Tuesday, 22 June 2010

DC plays hide and seek...

So today was the first coalition budget, the first thing I noticed when tuning in was just how well the Tories had positioned themselves... David Cameron's arm could just about be seen behind George Osborne on the TV pictures, however he is unmistakeably flanked by two key Liberal Democrats (Nick Clegg on the left of the picture and Danny Alexander on the right).  How intentional this was one obviously can't be sure, however it did a great job from the Tory perspective of deflecting blame onto the Lib Dems.

I thought Danny did well when speaking to the BBC shortly after, however the constant defending of Tory coalition policies annoys me almost as much as commentators asking why the Lib Dems are supporting policies that were not in their manifesto.  The BBC's Nick Robinson is so bias it is unbelievable.  He was pressing Danny as to why he was backing the raise in VAT when this was something the Lib Dems argued against in the run up to the election.  Of course there are policies that the Liberals do not like as they are in a TORY lead coalition.  As a result it is primarily Tory policies that are pushed through.  The job of the coalition partner is to support this in order to ensure that their priorities are followed.

For those who did not notice the personal allowance of income tax was increased (a Lib Dem manifesto pledge), there was no increase in inheritance tax allowance (a Tory pledge that the Lib Dems argued against), a "tripple lock on pensions" (a Lib Dem pledge) and there was a raise in the higher rate of capital gains tax.  The latter being basically a watered down Lib Dem pledge - or a compromise if you will, as what happens in a coallition.

Here is my problem with the current Liberal set up however.  When asked why 28% was chosen rather than the 40% that the Lib Dems pledged Danny responded with some Tory based arguments, rather than stating that in a coalition there is give and take as all parties must be satisfied.  A coalition should be made of compromises, hopefully Simon Hughes will do his best to emphasise this and win back support from some disgruntled voters.

Nick Clegg has totally missed the point as well.  In a message to members he states:

"In the past, efforts to tackle a big deficit have always hit the poorest the most. The coalition has ensured that – for the first time – this will not happen. The richest will pay the most, while pensioners and children will be protected."

That, unfortunately is not the case.  Whilst the richest may be paying for most of it, this is not the key point, the point is who is most effected by the policies.  It is those with the most modest incomes who rely on the services offered by the Government departments that will be scrapped.  The very poorest will see absolutely no benefit from the raise in the personal allowance, as they weren't paying tax anyway!  The VAT rise, the richest will end up paying more VAT, however this will not influence their purchases.  Most people on low incomes have particularly tight budgets.  A change in the VAT rates make their normal items more expensive (including utilities!) as a result they may well be forced to alter their lifestyles in a detrimental way.

VAT is a regressive tax, Nick Clegg knows it, even David Cameron knows it.  Whilst they are supporting this tax increase rather than other tax rises they cannot call this a progressive budget.  VAT is a crazy tax to increase, it increases prices (as almost all price rises will be passed on to the consumer) and as a result depresses demand leading to lower (negative) growth in an economy.  This is not the right tax for this time.

All of that being said, I still feel that the massive cuts are necessary and that today's budget is a lot better than we would have had if Mr Cameron had walked into number 10 on Friday 7 May as the Prime Minister with a majority in Parliament.  This was always going to be a Tory budget, at least the one we had had some Liberal influence.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Shambles... and the World Cup hasn't even started yet.

The announcement of the World Cup squad was an absolute shambles.  Rumours flying around for seven hours before it was officially announced.  For someone famed for his meticulous planning I thought it was a very strange way of going about things.  A phone call is so impersonal, it suggests he doesn't have the balls to do it face to face.  I don't see why he couldn't have got them all to be in one place and call them through one by one (leaving the likes of Rooney, Ferdinand to the end as they wouldn't be nervous about selection) before giving them the news.  Then he'd have his squad together to work another day. 

As for the squad itself, I guess the main surprise is the omission of Theo Walcott.  He is still only 21, but it is a shame that he hasn't progressed from the kid who destroyed Croatia back in 2008.  He at times doesn't know when to stick and when to twist and his final ball often lets him down.  That being said I would have still had him in the squad over SWP.  He has never even hinted that he might be good enough when putting on the England shirt.  The unluckier player though is Johnson, who is in much better form than either of them, I think it's come about 6 months too early for him but I would still have taken him.

Joe Cole is an excellent inclusion.  I was worried when there was talk of him staying behind as he is still one of our real talents.  

Other than that the only disappointment was to see Michael Carrick in the squad.  He has been in decline for the  past year, I would put Man Utd's failure to win anything significant this year down to them not having a decent partner for Fletcher in the middle of the park.  I fear he has been picked for past performances, although there wasn't much competition.

The Heskey debate is another good one, though I feel the facts speak for themselves, no matter how prolific Bent is at club level I have always been of the opinion that he needs to be the main man.  He likes being the teams focal point and as such can't function as well with other quality players around him.  Heskey in short has benefited from a lack of competition.
Out of the squad picked my 11 would be: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Ferdinand, A Cole, Lennon, Gerrard, Lampard, J Cole, Rooney, Crouch.

To me that isn't a world beating team, I can see a second round/quarter final exit as our best possible result - but here's hoping!