Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More McCarthy for your money

Kezza: "don't ask me what the laws mean, guv: I just vote on whether they should be imposed on you or not. After all, you can hardly expect me to take the time to understand what I'm voting for: I'm a very busy and important woman, you know."

You might recall that—a couple of days ago—your humble Devil turned his ire on Kerry McCarthy. The Labour MP for Bristol East was showing off her ignorance of VAT law.
The Jaffa cake—is it a cake, is it a biscuit—saga is well-known, with its makers desperate to prove it was in fact a biscuit, so that it wouldn't be subject to VAT. (Cakes are, biscuits aren't; don't ask me why).

I left a comment at her blog, pointing out that maybe she would like to find out why this was the case.
Well, Kerry, you are a member of Parliament and so maybe—just maybe—you ought to go and look it up? Or if you are unable to do it yourself, could you not ask one of the members of staff that you spent £90,611 of our money on last year to do it for you?

For the record, I have no idea if the biscuit distinction was in the original EU Directive on VAT or wether it was gold-plating by our government. I suspect it's the former, but why don't you go and find out?

DK

As it happens, my hunch was wrong and both FatBigot and TaxLawyer put me straight in the comments: it is a piece of UK legislation, amending the VAT laws.

However, today Kerry is moaning about the fact that she didn't get much of a debate on that post (although it seems that, on some subjects, she's not awfully keen on debate). [Emphasis mine.]
I don't think Cameron is quite advocating the Jello Biafra approach, but according to the Mail he's saying "If you're fat or poor, it's probably your own fault". Or the fault of people who decide that Pringles shouldn't have VAT charged on them. (Very disappointed by the response to that post; I thought it would spark quite a debate).

Well, I did try, Kerry, but the problem is that I seem to be rather more informed about, and interested in, the provenance of said laws than you are. And it is difficult to have a profitable discussion with someone who is not only ignorant of, but also uninterested in, the basic knowledge required underpinning such a debate.

I suggested that you go and equip yourself with said knowledge and what was your response?
Yes, I'll get my massively overpaid and underworked team of researchers and caseworkers to spend the rest of the week checking obscure bits of tax legislation, with instructions not to stop until they find out exactly which categories Hula Hoops, Wotsits and Quavers fall into. And let's not forget Twiglets.

For all those who constantly raise the expenditure on staff and office costs - would you rather I didn't employ anyone, didn't follow up on casework, didn't have anyone answer the phones or open the door to the hundreds of people who contact me asking me for help or advice each year? What point exactly are you making? Or are you just trying to score cheap political points?

For Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP, to accuse me of "trying to score cheap political points" is, frankly, a bit rich but, being the mild-mannered and patient chap that I am, I'll let that pass.

However, I certainly wasn't going to let her hide behind insinuations about her poor, down-trodden staff (perhaps you should actually insist that employment law applies to those working in Royal Palaces too, Kerry; then your staff wouldn't be so over-worked) and so I have just left another comment at her site.
Kerry,

Several things: first, I appreciate that your staff are probably busy.

Second: my point about your expenditure was to highlight the fact that you are joint 60th, out of 646, for staff costs. That would imply that you either employ a greater number of staff than the norm, or that you pay them more. I imagine that, either way, they could find some time.

Thirdly, and most importantly, MPs should not primarily be social workers; for that, we employ... well... social workers.

You are legislators: that is your prime function. You are, in fact, one of only 646 people who can make law in this country.

One might have thought that, as a legislator, it was reasonably important that you understood the laws on which you vote.

As such, if there is a piece of law that you don't know about, then I think that I might reasonably expect you to look it up.

"Yes, I'll get my massively overpaid and underworked team of researchers and caseworkers to spend the rest of the week checking obscure bits of tax legislation, with instructions not to stop until they find out exactly which categories Hula Hoops, Wotsits and Quavers fall into. And let's not forget Twiglets."

That was not what I was asking at all. What I was pointing out is that you should understand why there are different categories for VAT: not only because it is one of the government's primary revenue streams with income projected at over £80 billion this year, but because they also affect your constituents' lives.

You might like to start with the 1972 European Communities Act, for instance.*

And are you aware of the EU Commission's recent proposed changes to VAT? These, too, will affect your constituents. True, since VAT is an EU imposed tax, there is little that you can do to change rates or categorisations, but you should know about it nonetheless.

