Lincoln Drill Hall

Lincoln Drill Hall
Lincoln Drill Hall

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Cutting income tax - again

Sajid Javid has told how he would have cut income tax had he presented the forthcoming budget. Labour proclaimed in their manifesto that they would increase taxes for the rich.
Who is right?
Well, look around at our public services: hospital waiting times, schools closing early to save money, the disappearance of sure start, the number of people without homes, the growth in food banks...the list goes on.
The point is very simple, if we want public services we must pay for them. Mrs May was right, there is no magic money tree. However, JM Keynes was also right that governments can borrow to pay for infrastructure which in turn will provide income to workers who will spend and so increase economic activity and hence tax revenue. Wealth spread widely is like manure, it aids growth without killing the young plants.
The choice of project is important. Green energy rather than a third Heathrow runway; better rail links in and to the north rather than HS2. Council houses, schools and hospitals, rather than roads.
The knock on from infrastructure spending alone will not cure the crisis in public services, but in the long term it would help. The answer is simple albeit unpopular, most of us need to pay more tax.
There are lessons from history. The UK led the world in the 19th century, but then had to meet the cost of two world wars massively increasing public debt. The banking crisis didn’t cost lives, but, by bailing out the banks, government debt increased as if there had been a war. UK Government responded with austerity; it could have borrowed to finance infrastructure as the US did under Obama. Will it now? Adair Turner, writing in 2015, still has much of the answer.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

My sadness on ceasing to be a European citizen

I wake on 1 February 2020, with the same leaden feeling in my gut that I had on that dreadful morning of 24 June 2016.
Last night in Lincoln fireworks lit the sky above one of the city’s poorest estates. I truly hope that those people, who have invested so much hope in leaving the EU, will not be disappointed. For that has been at the heart of this whole debate, a great number of people have missed out on the prosperity the EU brought ; that was wrong. It is also ill conceived to think that unfair allocation can be put right by reducing our national income as a result of losing trade with EU countries.
My relationship with Europe is both deep and personal. I struggled to my French O Level, but, in my twenties as we were joining the EEC, I attended evening classes at L’Institute Francais in South Kensington. I used my hard won language skills as a young auditor with clients in Paris and Nice. I then took my Bar Exams and took European Law as my option. Maggie and I went to Brussels in 1979/1980, on the Price Waterhouse European exchange programme, with Sally as a toddler, visiting Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and France.
The European Union has given the priceless gift of peace since the end of WW2, but so much more.
I am and will always be European.
Graffiti from Moria Refugee camp in Lesvos
Some more thoughts from Ian McEwan