THE UNMENTIONABLE TAX INCREASE.
An aide to former Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted that the promise not to increase income tax, VAT or national insurance was made to fill a gap in a stream of policy announcements before the last General Election.
Nevertheless increasing income tax has become an unmentionable subject even for Jeremy Corbyn who demands instead that the planned cut in Corporation Tax be scrapped in order to cope with the mounting crisis in elderly care.
The government are not handling the problem well. It was not even mentioned in the Autumn Statement. Now we see ambulances queueing outside hospitals because elderly people can’t be discharged. That’s because there are no home care packages for them. That’s because councils can’t afford them or are running out of private providers who say Town Halls can’t give them an economic rate. That’s because of government cuts.
Now in a panic local authorities are going to be allowed to raise council tax by an extra 2% in each of the next two years, but not in 2019-20 when the Local Government Association reckon the social care gap will rise from its current figure of £1.3bn to £2.6bn. Presumably by then the whole issue will have been rethought and refunded.
But even this panic measure by the government will help the south more than the north because of its low council tax base. The top three beneficiaries are Surrey, Kent and Essex whilst Manchester and Liverpool are in the bottom ten. This presumes that the councillors will automatically levy the extra precept. They are expected to because there are no metropolitan borough elections next year. However there are mayoral contests in Liverpool and Manchester City Regions.
One wonders whether Corbyn’s Labour Party might be the first to break cover and support income tax increases to deal with the growing crisis in elderly care.
BRUTAL TRUTH IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
The policy of using western influence to remove brutal dictators in the Middle East and North Africa has long been discredited. In the rubble of Aleppo we see its nadir. Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Mubarak in Egypt and Gaddafi in Libya were all removed. As a consequence their countries are riddled with Islamic extremists even worse than them.
Assad in Syria refused to go, found an ally in Russia, and seems to be prepared bludgeon his people into submission to remain in charge.
The West has lurched from bungling interference to incompetence, certainly in respect of Syria. We encouraged moderate rebels to revolt against Assad, then didn’t back them up properly as they became infiltrated by extremists. What help we did give allows Russia to suggest we are partly backing Islamist extremists against the official government of a country in Syria whilst doing the opposite in Iraq.
All this could have a major effect on the world power balance. Russia is economically weak but has a clear, if brutal, view of its own interests. China grows more powerful and assertive in the Pacific. America is in a state of uncertainty over Trump and the European Union is in great danger of collapsing in a wave of populism.
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