Rally Against Debt update
Meanwhile, the Facebook page now has 830 confirmed...
Sign up, sign up, one and all!
Quite simply, with fuel prices lowered, people will buy more of it—demand increases. But Osborne is going to tax the suppliers of this good, so that they produce less of it. Is the man a complete moron?
One of the world's biggest oil companies, Norway's Statoil, has halted work on two North Sea projects because of the huge tax hit on oil fields in the Budget.
It comes after smaller companies such as Valiant Petroleum warned that they are re-evaluating new projects, since the Chancellor increased tax by 12 percentage points to more than 62pc.
There have also been reports that oil majors have withdrawn plans to sell billions of pounds in North Sea fields nearing the end of their lives, leading to fears they will be abandoned with oil still in the ground.
Statoil, the Norwegian state-controlled company, said on Tuesday it will "pause and reflect" on the future of its Mariner and Bressay fields to the south east of Shetland.
Whether this will actually lead to a decline in tax revenues overall is moot at this point: it certainly won’t lead to a reduction in short term revenues. But it will definitely lead to a reduction in the amount of oil pumped up over the decades and so is quite likely to lead to a reduction in the long term tax take.
And do note that no one is trying to dodge a tax, no one is trying to pass it on. It’s simply that the imposition of a tax has made previously viable activity now non-viable. We’re, in that long term, poorer because of the tax.
Rally Against Debt
A well mannered, polite rally for civilised people who don't wish to see their hard earned money being spent on pointless government initiatives and instead would like government spending to actually fall and our national debt to be cut.
We don't think that it's fair for us to continue borrowing money to live a lifestyle that we simply can't afford - burdening our children with unnecessary debt that they will have to pay back.
Any visits to Fortnum and Mason's by protestors will only be to marvel at their selection of quality goods and perhaps make the occasional purchase.
Bonfires will be strictly forbidden: it's out of season anyway
Trips to see Vodafone and other high street chains will result in congratulations to the company for providing jobs and growth in the UK.
This is only a planning group at the moment and all subject to change.
Offical hashtag #RallyAgainstDebt or #RAD
In most European countries school students are expected to pursue a broad and rounded range of academic subjects until the age of 16. Even in those countries such as the Netherlands where students divide between academic and vocational routes all young people are expected, whatever their ultimate destiny, to study a wide range of traditional subjects. So we will introduce a new award – the English Baccalaureate – for any student who secures good GCSE or iGCSE passes in English, mathematics, the sciences, a modern or ancient foreign language and a humanity such as history or geography. This combination of GCSEs at grades A*-C will entitle the student to a certificate recording their achievement. At the moment only around 15 per cent of students secure this basic suite of academic qualifications and fewer than four per cent of students eligible for free school meals do so57. So to encourage the take-up of this combination of subjects we will give special recognition in performance tables to those schools which are helping their pupils to attain this breadth of study.
Jones's fiction is relevant, subversive, witty and highly enjoyable, while also having a distinctly dark streak and a constant awareness of how unreliable the real world can seem. Disguises and deceptions abound. Though avoiding criminally dysfunctional families or unwanted pregnancies, her cleverly plotted and amusing adventures deal frankly with emotional clumsiness, parental neglect, jealousy between siblings and a general sense of being an outcast. Rather than a deliberately cruel stepmother, a Jones protagonist might have a real mother far more wrapped up in her own career than in the discoveries and feelings of her child. The child protagonist would realise this, but get on with the adventure anyway.
Her career began as a playwright, with three plays produced in London between 1967 and 1970; her first novel, Change- over (1970), was adult humour; since then her work has been written for younger readers. Besides the two series already mentioned, she wrote the Howl books, beginning with Howl's Moving Castle (1986; filmed in 2004 by Hayao Miyazaki), and two sequels, and the Dalemark sequence (1975-2003), dark-tinged fantasies set in that eponymous country.
