Wednesday, 9 February 2011


My illustrious MP speaks at length, having hit on a cunning wheeze to link his favourite subject (enriching property developers like himself) and his consituency.

His solution to fixing the recession is quite simple:

1. More massive speculative commercial property developments.
2. Getting rid of planning restrictions so that aforesaid developers can do what they want.
3. Reducing taxes on commercial property speculation.

Oh Paul, you're so transparent. There are some minor flaws in your argument. Firstly, more shops don't regenerate areas. Shops require a well-paid population ready to spend their money, or a population ready to get into debt to fund consumption. Credit is a) difficult to come by and b) pie-in-the-sky insanity. This recession was caused by the sudden realisation that easy credit just builds up horror. No decent, well-paid jobs in the real economy = empty shops. I'm stunned that you think more shops would help anyway: 28% of the town's shops are empty as it is: further developments will just cause more damage.

Reducing planning restrictions leads to massive out-of-town developments. These ruin towns economically, increase pollution, are architecturally disgraceful, and tend to be operated by tax-evading multinationals, so the profits aren't recycled back into the town (as they would be if you went to your local bookshop or baker) but exported to a tax haven.

However, there are real victims of this recession. No, you morons, it's not the children, the poor or the sick. It's those unfortunate businessmen:

I will, however, enter a caveat in respect of business rates. At one of my weekly surgeries recently, I was approached by a constituent - a gentleman who owns a retail unit in the centre of Wolverhampton. He spoke to me about his situation. He felt almost at his wits' end because of business rates. He felt driven almost to remove the roof from his shop because he felt that business rates had been particularly punitive.

Commercial property taxation is an important part of funding services. Companies want street lighting, good roads, an educated and healthy workforce to run the business and/or to shop there: if you don't pay your share, you damage the community.

Before you shed tears on behalf of this definitely real and not at all made up (like David Cameron's 40 year-old 'black man' who'd been in the Navy for 30 years) businessman, let's look at the Business Rates: maximum rate is under £10,000 for a highly profitable town centre small business outlet, while the very biggest department stores pay well under £200,000 (check you local businesses here). Not, I think you'll agree, punitive. Additionally, while taxes have been going up for us, they're going down by a lot for businesses, as the first link explains. But why let facts get in the way of a bit of self-interest?

Of course, Paul has a dog in this fight:

When it comes to business rates and the current system for empty properties, and industrial property in the black country and the wider west midlands, investors and business people are sometimes almost preoccupied with avoiding paying business rates, rather than looking at development, getting a tenant into a property and getting a thriving business going.

I would imagine that rather a lot of Paul's commercial property is lying empty because he's rather hang on to it in the hope of charging more rent later than selling it or renting it cheaply: in the meantime, he doesn't want to pay his taxes.

Finally, he goes on a lot about the need for an educated population - while voting for massive tuition fee hikes and the abolition of financial support for college students.

Sorry Paul: must try harder. Lucky The Dark Place's Labour MPs were there to put you straight!


Benjamin. said...

Tellingly, he has a weekly surgery? I'm gonna go and put his nuts in a vice until he bleeds out of his eyes and promises to end his rabble in Parliament before declaring himself bankrupt after giving away his millions to charity.

The Plashing Vole said...

HE doesn't actually hold a weekly surgery: it's appointment only to keep out the oiks.

Benjamin. said...

Dammit, I've no chance then. Ah, apologies for my disappearance the other day as I was taking the audit of the seemingly abandoned classrooms and couldn't hang about too long.

Yours, B.