product sales for free. The bottom line is that shops are at a huge disadvantage to the online sellers. We need a PM who will come up with solutions that get the UK back on it's feet after the pandemic. A simple tax cut won't do that. Until one of them says that, I wouldn't trust a word they say.