Azara Blog: Liberal Democrats election leaflet

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Date published: 2005/02/07

It must be nearly election time, the LibDems (as usual) are first off the mark and have dropped a leaflet through the door with the usual assortment of articles. (This is the "Focus on Arbury Jan/Feb 2005" issue. Different propaganda is no doubt arriving elsewhere in Cambridge.)

For some reason the LibDems always seem forced to mention that "Cambridge is a two horse race" (between Labour and the LibDems). Thanks, we didn't know that. (And in case the voters of Arbury are too thick to know what that means, the statement is made in half a dozen variations.) In the rest of the country they are happy to ask people to vote for them even if they are no hopers. So presumably the two remaining Tory voters in Cambridge have every right to vote Tory at the next election, whether the LibDems like it or not, and it is rather arrogant of them to presume otherwise.

They say "In a survey of residents to which thousands of people replied, the City Council found that 78% of people wanted to be able to recycle plastic." Well that is a sure indication if any were needed that responses to these surveys are dominated by the vocal middle class, and so are not representative of the general public. (Of course since the LibDems are themselves middle class they are happy for this sector of the public to be over-represented.)

Another concern is the council tax, which the LibDems claim is "unfair" and want to be replaced "by a fair system based on people's income". Well unfortunately in this world "fair" taxes are those other people pay and "unfair" ones are those you pay. Governments of the world are addicted to tax and manage to tax just about everything in existence. There is a sales tax, a petrol (gasoline) tax, an income tax, a capital gains tax, an inheritance tax and a council tax, amongst others. The council tax is a crude property tax, and so an even cruder wealth tax.

The idea that property (or wealth) taxes are inherently "unfair" and income taxes are inherently "fair" is ludicrous. Of course there is the question of the rate, but as with all taxes the rate is arbitrary. The problem with wealth tax, as the LibDems and some other people see it, is that old people generally have higher wealth relative to their income than younger people. There is an easy solution to this problem, namely charge lower rates for older people. (Single-person households already get a 25% discount, for example.)

For those who do not know, the council tax is based on which of eight bands your property falls in (when the last valuation was done, in 1991). As a comparison, in Cambridge in 2004-5 the lowest council tax charge was around 747 pounds (1083 euros, 1389 dollars) and the highest council tax was around 2240 pounds (3249 euros, 4167 dollars).

The leaflet says "the LibDem proposal [ for local income tax ] would mean that the average family would be hundreds of pounds better off". No doubt that is a slightly misleading statement (politicians always lie), but suppose for the sake of the argument that most people would pay less with the local income tax than with the council tax. What this means is that a majority of the population has managed to screw a minority (who would obviously be paying more, in compensation). Well that's obviously "fair".

And finally in the leaflet we discover there is to be a new group called the "Friends of Histon Road cemetery". Ah, the middle classes are finally making inroads into the wilds of north Cambridge.

The LibDems should easily win Cambridge, given their current domination of local politics. Their main problem is that the Labour candidate, Anne Campbell, comes across as a more decent person than the LibDem candidate, David Howarth, but of course she has to put up with Blair hanging around her neck like a dead weight.

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