Pasties, Caravans, Buzzards and Charitable Donations: A Week of Unfortunate U-Turns
This year the word ‘budget’ struck fear into the hearts of members of the Conservative Party because of the increases they believe are necessary but foresaw the rest of the country resenting. For Conservatives, this week has been one of persistent confusion, ever since the 2012 budget people here have been discussing pasties and static caravans extensively (being from the West Country where tourism is a lifeline) and Mr Osborne’s announcements last week were gratefully received, but should we be concerned about the amount of U-turns the Conservative Party are having to make?
The unfortunate reaction to these U-turns has been predictable, whilst people are glad that the government is “listening”, the word “incompetent” is also on society’s lips. John Crace’s hypothetical monologue between “Cams” and “Ozzy” on the Guardian website, for example, is mortifying in its portrayal but is a portrayal that may be difficult to shift over the coming months. With this new image hanging over the Conservative Party, were the U-turns really necessary? Whilst the pasty tax has received the most publicity and media attention, the cap which was going to limit tax relief at £50,000 or 25% of income can be seen as the most damaging as it would limit a major source of charity income. The government’s original cap suggestion has been said to have been formed through a belief that some were effectively choosing where their taxes ended up, whilst the majority were forced to pay for education and the health service that all could take advantage of. This was worsened by the implication that some charities may not be worthy or that it is unfair when the money ends up abroad. Roland Rudd even stated that the Coalition’s budget proposal “demonised” those wealthy individuals who left vast fortunes to charities and good causes and would be off-putting when we should be attempting to increase the percentage of people that donate in this way.
The caravan tax, on the other hand, was a Coalition attempt to shut down a loophole and they originally stated that there would be 20% VAT on static caravans which has now been reduced to a mere 5% instead. This U-turn has been welcomed by not just the tourism industry but also manufacturers who believed such a large increase so suddenly could force closures and increase unemployment in the sector. On top of these three reversed decisions there has also been one into whether buzzards’ nests should be destroyed on shooting estates, as it is alleged that the protected birds of prey have been killing too many young pheasants. The RSPB publicly opposed this, however, and said it was not only a waste of money but also cruel and referred to it as “Buzzardgate”. Furthermore, another U-turn was made regarding secret trials that relate to publicly sensitive information which has now been dropped from the Justice and Security Bill due to Mr Clegg’s opposition.
This last week has been a difficult one for all but in particular for those Conservatives obliged to support their party through their attempts at revising an ill-prepared budget. The 2012 budget was never going to be simple or adored but more consultation and agreement between the Coalition parties would have saved many red faces and embarrassed departmental staff. Many still doubt whether this is the end of the U-turns and we can only watch and cringe as realisation dawns and objections are made public. One thing is for sure, after the election results at the beginning of May this has done nothing to boost Tory confidence.
Posted on June 1, 2012, in Coalition Government, Comment, Conservative Party, Party Politics and tagged budget, charity donations, coalition, conservative party, George Osborne, pasties, RSPB. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.