1 June 2009

A Load of Old Balls?

Puns like this could be everywhere by the end of the week, if they pundits are right and disastrous results for labour lead to a cabinet reshuffle that goes almost to the top. Gordon Brown's bag-man Ed Balls is a tabloid headline-writers dream - my colleague the Green Bean Counter worked with him at the Treasury many years ago and says they have a large collection or pre-made plays on his name they are no doubt willing to share.

Now Darling himself, whether fairly or unfairly, has been caught up in the gutter politics of allowances he is unlikely to survive. I was slow to catch onto the expenses scandal, considering it a distraction from the real issues and an example of political displacement activity. But it seems to be more of a touchstone for a general resentment with the unequal nature of our society and a token issue for the backlog of fury and disillusionment that the economic and financial crisis are causing.

The journalists and the public have the wrong target, but their anger is valid. The rage against the unfair distribution of resources may be expressed in terms of moats and duck-houses but has been seeded by the fury at the realisation that the elite class in this country have created a framework of laws and regulations that has enabled them to extract the value of the economy that the working people of the country have created.

My accountant friend informs me that 'flipping' your primary residence to avoid Capital Gains Tax is quite within the rules, and that people who are privileged enough to have two houses do it all the time. (I do live on the edge of the Cotswolds, remember.) The public revulsion is not that people have done anything illegal but that the laws that make this acceptable are laws designed by the rich to benefit the rich. The Capital Gains Revenue that should have paid for hospitals and schools was legaly, but immorally, avoided.

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