Saturday, June 30, 2012

To hold an EU Referendum - and what Question.

Much discussion about an EU referendum flying around at present. In my opinion, this is all going to end in Eurosceptic tears. I recall the last such referendum in 1975. Biggest losers were those antis who made most noise demanding it. I was one of them. In general, I have a policy of learning the lessons of history. Be warned Eurosceptics. An EU referendum will lead to a green light for greater integration.

Anything but an In/Out referendum will not be good enough to satisfy the baying voices clamouring for a vote. Now, I should admit that I have no great fear of life outside the EU - and could see the sense of a referendum if I thought a potential UK Government would actually be prepared to open negotiations to withdraw from the EU if there were to be a Yes vote. No mainsteam party (and I still include the Lib Dems) has ever said that. References to an In/Out vote usually assume that the public would vote to stay in, or that the public's opinion would be ignored if it backed withdrawal. This is the unspoken truth - which is why I, a Eurosceptic, am deeply suspicious of the current debate. Even worse for me, a vote to stay in would be a massive boost to EU integration - as it was in 1975.

So all that's realistic is a referendum on some sort of 'renegotiation'. And it would have to involve quite significant changes to the relationship between the UK and the EU. We are already committed to a referendum if there's any further transfer of powers from the UK - so it has to be more than that. And I really don't think it would wash to go into an election promising to seek a renogotiation followed by a referendum. It would carry no traction with sceptical public unless a significant renegotiation had already taken place - so that there was something solid to take a view on.

Having written the above, I can see a momentum when it's in front of my nose. There are so many 'nods and winks' that we're approaching a position when it could become difficult to draw back from a referendum. No doubt it would inject some life into UK politics. Certainly needs it with the prospect of Lords Reform threatening to mire UK politics in glutinous treacle for months. Its just that I think it will end in tears, particularly for Eurosceptics.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reforming the House of Lords.

Not a single constituent has ever raised with me the need to reform the House of Lords. Not a single one. Two have called on me to oppose continued presence of the bishops if reform does go ahead. I rather approve of bishops. But not a single person has suggested to me that we MPs should turn our attention to pushing through this massive change in how the people of Britain are governed.

Now I personally support reform. But what sort of reform. I suspect there are 100 versions of the type of reform individual Parliamentarians would support. I can see a case for capping the numbers at around 500. I can see the case for 'kicking out' miscreants. I can see the case for stronger 'independent' vetting and approval of new ermine-wearers. Most of all, I can see a case for reviewing the role of the Lords in scrutinising and amending new legislation emanating from the devolved Gov'ts.  But this is not what we are about to consider. Even though I've not seen the Bill yet, I understand that we are talking about a 'root and branch' change in how Britain is governed.

In today's Telegraph, Boris Johnson wrote "Clegg's scheme needs to be liquidated, vaporised and generally terminated". Lots of MPs have told me today that they agree with this. It seems that there will be a crunch vote in a few days time.  The public will not fully grasp what it means. It will be a vote on a 'programme motion'.  Essentially this guillotines debate on the Bill. Many clauses are likely not to be debated at all. And we are told that asking the people to express their views in a referendum will not be allowed either. We are told that the 'promoters'of this legislation want to ensure a timetable that effectively removes the current House of Lords from the decision making process by using the Parliament Act. That why there's such a hurry. Its accepted that their Lordships will defeat this Bill when it goes there, before returning it to the Commons - where the Government will be able to re-introduce the Bill in the next Parliamentary session, and after the period of one year, ram it through the Lords using the Parliament Act. And nothing, dear friends could be done by anyone to stop it.

I have to admit that when I was elected a Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire in 2010, I did not envisage facing such a situation. I've always been inherently loyal to 'my team'. I have been ferociously loyal to the Gov't - not ever having voted against the whip. Friends and colleagues, I am deeply troubled.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Machynlleth for the Pasty Tax. Lol

One of the hottest topics in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire over the last few years has been the 'Pasty Tax'. Today I called in at where it started for me - at 'Hennigan's Top Shop', a very fine fish and chippie on Maengwyn St.. The family who own it were celebrating 30 yrs supplying it's top quality produce. To celebrate the occasion, fish and chips were on offer at £1 for today only. Same from my local in Welshpool, the very excellent 'Andrews' on High St. last Thurs cost me £4.95. Unsurprisingly, there was a long queue down the street all day.

