Many people who loathe Blair still think that The Gobblin' King is the saviour of the world, a financial wizard and architect of the greatest economic Golden Age that Britain has ever known. After I've viciously beaten these fuckers around the head—screaming "no, he's not! He is an incompetent cunt with one eye and a ludicrous oral twitch that makes me want to slice his lips off!"—I calm down slightly and, sitting serenely beside the deluded, bloody fool, I like to explain that their faith is misplaced.
I like to mention the stupidity of selling the Bank of England's gold at a near-record low price (a low which he, himself, helped to create), the fact that unemployment figures are on the rise (even with the government attempting to massage them), the record bankruptcies, the decrease in social mobility and the increase in poverty (as measured by household expenditure).
But surely his biggest fuck-up has been the tax credits system. They are massively expensive to administer, wide open to fraud, put families from whom lump sum repayments are demanded (with menaces, naturally) and last year overpaid by £1.9 billion.
The good news is that this year the overpayment was only £1.8 billion, which I know makes me feel a lot better. Obviously the system is now well under control, even if it is not achieving the end for which it was designed, i.e. helping the poorest.
As Jackart points out, if you really want to help the working poor, there is a really simple way to do so.
I've an Idea, Brown, you fuck-wit: if you want to help the working poor DON'T FUCKING TAX THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE.
It's such a basic concept, one wonders why our Cyclopean economic colossus has not simply raised the Personal Tax Allowance. But the answer is pretty bloody simple: power. If you make as many people in the country as possible clients of the state, then they are hardly going to vote for a party that promises to take away their unearned cash.
What's more I suspect - without proof - that this may be deliberate. Here is a nightmare vision of Brown's Britian: He is trying to force large numbers of people to be beholden to the state's will, and be dependent on the exchequer for their income. The Goblin King can then divide up his minions according to whatever is "PC" that week and reward one client group over another. Calls for justice and fairness descend in to endless lobbying for state handouts to special interest groups. Gordon becomes the arbiter of everyones' standard of living. It is power to interfere he wants. Not to help the poor.
Quite so but, amongst other things, he is essentially bribing the people of the country to vote for NuLabour; it is a cynical power play worthy of Machiavelli himself. So, let us bear that in mind as we turn our attention to The Grauniad article.
The number of families facing tax credit repayments has risen despite a fall in the total sum being claimed back by the government, the new figures showed.
So, despite the fact that the overpayment is less, the number of payments that they have cocked up has actually risen; now, I'm no statistician, but this would imply that the system is actually getting worse.
More than 1.9m claims were overpaid last year, up 120,000 from the previous year, when charities warned some families were being forced into poverty by the debt.
What! 120,000 cock-ups has risen to 1,900,000 wrong claims: the system has become nearly sixteen times more inefficient! Absolutely incredible.
Some £2.2bn was overpaid in 2003-04, resulting in £1bn of debt being written off by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
HMRC: alias the taxpayer. Coincidentally, £1 billion is about the level of NHS debt at the end of last year, which has led to the sackings of nurses, doctors and the severe rationing of frontline services. That would employ 50,000 nurses at £20,000 a year, just to put that colossal number into some perspective.
The government insisted today that people will not be forced to reimburse the state if the overpayment is the system's fault, rather than a change in people's circumstances, as it admitted further overpayments would continue in the future.
That's nice of them. What kind of trauma-inducing process will the families have to go through in order to get you to admit that it is your mistake? And you are expecting this tootal arse-up to continue?
Further overpayments are nevertheless set to continue, as a minister confirmed that the new measures being implemented will reduce overpayments in future years by just one third.
By a third? Quick, break out the fireworks and bunting!
The government says it wants to retain a "flexible and responsive" system, rather than fixed payments, so the level of credits matches families' changing needs.
Yes, but every single fucking month? Why not put it to every six months, at least? Or why not make tax far simpler, as I outlined here, so that people can just fill out their own forms?
The chief secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms, said overpayments have already fallen by more than a fifth since the first the year of the operation as he defended the system to help worse-off families.
Overpayments might have fallen, but misallocations and incorrect payments have risen by sixteen fucking times!
"The tax credit system has delivered three vital improvements: it has increased incentives to work, reduced the tax burden on low-to-middle-income families and helped to sharply reduce child poverty," he said.
To sharply reduce child poverty? Isn't it time, Tim, for you to boldly go to the P-G for some summary justice: it's hanging for a split infinitive, I believe.
"They have played a vital role in reducing child poverty, with 700,000 children lifted out of relative poverty since 1997." But the Liberal Democrats called on the paymaster general, Dawn Primarolo, to be sacked as they call for a whole-system reform.
The system has also been bedevilled by serious IT problems and targeted by organised criminal gangs using stolen identities to defraud the taxpayer.
Well, that is a surprise...
Lib Dem spokesman David Laws said: "It is surely now time to replace the paymaster general, who through oversight, incompetence, or complacency has presided over a broken system rife with incorrect payments and fraud."
Not to mention overseeing the sale of the Customs and Inland Revenue buildings to Mapely Steps Ltd, a company based in a tax haven, and then lying about it (Private Eye, passim ad nauseam). Primarolo must go.
The shadow paymaster general, Mark Francois, said: "This government is in meltdown and they have Gordon Brown to blame for it. He has created a system of tax credits which is far too complicated. Apart from failing the needy, the system is not fit for purpose."
"Gordon Brown needs to acknowledge whether the ongoing problems are a result of his obsession with fiddling and complexity or gross failure of his ministers and department to administer the payments effectively."
Brown is a fuckwit of grand stature; he is a manipulative, lying, piece of crap who—notwithstanding his low profile when scandal breaks—is, nonetheless, a terrible cunt.
Burn him now.