If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 4 October 2010

Spot On, Charlotte

Charlotte Gore on paying tax, gets it spot on:

People want every social problem in the world fixed by the Government, and they love – absolutely love – their free money that comes from some mystical, magical source. But – and this is an important but – they want someone else to pay. I mean, what’s the point of demanding the Government fixes something if they then go and make you pay for it? Doesn’t that defeat the point (the point being you want the Government to fix it and the Government to pay for it. I mean, it’s obvious isn’t it?)

Tax is crap. Paying tax is crap. That’s the truth. The gap between what people would like to pay versus what they actually pay is huge, and in that gap are thousands and thousands of public services, including “free” schools, “free” healthcare, and “free” money. That ‘gap’ is the bit that other people are supposed to pay.

Go and read the whole thing. It's good.

People are stupidly ignorant about where the money comes from. It's almost like we were still children, taking our pocket money like good little boys and girls, but believing that somewhere our parents have a pot of gold that buys the house and car and the holidays. We don't know how much it is, but it must be massive - and therefore, if I can't have that doll or that toy car, it must be because Dad is mean. And if I need some money - for something really important - surely the money is there?

I have said before, that there is one simple way to counteract this wrong thinking. Have the following inscribed above the portals of Broadcasting House, at the top of the mission statement of every quango, on the grant application forms for every 'charity' seeking funding, and on every piece of paper sent out by Her Majesty's Government or any Local Authority:


Mrs Thatcher is supposed to have said "The trouble with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." I've tracked the original down, and it was said in an interview with Thames Television's This Week in 1976:

Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money.

Close enough. But why do we need this demonstrating to us every 20 years or so? Do we forget so soon?


  1. I don't know that we do need it demonstrating.

    There's a pretty sizeable percentage of people who never vote for socialist government (or even pseudo/semi/post-Thatcherite-socialism as per NuLab). Even at the height of his popularity in '97, Blair polled about 43% of a 70-odd% turnout, or roughly 28% of voters. If I had to guess, it would be that they represent the people who expect to be the net beneficiaries of wealth redistribution and the other 70+% already know they're going to be the victims...

  2. Yes, that's true, although the 70% presumably aren't sufficiently alarmed that they would turn out to vote for something else :) Following your argument, it's apathy that lets the minority decide the government every time. Which may well be right.

  3. Well, I rather think the smilie suggests you're already more than clued up enough on this, but I'll bite...!

    I don't blame apathy, although clearly there's a fair number of people who don't bother to vote - usually taken to be indicative of the level of political (dis)enchantment. I think they should, out of civic duty if nothing else, but that's by the by. Non-voters constitute around 30-40% of eligible adults, which still leaves around 30 million voters to elect 650 MPs. A big enough number that one might reasonably expect it to produce a normal distribution curve.

    Of course, thanks to First Past the Post and some decidedly iffy boundaries, it does nothing of the sort.

    The actual results of the last 4 General Elections were:

    1997 Lab: 43% of votes, 63% of seats
    1997 Con: 31% of votes, 25% of seats
    1997 Lib: 17% of votes, 7% of seats

    2001 Lab: 41% of votes, 63% of seats
    2001 Con: 32% of votes, 25% of seats
    2001 Lib: 18% of votes, 8% of seats

    2005 Lab: 35% of votes, 55% of seats
    2005 Con: 32% of votes, 31% of seats
    2005 Lib: 22% of votes, 10% of seats

    2010 Lab: 29% of votes, 40% of seats
    2010 Con: 36% of votes, 47% of seats
    2010 Lib: 23% of votes, 9% of seats

    (Turnouts: 71, 59, 61 and 65% respectively).

    Clearly not a balanced system, which consistently delivers around 15-17% bias towards Labour in terms of over-representation. Compounded, of course, by the fact that around 520 of the 650 seats are safe enough to pretty much never change hands, so the government is elected on the results of the remaining marginal seats - about 20% of the country. Worse, since those mainly swing between Labour and Conservative, their net effect is doubled (loss of 100 seats to Lab = gain of 100 seats to Con = a net +200 seat majority to Con).

    I'm in as safe a Conservative seat as there is anywhere in the country. I can vote for them (but they don't need me to win) or vote against (in which case my vote achieves nothing). The same is true of most of us: we can swell the voting numbers, but have no effect on who gets into power.

    So I'd have to maintain that most of us are clued-up enough to consistently vote against a (insert prefix of choice)-socialist(ish) government. It's just that, in every possible way, the deck has been stacked in favour of ending up with one regardless.

    Not that proportional representation, in it's many guises, isn't without flaws - but I look at the last 5 years and despair of the current system. 35% of votes, representing 21% of the population, and still - thanks to a Scottish bloc vote (voting on matters from which Scotland was exempt) and a constant three-line whip - Labour could ram through whatever legislation it fancied.

    We didn't forget at all. We just got bent over and shafted.

  4. Thanks for those figures. I was aware of the bias to Labour in the system, but not of how much, and I had never seen these figures brought together in such a way before. It certainly makes alarming reading for anyone who wants to see a fair system of government in this country.

    I've been thinking a lot about this AV business lately, but I'm waiting to raise it as a topic here until the debate gets into more of a swing in the media. Maybe we do need to change the system, much as I hate to agree with Gordon Brown. Mind you, I doubt if he would have approved of changes that reduced Labour's inbuilt advantage of 15%.

    Thanks again.


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