Now my first encounter with Hennigan's was when daughter Anna contacted me almost two yrs ago about the appalling unfairness of having to charge VAT on hot pies, when the nearby supermarket did not charge VAT on pasties. After much investigation and discussion, I called for equalisation of tax on pies and pasties. At the time I was thinking more of exempting hot pies from VAT, but I decided to be supportive when Chancellor introduced VAT on pasties in the recent budget. On BBC News Channel, I was credited with single-handedly inspiring the budget decision to act on this gross unfairness. Well we know what happened to that little campaign. I was left stranded by a U-turn!

Ironically, my main critic over this issue is also from Machynlleth. He's actually started a web site specifically to campaign against me - for all sorts of other reasons as well. I'm sure you'll agree this is quite a coincidence. But I should add that I am looked on with great favour by fish and chip shops in my constituency. Win some and lose some!

Anyway, I went along to join the Hennigan family at their celebration today. I even got to serve myself the fish and chips, for which I paid the princely sum of £1. Mr Hennigan is David and Mrs Hennigan is Eleanor, but she's known locally as Lol. Its a good job she contacted me over the VAT issue, and not the Prime Minister. He could have been a tad confused if she had signed off her letter  'Lol'.

Bit of Turbulence at Powys Council

I take an interest in the politics of Powys County Council - partly because I know quite a few of the Cllrs. We need to consider some background. For many years Powys CC was made up of mostly 'Independent' cllrs, led by Cllr Michael Jones from Radnorshire. Then a few years ago, the Council split into 'political groups' which effectively ended the concept of the 'Independent' cllrs in any meaningful sense. A Conservative Group came into being, to join the Labour and Lib Dem Groups -  and the 'Independents' split into 2 groups, the 'Montgomeryshire Independents' and the 'Powys Independents' - (more to do with 'personality' than 'policy'!) The Council was 'managed' by a 'Board' of 15 - chosen in proportion to the size of the various groups. Then just over a year ago, the 'Powys Independents' and the Lib Dems voted through the adoption of a 'Cabinet' system - and formed a coalition to run the Council. Perhaps they assumed this arrangement would carry on for ever. And through all this Cllr Michael Jones stood proudly at the helm. Then we had May's Council election. Big change.

Labour gained seats, Conservatives gained a seat, and the Lib Dems/Powys Ind. lost ground. Leader of the Montgomeryshire Independents (now called the 'Shires Independents), Cllr. David Jones from Guilsfield was elected Leader. He won the votes of everyone except the Lib Dems and Powys Independents'. It was enough. This was 'seismic' - and has led to a total change. Great for me because I've known David for 40 yrs. He was Cllr. for Guilsfield when I was Montgomeryshire Council Chairman 1985-1988. In my opinion, he's made a terrific start.

Unsurprisingly there's been a bit of turbulence in the Powys Independents - coming to terms with 'opposition'. From here on I'm depending on hearsay. Please correct me where I'm awry. It seems there's been a bit of pressure to have a leadership election, which came to a head this week. After decision to hold an election, I'm told that Michael decided , with some drama, to leave the group to become an 'unaligned' cllr.. I'm also told he left blasting on two particular cllrs. for behaving in a way which had led to the Group's defeat. No names, but both are from Montgomeryshire. Where it goes from here, I have no idea. I'm told that favourites to replace Michael Jones as leader of the Powys Independents are Cllrs Geraint Hopkins and Evan Morgan. Whether anyone else will desert the group we do not yet know. This is an ongoing situation. I also suspect I'm the only citizen of Powys who finds this interesting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cutting onshore wind subsidies.

Ben Brogan has written a hugely encouraging article in today's Telegraph. The subject is the amount of subsidy that's being fed to satisfy the voracious appetites of international energy leviathans to visit a general ugliness on the most beautiful parts of Britain by building huge numbers of wind farms. This wanton desecration will be nowhere greater than that proposed for Mid Wales.

For some time its been accepted that the level of subsidies is absurdly high, enabling the leviathans to warp the debate by lavishing 'community benefit' on lovely rural Britain, as ugly billionaires buy the affection of beautiful young women with diamonds. For some time its been accepted that a 10% reduction will allow the advance of turbines to continue unabated. To have any genuine impact, and ensure that costs are driven down, a 25% cut in subsidies is vital. Ben Brogan reports that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is considering such a cut. If true, this will make George Osborne mindblowingly popular across Mid Wales. He will immediately become even more popular with me than he already is.