Some of her best and most enjoyable books are stand-alones, in particular The Ogre Downstairs (1974), The Time of the Ghost (1981) and Fire and Hemlock (1985), each a remarkable blend of pathos and genuinely funny writing. Archer's Goon (1984), extravagantly mixing fantasy with science fiction, was serialised for television by the BBC in 1992. Her most recent novel, the light-hearted Enchanted Glass, appeared last year.
As an author she was astonishing. The most astonishing thing was the ease with which she'd do things (which may be the kind of thing that impresses other writers more than it does the public, who take it for granted that all writer are magicians.But those of us who write for a living know how hard it is to do what she did). The honest, often prickly characters, the inspired, often unlikely plots, the jaw-dropping resolutions.
(She's a wonderful author to read aloud, by the way, as I discovered when reading her books to my kids. Not only does she read aloud beautifully, but denouments which seemed baffling read alone are obvious and elegantly set up and constructed when read aloud. "Children are much more careful readers than adults," she'd say. "You don't have to repeat everything for children. You do with adults, because they aren't paying full attention.")
Rest in Peace, Diana Wynne Jones. You shone like a star. The funniest, wisest writer & the finest friend. I miss you.
I do miss her, very much. I have some wonderful friends. I have people in my life who are brilliant, and people who are colourful, and people who are absolutely wonderful, and who make the world better for their being in it. But there was only one Diana Wynne Jones, and the world was a finer one for having her in it.
When I first moved to Stourport, and thus gained easier access to the public library, my first forays into the fantasy genre was DWJ; If memory serves—Archer's Goon. I've never looked back since.
Here was an author who didn't write down to me, didn't condescend. Her plots were complicated and forced you to pay attention to what you were reading; and her characters were believable; acting and reacting in ways you could understand. She didn't ram home the differences in her worlds she simply worked them into the story in such a way that you would happily accept this situation as just that which was normal.
She took you by the hand and led you into a strange world and let you do the pointing, gaping and staring.
There's few authors who can do that, and now there's one less.
I either can’t think of anything to say, or - and this weekend is an example - there’s so much stupidity, idiocy, and downright mouthbreathing fuckwittery going on in Britain that it seems like some kind of Herculean labour to chronicle what I’ve noticed about it and vent my bulging spleen. So I don’t bother. I can’t hold it in today, though. Some people are just so fucking… oh, I don’t know. I can’t find words in the English language sufficient to describe the utter, wilful defiance of objective reality.
Take the small number of morons who took to the streets of London yesterday. I mean, where to begin? As I said about the students last year, here we have self-styled “anarchists” protesting against a reduction in the size of the state. A reduction, moreover, that isn’t actually happening. If the legacy media and my own acquaintances were all I had to go on, I’d think the entire country was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Google says it will delay the distribution of its newest Android source code, dubbed Honeycomb, at least for the foreseeable future. The search giant says the software, which is tailored specifically for tablet computers that compete against Apple's iPad, is not yet ready to be altered by outside programmers and customized for other devices, such as phones.
Guess we need a new definition of “open”.
Today's budget has cost me £10,00 on the nose thank so to the collapse in share prices of our North Sea oil companies. Such companies have been doing really well of late, discovering bigger fields and eeking out a longer future for the UK as an oil producer—all the time with 50%+ of the profit going straight to the Treasury.
Yes, that’s right, you’re taxing the excess profits of those who supply it thus making them, and possible new entrants, less likely to go and find more, so as to increase the supply and bring prices down.
This is, you’ll have to agree, fairly stupid.
What lifts is up into the realms of rampant lunacy is that the money so raised is going to be used to reduce the price of the fuel itself: that is, to increase demand.
So, our solution to prices rising because of tight supply and increasing demand is going to be further restricting supply and increasing demand.
... worth £170 a year to basic rate taxpayers. It is expected that 880,000 of the lowest-paid will be taken out of income tax altogether...
You see, we have, irritatingly, a progressive tax system. That means you pay NI on the gross before tax. Then you pay Income Tax on the taxable amount, which is the gross less the free 7Kish. Then you pay one rate on the next 20 odd thousand. If you go up into the 40% rate you only pay it on the amount you are in it by.
In other words, if you earn £1 over the threshold you would pay 40p to the taxman on that £1. Horribly confusing I know.
