Monthly Archives: January 2012

Crucial Policies for a New Political Party! Is there the will?

1. HEALTH – Nothing in this world should be more important to any government that its citizens’ health. It is easy on this planet to think of people as group. Some are born, some die, but there is always “the people”.

However, each person is an individual being, living their one and only life. These individuals can be expected to contribute to the well being of others in their country, and should put in their fair share of work and endeavour. Some, though, are less intelligent, have fewer abilities, are disabled or suffer from poor health or genetic conditions. There is no justification for the rest of society to treat them as second class citizens.

In addition some people will have bad luck in their lives. The difference between a successful entrepreneur and a bankrupt is not always the skill and talent of the individuals. They can sometimes be separated in their achievements by being in the wrong place at the wrong time or getting caught out by market changes. My book provides two prime examples of this happening in real life.

The wealthy and successful are too ready to criticise and categorise the rest.

Whatever a  person’s status in society, monetary achievement, physical or mental ability, they deserve as good health care as any other person.

Once that premise is accepted, and it would be a selfish person indeed to deny it, then it simplifies health policy.

  • The finest health care in the land should be available for everyone in the land – free for all at the point of use (millionaires or tramps).
  • Health care should be paid by central government out of general taxation to the necessary level and standard to satisfy all. The standard of care should be as good as in any private clinic.
  • Private clinics can still be available for those who wish to pay for their rooms to be private or equipped with 3D TV or WiFi, or to buy therapies which the national health body considers ineffective or unnecessary. That is their prerogative in a free market society. The key, though, is that it must not be necessary to use these alternatives in order to get a better level of health care.

My next post will deal with the other prime policy a new political party will need to adopt in order to improve our world.

If I am on the right wavelength please repost, re-tweet or share this item. Let’s see if we can find a third way!

Is £960,000 a fair bonus for RBS chief?

Appropriate to my last post, the RBS – you know the bankrupt bank the government bailed out with our money –  has announced a £960,000 bonus for its CEO who is already on a £1,200,000 salary.

[If you are in the US, a pound is about 1.5 dollars so multiply by that to make a comparison]

If this were taxed at 95% it would be fine because he would be walking away with not much more than quarter of a million pounds which, I suppose, is what you would consider to be a captain of industry’s salary. This is, however, an employee’s salary. He is not the inventor or creator of the business, neither is he the entrepreneur who set up and risked his all in building a business from scratch. He is an employee!

However, with the current taxation system this man is going to walk away with well over a million pounds for his year’s work and can look forward to the same sort of income for the foreseeable future.

What on earth does someone do with such money? Not just once, when you might buy a mansion or a fabulous yacht, but year after year after year after year?

Think about it in actual money terms. This is £19,000 per WEEK. Two weeks buy a Range Rover, another week the cruise of a lifetime, another week Eton school fees, another week, refurnish your entire house, another week, a year’s pay for the cleaner, another week, a year’s pay for the gardener.

HOW can you spend that much? And many FTSE company bosses earn four or five times that sum of money.

It is an obscene amount of income for an employee. No one can justify it. Even if the business improves by billions, it does not warrant such a salary. It has all got badly out of kilter and the government needs to tax it out of existence.

If something is not done about this there will, eventually, be a backlash. This sort of money is just rubbing the noses of the average person in the ground.

Action now, please, Mr Chancellor. Somehow, although the chancellor earns barely £100,000 per annum, his multi-million pound wealth might blinker his view of how bad these top salaries really are.

Fairness – the wealthy government ministers don’t understand

When it was discussed that the 50p tax rate should be dropped, the argument put forward was that it hardly brought in any revenue so its adverse effect on entrepreneurship meant that it should be dropped.

This demonstrates an absolute misunderstanding of fairness. It really doesn’t matter how little revenue such a tax generates, the element of fairness is that people earning six figure salaries are paying a larger amount into our country’s community coffers. It is seen to be fair.

It has been said that if we try to tax huge bonuses, the people will move out of the UK. Perhaps some will, but there is always new talent rising out of the masses and if they want to throw over jobs which pay huge bonuses and think they can do better in Germany or Brazil, frankly we should let them go. If the UK leads the way, others will follow.

Entrepreneurs who build businesses worth mega-millions will have had to risk their own money and, often, had to stake their homes to succeed. I have no problem with the Dyson’s of this world earning millions upon millions each year. Dyson, Gates and others have thrown their all into building their empires and we all know that enough businesses have failed over the years leaving similar geniuses bankrupt. It is the risk that makes it fair that they should benefit from their achievements. I know from experience. We were on the verge of great things when it all went wrong in 1990 recession and we almost lost everything. The luck of the draw, really.

