Lager lager lager lager
Lager lager lager lager“

Roll-up, roll-up, the great election promises of utopia keep coming.

This morning, Chris Philp, some Tory twit, was magicking-up 8000 more policeman, and an additional 20,000 jail places. Add that to national service, and pensions on steroids, and the battle is set for the pensioner vote, and that of uneducated white men of a certain age.

Which, of course, pales into significance when compared to the pub politics and policies of Reform. The party’s leader, Nigel Farage, told the BBC on Sunday that he supported raising the personal tax allowance to £20,000 a year and raising the inheritance tax threshold to £2m, tax cuts that would cost many billions. Not forgetting scrapping stamp duty for properties under £750k.

All of this magic is possible as the party claim they will be able to carry out £50bn in spending cuts and tax changes.
“Lager lager lager lager“
Interestingly, when the bigots are put to one-side the electorate sees through Farage. Probably, understandable given that he championed Brexit, that has been a miserable, and predictable failure.

‘the battle is set for the pensioner vote, and that of uneducated white men of a certain age’

During the last televised debate his views on the NHS, immigration and the climate crisis put him at odds with the other speakers, and his snidey one-liners received a frosty reception from the studio audience, with some noticeably shaking their heads when he said this should be an “immigration election”.

One-liners such as calling Sunak an “unpatriotic” PM, and referring to Keir Starmer as “Blair without the flair”, and taking orders from Angela Rayner fell flat.

Speaking of Angela Rayner, her contest with Penny Mourdant was the real deal. Penny was the winner at the hairdresser, being coiffed and teased within an inch of her life.

Notably, she took a leaf out of Rishi’s book and shouted out about “£2000 in extra tax” even though it had previously been discredited.

‘Speaking of Angela Rayner, her contest with Penny Mourdant was the real deal’

On the subject of tax, the Resolution Foundation has warned of tax rises “hiding in plain sight” that will cost households an average of £800 p.a. are already on the way whoever wins the general election.

Freezing existing tax rates increases revenue as inflation and resulting pay rises mean more people are pulled into the higher-rate tax band, a process known as fiscal drag. Income tax thresholds have been frozen since 2022 and are expected to remain so until April 2028.

The sum the Treasury is raising from taxes is at a historic high, the Resolution Foundation found, because of increases in corporate tax revenue and taxes on higher earners. The share of taxpayers paying a higher marginal rate of 40% or more has risen from one in 10 of the population in 2010 to one in six in 2023, the equivalent of 3 million more people.

Adam Corlett, the principal economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “History tells us that tax rises often come after general elections – and it is already very clear that there is enormous strain on public services – though this will be made harder if the parties continue to box themselves in on tax changes.”

Mordaunt took aim at the Labour deputy leader for having voted against renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system in the past and said that Labour’s “credibility is shot”; Rayner said her brother had served in Iraq and that she would “take no lectures” on the subject.

Nuclear weapons seemed to really worry Mourdant; when Rayner reminded viewers that Liz Truss had crashed the economy, Mordaunt said that at least Truss had never opposed nuclear weapons.

Interesting priorities these Tories have. More so when you consider that infant mortality, which, after 14-yrs of Tory neglect of public services has risen, with the OECD calculating that the UK ranks 30th out of 48 countries for infant deaths.

‘infant mortality, which, after 14-yrs of Tory neglect of public services has risen, with the OECD calculating that the UK ranks 30th out of 48 countries for infant deaths’

The Nuffield Foundation reported in 2021 that Britain’s rate of infant deaths was 30% above the median across EU countries.

Many of the children that do survive are growing up in poverty; Britain ranks 37th out of 39 for child poverty in the EU and OECD; only Turkey and Colombia rank lower.

The risk rises for mothers who are poor, black, young or living in deprived areas. Last year, child deaths in England rose by 8%, and more than a third of these were officially judged “avoidable”. Camilla Kingdon, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. said: “The clear driver is rising child poverty. Figures such as these in a nation as rich as ours are unforgivable.”

According to the ONS: “In 2022 in England, the mortality rate for infants living in the 10% most deprived areas was almost three times higher than for infants living in the 10% least deprived areas. This was a wider difference than seen during any of the previous 12 years”.

