IF the Government’s statistics are to be believed, the economy grew by almost one per cent in the previous quarter. Not surprisingly, therefore, Ministers were whooping with delight.
However, these single quarter figures cannot hide the underlying long-term decline of Britain, as the Government is still borrowing heavily. Most jobs created are part-time and those unemployed for a number of yeas show a marked increase. Alarmingly, there is no sign of a science-based industrial policy to permanently redress Government economic failings. Also, those in work are experiencing a concerted drive on wage reductions to near poverty levels.
Instead, the useless and clueless Con Dems promise even more draconian welfare cuts that will only serve to impoverish millions more sick and disabled people. This, in turn, reduces the spending power of many and thus dampens economic growth further. At the same time as penalising the poor and infirm, Ministers announce expenditure of billions of pounds on replacing Britain’s ageing nuclear-powered submarine fleet – no doubt with the objective of replacing Trident in the near future, at enormous cost.
Such folly underlines the bankruptcy of Con Dem thinking, as Trident missiles, or whatever replaces them, are neither an independent nuclear deterrent or of any military use in today’s world. Unless the plan is to nuke countries where terrorists attacking us come from.
Britain, therefore, should not replace Trident, should withdraw from the EU and concentrate on industrial growth, rather than propping up failed financial institutions. We would then have real, sustainable economic growth with no need for dramatic public expenditure cuts.
Merkel knows the problems
From: David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Holgate, York.
MOST of Europe, especially the EU and the eurozone, are in crisis, but in the midst of all this chaos stands Germany.
Germany is hugely successful, wealthy, and her people enjoy a superb standard of living, and yet her Chancellor, Angela Merkel has several problems.
She is still very well thought of and respected by her own people. She has her own style, coming from East Germany, childless and a fluent speaker of Russian, and a Protestant by faith rather than the more usual Roman Catholic German leader.
Angela Merkel knows and understands the problems associated with Eastern Europe, and is reluctant to have her nation as the Leader of Europe.
She knows, as do most Germans, that just throwing large sums of money at a problem rarely solves the issues. East Germany is still not as wealthy, equal to, or as efficient as West Germany.
The German people are still fairly keen on being good Europeans, but if told to bail out most of southern and Mediterranean Europe and parts of Eastern Europe, most will now answer “Nein Danke”.
Council tax benefit cuts
From: Richard Bridge, Holgate Road, York.
NEW council tax benefit regulations put many councils in an invidious position where government funding has been reduced by more than 20 per cent for working-age claimants. On top of that, the bedroom tax will hit more than 25,000 “under-occupying” tenants in Yorkshire and Humber.
Since 2010, City of York Council has commendably reduced hardcore council tax arrears by 10 per cent. However, it seems inevitable council tax and rent arrears will rise exponentially if the poorest are expected to find up to another £20 a week to cover these cuts. Or perhaps they will resort to payday lenders. Or be faced with the stress of bailiffs knocking on their door. Despite raising an additional council tax liability of £700,000 from second homes, empty homes and voids, City of York has not set this off against the proposed scheme. It will proceed with a full 30 per cent cut to council tax benefit. It further missed the opportunity of raising up to a further £530,000m from landlords by entirely abolishing the void exemption.
Regrettably I suspect the council’s decision will be seen in time to be counter-productive in both economic – collection rates will plummet, similar to a poll tax mark two – and social terms.
All of that said, we should remember that the overall responsibility for such brutal cuts levied against the poor lies with this Coalition. And that at least City of York will partly mitigate it through implementation of a living wage as well as topping up its own localised social fund.
Healthy heart and limbs
From: Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury.
IN reply to Mr Coxon (Yorkshire Post, November 13), the capital is of course the heart of the nation. But as the heart must give life to the body, the limbs and organs cannot be allowed to wither and atrophy otherwise the system ceases to function healthily.
We have the most centralised government of all the Western democracies. Take the Federal Republic of Germany.
As the name suggests, it is an association of subordinate states which retain a good deal of autonomy and indeed have their own governments and elections. No one could deny they are a far better run country than ours so perhaps we can learn from them. In France too the provinces have far more clout in their own right with powerful mayors in the various Departments. We have flirted with adopting a similar system but, apart from London, it has all been very half-hearted.
So far as Scotland is concerned, Mr Coxon misunderstands me. I have no strong feelings about Scotland going independent but I don’t think it will happen.