Anyway, the bottom line here is that not even someone earning £150,000 per year pays 52% of their income in taxes. In fact, someone on £150K (the 50% tax rate) will pay a combined amount of NI and Income Tax to the tune of £58,900, that 39% of their earnings in tax. Someone on £50K (the so-called 40% higher rate) will pay £13,910 in NI and tax, that's 27% in total.
Now don't get me wrong, I still think that is way too much. However, trying to win the argument for lower taxes on the basis of exploiting the confusing nature of a "progressive" system to make it sound much worse than it is is the wrong argument to be making because you'll be called on it.
A much sounder platform to be on is to make the case that the tax system is so utterly confusing that tax rates should be flatter, instead of this crap where you pay a percentage on the gross, then you get a pay one rate on one part, and another rate on another part, less your free part.
Here's (suitably adjusted for the new rules) what HMRC says about the scheme:[T]he tax relief on allowable R&D costs is 200 per cent – that is, for each £100 of qualifying costs, your company or organisation could have the income on which Corporation Tax is paid reduced by an additional £100 on top of the £100 spent. It also includes a payable credit in some circumstances.
That's really rather attractive: if you're paying £100k in R&D a year, and making £100k in profits even after doing so, then you've just wiped out your entire tax bill.
Almost everyone therefore expects to live to an age to collect a pension: it has become assurance instead of the original insurance**. The proposal therefore is to tie (as some other places, Denmark among them, already have done) the pension age to the average age of death. In a perfect world, to the average age of death of the previous cohort... Thus the pension becomes what it was originally, insurance against outliving your rational level of savings.
A useful byproduct of so limiting the concept is that it could become a reasonable and serious payment again. If it is something that's paid to only half of old people and paid to all only for six or seven years rather than 12 or 14, then it could be more generous, while still reducing the total cost.
Yes, this is rather bloodthirsty, but something must indeed be done about the long-term costs of rising lifespans.
2011 growth forecast downgraded from 2.1% to 1.7%
2012 forecast also down from 2.6% to 2.5%
Forecast borrowing of £146bn this year, £2.5bn lower than anticipated
Borrowing to fall to £122bn next year, dropping to £29bn by 2015-16
National debt forecast to be 60% of national income this year, rising to 71% in 2012 before falling to 69% by 2015
Despite the general impression that our new Government is cutting back on public spending – as Channel 4’s Jon Snow put it, we are facing the most severe cuts since World War Two – the Budget revealed that our spending will in fact increase even faster than we were told it would last October.
In the small print of last year’s spending review, Mr Osborne told us that annual spending was due to rise from £696 billion to £739 billion in four years’ time. In the small print of last week’s Budget, spending is projected to rise from £694 billion this year to £743.6 billion in 2014-15, an increase of some £50 billion.
Then there was Mr Osborne’s claim that, to encourage small businesses, he is planning to save £350 million by scrapping unnecessary regulations. What again only emerged from other official sources was that, as usual, “deregulation” cannot include any regulations originating from the EU, although these now account for the vast majority of our regulatory burden.
The Government has set great stock by its red tape cutting approach. One in, One out is the cry. Here is the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills statement from last year,a new approach that will control and reduce the burden of regulation. A “one-in, one-out” approach, designed to change the culture of government, would make sure that new regulatory burdens on business are only brought in when reductions can be made to existing regulation.
Pretty good stuff you must agree.
Priti Patel (Witham, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether his Department's one-in, one-out policy applies to EU regulations.
Fair Question one might have thought, what with the Government being so proud of this policy. The answer? Ah that is a little difficult,Mark Prisk (Minister of State (Business and Enterprise), Business, Innovation and Skills; Hertford and Stortford, Conservative)
At present EU measures will not be counted as INs unless a Department exceptionally imposes a measure that goes beyond the minimum requirements (i.e. if it is gold-plated, in which case the gold-plated element will be cost as an IN). Existing EU legislation can be counted as an OUT if it is repealed or revoked, or if gold-plating is removed or if a derogation that imposed costs to business is voluntarily curtailed ahead of its maximum term expiring.