BUT, when a salaried employee at, say a bank or supermarket chain, is paid two or three million a year it really is obscene. The heads of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Royal Bank of Scotland etc. have never risked any of their own resources in building the businesses for their shareholders! Yes, they should get a fair and proper salary, perhaps it could be half a million a year, but surely not an amount larger than some of the largest lottery wins every single year that they stay in their jobs. Even when RBS was going great guns, what gave Fred the shred the right to a pension pot that would pay him about a million a year for the rest of his life? Somehow he even managed to retain that pension pot when he bankrupt the company. HE LOST NOTHING!

The big shareholders, the people who look after pension funds should be stopping these huge salaries. The trouble is that the type of person who represents, say Norwich Union, at the Tesco AGM is also on a megabuck salary. These guys are voting themselves an upward spiral of income beyond all common sense.

Government has the ability to stop these spiralling salaries using the tax system. Salaries between £100k and £200k should be taxed, as now, at 50p, but then it needs to accelerate. If your company wants to pay you a million a year, then it will be taxed at 75p, two million at 85p, three million at 95p and so on. The companies would soon stop the escallation.

Remember that this is salaries and does not hurt the entrepreneur who will probably get most of his income from dividends. The Dyson’s, Sugar’s and other successful entrepreneurs of the country can earn their millions … and good luck to them.

Does this mean all the best people will leave and take jobs elsewhere? Many will, but it is a fact of life that every chief executive of a large organisation has a whole team of top and middle managers just dying for the opportunity to step into his shoes. Give it a year or two and the whole thing will have evened out.

We need to ask whether Fred the Shred was an irreplaceable genius or whether he just appeared to be the best of the bunch when he rose to the top. Believe me, if he had been hit by a bus the week he became chief exec of RBS, someone else would have stepped into the job. Also look at Tesco. What an incredible job the CEO did building it the last few years, but what happened in 2011? So, what a surprise, Clarke was not infallible, so why was he paid as if he was? Others, great retailers, coming from within the company or from other companies could have stepped in and, perhaps, done even better. There is ALWAYS someone to step into the boss’s shoes, ALWAYS!

Am I advocating some sort of communism? Of course not, I am asking for a government of this country to not just give lip service to fairness, but to actually take action to achieve it. The escalating tax system need not be introduced in a single measure, but could build up over say two or three years.

Frankly, the people more interested in personal greed will leave the country. See how they do overseas. Do we really care as long as people who deserve the promotion end up with good salaries over several hundred thousand a year by stepping up into their shoes? It takes a genius to build their own business, it just needs skill and ingenuity to run a large corporation.

The tax system will also, of course, stop the obscene bonuses in the city. The edge will be taken off a one million pound trader’s bonus if 70 or 80% of it is going to disappear in tax!

The problem in this country currently is that there is no sensible socialist party. There is the current labour party who are not only scared to be so radical, but also incapable of grasping the opportunity to jump on the fairness bandwagon, and then the radical socialist groups who, frankly, would be a disaster if ever they got any power.

We need a new social democrat party and there is no one out there to deliver it?

What can you do? If you think some of what I say is on the right track then please share this post with as many people as you can. Social networks have great power – just look at the middle east. Can it cause a new political party, The Fair Party, to be formed? Please share if you even hope it can.

Ed Miliband – Hopeless Speech Maker

I am listening to Mr Miliband giving his speech. Before going on to the speech itself, I must ask the question, why oh why did the organisers allow the leader of the opposition to give an important speech with boats and trucks, bikes and seagulls passing by behind him? What an idiotic distraction. This is such an elementary mistake it makes it obvious that the man is surrounded by a bunch of amateurs.

On the speech itself, if you take out the text it is actually very good indeed, but the delivery by Mr Miliband is absolutely abysmal. The emphasis is on the wrong words; there is no punch to the important points; it sounds as if he is going to burst into tears any moment.

Just take, “We can deliver fairness even when there is less money around”. This was delivered in a tearful monotone when the word “can” should have been punched out after a strong “we”. The descending emphasis applied later to “even in these tough times” showed a resignation, not an enthusiasm for change. It wasn’t the actual text, it was in the delivery.

We must get rid of this man or face a Tory government for another 8 years. Well the English will, anyway!

This is Cynical Interference in Scottish Affairs by Unpopular Tories

If you agree with this post please tell people about it and forward it to everyone you can.

We all know that the Scotland act does not permit the SNP to choose the date of, or question asked, in an Independence referendum, but is the Westminster Parliament going to run roughshod over the wishes of the Scottish people just because they can? Clearly the Westminster parliament should take the Scottish people’s wishes (as chosen in the campaign) to have the referendum at the end of the parliament as being important.

