4 November 2018
A few months ago, I used the word floccinaucinihilipilification for the first time in my life and claimed it was the longest word in the English language. One person took issue with this but I’ve since discovered we were both wrong and the longest word is actually pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which trumps both of us. Mind you, it’s (obviously) a medical word referring to a lung condition associated with the inhalation of volcanic ash and I can’t see myself using it on a regular basis.
On Tuesday, I was expatiating to some friends on why I love the journalist Lucy Mangan and, on the following day, her review of this year’s Great British Bake Off series included a sentence that neatly encapsulates why I will read anything she writes, even about cookery. She said of one of the GBBO rounds “The technical was flatbreads over an open fire, which was – excuse me while I dip into professional jargon for a moment, but needs must – a really stupid idea that tested only contestants’ camping skills”.
In the budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said most of us will pay less tax this year and the top 10% will receive nearly half the tax benefits. Why didn’t they give more to the very poor who need it so much more than the rest of us. And why do they stop increasing tax rates at £150,000? Or, putting it another way, why should somebody getting £15,000,000 every year pay the same top rate of tax as somebody who ‘only’ gets 1% as much – £150,000 every year?
In the early 1970s, the Conservative government set the top rate of income tax at 73%, with an extra 15% on interest, dividends and other “unearned” income. The only person I know who paid 98% was perfectly happy to do so. “I earn enough to afford it and it’s only fair to everybody else” he said, despite being a diehard Conservative himself.
Sadly, we know exactly what’s stopping them increasing tax rates for higher incomes to the same sort of level as in 1970: the obscenely rich might stop contributing to party funds. It’s got nothing to do with national interests or balancing budgets because extra taxes on the overpaid would go to the government anyway, which would then have more to spend on public services; it’s just that the Conservative Party’s kitty might be reduced so it’s a political party putting its own interests before those of the country. What then adds insult to injury is the Shadow Chancellor’s saying that Labour wouldn’t oppose tax cuts for higher earners. Whose side are they on? Aren’t they supposed to be the opposition?
However, there is still at least one honourable politician left in parliament: the Conservative Tracey Crouch. As Minister for Sport and Civil Society, she had supported the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals all-party parliamentary group inquiry and pushed forward two FOBT consultations on the impact these ghastly machines have on gamblers and their families. In May, the Government agreed to reduce the maximum bet from £100 to £2 but decided to delay its introduction so bookies had time to make the 2-minute adjustment to the software in these machines. The Chancellor then announced in his budget speech that he’d decided to delay the reduction even further, until October 2019, 17 months after the decision was made and Crouch was so outraged she resigned. She’s my kind of politician: research, consider, decide, get approval and don’t accept betrayal.
A friend recently described Trump as “an evil genius”. Before dismissing this as nonsense, give it a moment’s thought. Supposing all his inconsistencies and threats are actually a deliberate ploy to unbalance the status quo and present him as Action Man who will transform himself into President for life?
In other news, Judy is now feeling rather better thank you but is still very bruised and going to bed early (she spent the first 48 hours asleep recovering from the shock).