So that is a No then.
Poor Priti, there she is asking the right questions, and even getting interesting answers, but what can she do with them? If she goes public the whips will crush her kittens.
Then there was Mr Osborne’s claim that, to encourage small businesses, he is planning to save £350 million by scrapping unnecessary regulations. What again only emerged from other official sources was that, as usual, “deregulation” cannot include any regulations originating from the EU, although these now account for the vast majority of our regulatory burden.
Coming into force next October, for instance, will be the Agency Workers Regulations, implementing a 2008 EU directive giving temporary workers similar employment rights to full-time employees. This was fiercely resisted by our Government at the time because it will hit Britain much harder than other EU countries. The Government’s own estimate of its annual cost is a staggering £1.9 billion. So, while the Chancellor boasts about saving £350 million, what he doesn’t mention is that the cost of just one EU regulation which we cannot repeal will be nearly £2 billion a year.
Then there was the peculiar farce of David Cameron’s trip to Brussels last Thursday, to sign up to an amendment to the EU Treaty creating a European Financial Stability Mechanism. Under this, it is estimated that we may have to stump up £5 billion to help bail out countries such as Portugal, the latest victim in the slow-motion collapse of the euro, even though we are not in the eurozone. (Weren’t we meant to be given a referendum on any further amendments to that EU treaty?)
The Firstbuy scheme would see the government and house builders offer loan help for first-time buyers purchasing a newly-built home.
Buyers must save a deposit worth 5% of their property's value, with the government and housebuilders putting up 10% each through an equity loan, enabling people to qualify for 75% loan-to-value mortgage.
The equity loan would be interest-free for the first five years, with interest charged at 1.75% in year six, and at inflation plus 1% thereafter.
This would be funded by the levy on banks, Mr Osborne said. Some £210m will be spent in England, with the other £40m in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The average British household has seen its real-terms income fall by £365 in the worst three-year squeeze since the early 1980s, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, dragging it down 1.6 percent since 2008. During the previous half-century, the average income had risen by 1.6 percent each year.
Against that, inflation is up to 4.4 percent, taxes are up, and are set to increase further with today's budget, as Government finances continue to spiral out of control.
This is balanced by reduced entitlements, poorer services, increased charges and public sector fees – all the while the ruling classes continue to pay themselves more and better salaries and pensions, while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
This, it seems, it just the time to embark on a foreign adventure, to keep the minds of the plebs focused on the bread and circuses – except that most people aren't buying it. They are deeply suspicious of the cost and alarmed at the evidence that the Boy doesn't actually know what he is doing.
This is getting close to the stuff of revolution. We are not there yet, but each of these developments brings us a step further down this perilous road, from which there is no turning back once the destination is reached.
At 2pm on Monday 21st March students occupied the UCL registry, the main administrative wing of the university. We stand against all cuts and for free education.
We are occupying in solidarity with our lecturers and support staff who are taking part in the UCU strike to defend their jobs, pay and pensions. We as students are taking the direct action denied to our lecturers by anti-union legislation.
UCL management are meeting on Thursday 24th to decide whether to increase tuition fees—we call on UCL management to not raise tuition fees and to lobby against the government cuts.
Management will also discuss the restructuring and outsourcing of estates and facilities. We stand in solidarity with the staff whose jobs and wages are threatened, and continue to demand the London Living Wage.
We call for no repercussions or victimization...
... of any students or staff involved in industrial action and associated protests.
We hope that the UCU strike and the nationwide university occupations it has inspired encourage a wave of strikes, occupations and protests leading up to the March 26th national anti-cuts demonstration and beyond. We are all in this together.
We are all in this together.
Um. No we're not. You want me to pay for your education through my taxes, even though the greatest beneficiary of your education will be you.
You want something that's going to benefit you?—you pay for it.
On the substantive point it's worth observing twenty-odd years ago the student grant scheme was workable and affordable because, generally speaking, there was a pretty good chance that the recipient would pay it back in spades through taxes during his or her working life.
