The Health Secretary struggling through Osborne’s budget this afternoon…
Henry de Zoete, the former DfE SpAd who was Michael Gove’s media man, has founded and runs an energy switching campaign called The Big Deal. It’s pretty clever – essentially a mass lobby organisation for lower energy prices. Interestingly Osborne had barely sat down by the time The Big Deal had sent out a press release “respond[-ing] sceptically” to the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that he would freeze the Carbon Floor Price, saying it “won’t help consumers” because of the Big Six and their nefarious ways. Gove wasn’t on the frontbench today, but lurked behind the Speaker’s chair instead…
Very helpful of Labour to provide us on Budget Day with a comprehensive list of tax rises that have taken place under this government:
The 24 Tory Tax Rises
1. VAT increased – to 20 per cent from 2011
2. Income Tax age-related allowances frozen and eligibility restricted (“Granny Tax”) from 2013-14
3. Income Tax higher rate threshold cut to £42,475 in 2011-12
4. Higher Income Child Benefit Charge introduced 2013
5. National Insurance Contributions rates, limits and thresholds increased in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2012-13
6. Income Tax higher rate threshold frozen at £42,475 in 2012-13
7. Insurance premium tax increased – from 2011
8. Capital Gains Tax increased – to 28 per cent for higher rate taxpayers from June 2010
9. New Beer Duty introduced on high strength beers from 2011
10. Duty on hand-rolling tobacco increased by an additional 10 per cent from 2011-12
11. ISA subscription limit uprated in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2012-13
12. National Insurance Contributions changes to contracting-out rebates from 2012-13
13. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount frozen, 2012-13
14. Stamp Duty Land Tax increase to 7 per cent on properties over £2 million from 2012-13
15. VAT increases on a range of items, including caravans, sports drinks, and listed buildings from 2012
16. Duty on tobacco increased by RPI + 5 per cent in 2012
17. Income Tax higher rate threshold cut to £41,450 in 2013-14
18. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount increased in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2013-14
19. Income Tax cap on reliefs introduced from 2013-14
20. Pension tax relief restricted from 2014-15 21.
21. Income Tax higher rate threshold Increase capped at 1 per cent in 2014-15 and 2015-16
22. Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount increase capped at 1 per cent, 2014-15 and 2015-16
23. Inheritance Tax threshold frozen in 2015-16
24. National Insurance Contributions ending of contracting-out rebates from 2016-17
Eagle eyed readers will spot that one thing is missing: the “hated bedroom tax” is not on the list. Which means Labour must have at last decided that it is not a tax after all. Better late than never…
Preston Crown Court today heard from the sixth alleged Nigel Evans sex offence victim. The witness told how after a night at parliament’s Strangers bar, Evans invited him to have a look at his new kitchen. When they arrived, the witness claimed Evans put his hands “all over” him and “tried to kiss” him. Evans than allegedly touched his crotch as said “you’re gorgeous”. The court heard the witness sent an email to a friend explaining how “he (Evans) pushed me into a private room & tried to do stuff to me. Eek”. The trial continues…
What about releasing the report into her dodgy expenses claims on Budget Day? The Standards and Privileges Committee has taken a very long time to reprimand Miller over those £90,000 second home expenses claims that landed her with a potential six figure profit. A source familiar with the investigation suggests that the delay has been due to gathering more evidence, but why are they taking such a long time to publish a decision? Could it be that Tories on the Committee are looking for a good time to bury bad news? A cynic might think Budget Day might be a good time to get it out…
Following Guido’s story about the PM’s trade envoy to Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan Charles Hendry taking a job with an oil company working in those two countries, Labour MP Sheila Gilmore has tabled two written questions to the Prime Minister demanding answers:
To ask the Prime Minister, whether the appointments of the hon. Member for Wealden as a) a consultant to Vitol Group and b) a Senior Adviser to Atlantic Supergrid Corporation Ltd were considered by the Advisory Committee on Business appointments, and whether any conditions were imposed by the Advisory Committee on either appointment.
To ask the Prime Minister, whether he considers there is any conflict of interest between the hon. Member for Wealden’s position as the Trade Envoy to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and his paid employment as a consultant to Vitol Group.
Guido predicts Hendry will say his work with Vitol has nothing to do with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Though given two of its main oil production interests are in two of the countries Hendry is trade envoy to, there are serious doubts about whether he can continue to do his government job without a conflict of interest arising. Is Hendry asking us to believe his role as trade envoy was not considered at all by Vitol when they decided to part with £60,000 for him to do 18 days’ work?
The Speccie this evening reports that Dave laid into Gove at the weekend over his not unfair criticism of the PM’s old Etonian clique. Apparently “he was torn a new one and given a right royal bollocking”, and the PM told him he was “bang out of order”. Bit awkward then that Sayeeda Warsi is due on ITV’s The Agenda later tonight and has just done this:
“Michael was making an incredibly serious point that it can’t be right that the 7% of kids who go to independent school end up at the top tables, not just of politics, but banking, and law, and every other profession, and that what Michael wants to create is a first class, world class state system which means that in future years you will have more pupils from state schools, people like me, around the cabinet table, and in that I fully support Michael Gove.”
You gonna take that, Prime Minister?
Today Preston Crown Court heard evidence from several current and former MPs responsible for disciplining Nigel Evans over his alleged sex offences. Former whip Michael Fabricant began by testifying that the allegations against Evans seemed “out of character”. John Randall, former assistant whip, recounted being told by the alleged victim how he had woken up while being sexually assaulted by Evans on his sofa. Also attending that meeting was former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin, who admitted Evans’ version of events did not differ considerably from the victim’s and so he was warned of his future conduct. Randall said the incident was considered “disciplinary not criminal”.
It was also claimed that the whips tried to talk the victim out of his demand that Evans resign. Tory PRU wonk Iain Corby claimed that Evans’ fourth alleged victim told whips the MP should not stand for re-election in 2010 but eventually agreed to compromise after the being asked “do you really want Nigel’s career to end?” This afternoon another alleged victim claimed that Evans “cupped his genitals” in the full view of the Commons’ Strangers bar. The trial continues…
Tory MP Charles Hendry has been a busy coining it since he was sacked as Energy minister, landing a £48,000 windfall from wind energy giants Forewind and hobnobbing with Hanover lobbyists and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. On top of that, Hendry has now bagged another outside job as a consultant at oil giants Vitol. He will be paid £60,000-a-year for eighteen days’ work, taking his outside earnings over £100,000.
Vitol is a $300 billion energy trading company which runs oil exploration projects in corrupt, authoritarian countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Guido is sure it is nothing more than coincidence, but Hendry is also the president of the advisory board of the Russo-British chamber of commerce and is the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Hendry is standing down in 2015, but not before he trousers one last big payday…
Fraser Nelson: Put Your Money on Ed Miliband to Win | Guardian
Guido Fawkes is Too Aggressive | The Times
Ditch Tobacco Plain Packaging | Grassroots Conservatives
What Farage, Boris and Rob Ford Have in Common | William Walter
Labour Spell New Adviser’s Name Wrong | ITV
Dave Stung by Jellyfish | Sun
City Minister’s Inheritance Tax Dodging Trusts | Indy
What I Would Have Done if I was Sarah Wollaston | Iain Dale
Boris is an Epic Europhile | Louise Mensch
Warsi Got PM to Confront “Secular Fundamentalism” | Fraser Nelson
Guardian April Fools Apology | Press Gazette
Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:
“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.
Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).
Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.
I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”