Thursday, 21 June 2012

Letter 72: Tax Avoidance. Look out kettle, here comes the pot

"Dear Dave,
Do you think sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? Do you believe there should be one set of rules for the rich and one for the poor?

Of course you don't, otherwise you'd not have made your comments about Jimmy Carr using the K2 tax dodge. And you're right, there are lots of people who believe that the morality and ethics of avoiding tax, rather than it's legality is the issue.

So, can I ask you, how do you feel about tax havens, hedge fund investments and people benefitting either directly or through inheritance from such schemes? What do you think about the morality is on those? And do they need to be dealt with retrospectively too?
Best wishes, etc" 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Letter 71: This is not poverty! Pull your socks up!

"Dear Dave,
May I distract you from Argentina and the G20 for a few moments to talk about IDS trying to sell poverty as a morality tale? It's mystifying that his current stance should be in such sharp contrast to how he felt at Easterhouse. Do you remember, he wept at the hardship he saw in Glasgow and decided there and then to tackle social breakdown? What can have moved him so far from his compassionate response in 2002 to now suggesting being poor is the fault OF the poor? IDEOLOGY? Pressure from the Chancellor? 

Whilst I'm all for looking at a problem with a fresh perspective, announcing a plan to reframe child poverty (or promising to deliver "a better set of indicators" as he puts it) as the answer shows a lack of humanity and compassion to me, and a fair few others. When he said "We remain committed to the targets set out in the Child Poverty Act, but it is increasingly clear that poverty is not about income alone", why would he think that gives him the right to go on to blame the poor for not trying hard enough, relying heavily on crude examples and stereotyping in such an inaccurate way, whilst ignoring in-work poverty? It would have been more truthful to cite poor housing, lack of opportunity and access social support and full time, well paid jobs as the chief issues, rather than blame them for their circumstances.

If I thought there was any point in sending a copy of this letter to IDS I would, but let's be honest, if he won't listen to Church leaders, he's not going to listen to me. Maybe YOU could tell him that he's coming across as shockingly mean, more like workhouse proprietor in a Victorian novella than the man who wants the Conservatives to be the "party of the poor". How does it sit with you anyway, another comfortably off middle-class father, moving the goalposts to reframe the miserable quality of life for those poor kids? I ask because I've heard that in opposition, you yourself said relative poverty did matter.
Maybe you'll think of that when you get back home form Mexico. When it's your turn to you tuck your lovely, well-fed children into bed (and I'm sure they are rather lovely), you'll spare a thought for those equally lovely poor children, whose needs you've allowed Iain to sweep tidily from your sight.

With best wishes, etc"

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Letter 70: TOTAL Recall, Minister?

"Dear Dave
I've been watching you today at LevesonI've heard politicians say that outside the Westminster bubble, there isn't much interest in the Leveson Inquiry. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but ordinary voters without business interests or block votes, nor hope of donating large sums to party coffers, are VERY interested in the extraordinary lengths some people seem have gone to either attempt to secure favour, self interest or public backing. In fact, when visiting family and friends in the half-term break last week, it was striking just how many people it does matter to. Alongside the general chit-chat and catch-up, often the conversations turned to an opinion on Leveson, Murdoch and politicians. Surprisingly at least two, if not three of those I spoke to are serious Daily Mail readers and they expressed strong concerns about just where power lies. No doubt they'll be watching your attendance today and will have noted with interest how Jeremy Hunt was called a liar in the House of Commons yesterday, whilst escaping investigation. (He might well be the first MP to be called a liar without it having to be withdrawn). 
Pundits have talked about how yourself and other ministers have been coached. Some say you appear well rehearsed - which causes me concern. After all, it's not an exam you are sitting, is it? You are being asked to tell the truth under oath. It seems bizarre to many of us that you should the need to be coached to tell the truth. It's because we all know Leveson matters, misleading the House matters, "selective memory" under oath matters, lying under oath matters, having cosy deals with media moguls, their operators and lobbyists matters. And because we value our individual votes and want a political system based on fairness and democracy, run by politicians FOR the electorate, we want it to matter to you in the same way.

Best wishes , etc "   

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Letter 69: Jubilee, workfare; a tale of two cities

"Dear Dave,
Wednesday, post Jubilee and those of us with jobs are back at work. There will be much to remember from the past three days, but the over-riding memory for me will be this:
While you celebrated, unemployed young people were exploited. Sadly it would appear that one of your policies is at the heart of the story. Quite an achievement to be in the public eye at a time of pomp and circumstance. I hear that Close Protection UK also have an Olympic contract. May we expect further upstaging at the Games, too? 
By the way, Nick - you're not in the clear either. Your party manifesto speaks of "fair future, fair chance, fair deal". After reading about those kids, duped into being bussed into London to sleep under a bridge in the cold before stewarding for fourteen hours for no pay, I'd say "Fat chance".
With best wishes,"

Friday, 1 June 2012

Letter 68: Does Dave need some help distracting us from Leveson?

"Dear Dave,
Hope you don't mind but following the big! splash! news! flash! regarding your Charity Tax U turn (cripes, that's a fourth u turn on this Budget, yes?) in the middle of Jeremy Hunt's evidence to Leveson yesterday, I guessed you might need some help distracting people. I mean, have you seen the papers today? There seems to be pretty damning evidence of bias from your Culture Secretary, despite your vote of confidence.
I'm putting my pasty down and looking around. Let's see... no let's not talk about Strathclyde. And probably not spending either - that story by Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph didn't do you any favours. Oh, here's something: what about Hollande? Have you seen how quickly those socialistes are getting on with making sure the French are all in it together? President Hollande gets my vote, walking the talk with his cost cutting train trips and deciding to stay in his current apartment. More interesting though, is how he has fulfilled his election promise of cutting his government's salary by almost a third in his first cabinet meeting. And - he seems determined to do something very quickly about fat cat pay. Did you know, he has promised to cap the salaries of chief executives at state-owned companies which means that top pay-packages could be slashed or halved? I suppose he believes in setting an example - good for him, he'll be seen as principled, a man of his word.
It makes me wonder if you could do something to show voters in the UK that our politicians "are all in it together" with us. You could even rebuild some trust. After all, the phone hacking/lobbying/BSkyB/too cosy affair really isn't showing UK politics or democracy at it's

                                                               Page 2
 best. Thinking, thinking, thinking... how about this:
 Why not increase credibility by testing out your policies on MPs? Better still, have a Cabinet pilot group! Want to get doctors to toe the line on pensions? Then undo your platinum protection for your own pensions and increase contributions till you squeak. I know you've found it difficult to sell regional pay to those pesky civil servants, so get MPs to try the system out for the rest of this Parliament and get Nick to feed back if there's a difference to his disposable income (you could even work in that strap line "we cut because we care" somewhere). Want to make housing benefit caps more palatable? Then slash the £174 per night that politicians can claim. Even better, cut back the amount MPs claim for dinner to half the price of a lukewarm pasty and we might be more willing to accept the increasingly reduced eligibility to free school dinners for hungry children in poorer families. 
Finally, as we do need to think a little about ways of promoting growth, if you wanted to make Beecroft's suggestion of relaxing employment laws more palatable, how about you yourself begin to "let people go" a little closer to home, say if it appears blindingly obvious that they have broken the Ministerial Code or claimed for rent they've not paid? 
Best wishes, etc

(P.S Wondering about the bananas? Just go to:
and all will be clear). "