We are also told that First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones has repeated his view that the targets for onshore wind in Mid Wales (as proposed in his infamous TAN8 policy)  does not need National Grid's 20acre substation and 100 miles of cabling, including a 400 kV line on massive steel towers all the way from mid Wales to mid Shropshire - a truly terrifyingly hideous prospect. In any other policy area, one might think this opinion would carry weight - but we're not dealing with normality. We are dealing with an industry that respects no-one, and tramples the opinion and lives of human beings underfoot, as wholly expendable in pursuit of their 'religion'.  Let us hope, for the sake of the beauty of Britain that Ben Brogan is accurately informed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Welsh Gov't and Organ Donation.

Today the Welsh Government published it's draft Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill for consultation. The aim of this bill has been said to be to introduce a system of organ donation in Wales based on 'presumed consent' - where anyone who does not sign a register specifically stating that they do not want their organs removed will be deemed to have given consent for this to happen. I have consistently argued that this is a wrong, both ethically and because it will not work. There is no evidence to support the notion that 'presumed consent' will increase availability of organs. Today's headline on BBC Wales today which states "Law will increase organ donation" is untrue and is sloppy journalism on the part of the BBC. It is based on assertions (made by the Minister which the small print makes clear) without any evidence that stands up to examination. But putting this aside,  lets look at what is being proposed. I'm always willing to approach things with an open mind.

There is one very important and interesting line in this Written Statement. "Not opting out will be treated as a wish of the deceased to be a donor and a decision which families will be sensitively encouraged to accept." Well, as long as this procedure is written clearly into any future Assembly measure, I could well find myself in the position of  thinking the proposals should go further. My view has been that the next of kin of everyone who could be a donor should be 'sensitively encouraged'  to agree. All of our efforts should be put into ensuring people's wishes are known by their next of kin. My speech in the House of Commons last year was titled "A Presumptive Approach to Organ Donation." Evidence shows that such a high percentage of people are content for their organs to be used that discussion with next of kin in the inevitably traumatic situations should start from the basis of presuming agreement. My principal position has always been that no organ should be removed without express permission of next of kin. This should be written into any Act

So I'm left wondering what all the fuss has been about. Why on earth do we need an opt out list at all if everyone is to be treated as a potential donor. Best performing country, Spain, does not have a list. Would it not be a better use of resources for the money needed to draw up and maintain an opt out list be spent promoting a campaign based on "Let your next of kin know your wishes". Its increasingly beginning to look as if the exercise has been based on a desire to be different for its own sake.

This post is a very preliminary assessment of what I've read.  I need to discuss the issue with lawyers and transplantation experts before making definitive judgements. At this stage I'm rather less alarmed by what's proposed than I feared I would be. Wasting money is one thing.  Taking an organ where next of kin had not given approval is another thing entirely.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Force Feeding - Thoughts in Hindsight.

I was well taken aback when a casual tweet about a High Court Judge deciding in favour of force feeding an anorexic sufferer from Wales became front page news. Had not expected anyone to take the slightest notice. While I had no wish to take the matter further, I did  agree to join a phone-in discussion on Radio 5 last night. Also spent part of yesterday just reflecting on what I'd said. I usually find that my considered thoughts are similar to my first instinct.  I still think the judge made the wrong decision - even though most of those who have engaged with me in discussion don't seem to agree. Don't suppose you're interested but just in case, lets consider the way my thought processes have gone.

The Judge tells us he considered the 32 yr old Welsh woman to be intelligent, articulate and above all else did not want to eat food or be force fed. This was not in doubt. However, along with much expert opinion, he considers anorexia a mental illness, and as such the patient should be regarded as not competent to decide. So he did not accept her wishes.

The Judge tells us that those closest to the woman (presumably family) supported her wishes. She was in hospital and we are told that those caring for her also support her wishes. We are not told whether this included doctors, but we do know the case was taken to the High Court by the local authority, rather than the local health board. The Judge decided not to accept any of this - perhaps because the terrible pressures on all of these people may have influenced their judgement.