There are only so many people for whom university education can add value. That many jobs now require a degree is a reflection of the fact that degrees from many institutions are seen as the modern equivalent of A-levels.
The lower you set the bar for university entrance, the less likely it is that the additional students (that is, those who get in now but wouldn't have got in when entrance standards were higher) will be net (or you might prefer "nett" [I do—DK]) contributors to the public coffers.
Once the bar is lower you either have a two-tier system of funding whereby the best get tax-funded support and the lesser qualified do not, or you have the same system for everyone. Practical politics requires the same system for everyone. What you cannot have is everyone being paid by taxpayers because
- there are too many of them for it to be affordable and
- only relatively few are of the quality that will repay the gift with a profit for future generations of taxpayers.
This is all basic common sense. Unless you believe in the magic money tree, of course.
You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.
A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.
Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by xkcd.com. It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I'm not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.
Like others, I have called for renewable power to be used both to replace the electricity produced by fossil fuel and to expand the total supply, displacing the oil used for transport and the gas used for heating fuel. Are we also to demand that it replaces current nuclear capacity? The more work we expect renewables to do, the greater the impact on the landscape will be, and the tougher the task of public persuasion.
But expanding the grid to connect people and industry to rich, distant sources of ambient energy is also rejected by most of the greens who complained about the blog post I wrote last week in which I argued that nuclear remains safer than coal. What they want, they tell me, is something quite different: we should power down and produce our energy locally. Some have even called for the abandonment of the grid. Their bucolic vision sounds lovely, until you read the small print.
At high latitudes like ours, most small-scale ambient power production is a dead loss. Generating solar power in the UK involves a spectacular waste of scarce resources. It's hopelessly inefficient and poorly matched to the pattern of demand. Wind power in populated areas is largely worthless. This is partly because we have built our settlements in sheltered places; partly because turbulence caused by the buildings interferes with the airflow and chews up the mechanism. Micro-hydropower might work for a farmhouse in Wales, but it's not much use in Birmingham.
And how do we drive our textile mills, brick kilns, blast furnaces and electric railways – not to mention advanced industrial processes? Rooftop solar panels? The moment you consider the demands of the whole economy is the moment at which you fall out of love with local energy production. A national (or, better still, international) grid is the essential prerequisite for a largely renewable energy supply.
Some greens go even further: why waste renewable resources by turning them into electricity? Why not use them to provide energy directly? To answer this question, look at what happened in Britain before the industrial revolution.
Yet in Japan, you have radiation zealots threatening to order people out of their homes, to wander, homeless and panic-stricken, through the battered countryside, to do what? All to avoid a radiation dose lower than what they would get from a ski trip.
Peter Bone (Wellingborough, Conservative)
Mr Speaker, 373,000 Daily Express readers want it, 80% of Conservative Members support it, the Deputy Prime Minister would love it, and my wife demands it. The British people, Conservative supporters, the leader of the Liberal party and especially Mrs Bone cannot all be wrong. Prime Minister: may we have a referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union?
David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)
I wish that my wife were as easy to please. I was worried about where that question was going.
I am afraid that I must disappoint my hon. Friend and Mrs Bone. I think that we are better off inside the EU but making changes to it, in the way that we are setting out.
Today a report was passed in the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Parliament which now moves up to the plenary. The report, called the the Giannakou Report after its draftswoman Marietta Giannakou... who was on the Convention which drew up the European Constitution, is titled,A Draft Report [PDF] on the application of Regulation 2004/2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding
In it we see this,
- Points out that since 2008 European political parties have been entitled to use sums received as grants for ‘financing campaigns conducted ... in the context of the elections to the European Parliament ...’ (Article 8, third paragraph, of the Funding Regulation); further points out, however, that they are prohibited from using these sums for financing ‘referenda campaigns’; considers that the reason for this is probably a concern that European parties and foundations could interfere in the domestic affairs of Member States; believes, however that, if European political parties are to play a political role at EU level, they should have the right to participate in such campaigns as long as the subject of the referendum has a direct link with issues concerning the European Union;
Thus they would be able to shovel taxpayers money to the pro-EU side, indeed that would be the express purpose of the change in the law.What is more this recital was amended as it went through the Committee. Amendment 95 [PDF] by one Andrew Duff, Lib Dem MEP for the Eastern Counties and federast supreme. What did the Duffer succeed in doing, well he removed this sentence,
considers that the reason for this is probably a concern that European parties and foundations could interfere in the domestic affairs of Member States
In other words he whitewashed any suggestion that the EU at one time recognised that there are some aspect of national democracy where it shouldn't interfere.
