A fairer tax system

The Lib Dems today presented the tax system we’ll be taking to the electorate at the next General Election. 2 key points I want to make:

  1. Increasing the income tax threshold to £10k is what this country needs, it amounts to a £700 tax cut to most people and will take 4 million people, many pensioners, out of tax. This will encourage more people into work and alleviate the poverty trap. Digby Jones, of Bromsgrove and CBI fame, even applauded the policy on Question Time and attacked the other mainstream parties for not doing more to help those looking to work.
  2. Much has been made of the mansion tax, and I must admit I didn’t initially agree with it as it was an annual tax based on assets and not on the ability of the individual to pay (why I like a local income tax). However, it is important to point out that it is a temporary tax which can be implemented quickly whilst the system of local income tax is being introduced to replace the current council tax. As it’s temporary it gets my vote.

Our parliamentary candidates should at least pay tax in the UK

It was revealed today in the Sunday Times that Zac Goldsmith, prospective Tory parliamentary candidate for Richmond, has non-domicile tax status, meaning he’s not paying huge UK income tax on his £200m fortune.

He is planning to change his tax status in 2010, which is conveniently when the next General Election will be. I wonder if he’d change his situation if he wasn’t running for parliament???

It’s nice to know as the country suffers one of the worst recessions in modern history with tax rises and spending cuts on the horizon, a member of the political and social elite has been looking after his own situation. As George Osborne would say “We’re all in this together”…

Planning for the next election(s)

Tonight I was with the Bromley Lib Dems planning the General Election and local election strategy. Lots of debate, but the priorities were clear, sadly although we have many members only a fraction are active (c.15%) so there is a clear pecking order to what we can do.

Still there’s a good fight to be had here with the Lib Dems only 633 votes behind the Tories in the last parliamentary bye election and we’re close in a number of local wards for the next local elections.

Successful weekend in Bromsgrove

Spent a good 24 hours canvassing and understanding issues in Bromsgrove followed by the party’s pub quiz. 

Out canvassing people are always happy to talk even if it’s just a grumble about politicians (surprisingly didn’t get that many). A couple of observations:

  1. People with dogs are very chatty and the nicest bunch to speak to.
  2. Much like I would be if I wasn’t out and about, a large number of people were still in dressing gowns at 12.30 on a Saturday, surprisingly they also seem the most likely to engage in conversation on the doorstep!

At the pub quiz we managed to raise enough money to send a round of literature to half the constituency, so not loads, but for a small local party vital funding. Equally as important was meeting people, especially youngsters (can walk fast and for longer!), who can help in the campaign canvassing and delivering literature.

The average local election candidate did 20 hours of campaigning a week!

That’s a lot! Almost half a working week. This is based on research by the Electoral Commission, although it may be skewed by candidates who are retired as they have more time to campaign.

I’ve been reading Conservative Home, to understand the Tory beast, and especially the PPC diaries (Prospective Parliamentary Candidates), and the thing that jumps out is how a lot of their candidates are already working part time or even have no job as they can afford it! They work damn hard though.

It was interesting to contrast it with the Lib Dem PPCs, who sound as though they try to juggle a career with politics. The PPCs I know are all in jobs and juggling their campaigning.

Off to Bromsgrove tomorrow to speak to the locals, do some canvassing and the pub quiz fundraiser.

It’s tough work winning a parliamentary election

Just watched “Make Me An MP”  a documentary following John Smeaton, who was a bit of a hero in Glasgow after his efforts in preventing a terrorist attack in Glasgow airport in 2007, efforts to be an MP in the recent Glasgow East Bye Election. Despite being recognisable with lots of interest and kind words from the public he only mustered 258 votes, finishing 8th out of 13 candidates. Was slightly surprised he didn’t do a bit better but I know he didn’t work half as hard as other candidates are doing for other seats, but more on that tomorrow