The Judge also tells us that the woman was gravely ill, and only has a small chance of survival.  He put it at 20%. His reasoning suggests that even at 1% he would have made the same decision. That 1% could be 100% for the woman if she were to recover.

I simply cannot see any other way to interpret this judgement except that force feeding should be available as a form of treatment in all cases of anorexia. This must also the logical conclusion of those who have disagreed with my opinion on this particular case.

Two other points I'd like to make. Firstly the Judge has presented his judgement in a very high profile way, which will inevitably lead to it being seen as a 'precedent' which will influence managers and other decision makers in the health care system. Its not unreasonable to suppose this was the Judge's intention.

And finally, most people with whom I've spoken tell me of the shockingly patchy service that anorexia sufferers can expect - particularly across Wales. There is clearly need for much improvement. But what will be now be the response of decision makers. I fear it will now be to see force feeding as the 'standard' procedure. I have a fair idea how the minds of officials work. This decision may well lead to a poorer service for anorexia sufferers.

I am not opposed to 'force feeding' where there is a reasonable expectation that it will help a sufferer. In this case, the background to the case suggested to me that if ever there was a situation where the views of the patient should have been respected, and she should have been allowed to die with dignity this was it. That's why I disagreed with the Judge.

Friday, June 15, 2012

When is it OK to force feed anorexic patient.

A High Court judge has ruled that a 32yr old Welsh woman suffering from severe anorexia should be force fed. It is reported that the woman is intelligent, articulate, wishes to make her own decisions, and that her carers and family oppose force feeding. They also believe she should be allowed to die with respect. Its also reported that she has been on a course of palliative treatment for a long time, not having eaten for many months. What is one to make of this decision. Must admit that I find it quite shocking.

I accept that force feeding of anorexic sufferers is not always wrong. Its an awful condition, and if a judgement is made that the patient is not competent to make a decision, and there is a good chance of recovery if force feeding takes place, it may be reasonable to force feed. But we' re told that this woman is 'intelligent and articulate" and "wants to make her own decisions". We're also told of the long term nature of her condition and the conclusion of her carers, and those who know her best believe she should be allowed to die with dignity.

My first instinct was that this is a quite awful decision, where the 'state' has decided to take ownership of a 'competent' person's body, and to take an unreasonable action to extend life. I accept that its easier to take a view not knowing who the patient is. Even after thinking about it, I still consider it to be a bad decision. But I do want to discuss it with those to whom I look for discussion about the ethics of these sort of issues - Lord Carlile of Berriew, Lady Finley of Llandaff and Robert Preston of LDW. Already I am a strong opponent of 'assisted suicide' and of 'presumed consent'. Is this to be another cause to persue?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Third Heathrow Runway and MP's duty to constituents.

I like Zac Goldsmith. Don't always agree with him, but he seems an MP who stands by his beliefs. Great respect for that.  Don't like opportunists. Nothing offends me more than when I've been accused of opportunism myself - like about my opposition to the Mid Wales Connection Project (something Zac and I might disagree about!). I was opposed from 2005, when the full horror was first put forward. Most people were in favour of it, and I was thought a bit 'cranky'. And no-one was much bothered because I was in such a small minority. All changed now.

But what are we to make of Zac's declaration today that if the Coalition Gov't performs a U-turn in favour of  3rd runway at Heathrow, he would not stand as a Conservative at the next election, and might force a by-election if it becomes Gov't policy before then (at least that's what I think he said). And I reckon he means it.  This is big talk indeed. I cannot criticise anyone who refuses to support a U-turn as controversial as this one, after a cast iron promise to constituents. Personally I don't have a firm opinion about a 3rd runway, and it never came up in Montgomeryshire - even if I've never been able to understand why extra business and investment is not directed to Birmingham, which is probably nearer to Heathrow than Boris Island in time and convenience terms.

