Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Exclusive to All Papers…And the Eye Two Weeks Later

It’s that time again. After Guido’s number-crunching two weeks ago, this week round Private Eye has finally decided against devoting any more column inches to this blog. There is, however, no let up in out of date news on offer in the latest offering from Lord Gnome’s organ.

This week’s Eye tells the tale of an amusing begging email sent by Paddy Ashdown to both friend and foe, asking for cash to help in the Eastleigh by-election fight. Wind back a week to the 12th, the day the email was sent, and you could have seen it in full on Guido and elsewhere. Not to mention the speedy reply from an unlikely recipient.

It’s yesterday’s news…

Wonk Watch: LibDem Think Tank Backs Business Tax Breaks

LibDem wonk shop CentreForum is a breeding ground for SpAds and bag-carriers. It’s not all mansion taxes and jewellery duty for these yellow sages, believe it or not they are now actually calling for tax breaks for small and medium sized enterprises.

Proposals include ditching stamp duty on all share transactions, allowing ISAs to include shares traded on SME equity markets and reducing capital gains tax on shares. Cable dryly describes the report as “interesting”. What’s the betting we never hear of it again…

John O’Farrell: Labour Went Back on “Every Policy I Believed In”

The Eastleigh by-election has reached that point where every word the candidates have ever uttered is dredged up and thrown back at them. John O’Farrell got it in the neck about his views on the IRA and Thatcher at the weekend, Maria Hutchings apparently once called Dave a sell-out and the LibDem bloke’s voting record does not match his leaflets. For his two cents, the Brighton bomb quote was not the only bit of O’Farrell’s 1998 autobiography Things Can Only Get Better that caught Guido’s eye:

“I was able to stay in the Labour Party while it ceased opposing privatisation, ceased to support unilateral nuclear disarmament, ceased voting against the Prevention of Terrorism Act and went back on just about every policy I believed in to get itself elected in 1997.”

O’Farrell has fired up the Labour Twitterati and got some boots on the ground, but aside from his comedic running commentary from the stump, he has not really said very much. Has he changed his mind on privatisation and nukes?

Clegg’s Women Problem

Clegg may want to go back to the drawing board with his new soundbite for the LibDem spring conference. He’s planning to attack the male “presenteeism culture” in parliament. Catchy…

LibDems are drawing up “job-share” plans to help female MPs that include sharing portfolios. Before he gets carried away with plans for government, Clegg would do well to remember his own party has just seven female MPs. And their seats are not that safe.

Mr and Mrs Strike

All out over at Education. Well 37.5% out, as some members of the civil service PCS union vote to strike over job cuts in the department. According to PA, PCS boss Mark Serwotka is claiming that the department is being used “as an ideological testbed for wider civil service cuts”. It’s interesting that the main PCS representative in the department is one Ruth Serwotka. It may be no relation, but a Mrs Ruth Serwotka, who is apparently a civil servant, has popped up before.

Is this a case of union royalty using their power couple connection as an ideological test-bed for wider civil service strikes?

Quote of the Day

Maria Hutchings, the Tory candidate in Eastleigh, mused in 2010:

“The Lib Dems have a reduction in seats and yet they might help govern Britain — INSANE”

Hodge the Dodge: Named and Shamed

hodgeTax dodgers need to be “named and shamed” by HMRC says the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Margaret Hodge. “We’ve got to simplify our tax system and I think naming and shaming not just of the sort-of Jimmy Carrs, but of these providers, these whizz kids, so that we know who they are, is powerful“. Her Committee reports that there is a  “game of cat and mouse and HMRC is losing”.

Well some fat cats put their shareholdings in family trusts to avoid inheritance taxes. Fat cats like Margaret Hodge…

The company share register for Stemcor shows that Hodge holds several million pounds worth of shareholdings in trusts, including for members of her family. Her family’s firm Stemcor confirmed that she has “shares held in trust or in her children’s names”. As Polly Toynbee helpfully explained, this is a clever way of minimising future inheritance tax liability:

“The big sell is trusts, special ones devised for this company’s clients, guaranteed to protect almost all your wealth from inheritance tax. They are right, it can be done easily. Put all moveables and all cash and investments into a discretionary trust, and it passes to your heirs without tax as soon as you die, not even waiting for probate. It counts as a gift so the beneficiaries need pay no tax either.”

Guido has challenged Hodge repeatedly over the last few months to explain the purpose of placing her Stemcor shareholdings in a trust other than to reduce the future inheritance tax liability of her relatives. She has yet to reply – what a shame…

See also: Hodge the Dodge Hypocrisy in Full

Poll: Majority Want Cannabis Decriminalised

Before Christmas the PM rejected calls for a royal commission on drugs, arguing somewhat unfeasibly that the current policy was “working”. Despite that Clegg has moved in the right direction coming out as pro-liberalisation, packing off Jeremy Browne “Sugar” to Amsterdam on an, ahem, “fact-finding mission”. Tonight a new Ipsos Mori poll shows that 53% support either the legalisation or decriminalisation of cannabis.

Two thirds want a review of all policy options, rather encouragingly that figure increases to 70% among Conservative supporters. A Portuguese-style decriminalisation of drugs is also backed by just under half of the population. Dave is resisting the British public’s freedom to party…


Seen Elsewhere

What We Learned From the Referendum | FT
Scottish Crisis Moves South | Nick Wood
English Democrats Accidentally Celebrate Yes Victory | Pink News
Union In Its Current Form is Dead | Janan Ganesh
Labour Could Be Split in Two | Sun
Ashcroft Poll: Why Scotland Voted No | Buzzfeed
Boris: Change Barnett Formula | Sun
Cameron is Back | Dan Hodges
What Happens Now | James Kirkup
Cairo of the North | Quentin Letts
Labour are the Biggest Losers | Phil Collins


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Diane Abbott on the Daily Politics:

“Labour MPs will unite behind Ed Miliband, once we find out what our policies are.”



It was only a tiny tiny collision.


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