Monthly Archives: May 2012

Devolved taxes

I’m trying to work out (very roughly) the balance between reserved and devolved taxes for the second edition of Scottish Politics.  Here is a rough and ready calculation based on the last (UK) Treasury budget estimates of receipts, which can be found here and here

Income tax 155, 26%
National Insurance 106, 18%
Excise duties 48, 8%
Corporation tax 45, 8%
VAT 102, 17%
Business rates 26, 4%
Council tax 26, 4%
Other 84, 14%
Total 592

The ones to watch are: the devolved business rates/ council taxes (only 8%); the difficult-to-devolve corporation and VAT (25%); the quite-low income tax (26%, or 25% if we include tax credits); and, National Insurance (18%) which helps keep the appearance of income tax low (it is a tax on employment income, and an indicator of entitlement to certain benefits, but goes into the same pot).

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Death of ideology, rise of idiocy

The latest attention to David Cameron’s leisure activities (this just in – he sort of plays tennis) surely marks, for sure, this time, the end of attention to ideology and the rise to complete centrality of valence politics in the UK. Valence usually refers to things like an image of governing competence and the positive vision of its leader. Now, we will have to add in the amount of hours they fill in their worksheets and the amount of crap pies that they eat while working. No doubt, we will now see various MPs accidentally leaking pictures of themselves in their offices, tie off, sleeves rolled up and looking incredibly pasty faced (see what I did there?) to show that they work hard. Or, they will go on the BBC or tweet on a Sunday to show how great they are. Time will tell what the British media wants – not quite Gordon Brown (who had the reputation for never leaving his office – prompting many to allege that he was going mad) but a lot more than David Cameron (maybe they want Margaret Thatcher, who allegedly rose to work at 4am, as if opening the doors for early deliveries at the local shop). I will only say two things. First, people are living in the past if they think that the actions of a UK Prime Minister are so crucial to British politics that they can never be away from the desk or the red button. Second, people who work very long hours with no breaks will make very bad decisions. People who get obsessed with the detail, and try to solve every problem and pay attention to everything, will burn out very quickly and/ or lose their ability to step back from situations and think about them before acting. So, for me, the image of David Cameron talking to his tennis machine (ooh, tough one Cleggy) is quite reassuring. I wrote this on Sunday morning.

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"Shut him up"

I am going through old newspaper coverage (last 10 years) of the Scottish independence referendum.  Here is my favourite so far, from the Scottish Sun (presumably before all the cosying up we have been hearing about during the Leveson inquiry):

“Shut him up
The Scottish Sun knows the Scottish people would NOT vote for independence. So this would be a simple way of shutting him [Alex Salmond] up (The Sun (England), February 26, 2010)”

2nd favourite:

Independence referendum: Salmond warns opposition as he launches vote plans

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond today warned his political opponents they would face the consequences at the ballot box after they dismissed his plans for an independence referendum (Scotsman, November 30, 2009).

3rd place:

REFERENDUMB; Nats plan £9m indy poll..but haven’t got the cash FINANCE Secretary John Swinney admitted yesterday he has NO CASH to pay for the planned referendum on independence. Mr Swinney told MSPs the £9million poll has not been pencilled into next year’s budget – despite the SNP pressing ahead with its controversial policy.  And rival politicians last night warned cuts would have to be made to public services if the public vote goes ahead (ANDREW NICOLL, The Sun (England), November 10, 2009)

New contender:

TV JOHN SAYS NO TO UK SPLIT TORCHWOOD star John Barrowman has spoken out against SNP government plans to break up the UK.  The Glasgow-born actor is uneasy with the prospect of an independent Scotland – but added that a “yes” vote in a referendum backing independence would have to be respected  (Daily Record, September 19, 2011)

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Understanding Public Policy, as read by Hillary Clinton

As a stereotypical Scotsman, I paid my ten dollars for this software, so I want to get my money’s worth.  Here is part of my book Understanding Public Policy read by an animation of (what I took to be) Hillary Clinton.  I’ll find something more useful to do later.

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‘Global Tobacco Control’ book as read by Abraham Lincoln

I wonder if anyone would be more likely to read this book if they heard the first 1500 words read by a slightly animated Abraham Lincoln in front of the White House .  If so, you can read along here (‘click to look inside’).  I also put it on youtube and it currently has 0 views.

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