This is a direct attempt to find extra taxpayer funding for the Yes side in any forthcoming EU referendum in the UK. They are as aware of the liklihood of an In/Out referendum in the UK sooner or later and have every intention of loading the dice with taxpayer's money. As things stand the UK is affected in the sense that of the parties elected to the European Parliament and that have Political Parties at a European Level, that is the Tories, the Greens, the Labour Party and the Lib Dems are all formally partisans of an 'In'.
Think about all this. What this means is that money donated to the Lib Dem Euro political party, by someone living in France, could be used to fund a pro-European referendum campaign in the UK by washing it through the European Poltical Party. Neat eh?
In direct contravension of British electoral law, but so be it.
- The plant is safe now and will stay safe.
- Japan is looking at an INES Level 4 Accident: Nuclear accident with local consequences. That is bad for the company that owns the plant, but not for anyone else.
- Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed). A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine. If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting, you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.
- There was some limited damage to the first containment. That means that some amounts of radioactive Cesium and Iodine will also be released into the cooling water, but no Uranium or other nasty stuff (the Uranium oxide does not “dissolve” in the water). There are facilities for treating the cooling water inside the third containment. The radioactive Cesium and Iodine will be removed there and eventually stored as radioactive waste in terminal storage.
- The seawater used as cooling water will be activated to some degree. Because the control rods are fully inserted, the Uranium chain reaction is not happening. That means the “main” nuclear reaction is not happening, thus not contributing to the activation. The intermediate radioactive materials (Cesium and Iodine) are also almost gone at this stage, because the Uranium decay was stopped a long time ago. This further reduces the activation. The bottom line is that there will be some low level of activation of the seawater, which will also be removed by the treatment facilities.
- The seawater will then be replaced over time with the “normal” cooling water
- The reactor core will then be dismantled and transported to a processing facility, just like during a regular fuel change.
- Fuel rods and the entire plant will be checked for potential damage. This will take about 4-5 years.
- The safety systems on all Japanese plants will be upgraded to withstand a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami (or worse)
- I believe the most significant problem will be a prolonged power shortage. About half of Japan’s nuclear reactors will probably have to be inspected, reducing the nation’s power generating capacity by 15%. This will probably be covered by running gas power plants that are usually only used for peak loads to cover some of the base load as well. That will increase your electricity bill, as well as lead to potential power shortages during peak demand, in Japan.
If you want to stay informed, please forget the usual media outlets and consult the following websites:
- The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for much of the benefits system, and the majority of payments are processed by the Department's agencies, Jobcentre Plus and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service. The benefits system is both large and complex: there are around 30 different types of benefits and pensions, with 900 distinct rates of payment. In 2009-10, some £148 billion of payments were made to 20 million people.
That is one FUCK OFF "safety net"
Look at the moral atmosphere of today. Everything enjoyable, from cigarettes to sex to ambition to the profit motive, is considered depraved or sinful. Just prove that a thing makes men happy—and you've damned it. That's how far we've come. We've tied happiness to guilt. And we've got mankind by the throat. Throw your first-born into a sacrificial furnace—lie on a bed of nails—go into the desert to mortify the flesh—don't dance—don't go to the movies on Sunday—don't try to get rich—don't smoke—don't drink. It's all the same line… Kill the individual. Kill man’s soul. The rest will follow automatically.
Tobacco displays in shops will be banned in England as part of a package of measures to discourage smoking.
Instead, cigarettes and other products will have to be kept under-the-counter from 2012 for large stores and 2015 for small shops, ministers have announced.
