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Pasties, Caravans, Buzzards and Charitable Donations: A Week of Unfortunate U-Turns

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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?

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Osborne should reverse inheritance tax cut not the capping of tax relief on charitable donations

In last year’s budget, George Osborne offered a cut in inheritance tax if people donated to charitable causes, a move aimed at stimulating the floundering idea of the Big Society; the move meant if you qualify to pay inheritance tax but you give 10% of your estate to charity, the rate of that tax is reduced from 40% to 36%.

Fast-forward a year to Osborne’s 2012 budget, in which it was announced that tax relief on charitable donations will be capped at 25% of one’s income or £50,000, whichever is higher.  How are the two policies consistent? One encourages charitable donations with the promise of a reduced inheritance tax bill whilst the other is specifically aimed at warning individuals that such donations should not allow them to avoid paying tax. In keeping with most of the government’s fiscal measures, it’s a mess. Read the rest of this entry

Miliband’s funding proposals: Labour will take a hit but the Tories will be hit harder

Ed Miliband this morning made a bold intervention over funding for political parties, claiming that donations should be capped at £5,000 – a figure that is one tenth of the cap of £50,000 that David Cameron has previously put forward. The really headline-grabbing move though, is that Miliband signalled that trade unions will also be subjected to this cap, a move that he claims could deprive the Labour party of millions of pounds. Read the rest of this entry

With apologies to Lord Carey

Recently a debate has been sparked about the nature of marriage in Britain, and whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to marry. The obvious answer is a resounding Yes, but as I’m paid to write articles (OK, I’m not) I shall expand upon the issue. Read the rest of this entry

NHS reform: oh let’s go back to the start

Rather foolishly arriving for the Government’s NHS summit through the front-door, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was on Monday comically accosted by a heckler that sent political geeks of all colours into a fit of ‘The Thick of It’ hysterics. Hilarity aside, the proposed NHS reforms have reached a critical point, and this is far from a laughing matter.

The Government may have sparked controversy by apparently neglecting to invite to the summit those who were well-known critics of the bill, but it appears the groups that were invited to Downing Street nonetheless ensured wide held concerns were raised. Despite the discomfort such, admittedly polite, disagreements may have caused some, the Prime Minister seems unfazed. Leading the charge for the Coalition’s new rhetoric, Cameron said “I support Andrew Lansley and I support the reforms”, argued there “are a few myths we need to bust” and claimed “reform is never easy”. He was followed in a similar vein by senior colleagues on Tuesday morning, and it is clear that at last the Government has a coherent and aggressive strategy to counter the criticism they are facing. Read the rest of this entry

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