Guido is in Hong Kong…

Hong Kong is nominally now under communist control, yet has a low income tax rate of 16%, a free market economy and limited government. This combined with its free trade port status makes it a reform model for the developing post-communist world.

It consistently tops the Reaganite Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. Judging by reports Vince Cable would love it here – at an off-the-record* post-budget briefing he gave to clients of pollsters ComRes, he lauded Nigel Lawson’s tax reforms and Ronald Reagan’s rolling back of big government. Vince was happily quoting Reagan’s dictum that the most chilling thing you can be told is “We’re from the government and we are here to help you.”

As George Osborne promises to stick to Gordon Brown’s tax and over-spend policies, maybe the most fertile political ground for the LibDems to stake out is to be liberal on economics rather than social democrat. The centre-right German Free Democrats and the Irish Progressive Democrats have been in government more often than not since the late 80s, despite being small liberal parties. Something to think about as we contemplate a hung parliament…

*Guido was not there, so not bound by the off-the-record convention.

UPDATE : Have just discovered that the Hong Kong finance minister has now abolished all taxes on wine and beer. How refreshingly civilised…

They have also introduced Green tax cuts! Financial Secretary John Tsang also announced last month tax incentives for “Greener” vehicles and a concessionary profits tax reduction for capital expenditure on “Greener” machinery and equipment. Corporate taxes were also reduced this year 1% to 16.5%. Pay attention Osborne at the back.

Friday Caption Contest

Question Time : Recess Monkey v Iain Dale

No not the main show, the extra bit afterwards on News 24. Iain Dale will be battling for the post match spin with Alex Hilton of Recess Monkey and LabourHome on Question Time Extra tonight (BBC News 24, 11.35pm).

You can email the show using this link to submit questions.

How Much Have You Been Clobbered for Car tax?

Buried in the small print are some hefty increases on car taxes. Not just big cars either – ordinary family cars are getting whacked as well. The Taxpayers Alliance have put it all online for some 4000 car models in a handily digestible downloadable format. Once again middle-class families bear the brunt of Brown’s unfunded spending commitments…

UPDATE : Curly points out that taxing a Nissan Micra will cost £40 more!

Budget 2008 : Cameron’s Putting Down of Ed Balls

By popular request, watch Blinky’s face:

So What Did You Think?

Scottish Presbyterians Hate Drinkers, Don’t They?

Quick, you have only until Sunday to get hammered before beer is up 4p a pint, wine 14p a bottle and spirits 55p. These Calvinistic bastards would tax smiling if they could…

MPs £5,000 Food Allowance Should be Taxed in the Budget

Guido first drew attention to the £400 food allowance given to MPs in 2005. Strictly speaking the allowance is £20 per diem. In reality this tax free allowance is worth some £33 to 40% tax rate payers. There is no real justification for it, it is equivalent an extra £5,000* or so a year on MP’s income.

There is no reason why this should not be abolished and a more honest and transparent picture of the compensation package of MPs given to the public. At the very least Alistair Darling should announce today that it will be taxed in the normal way as a benefit. Guido does not see why MPs should be treated differently from other self-employed business people who have to account for every penny to the revenue commissioners.

Some MPs claim to have been totally unaware of the allowance. Perhaps that is true. Guido would still like to know the details of who is claiming it.

*Guido is guesstimating, we do not know the details of the payment system and the authorities are resisting FoI requests.

Leaked Labour Party Document Shows Quality of FCO Analysis

The Foreign Secretary’s SpAd, Madlin Sadler,* put together a briefing on today’s European Union Bill Third Reading for Labour MPs. Brushing aside the fact that the taxpayer should not be paying Madlin Sadler to produce Labour Party briefings in breach

[…]

Lobby Lushes Get Blanko on The Taxpayer Too!

Is it any wonder that Guido’s four year campaign against politicians with their snouts in the trough got until recently so little traction in the media? Because the Lobby itself is full of expense fiddling drunks who rarely pay for

[…]

Economic Incoherence

The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Philip Hammond, gave an off-camera briefing ahead of the Budget yesterday lunchtime. Not quite sure how this squares with Dave’s commitment to the New Politics of openness and transparency or his

[…]

Guess Who

Q. Which party appoints a double-barreled, privately educated, graduate of Oxford and Stanford, ex-McKinsey turned City grandee and co-author of The New Capitalists as chief?
A. David Pitt-Watson of City fund managers Hermes is the new general secretary

[…]



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Quote of the Day

Paul Waugh asks Chuka Umunna if he wants children:

“It’s always something that my father taught me, which is really the bedrock of everything is your family and that’s true. My family and the people close to me keep me sane. Sometimes, things get blown up out of all proportion in this place and that’s always the reaction of my family, my girlfriend and my friends. I can use that to judge whether it really is that important.”

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