The birthrate, which rose in Labour’s years, fell by 12% between 2012 and 2019, because would-be parents can’t afford children. This has serious economic implications as an aging population leaves a diminished workforce supporting an ever increasing pensions, and an underfunded NHS.
In 2022, the IFS said that:

  • 30-yrs ago, 1.6% of the population was aged 85 years and over, but by 2020 this had risen to 2.5%, 1.7 million people.
  • This trend is predicted to continue with the ONS forecasting that by 2045, 4.3% of the population will be aged 85 years and over.
  • The number of people aged 70 years and over, is predicted to rise from 9.2 million in 2020 to 13.5 million in 2045.

The ageing population will also have a major impact on both government tax revenue and public spending. Government spending is highest for the elderly, while tax revenues are highest for those of working age. Therefore, an aging population will increase government spending per person and decrease tax revenue per person, meaning either higher taxes, spending cuts, or more borrowing.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that:

  • in 2023-24, average government spending will be £23,700 a year for 75-year olds and £32,400 for 85-year olds.
  • This compares to £19,100 for 15-year olds and £7,900 for 45-year olds.

The OBR forecast that government health spending will rise from its pre-pandemic level of 7.2% of GDP in 2018-19 to 13.8% of GDP in 2067-78 as the population ages and healthcare costs rise Source:

‘To have rising infant mortality in this day and age, must be the saddest indictment of any UK government’

To have rising infant mortality in this day and age, must be the saddest indictment of any UK government. As such, it is no wonder that the polls make such bad reading for the government.

LibDem voters are so keen to be rid of the Tories that they are switching to Labour, as they did in 1997. Then tactical voting benefited Labour and the Lib Dems and cost the Tories dozens of seats, most notably the toppling of Michael Portillo in Enfield Southgate. This time, Grant Shapps who represents Welwyn and Hatfield, is among the big beasts targeted.

Andrew Lewin, Labour candidate opposing Shapps, is clear that “absolutely, it is the message” that those thinking of backing another opposition party may damage the effort to remove the Conservatives. “We know every vote in this seat will count. There is no sign of activity from the Lib Dems or the Greens. I think the message is getting through that this is a Labour and Conservative marginal seat. We’ll fight for every vote for the next four weeks, we’ll keep hammering that home.”

Despite everything, this has been the most unremarkable election campaign I can remember, primarily because the two main parties appear hell-bent on ignoring the real issues. Brexit is a good example; no one dares talk about it, probably because most voters have concluded it has been such a disaster that we should never have left.

The PM, a “leaver” is steering well clear as his “a new golden age” is nowhere to be seen.

Reform, the former UKIP / Brexit, rent-a-cause, party, doesn’t seem keen on the subject either. Strangely, as Nigel Farage played such an outsize role in making it happen no one has yet taken him to task for it.

Starmer, a “remainer”, is clearly terrified of the subject, at least until he’s inside Number 10. Primarily, because he needs the support of “leavers”, especially those in working-class areas of the Midlands and North, and the party’s pollsters have cautioned the Labour leader that these voters really don’t want to be made to think about Brexit.

It’s as if by ignoring Brexit the problems will go away, only they won’t.

‘It’s as if by ignoring Brexit the problems will go away, only they won’t’

Brexit exacerbated the cost of living crisis by driving-up inflation, accounting for a third of food-price inflation since 2019 (Source: LSE). In the labour market higher immigration from outside the EU has not plugged a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of EU workers. It has restricted growth, impacting both small and bigger businesses. The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, wrote: “The hardline version of Brexit we’ve ended up with is dragging our economy down.”

In addition Brexit continues to have a negative effect on our politics, implying that there are instant solutions for the country’s problems that will work without addressing any of our fundamental economic and political arrangements. Brexit was a way for “little Englanders” to try and hide from the country’s problems by blaming the EU. As a result we still have the same issues; regional inequality, paltry investment in infrastructure and skills to offset deindustrialisation, a concentration of political and economic power in the capital, the weakening of labour rights, a crumbling NHS and the defunding of state services and education subsidies that enable people to prosper.

All of these are taboo because no one wants to have an open conversation about taxation, which is how public services are funded.

Instead we have claim and counterclaim, often based on fictitious figures, with both parties trying to appear the most generous. No one talks about modernising the tax system to make it more equitable and more growth orientated.

‘we have claim and counterclaim, often based on fictitious figures, with both parties trying to appear the most generous’

Capital gains are still taxed more favourably than earned income, something a Labour government should look at. Inheritance tax is riddled with exemptions, seemingly designed to benefit the very richest. “The thinktank Demos recently secured official data showing that a tiny group of the UK’s wealthiest estates were able to shelter nearly £2bn of assets from inheritance tax in the 2020-21 tax year”.