A consultation will also be launched on whether manufacturers should be forced to put cigarettes into plain packets.
As Patrick Basham and John Luik have pointed out elsewhere on spiked, the evidence that banning tobacco displays will cut smoking rates is pretty much non-existent. In fact, smoking rates have often gone up after such measures were introduced.
Indeed, the belief that making something more mysterious and more illicit is going to discourage young people from trying it demonstrates remarkable ignorance. Smoking is one of those rite-of-passage activities that allows an older child to demonstrate that they are, in fact, a grown-up. Moreover, having spent the past few years treating adults more and more like children, the government has inspired an adolescent-like ‘fuck you’ attitude to health campaigns from many people, where smoking becomes a tiny show of passive resistance to being constantly lectured about what to do.
In reality, the major parties are slugging it out over who can be the most illiberal. While both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats made some positive noises about rolling back the state prior to last year’s General Election, in office they have been an absolute match for New Labour in terms of interfering in our private lives. You couldn’t call it unexpected. When the ever-so libertarian-sounding Boris Johnson became London mayor, his first act was to ban the drinking of alcohol on London transport.
Boris, as The Nameless One points out, is now the most powerful Tory in the country and his policies are going to give some indication of what a Tory government might be like.
And Boris's very first act is to implement a policy that is more authoritarian than that of NuLabour's representative. It is a policy that involves more government interference in our daily lives (and if you think that this is the end of such policies then you are even more stupid than I thought).
While there have been some small, but welcome, shifts in policy on the vetting of those who work with children and on some specific civil liberties issues, the reality is that personal autonomy and freedom are all but disregarded in British politics today. Instead, we are all seen as ‘vulnerable’ in one way or another, with the state stepping in to watch over us. The effect is to exaggerate fears and to undermine constantly our sense of having the capacity to cope with problems as they arise or make decisions for ourselves.
This creates a situation where the authorities will step in to regulate and restrict everyday life on the flimsiest of pretexts. So, as Sally Davies suggests, our children need to be protected from evil tobacco manufacturers luring the young and vulnerable into a life of addiction through, err… a neatly laid-out tobacco display case.
Defending the right to sell tobacco in a particular manner is not going to send the masses to the barricades. But the implication that we are so feeble that we cannot be trusted to protect our health in the face of some coloured boxes is a very good reason to oppose this ban. It also shows that any Lib-Con pretence to being defenders of personal freedom has long since gone up in smoke.
Tories to treat you like children too
IT is not just the Labour Party who wants to treat you like a three year-old child, it has emerged.
I am a non-smoker but the government's announcement that it is to force tobacco under the counter is a most dispiriting development. After years of meddlesome interference by New Labour in the private lives of British citizens, it would appear that the Coalition's only wish is to continue down the same dreary and self-righteous road.
It makes a mockery of Cameron's recent pronouncements about the value of small government and of his pre-election promises to get government off the backs of ordinary people.
If this is the direction of travel, I for one am heading off towards the Libertarians. I hope that this profoundly wrong-headed and illiberal piece of legislation is thrown out by the Commons.
The Australians who are conducting the interview are worried that perhaps an ETS is not such a good idea.
Having heard the interview you will understand why they feel this way—Duggan's performance is truly catastrophic, with our the woman from Whitehall apparently unable to quantify either the costs or the benefits of the scheme she runs. It's hilarious, toe-curling and utterly compelling.
These, ladies and gentlemen, are the Rolls Royce minds that run the UK these days.
Jill Duggan is from the European Commission's Directorate General of Climate Action. She is the EC's National Expert on Carbon Markets and Climate Change. She was head of Britain's International Emissions Trading. She is in Australia to tell us how good Europe's emission trading system is and why we should do something similar [PDF].
No one, therefore, should better know the answers to the two most basic questions about this huge scheme. The cost? The effect?.
Andrew Bolt: Can I just ask; your target is to cut Europe's emissions by 20% by 2020?
Jill Duggan: Yes.
AB: Can you tell me how much—to the nearest billions—is that going to cost Europe do you think?
