Friday, February 29, 2008

Now what have we got here then?

Last night on Question Time, the fracas about the speaker of the house, Michael Martin, was raised.

Michael has been claiming expenses (apparently within the letter of the rules) that are not quite within the spirit of them. It reminds me of the old tax quote:-

"the difference between tax efficiency and tax avoidance is normally a matter of time".

However, there is an accusation that most of the arguments against the speaker are based upon snobbery and class hatred. According to the New Statesman, "Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail and Simon Hoggart of the Guardian" are the main offenders.

Well, this may or may not be the case, however one of the panelist on Question Time thought that this sorry saga could end up damaging the reputation of the Daily Mail. I'm surprised, I didn't think it had one. I've personally thought the Daily Mail was the perfect counter argument to Keen's horror story that the cult of the amateur was destroying our culture. You want to keep the pre-internet culture and its elitism? You want to keep the Mail?

Far from being an equitable society, according to the Sutton Trust, the UK is "very low on the international rankings of social mobility when compared with other advanced nations". It could even be declining.

As Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said :

"It is appalling that young people’s life chances are still so tied to the fortunes of their parents, and that this situation has not improved over the last three decades."

If you're born rich, congratulations. If you're born poor, get used to it. Whilst ability is evenly distributed in our society, much of that ability is squandered by the uneven distribution of opportunity. This is an appalling economic and human waste.

Fortunately, there will always be small glimmers of hope and this time it comes from tax reforms. With the non-domicile changes being suggested, some well-heeled individuals are threatening to leave the country. Their leaving should create some new but small opportunities for social mobility.

It's a minor but noble sacrifice those wealthy individuals make. We should cheer them "bon voyage" as they board their jets.

P.S. Check their luggage carefully.

P.P.S. Good job, Brown and Alastair.