Friday, 7 December 2012

Lies, damned lies and Paul Uppal

The invisible MP has resurfaced with a piece on his website proclaiming that the Autumn Statement is 'good for the West Midlands'. Usually when he puts this kind of thing up, I find that it's a version of a standard statement circulated to all government MPs. 

Unless the Conservative Party has developed telepathy, this is indeed the case. Look, a Lincoln MP says the same thing. As does Mundell from the Scottish Borders. And Graeme Leach. And another 88 MPs

Statement 1:

The economic recovery is taking longer because the damage is worse than we feared. But the economy is healing. 
The economy is not healing. There are no more jobs. There is no recovery. Quantitative easing has had no discernible effect other than to reinflate the banks' balance sheets. The government has had 2 and a half years in office: it is now causing 'the damage'. 
The last thing we could do is put all this progress at risk and attempt to borrow less by borrowing more. We cannot turn back.
The grammar of this is almost beyond me, and perhaps Derrida. Obviously the government 'could' make this attempt. Perhaps whichever drone wrote it means 'should'. And we are borrowing more. It doesn't look like it at first glance because Osborne pulled three tricks. Firstly, he shifted the Post Office pension fund onto the books, which is pretty dodgy: pension funds aren't just pots of cash. They have to be paid out. Then he counted the £4.5bn sale of 4G frequencies… even though the sale hasn't actually happened. Finally, he transferred the QE debt interest from the Bank of England to the Treasury's bank account. This is just a delaying tactic, and one which a Financial Times journalist described as proof that this government no longer has any serious economic policy. 

But wait! There's a bit about the West Midlands!

Paul Uppal commented:
"This is fantastic news for Wolverhampton South West.
"The West Midlands will see two million people get an income tax cut. The 3.5 million people who drive will welcome the cancellation of a rise in fuel duty that the Labour Government had planned for. Businesses will welcome the drop in corporation tax and the small business rate relief. And the raft of capital infrastructure projects will unlock growth and equip Britain to compete in the global race.
"Times are tough. But the economy is healing – and the measures announced today will bring welcome support to families and businesses in Wolverhampton South West."
He must have written that bit, surely?

But alas no. His interns have inserted the words "Wolverhampton South West" into the prepared text also used by Christopher Pincher in Tamworth and by Claire Perry MP, Chris Kelly MP of Dudley, and Clifton Brown. Given that Perry and Brown are from the South-West, it seems the Tories have issued the same statement to all their MPs, despite them representing very different places. So actually, they think the budget is going to be a roaring success from the grouse moors of Dumfries to the metal-bashing inner-cities of the Black Country.

Alternatively, you might view this as cynical propaganda masquerading as spontaneous thought ('Paul Uppal commented'.

As to the detail: millions of people will get a tax cut. More to the point, Paul Uppal, as a millionaire property speculator will get two tax cuts. One because the top rate of tax has been abolished, and the other because tax relief on unoccupied property is being offered. Paul's business is property speculation. He doesn't want market forces to dictate lower rents: he wants taxpayers to subsidise him leaving properties empty until the climate improves. And he's got what he wants.

Business will welcome the cut in corporation tax… those who pay it. They'll still get massive subsidies from us though - because most benefit claimants are workers not paid enough. We fill the gap with housing benefit and income support, boosting the profit margins of Paul's friends. The rest of course is just meaningless cant.

As usual.  

Meanwhile, Uppal is in favour of regional and performance-related pay for teachers and nurses (despite the obvious problem: children and viruses are variables you can't account for). However in his case, I'm all for it. This is a poor area and it's getting poorer while under his charge. His salary should therefore go down. Or we could link his salary to his vote. Uppal got 40% of a 68% turnout. By my calculations, 28% of the electorate voted for him. So he gets £28,000 per year. If he persuades more people to vote for him next year, he gets a pay rise as a reward for supporting a fine job by the government. If someone else does better, s/he gets it. Simples!

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