JD: No, I can't tell you but I do know that the modelling shows that it's cheaper to start earlier rather than later, so it's cheaper to do it now rather than put off action.
AB: Right. You wouldn't quarrel with Professor Richard Tol—who's not a climate sceptic—but is professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin? He values it at about $250 billion. You wouldn't quarrel with that?
JD: I probably would actually. I mean, I don't know. It's very, very difficult to quantify. You get different changes, don't you? And one of the things that's happening in Europe now is that many governments—such as the UK government and the German government—would like the targets to be tougher because they see it as a real stimulus to the economy.
AB: Right. Well you don't know but you think it isn't $250 billion.
JD: I think you could get lots of different academics coming up with lots of different figures.
AB: That's right. You don't know but that's the figure that I've got in front of me. For that investment. Or for whatever the investment is. What's your estimation of how much—because the object ultimately of course is to lower the world's temperatures—what sort of temperature reduction do you imagine from that kind of investment?
JD: Well, what we do know is that to have an evens chance of keeping temperature increases globally to 2°C—so that's increases—you've got to reduce emissions globally by 50% by 2050.
AB: Yes, I accept that, but from the $250 billion—or whatever you think the figure is—what do you think Europe can achieve with this 20% reduction in terms of cutting the world's temperature? Because that's, in fact, what's necessary. What do you think the temperature reduction will be?
JD: Well, obviously, Europe accounts for 14% of global emissions. It's 500 or 550 million people. On its own it cannot do that. That is absolutely clear.
AB: Have you got a figure in your mind? You don't know the cost. Do you know the result?
JD: I don't have a cost figure in my mind. Nor, one thing I do know, obviously, is that Europe acting alone will not solve this problem alone.
AB: So if I put a figure to you—I find it odd that you don't know the cost and you don't know the outcome—would you quarrel with this assessment: that by 2100—if you go your way and if you're successful—the world's temperatures will fall by 0.05°C? Would you agree with that?
JD: Sorry, can you just pass that by me again? You're saying that if Europe acts alone?
AB: If just Europe alone—for this massive investment—will lower the world's temperature with this 20% target (if it sustains that until the end of this century) by 0.05°C. Would you quarrel with that?
JD: Well, I think the climate science would not be that precise. Would it?
AB: Ah, no, actually it is, Jill. You see this is what I'm curious about; that you're in charge of a massive program to re-jig an economy. You don't know what it costs. And you don't know what it'll achieve.
JD: Well, I think you can look at lots of modelling which will come up with lots of different costs.
AB: Well what's your modelling? That's the one that everyone's quoting. What's your modelling?
JD: Well, ah, ah. Let me talk about what we have done in Europe and what we have seen as the benefits. In Europe, in Germany you could look at, there's over a million new jobs that have been created by tackling climate change, by putting in place climate policies. In the UK there's many hundreds of thousand of jobs.
AB: Actually, that's not right, is it? I just saw research. Did you see this? It came last week. Verso Economics saying that, for example, in Scotland the investment in green power has cost 3.7 jobs for every one green job created [BBC link inserted by me—DK]. And there are similar figures; I'm looking at Italy here, Germany, Spain. They're all the same figures.
JD: They're not all the same figures. You can pick figures to support any argument. What I'm saying is that the experience in Europe is we've done things well and we've had some things which we wish we'd done differently at the start. The impact on the economy has been that it has stimulated growth in jobs that will last. It's not been noticeable in the impact on households. Not compared to gas and oil prices and the impact that they have on households. And that we actually have governments in Europe including the UK, Germany and France who are asking for tougher targets now. Now governments aren't in the business of trying to undermine their economies. They want their economies to grow. If the UK, Germany and France did not believe that this was good for their economies and good for the planet they would not be asking for tougher targets.
AB: I wish I could believe that. We’re talking about a region—Europe—that has unemployment at 10% and a growth forecast this year of 1.6%. I don’t know what we could learn from Europe actually.
Paul: Where do I donate money to get this interview published? Can it be an advert? Can it be run during "An Inconvenient Truth"? Please, I’m praying, where do I give money?