Daily Archives: 30 October 2006

Caroline Spelman: “Me Am Bizarro Minister”

One of the more annoying Superman villains is Bizarro. Not really a villain at all, he’s a kind of bad copy of Superman who just does the opposite of Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Caroline Spelman has decided that this is the perfect job description of a Shadow Cabinet Minister. Don’t actually apply any logic, just oppose everything. Even more unfortunately, no-one appears to have shut her up.

For a while now, the Tories have been shouting to anyone who will listen about the nasty way the government is revaluating the rates in Northern Ireland and making dire predictions that they plan to do the same in England. This is epitomised by this quote by Spelman:

“If Labour introduce this invasive system fully in England, your council tax bill will depend not just on the features of your house, but whether you have good schools or clean streets, and whether you have low or high rates of crime.

“This is the hallmark of an oppressive and greedy government – finding ever more stealth ways to tax working families and pensioners, and trampling over privacy when it suits them.”

Where does one begin with a juicy quote like this? Firstly, the existing system of council tax was a) introduced by the Tories and b) is based on property values. It is a fact, however inconvenient, however poorly measured it might have been in the past, that property values are contingent on “whether you have good schools or clean streets, and whether you have low or high rates of crime”. Always has been, always will be. That’s where the phrase “location, location, location” comes from dear.

There are two alternatives to a system of taxation that is dependent on such things. One is a local income tax, which the Tories condemn with equal venom. The other is a poll tax, where everyone pays exactly the same no matter what. Is this what Bizarro Spelman is suggesting she would prefer?

But it gets worse, because if you analyse this quote she seems to think that it is BETTER to tax people on the basis of the features of your house than external factors.

This is complete, arse over tit, economic Bizarro-logic. Think about it for a second. What she’s saying is that you should be taxed for installing double-glazing but not for benefiting from good local services. I’ve spent quite some time trying to figure out what she would actually approve of, and I’m completely stumped.

Because any changes to the council tax system is ultimately just a change to how the cake is carved up, the only thing one can conclude she is calling for is for poor people living in grotty areas to subisidise rich people living in nice areas to a greater extent than they do now. In this respect, she is less Bizarro and more good old fashioned Tory. Plus ca change.

UPDATE: Oh God, it get’s worse, with Andrew Stunell joining the circle jerk. This is a particularly choice line:

“They often have spent many years in their own home and would now simply become the victims of house price rises over which they have no control at all.”

Run that by me again? People who, due to no effort on their part, see their property values rising exponentially are VICTIMS? Where do I send the condolence card?

Seriously, someone needs to tell Andrew that it is Lib Dem policy now to SUPPORT the principle of property taxation.