On that 2%

So, National Insurance Contributions for self-employed people are going up by 1% in 2018, and another 1% the following year.

I don’t particularly object to this on the grounds of a breach of manifesto commitments—this is a different administration to that elected and clearly has a different agenda. That’s the nature of our constitution, whereby we do not directly elect the chief executive (let alone—God forbid!—the head of state), and a whole different discussion.

I certainly don’t object to this because I will be hit by it. As a relatively high-earning socialist, I believe that I do not pay enough tax at present so cannot object to more, and as a democrat I must accept the obligation to pay my tax whether or not I approve of how those taxes are spent.

But it rankles greatly coming from the party that poses as the champion of enterprise. There is already a hidden burden on individuals starting work for themselves: people declared as self-employed to HMRC must pay their (projected) tax six months in advance, which means that, basically, a year after setting up you will be hit by an 18-month tax bill. This is hardly an incentive, but has been the case for a long time. To add the additional burden of substantially increased NIC contributions is a positive discouragement to anyone wishing to start working for themselves.

Corporation tax, meanwhile, will fall 1% in April, and another 2% by 2020.

This government is no friend of entrepreneurs, it is no enabler of the old-fashioned “get on your bike, pull yourself up by your bootlaces” narrative of the Conservative Party of years gone by. It is a shameless sycophant to big business, whilst casting ordinary people simply trying to improve their circumstances—the constituency and ideology that, in the past, has been the most appealing aspect of the party—to the wind.

In the context of Brexit, this is especially disturbing. With the Labour Party’s craven capitulation on Article 50, we are headed full pelt for a hard Brexit, and it appears that the government seem intent upon their plan of handling the resultant economic disaster by sucking up to big business and the financial sector, whilst doing nothing for the ordinary folk who were conned into voting for it and whose livelihoods will be endangered as a consequence. As what pitifully small taxable profit those businesses actually declare after having shunted the vast majority of their income through tax-avoidance schemes will be taxed at the ludicrously low rate of 17%, it is precisely those ordinary folk who have lost their jobs through the collapse of trade and who attempt to set up on their own who will be taxed up to the eyeballs in order to offset the negligible contribution paid by the Tories’ friends—and funders—in Big Finance.

In 2015 the Labour Party calculated that 27 of the 59 wealthiest hedge fund managers (according to the Sunday Times Rich List) had contributed more than £19 million to the Conservative Party. Similarly, the Financial Times calculated that 35% of all the Tories’ funding came from just eight individuals—all from a City background.

A few hyper-wealthy individuals—doubtless those who also bankrolled the dishonest and xenophobic campaign that achieved Brexit in the first place—have purchased the policy of the country, and paid out a pathetic few million—peanuts for them—to ensure that the United Kingdom (if it lasts) becomes one big offshore tax haven, with its workers and smaller, independent businesses being taxed into penury to pay for the corporations’ insatiable greed.

  1. For comparison: by that point the NIC contributions alone for self-employed people will be 11%.

Melania Trump is not the problem

Lots of indignation on Twitter and other parts of my social media echo-chamber about the £14 million it will cost to secure Trump Tower because Melania Trump will not be residing at the White House. In case you’re a little behind on this: Melania Trump is not the problem.

The problem is that the USA has a so-called President who is a narcissist fantasist, a self-confessed abuser, a misogynist, a racist, and a fascist, who has signed memos he has not read, who brain-farts threats and bullying on Twitter with no thought for the consequences, who has—through his utter unsuitability for and uninterest in doing the job he was elected to—handed power to the white supremacist Steve Bannon.  The problem is a National Security Advisor who wishes to “excise” Islam. The problem is an Education Secretary who has no experience or knowledge of education. The problem is Jeff Sessions. And the problem is that even if, as seems quite possible, a Trump meltdown leads to him vacating the Oval Office, he will be replaced by a religious fundamentalist.

Leave Melania Trump out of it, unless she actually does something genuinely worth commenting on. Indignation directed at her is, quite simply, judgemental misogyny. There are so many necessary and progressive targets of your rage. Don’t waste it and undermine your supposed progressiveness by indulging in this spite.

Would Brendan Cox really know more about extremists than Nigel Farage?

Gob-smackingly, Nigel Farage said the following on LBC this morning about Brendan Cox, a man whose wife was assassinated by white supremacist terrorist not six months ago:

Yes, well of course he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox. He backs organisations like Hope Not Hate who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means. And I’m sorry Mr Cox, but it is time people started to take responsibility for what’s happened.

And so, once again, it is time to rehearse the litany of extremists that Nigel hangs with. Nigel, when he can be bothered to turn up, is co-president of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament. Included in this group, which is small enough that we must presume that he knows these people personally, are:

  • the Swedish Democrats, who were founded as a white supremacist party;
  • the Polish KORWiN party, founded by and named after Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who thinks that the distinction between consensual sex and rape is “very subtle,” that Hitler was “probably not aware that Jews were being exterminated,” that the public “should not see the disabled on television,” and who has described immigrants as “human garbage”; and
  • Beatrix von Storch who once suggested that trespassing refugees (including women and children) be gunned down.

Prior to the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group, Nigel was co-president of its predecessor, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, alongside Francesco Speroni of Italy’s Northern League, a man who once said about Anders Brevik—the white supremacist who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011—that his “ideas are in defence of western civilization.”

Yes, indeed, Nigel. It is time to start to take responsibility for things that have happened. You hang out with, work with, and support white supremacist extremists who actively advocate violence and murder. You are a pestilent fascist, who the British press (or the relatively sane sections thereof) have long failed the British people by presenting as an amusing and blokish “man of the people.”

Take some responsibility yourself, Nigel. Shut the fuck up, fuck off over the pond, and go back to crawling up the arse of that other extremist fraud. He’s supported by the KKK, you know. You should find yourself totally at home.

Image of Nigel Farage and Francesco Speroni

Nigel Farage enjoying a cosy moment on a sofa alongside a man who thinks that Anders Breivik had ideas in defence of western civilization.