Instead, suddenly the Tory government (whoops, sorry coalition) have started to get nervy about the success of the SNP government in Scotland.

Alex Salmond is clearly a very skillful politician and he wants to hold the referendum on Independence at a time which suits him. A lot of thought obviously went into this before the Scottish election and it was decided that it should occur towards the end of the parliament (2014) and that was put to the electorate. The SNP had a truly stunning victory, securing an overall majority which was something Westminster had tried to ensure could never be achieved by any Scottish party.

It is obvious that while the country is still climbing out of the recession caused by the international banks, the pro-free-Scotland politicians do not want to put the referendum to the people. This is probably one of the reasons it is to be towards the end of the parliament.

A rattled David Cameron plus his one and only MP in Scotland (if you don’t count Danny Alexander) are saying that business is getting nervous and worried about investing in Scotland because of the uncertainty.

The Scottish Institute of Directors said tonight on BBC that this is just not true and attempts by the BBC newsreader to try to trap the Institute into not supporting Independence failed. The Institute would not comment either way.

Whatever the legalities, the matter of Scottish Independence is unquestionably a matter for the Scottish people. Whatever the legalities, the timing of the referendum is a matter for the Scottish Government.

The BBC, no doubt being encouraged by the government and other unionist forces, are trying to stir up trouble by forcing an earlier referendum at a time which does not suit the SNP government.

They need to realise that middle of the road business people like me will not be swayed by such tactics – EITHER WAY – and we will fiercely resist interference which is something for us, not the rest of the UK at this stage.

Red herring legal matters are just trying to scare the ignorant and claims that jobs are being lost owing to the uncertainty is a deliberate lie. Of course some businesses would not invest in a free Scotland, but equally many would fall over themselves to invest in a free Scotland – especially ex patriot businessmen. Scotland would almost certainly get an enormous boost from overseas investment after independence and that … rightfully … might frighten David Cameron!

Continue to interfere at your peril, Westminster, let things run their course. Let the referendum take place at the time the Scottish Government has promised. If it is positive, then the legal matters can kick in.

There is a huge amount to think about here and it needs time. 2014 will allow the necessary time.

 

Finally Some Sunshine At Loch Ness

Sunshine at Loch Ness at lastAs I looked out of the window across the silver grey mass of Loch Ness this morning, the sky looked as grey as it has been for the last month or so.

Then while taking in the first mug of tea of the day and listening to David Cameron’s plans for telling Scotland how to conduct its affairs, I was hit in the face by the rays from a huge ball of light known as Sol.

Could it be that finally, the run of awful weather could be coming to an end? Slivers of powder blue were making their way eastwards and by the time I took this photograph the whole of the loch was bathed in sunshine.

However, I regret to inform that by the time I decided to pen something about it, the grey, albeit a bright grey, was spreading from the west again contrary to weather forecasts and hopes.

In fact, on Saturday, the forecasts all promised the Highlands around Inverness a lovely day with just an odd scattered shower. In fact it turned into almost continuous torrential rain. How can they get it so wrong?

Anyway, finishing off this blog item I can see brightness fighting its way through again.

We live in hope, if not expectation.

David Cameron & Danny Alexander Stick Their Noses into Scottish Affairs

How dare these two UK coalition partners, with no mandate whatsoever from the Scottish people, stick their noses into Alex Salmond’s decision-making process on when to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence.

The delay is not hurting the Scottish economy except in the minds of rich Tory CEOs who have now instigated their war against the Scottish people.

Danny, you should be ashamed.

The Scottish parliament was designed by Westminster so that it would NEVER provide an overall majority to any party. Well, Westminster, the SNP HAVE obtained an overall majority and you need to keep your noses out while the SCOTTISH people think about what they intend to do.

Don’t panic, we have no intention of reclaiming our queen. We’ll be happy to share her with you!

Stephen Hawking at 70.

[Note: original post asked why he had had no kinghthood. I have been advised that he actually turned one down ten years ago for political reasons. This is somewhat sad as it is not just an honour provided by government, but shows respect for the individual by the ordinary people, too. While I admire principle, I am also taken aback by the affront to the honour the British people wished to bestow. There are two sides to political statements. To then accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the U.S. is rather puzzling.]

Congratulations to the Cosmologist and Dreamer, Stephen Hawking, on reaching his seventieth birthday with all the problems his disease has caused him.

Not expected to reach thirty, he has benefited from the technological and medical advances of the age to push himself to three score years and ten. An amazing achievement.

His work on theoretical physics and then the popularisation of cosmology has been astounding and both this and the previous government should be ashamed that this fragile, brilliant individual has not been made a knight of the realm … perhaps he has not performed as well as Sir Fred Goodwin in advancing mankind?