Unfortunately, too many of the electorate have been blinded by snake oil salespeople. As a result the polices required to deal with these issues have become as taboo as the problems themselves. People have been brainwashed; nationalisation, even for poorly run public utilities is wrong. Voters are horrified by higher taxes, even when they aren’t directly impacted. Immigrants aren’t wanted even though they benefit everything from funding universities to social care.

‘When the forthcoming Labour government disappoints voters, which it will, there will be the ultimate snake oil salesperson, Farage, telling everyone he told them so, but offering nothing in the way of solutions’

Instead, we are continually served reheated soup. None of the ideas pitched are transformative because the solutions required aren’t electorally appealing.

As I have said before, people can have the NHS they want, or the NHS they are prepared to pay for.

When the forthcoming Labour government disappoints voters, which it will, there will be the ultimate snake oil salesperson, Farage, telling everyone he told them so, but offering nothing in the way of solutions.
Somehow, I think we bought this all upon ourselves!

“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith”

As Europe lurches to the right, no-one is going to be able to set the scene better than Philip himself; and let’s wish him a cracking holiday:

‘Some things never change in this country, capitalism still fails the majority.

It has been revealed that Susan Davy, the chief executive of Pennon Group, was awarded £860,000 in total pay for the latest financial year, up from £543,000 the year before.

Pennon is better known as South West Water’s owner, who, you might remember, was responsible for last month’s outbreak of the parasite cryptosporidium, which causes cryptosporidiosis, often in the form of diarrhoea and vomiting. The parasite spreads from faeces.

South West Water customers near the seaside town of Brixham were advised to boil their tap water before drinking it. About 17,000 households were affected by the warning, with compensation of up to £265 for those still affected as of 7 June.

Anthony Mangnall, who was the Conservative MP for Totnes and South Devon until the dissolution of parliament, said Davy should resign after refusing to change course on a £127m dividend. The dividend was decided last month despite the company making a £9.1m loss for the year.

Isn’t it just great you can poison your customers, make a loss, and still pay a thumping great dividend.

Back to the election, and Reform / Farage. In YouGov’s first poll since Farage took over the helm, 26% of 2019 Conservative voters indicated that they were now planning to vote for Reform.

Predictably, this has the Tories in turmoil especially when Farage was quoted as saying: “I don’t want to join the Conservative Party. I think the better thing to do would be to take it over.”

Cue the right-wing springing into action, led by Liz Truss, who has openly courted Farage, sharing stages with him at the Conservative Party conference and appealing to his political instincts with her new brand of “Popular Conservatism”.

Others eager to extend an invitation to join the Tory party are the likes of former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Truss has also been seen to be working closely with Priti Patel, with the pair hosting meetings with MPs before the general election that sparked speculation the former home secretary was preparing the ground for a leadership bid.

The only left of centre parties of any magnitude are the LibDems and Greens, who, whilst likely to return MP’s, are overshadowed by Reform / Farage, whose bellicose bigotry far outweighs his electoral appeal.

As this column warned in “ Deutschland, Deutschland….Oh Not Again, Surely!”, and “Europe and the New Right”, European versions of Farage are taking centre stage, after the weekends EU elections

In France, Emmanuel Macron has called a snap election after a crushing defeat of his allies by Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally.

In Germany, Olaf Scholz’s coalition had a bad night slumping to 14.6%, as the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) made significant gains, jumping to 14.2% from 11% in 2019.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ far-right party was second behind a Left-Green alliance, but appeared to have fallen short of expectations. The Freedom party took 17% of the vote, while the Left-Green alliance, led by the former EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, was on 21.1%.

 Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party in Hungary also performed below expectations. Provisional results showed his governing coalition came first with 43.7%, a worse result than the 50% predicted by opinion polls. A new challenger party led by former loyalist turned critic, Péter Magyar, took 30.7%.

Ursula von der Leyen, who secured a second term as European Commission president, said: “There remains a majority in the centre for a strong Europe and that is crucial for stability. In other words the centre is holding. The extremes on the left and right had gained support, she said, which put “great responsibility on the parties in the centre”.

The future doesn’t look bright, it looks fascist black!

This is the last planned column until mid-July as I will be holidaying in Italy. There will, no doubt, be ad hoc commentary during this time, especially after election night.

Lyrically, we look to Farage, starting with a tribute to his pub politics, with Underworld’s classic “Born Slippy. To finish we have the Stones and “Sympathy for the Devil”. Enjoy! Philip.


Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

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