Monday, March 31, 2014

Lord Tebbit gets it right on Party membership

In an article for Brietbart Ben Harris-Quinney wrote on March 25th:

The Bow Group, the UK's oldest conservative think-tank, hosted a “State of the Party” lecture last week, delivered by Lord Tebbit. The Thatcher-era cabinet minister expressed a desire to see a change of leadership so we can feel like conservatives again and feel like the Prime Minister is “a son of Thatcher and not a son of Tony Blair”. But he felt there was a more important consideration; the extent to which a future leader is willing to enfranchise the party membership:
“We need a leadership with an attachment to the grassroots, and one that spends less time on focus groups and opinion polls and much more establishing a network of constituency associations and agents to rebuild the membership.
"When eventually it comes to choosing the next leader, it’s not about whether we go left or right, but whether we will be a top down, narrowly focused party run by an elite, or a bottom up party run by like-minded, anti-statist minded people.”
After a disastrous decade of party membership, another 10 years of the same would ensure that the Conservative Party ceases to exist. An ideological conservative won’t be enough. Tories also need a leader who is willing to drive freedom and democracy within the Conservative Party for the long term, pushing power down and out through local Tory branches, and empowering and attracting members.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Our next Forum will be on 12th April.   See "Events" in right hand column for details.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tax avoidance - can we afford it? updated 31 Mar 2014

At the last COPOV Forum there was a discussion about tax avoidance.   The discussion was about legal tax avoidance and relied on examples from Richard Brooks book "The Great Tax Robbery".   The big question is "Is it fair?"   Over the next few weeks we will set out some examples and why nothing is being done about it.   Consider the following:

(1) Prosecutions for evasion of direct taxes (like income tax) run at just thirty per year even though the offence is estimated by HMRC to cost around £5.5 billion annually.
(2) Following its takeover by a private equity group in 2007 Boot's tax payments halved as the new owners loaded the company up with billions of pounds of debt on which it now makes tax deductible payments.   As a result, out of operating profits of £1 billion in 2010/11, the now Swiss-controlled group paid just £59 million in tax.
(3) Barclays has over 300 tax haven subsidiary companies, 181 of them in the Cayman Islands. 
(4) In 5 years from 2006 the Revenue put just eight corporation tax schemes - all of which took place before the end of 2003 - before the tax tribunal that is the first step in the legal process.
(5) Foreign football players - as "non-doms" they can keep their image rights offshore in a tax haven company entirely untaxed.  Share schemes for bonuses are more valuable to non-dom players who can leave them offshore.   The same net wage for a foreign player thus costs a club far less than it does a native one.   So for the same total cost the club can get a better overseas player.   This goes some way to explaining why the Premier League had just 11 non-British or Irish players in 1992 but by 2007 it had 250.
(6) In 2006 accountants Grant Thornton estimated that in the previous year Britain's fifty-four billionaires, mostly non-doms, paid tax of £15 million on combined fortunes of £126 billion.
(7) By 2010 penalties for fraudulent or negligent understatements of income charged on all 770 companies dealt with by the Revenue's Large Business Service had dropped to £0.4 million, or around 0.01% of the tax they had underdeclared on their tax returns.
(8) Public Buildings and Territory of Ownership
      HMRC Tax Offices            Bermuda
      HM Treasury                     Jersey
      Home Office                      Guernsey
      Ministry of Defence            Guernsey
(9) Research suggests that developing countries lose at least $50 billion per year and perhaps as much as $280 billion in corporate profit sharing (i.e. avoidance) and evasion by individuals. Total worldwide annual aid to developing countries is around $100 billion.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Labour or Conservative

One of my friends told me the following:

Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in my front garden, my neighbours stopped to chat as they returned home from walking their dog.
During our friendly conversation I asked their little girl what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said she wanted to be Prime Minister someday.

Both of her parents, Labour Party members, were standing there, so I asked her, "If you were Prime Minister what would be the first thing you would do?"

She replied... "I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people."

Her parents beamed with pride!

"Wow...what a worthy goal!" I said. "But you don't have to wait until you're Prime Minister to do that!" I told her.

"What do you mean?" she asked.
So I told her, "You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull out the weeds, and trim my hedge,
and I'll pay you £50. Then you can go over to the shop, where the homeless guy hangs out,
and you can give him the £50 to use toward food and a new house."

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked,
"Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the £50?"

I said, "Welcome to the Conservative Party."

Her parents aren't speaking to me anymore