To return to my third point, laws are important because they control how people in this country live. And yes, the laws that you vote on are vastly more important than your casework; but the laws that you pass also affect your constituency casework.

Am I scoring political points? Sure, but not party political points: I am a classical liberal/libertarian and thus have a pretty low opinion of MPs of all stripes.

You just offered yourself up as a target by declaring your ignorance.

DK

* If I, as an interested amateur, can be bothered to look this stuff up, then I think that it is reasonable that you—who are employed full-time, and employ others, to do this work—should also do so.

Now, does anyone think that I am being at all unreasonable here? Still, I am thinking of adopting Kerry as my new Polly pet; it seems to me that there is a rich seam of potential in her witterings.

Anyway, we shall see if Kerry responds.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're not being unreasonable, in any objective sense of the word, but nor are you fellating Poor Widdle Kerry's ego. That fact alone is enough to close her ears to anything you have to say.

It's been a long time since our parliamentarians were models of competence and probity but you must understand that ZanuLab takes matters to new heights (depths?). These people are not representative of their constituencies - they're party delegates and, at the risk of provoking accusations of misogyny from the usual suspects, people like Kerry were chosen as such precisely because they were the right gender at the right time and in the right place.

Kerry's objection, dear Devil, isn't that you are asking something unreasonable. Her objection is that you're asking her to do anything at all when, clearly, you should be bowing down in awe before her glory. In this respect, she's very much like Harriet Harperson. She doesn't exist to serve the public; the public exists to bask in her splendour, to comment on her endless achievements and to massage her ego.

leg-iron said...

I read some of her posts and her responses to those who commented.

That drew me to the conclusion that she is a petulant, arrogant, self-important, pompous shrieking harpie and therefore destined for the Brown Gorgon's cabinet.

Whatever happened to politicians who actually cared for the people they represent? Or have I been deluding myself that such a creature ever existed?

I'm beginning to think I have.

TheFatBigot said...

I believe Kerry McCretin to be a qualified solicitor. If that is so she should know how to find judgments on the web (even judgments of VAT Tribunals). It took me 30 seconds to find the Jaffa cake judgment, but there it is.

My MP is Jeremy Corbin, a man with whom I disagree on just about everything. But as a constituency MP he is outstanding, real people have real concerns and he addresses them without reference to the political views of the constituents in question.

I hope Kerry McCretin does the same for her constituents. Perhaps we will find out in the weeks to come.

TheFatBigot said...

Her website contains her telling contributions to Parliamentary debate. I found here analysis here particularly incisive:

"Kerry McCarthy (Bristol, East) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has talked about self-sufficiency but he has not really put that in the environmental context. Does he not agree that in this day and age, when this country produces food such as apples, it is absolute madness to incur the environmental consequences of importing apples from somewhere such as New Zealand?

Hilary Benn: In the end, consumers have a choice about what it is they wish to buy in those circumstances. Food security cannot be considered in isolation from the rest of the world. Part of the answer to the question that was raised earlier is that we need an open global trading system and an end to the distorting subsidies."

Oh well, maybe she was a tad wide of the mark there, but I'm sure there are some great pearls of wisdom to come.

TheFatBigot said...

I knew there was more to her, here she is on housing law:

"Kerry McCarthy: My right hon. Friend will be aware that at present local authorities accept people for priority rehousing on grounds of homelessness only when they have reached the wire—when they have had to fight legal proceedings right up to the eleventh hour and the bailiffs are knocking at the door. That causes great anxiety for families who already face the threat of eviction or repossession, so does my right hon. Friend’s Department have any plans to review the situation?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright): I thank my hon. Friend for that question. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Bristol looking at the great work on homelessness that is being done with the local authority. My hon. Friend will be aware that current homelessness legislation provides a strong safety net for families with children and for vulnerable people. As soon as the local authority is satisfied that homelessness is likely within 28 days, it must take steps to ensure that the applicant and his or her household will continue to have somewhere to live."

Ah, ok, maybe bailiffs don't have to be at the door for local authorities to act. I must have mis-read it the first time, I was so sure she had to be right on something so important for an MP to know.

Bear with me, I know she has been incisive and correct somewhere.

TheFatBigot said...