 

Audrey Baxter, Terry Prachett & the Loch Carron Road

I was very annoyed to see acquaintance Audrey Baxter of Baxter’s Soups done for drunk driving. I couldn’t believe it of her. For that reason I Googled the incident to find out more.

When finding more information I discovered that she’d had a couple of glasses of white wine while cooking then discovered her partner was ill. She tried to call a taxi but could not get one so she carefully drove her Range Rover to the hospital where staff reported that they could smell alcohol on her breath.

She was well under double the legal limit and has lost her licence. The fine would have been immaterial to someone of her wealth.

They say there are no mitigating circumstances for drink driving, but it seems to me that this might have been a precedent.

This was not someone setting off to or from a party. This was someone taking their sick partner to hospital.

I wonder how many of us would leave our loved one in pain when there was a car in the drive and the hospital just fifteen minutes away? I am sure I wouldn’t hesitate if I thought it was necessary.

Sometimes the law really does need some common sense. In the meantime there will no doubt be an advert for a chauffeur in Fochabers!

In other news Terry Prachett has part financed a study into whether or not people should be allowed to determine when they have had enough of life. It seems to me that during a terminal illness the individual should be allowed to choose when life has become unbearable and be able to authorise its ending painlessly.

The opponents continue to “tell” us that they are right and we are wrong and that the government and church should not allow us to have that right under any circumstances. Dictators one and all. Of course, if you are wealthy, you can disappear to Switzerland and do it there. How unjust that the ordinary person’s wishes can be run roughshod over by petty Hitler’s in the Church and Government?

Finally, I see that the road alongside Loch Carron is still closed owing to a landslip. On the news tonight it said that the problem could cost millions to cure properly. Well, Great Britain, is it not time we took a leaf out of Norway’s books. If a multimillion pound project is needed in Norway to help or support communication to small communities, the money is always found. Just take a look within a forty mile radius of Stavanger at the bridge, tunnel and construction works they have undertaken to tie small communities together.

Come on, this is an important road not just for the local people but for tourism too. Start increasing these budgets. If you keep cutting you end up with cuttings!

Beware Royal Bank of Scotland “interest free transfer” Rip-Off Scam

Royal Bank of Scotland 'interest free transfer' Rip-Off ScamThis follows on from the previous post really, but is now a warning to everyone not to be taken in by this deceitful, deliberate and malicious scam by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Wendy uses a RBOS credit card for general shopping. This is always paid off every month and no interest is ever charged.

We had used an HBOS card, which had a 9%APR rate to pay part of our current vehicle back in August.

In November the kindly customer minded RBOS offered to let us make a balance transfer which would carry no interest for a year apart from a small transfer charge.

We checked the smallprint and saw that payments always pay off the most expensive items first so, as far as we could see, we would in effect have an interest free loan for twelve months.

THINK AGAIN … THIS IS A DELIBERATE ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND RIP OFF

We have just complained to RBOS about the fact that there was interest on the last two statements and they have told us that purchases are only interest free if “you pay off the entire balance every month”. So we could only continue to use their card for ordinary domestic purchases if we paid off everything including the transferred amount.

This ended up in a considerable row over the phone because as far as I am concerned, they are suddenly charging nearly 2% per month on all our domestic purchases. This could run into £200 per annum. These charges are only due because the interest free balance transfer is sitting there unpaid.

They told us that it is in the small print (you know the twenty page booklet thingy they give you printed in 6pt text) that this is the case. Who reads these things?

I told them that as far as I was concerned they had misrepresented the interest free balance transfer as they had not pointed out that “it would affect our normal day to day use of the card”. Amazingly they agreed with me!

In the end they have agreed to give us all the interest back and we are now going to put all our domestic purchases through the HBOS card until next November when we pay the interest free balance transfer off.

Because we were putting all our household expenses through the RBOS card the interest is obviously punitive. The upshot is that we will use a different card and RBOS lose all that retailer merchant income from which they would have been earning money. Shot themselves in the foot, then, but what an inconvenience to us wasting all our time to get it resolved.

Someone, somewhere has deliberately thought this through in order to rip people off as many balance transfers could include the closing of the original account. Those people will be worse off for a year owing to this deceitful tactic by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Thank goodness we were not closing the other account and have that to fall back upon for our domestic purchases otherwise we’d have had to use a debit card.

What they are doing is unconscionable, despicable and, frankly, lives up to the current reputation of the banks to rip off anyone and everyone they can at every opportunity. The office of fair trading should put a stop to this practice.

The national rate phone call to sort all of this out and get that interest back took thirty minutes … paid for by us, of course.

So do please be very wary of any interest free transfer deals which could affect you in a similar way. We’d never heard about this particular scam involved with them and certainly did not expect it.