Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Swing

Should be self-explanatory. It is a statement of where my political sympathies seem to lie at the time. It is helpful for someone as vacillating open-minded as me to keep a note of these things. Perhaps it may prove that I really am still making up my mind.

It could only be honest to start with a high Labour rating. I voted Blair. I thought about helping the local Labour candidate, Stuart King. I wanted to foam at the mouth every time I read a Telegraph column asserting the straightforward rightness of all things Country/Traditional/Military/etc. I am proud of the amount of tax I pay, and have a small contempt for rich people complaining of taxes.

Lib Dems have gained from closer inspection. I am not anti-European, and reading the Orange book is the closest to a statement of real Liberalism, as the Economist might define it, as you can find. Their stars on their Right are impressive in terms of their backgrounds and intellectual grip. They have a couple of policies I really don't like - anti Student Fees in particular - but seem to combine a scepticism of the larger government with a real progressive streak. I like their Liberal approach to law and order.

Tories have gradually gained. This is partly because of the growing dislike of Labour triumphalism, not liking the faces of the Labour bench for the first time in a while, not liking Brown's speech, it seeming smug and deceptive at the same time. It is partly a recognition that they, like the Libs, have a wing that I could relate to. I am still trying to fathom what it is I really dislike about much of them. Some of the following has an effect, without being particularly rational:

- their grassroots/bloggers. Pretty much the same as the face of Toryism that was so unpleasant in 1997. Bang 'em up, send 'em back, cut the taxes, and God what a dreadful 10 years we (Britain) have had.
- lack of a real direction from the top. Backtracking on Green pledges, for example, the chaos that followed Mrs T's trip
- the sense that they want to build "drawbridge Britain" - it being good enough to bolster the rights of a privileged (but vocally whinging) minority in the name of a skewed reading of libertarian values, and sod the rest.
- things like giving £3bn to show how much they approve of marriage
- illiberal attitude to crime prevention

Anyway, I will try to update the damned thing.


Jackart said...

I'm afraid that being "proud of the amount of tax [you] pay" has earned you a fisking

Jackart said...

And please don't take this personally either but I'll raise your contempt for rich people complaining about taxes with my contempt for rich people advocating higher taxes that they can afford.

Giles said...

Wow, what a fisking. I don't think we're as far apart as you may think. A few admissions:

- Agree wholeheartedly that being taxpayer funded is different from being taxpayer provided. The smallest experience of the difference in efficiency between a company and a government department makes this very clear. It is a great pity that the Left have won the argument by calling "privatization" a dirty word.

- I am proud as a reaction to standard guilt about being able to earn ££££'s doing something really quite easy and fun. At the end I can say that I have helped pay the salaries of several not-fun-but-necessary other jobs. If I was not taxed at all and gave it away to a nursing charity, I would feel the same.

- You are right that it is much easier to pay taxes humbly if you are mega-rich. Fair cop. No moral points for that, even J Christ had a parable for it. But I do retain my contempt for people twice as rich than me actively spending time working out how to reduce their burden.

I don't think that if I had creatively avoided much more tax I could say I was doing it in order to avoid setting up the welfare trap about which you write so eloquently and passionately. I think the Lib Dems, incidentally, have a better chance of reforming that trap than Labour. I have no idea if the Tories could, such is their fear of being seen as nasty.

JohnM said...

Regarding the tax, there's no virtue in doing something that's involuntary.

When you give money to a beggar on the street, rather than walk away, that's virtuous. When you give money to tsunami victims rather than walk away that's virtuous.

Myself, I work in the private sector and have seen pension rules and taxes get changed so that they are now worthless. I now pay higher taxes so that government employees can retain their final salary schemes. The effect is to take money out of my pension and give it to someone amongst the growing armies of bureaucrats who already earns more than me. Is that virtuous?

Giles said...

Interesting that you know just who the money is going to.

There is an element of voluntarism. Since it became obvious to my bankers they have been showering me with offers of funny schemes that write off this gain as nothing, this income as tapered into something else, all these perversions of trusts and life assurance plans to give me back a few %. These guys are never there smiling obsequiously at the bottom quintile, strangely enough.

bernard said...

Just looked at that fisking you've been given.
It seems the only way you are going to get any more than half a dozen comments a year is to come up with more of those "come and get me I'm a middle-class sycophant", type remarks.

Giles said...

Thanks Bernard, for that avowedly Christian contribution. Don't worry - the object of this thing is not to kid myself that a busy blog is a media career. And thanks for reaffirming what we all know about the consequences of low entry barriers.