Ah yes, here it is, she has friends in high places:

"Kerry McCarthy (Bristol, East) (Lab): The Minister for Energy and I both visited Bristol port authority a couple of weeks ago on Friday to discuss the potential impact of the Severn barrage on the port’s future business."

So there we have it, proof that her constituents can rely on her to have a word in the ministerial ear ... oh, hang on a tick, there's a little bit more to what she said:

"Sadly, we did not quite meet on that occasion."

Ho hum.

I will continue searching to ensure the record is put straight on her outstanding contribution to public life over the last 3 years. In this campaign I will take advice from Mr OJ Simpson whose quest for the killer of his ex-wife continues even as I apply my stubby fingers to the keyboard.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Top stuff. You really can be very patient when required.

Blue Eyes said...

I bet she voted for 42 days on the grounds that "The Tories Are Soft On Terror!"

DK you are spot on: MPs probably do work quite hard, but on totally the wrong stuff.

Old Holborn said...

Go get her DK

646 Lamposts.

These 646 bastards totally control the births, lives and deaths of over 60 million people in this country.

No mercy.

Anonymous said...

I am really suprised how much rubbish we take off these 646 idiots. Does anybody really believe they are the best 646 people in this country to be running it.I certainly don't, they don't give a damn about me, you or anyone for that matter except themselves. I would believe a smackhead more than these guys. Every word they spout is usually met on my part by great skepticisim (sorry about the spelling). If they gave as much time to the people as they do tryin to score brownie points this country would be something. They do not have a clue what is happening in this country. I don't think you have to be the smartest person in the world to do they're job and if people who actually cared about this country were in charge it would be run alot better. mp= pile of shit who pisses all your money away on exspenses (things we go to work to pay for while they dont have to spend a penny of they're own) i really believe when these gus die they will come back as flys on shit

Letters From A Tory said...

Her 'witterings' are hardly worth the effort, but feel free to keep up the pressure on her to provide us with more amusing tales.

Roger Thornhill said...

from tfb's post:

"Kerry McCarthy (Bristol, East) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has talked about self-sufficiency but he has not really put that in the environmental context. Does he not agree that in this day and age, when this country produces food such as apples, it is absolute madness to incur the environmental consequences of importing apples from somewhere such as New Zealand?"

Surely then she would be against the food policy report advocating greenhouse taxes in the uk which will result in increased imports of meat? Alas I doubt it on many levels.

MatGB said...

"does anyone think that I am being at all unreasonable here? "

Not in the slightest, you are in fact being more reserved than we've come to expect from you, and she's still being dim.

Also worth observing that she's not put any effort at all into researching what she can get away with as an MP either--her domain name is a classic blunder, reckon we should get all her opponents at the next GE to appeal it?

ade said...

@ fatBigot

I thought I'd help you in your quest. Here's Kerry on credit unions (abridged version):

5 Jun 2008: Column 908

Kerry McCarthy: I know that the Minister is a great supporter of the role of credit unions in tackling financial exclusion[...]. Does she agree that a fundamental review of credit union legislation is long overdue [...]

Kitty Ussher: I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend, which is why we conducted a review of the environment in which credit unions and co-operatives operate. The results of the consultation were considered and published at the end of last year, on, I think, 31 December.


Oops - someone's more than 6 months behind the times, then.

TheFatBigot said...

Thank you kindly Mr Ade.

The absence of meat (both literal and metaphorical) in her life seems to be taking its toll.

V said...

Quoting Dead Kennedys songs is not really sensible for a ChickenShit Conformist.

Kerry may well think she is part of the Moral Majority, but I see it as Bedtime for Democracy!

This is as cringe worthy as the Artic Monkeys incident! :)

Hugo said...

"The Jaffa cake—is it a cake, is it a biscuit—saga is well-known, with its makers desperate to prove it was in fact a biscuit, so that it wouldn't be subject to VAT. (Cakes are, biscuits aren't; don't ask me why)."

She's wrong, too. Cakes are not subject to VAT, biscuits are. That's why McVitie's wanted to have the Jaffa Cake declared a cake.

Call me Infidel said...

Kerry McCarthy soon to be an ex MP one would hope. Still doubtless she can fall back on the last refuge of scoundrels and start shilling for failed asylum seekers. ZaNuLabour have made this a very lucrative option for shysters.