Anyway, Zac has will have made a few of us think about whether there is a vote that would be too far for us to swallow. Not sure it would be wise to go public if there were. The only policy where I know my constituents would expect me to die in the ditch would be the appalling proposals to destroy Montgomeryshire with multiple wind farms and pylons. I would be in trouble if it were to come to a vote - which at this stage I cannot see happening any time soon. But I don't suppose Zac Goldsmith thought there would ever be a vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway (which there may never be of course). Definitely an issue to watch.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Euro and UKIP

I was always implacably opposed to UK membership of the Eurozone. Nothing to do with a desire to retain the Queen's head on coinage, which Euro-enthusiasts liked to accuse us of.  It was entirely because I do not believe a single currency can succeed if its not part of a single political union as well.  I still recall sitting on panels locally (alongside other Welsh politicians all Euro enthusiasts) being dismissed as an 'extremist' because of my views. I've never had the slightest doubt that at some stage the Euro will collapse - or at least be reformed to include only those countries which actually want to to be part of a political union. Despite today's 'resolution' of the Spanish banks problem, nothing has happened to change my mind. Its but sticking plaster.

Charles Moore has written an excellent article for today's Telegraph which wraps this simple proposition in the more elegant language that makes him my favourite writer. I feel that there are many other MPs (particularly Conservative MPs) who share this opinion.

This issue has often been the basis of discussions I have enjoyed with my Ukip friends in mid Wales. The Euro is an issue we generally agree about. But where I disagree is that I'm not in favour of withdrawing from the European Union - at this stage anyway.  Though I do think the consequences of the fight to save the Euro in its present form could seriously threaten the long term existence of the EU altogether. Its impossible to know where its all going - not helped by debate about an In/Out referendum which seems to me to be a massive distraction, and an excuse to avoid facing the real issue, which is the Euro. I've always thought there's a more honest philosophy underpinning Ukip. They support a referendum as a stepping stone to leaving the EU. Now that's a straight forward 'easy to understand' policy.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Is Winsor best man for Inspector of Constabulary?

Police Minister, Nick Herbert tells us that he considers Tom Winsor is much the best person to take over as Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary. Home Sec, Theresa May agrees with him. I spent an hour with Mr Winsor a few days ago and there is no doubt that he is a confident and competent man.  I didn't agree with every answer he gave but it was clear that he had thought everything through, and was not willing to back down or be bullied by MPs - especially Conservative MPs.

But the Police Federation do not accept that anyone who has not been out on the streets as a serving officer can possible do this job. Its worth repeating a statement that Chair, Paul McKeever has put out - which seems to be an attempt to 'veto' the Home Sec's prefered candidate, and have one of their own given the job instead.

The role of HMIC is one of the most important in policing. The HMIC provides advice on policing matters to the Home Sec. and if ever there was a need for sagacious advice from someone with a profound understanding of policing, it is now. We warned the Home Sec there would be riots, crime would rise, and that 20% cuts would have a detrimental effect on the policing front line, putting public safety at risk, and we were called scaremongers. We look forward to hearing from the Home Sec how the appointment of Tom Winsor provides the profound understanding of policing that is so important for public safety."

Must admit I do not remember the warning about riots - but let this pass. Neither do I recall warnings that the previous Gov't was spending so much public money that major reductions would be inevitable -  but let that pass as well. The reality is that the Conservative Party, in its manifesto, and later the Coalition Government promised to reform the police force and make it more 'accountable' to the public. Its true that in general the Police do not like this, but that's democracy. Seems to me that the appointment of Tom Winsor is a statement of intent by the Home Sec. that she will not forced into a U-turn on police reform. There's going to be a bit of a rumpus over this I suspect.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The example that is Tom James

Tom James is a Welsh Olympic champion. He won a gold in the coxless fours in Beijing four years ago. Yesterday he was confirmed as one of three Welsh rowers in this year's GB rowing team. He's also a reigning world champion, so his selection should not be a surprise.  But.....

Tom James suffers from Atrial Fibrilation, a heart condition which causes an irregular heart beat. I am Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on AF, and a sufferer myself - or at least I was. The condition affects sufferers differently. I found myself short of breath sometimes and needed to breath deeply to steady things down. My doctor thought I was suffering a heart attack when he did an ECG. It was eventually fixed by an electric shock to the heart which returned my heartbeat to normal (sinus rhythm). Tony Blair famously underwent the same procedure.

Reason I'm so keen to promote awareness of AF is that it increases the chance of a stroke five fold, and is often very easily treated. People do not realise they have AF.  I didn't. Huge numbers of people have AF without being aware of it. Tom James is an example to us that AF, if treated, is not necessarily going to prevent an ordinary life - or even an extraordinary life in the case of Tom James.  I hope he'll come along to one of our meetings when the Games are over.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

An In/Out EU Referendum.

