The welfare of this country is
This curious hybrid Government finds it harder
to compromise as its two segments grow more
frustrated with the restraints of coalition.
So instead of fudging in the middle, the two
parties seek trade-offs. Liberal Democrats
pursue Left-wing policies in return for allowing
the Tories to pursue what they see as Right-
So part of the price for Iain Duncan Smith’s
welfare reforms is to be a tax inquisition into
individuals with assets of £1 million or more.
There is some logic in this. Many people are
getting away – quite legally – with paying less
tax than they should be.
There are others on the fringes of sharp practice
who might pay more if they thought the
authorities were taking a closer look at their affairs.
But, like Vince Cable’s plan for a ‘Mansion Tax’ on large houses, the
proposal has an inbuilt problem. Inflation has already made unexpected
millionaires out of many people whose assets are in fact rather modest.
The time may soon come when a semi in the Home Counties will cost
more than £1 million.
But governments are notoriously slow to raise their thresholds in line with
inflation. The absorption of multitudes of middle-class professionals into
the higher rate of income tax – originally aimed at only the very rich – is a
painful example. This scheme could affect many who do not regard
themselves as well-off.
IDS’s reform, by contrast, is crucial to the future of the Welfare State.
Welfare must be seen to be just, to retain political support. It must be
limited or it will swallow the economy, and so destroy itself. If that
happens, no amount of special tax squads will be able to raise enough
money to keep it going.
The Liberal Democrats should recognise that welfare reform is in the
long-term interests of rich and poor alike. They should educate their
supporters in economic reality, rather than demanding political pay-offs
for doing what is right.
Through all the storms and changes since it began, the NHS has
maintained one proud, unchallenged record. Its response to emergencies
has been superb.
We knew that when we called for help, it would come quickly and
But now, vast and stealthy changes in Accident and Emergency
organisation are under way, which many experts fear will destroy the
NHS’s capacity to act quickly.
Patients whose chances of survival depend on rapid treatment face being
sent many miles from home to distant hospitals. This has already begun,
as The Mail on Sunday reports today.
Yet this misguided reorganisation has never been endorsed at Cabinet
level, and the Government can, without losing face, reverse it.
Thousands of our readers have already joined the campaign for a rethink.
It is time we heard decisively from Ministers.
Power of politeness
Perhaps we will never know for sure what Andrew Mitchell said to police
officers in Downing Street. But there is a lesson in this episode for all of
In a free country, political power is granted – like the powers of the police
– by consent. If anyone tries to assert authority with rudeness and
haughtiness, it will blow up in his face.
Good manners are not just a fad, but an essential recognition of our
mutual dependence on each other.
Even if the world was ending, it would still be right to be polite.