Doesn't happen often, but this morning a constituent engaged me in political discussion. He accusing me of being dominated by the 'whips' and not representing my constituents. Its true that I believe I have a responsibility to support my party in the lobbies. But I do not think this is contrary to the interests of  my constituents. I pointed out that its not possible to represent all of my constituents on all issues all of the time because they hold divided opinions. In any case, its not possible to know what is majority opinion. I then asked for an example of where I had voted contrary to what he (or I)  thought to be the right course as a result of pressure from the whips. It was then that we cut to the chase. It was all about an In/Out EU referendum.  I had not joined the 81 rebels who voted against the Government over such a referendum earlier this year. It rather surprised my constituent when I said I did not support an In/Out referendum because I think, at present, its a thoroughly bad idea. And that I thought the 81 rebels were wrong.

Actually I am thoroughly Eurosceptic. I would be content to support an In/Out referendum if the Government holding it committed to opening negotiations to withdraw if the 'Out' vote won. But I cannot support an In/Out vote if one of the two possible outcomes is likely to be ignored. Such a situation would lead to a massive loss of confidence in our system of democracy. In my discussions with Ukip friends over many years, I have explained that this is one of the two main reasons why I disagree with them.

The second reason I oppose an In/Out referendum has its roots in the 1975 vote on whether to stay in (the EEC in those days). I campaigned for an 'Out' vote then and we were routed.  It was the biggest 'green light' to European integration imaginable. I fear the same would happen again. Despite what many campaigners for a referendum claim, I believe the 'In' side would win - and if it did the inevitable result would be another 'green light' to integration. Another case of the result being the opposite of what's wished for. Anyway, I spent 30 minutes chatting to my constituent. I don't think we managed to persuade each other of much. But I thought it was a better debate than the one in the House of Commons.

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Been so much stuff in the media about U-turns lately that its become rather 'old hat'. I'm featuring in an article in today's Western Mail by the ever-thoughtful David Williamson.  As always I'm very content with what he wrote.  What usually happens is that we talk freely for a good 10 minutes about an issue, and he picks a line or two to suit. Its always risky from my position because he makes me think aloud. Dangerous practise.
Question is how should we look at Gov't U-turns (or changing of minds in response to public reaction).  Since Mrs T made a virtue out of of not U-turning, its generally portrayed as a sign of weakness. But is it?  In passing, I reckon Mrs T would have been better off if she had U-turned on the Community Charge/Poll Tax! Whatever, lets take some of the budget proposals.
Firstly the most important change of policy - the decision not to impose 20% VAT on static caravans. Its no secret to those I discussed this with that I did not think this was a great idea. I understand why it was put forward. Logical that mobile and static caravans should be treated equally - but it would be too disruptive, particularly to manufacturing businesses.  The new proposal for a 5% rate is sensible.  So I'm rather pleased with this U-turn. I still remember the first time I was left up a tree without a paddle - on the proposals to change forestry ownership. I thought that proposal was right too, said so publicly and was well stranded by a U-turn - the day after I wrote to 250 constituents backing it. But it was what the people wanted, and no-one mentioned my embarrassment to me - not one single person.
Secondly the pasty tax. I agreed with this proposal and went on national TV to support it. My constituency has lots of good fish and chip shops! The U-turn left me stranded. But I can see that it was a highly unpopular. Left me stranded - but its what the people wanted.  I'll soon get over my discomfort - already have! Would we really have been right to push on with it. Perhaps its better to be wise than strong. Much the same can be said about the changes to charitable donations.
The big changes in the budget have been left intact.  This is being completely ignored by the media, and there is little public debate about it. There has been no U-turn on the proposals to equalise the level of tax free allowances across age groups, taking huge numbers of people out of the tax system altogether - or about the important Corporation Tax changes.
OK, so the media have had a field day over what were less important issues in the budget. But Mrs D, who is a good judge of these things doesn't like it at all. She likes the idea of 'you turn if you want to, I'm not'. But I'm left asking myself whether this is all a bit of old fashioned 'macho'. At a very basic philosophical level, every Gov't makes proposals which it comes to regret, but its only a very stupid Gov't which carries on after realising it. Discuss.