Hamish McCrae rather spoilt the validity of his argument by stragely stating that the "Coalition has been quite anti-business in office", using the examples of oil companies` North Sea revenues, and regulation of small businesses.(Voices: Can Britain learn to love its richest citizens? 29/04/15) An opinion ignoring so many instances of Tory-dominated coalition policies, which have shown both leniency and favouritism to the corporate sector, has to be seen as disingenuous. What about the lowering of corporation tax to a level eighteen percentage points lower than in the USA, or doing next to nothing about tax avoidance, with the latest device, the so-called Google tax, only estimated to collect around £600m, and not until 2019? Does that really qualify as anti-business? Profits have been allowed to soar, whilst many firms have been found guilty of refusing to pay their workers the paltry minimum wage, but only punished with small fines. Has the government clamped down on zero-hours contracts, used by many businesses to force down costs? No, of course not, with one result being the taxpayers annually having to fork out £9.2bn in housing benefit to help the low-paid meet the cost of exorbitant rents charged by largely-unregulated, profiteering private landlords.
As for business bosses, don`t the latest figures suggest CEOs of the top firms are now paid something like 170 times the pay of their average worker, with the government`s only response being to lower their tax rate to 45%?
Your editorial (Salt shaker,29/04/15) reminded us how Andrew Lansley ended the "costly regulation" of the food industry, leading to wholesale reductions in the role of the Food Standards Industry and numerous food scares, and with so little regulation, the banking culture of greed, profit-at-all-costs and ensuing scams has continued unabated. Then there `s the refusal to participate in the EU`s financial transaction tax, and Osborne`s frequent trips to Brussels to protect bankers` bonuses!
"Anti-business", Mr McCrae? The contrary is much nearer the truth, and the UK`s position of 28th out of 34 in the equality league table of developed countries supports the point!
It`s hard to believe I was watching the same election special programme as John Rentoul.(Question Time Special,01/05/15) For a start he thought the audience was "packed with truculent northern lefties" when, judging by the applause and general reaction to the leaders` answers, there seemed to be a majority, albeit small, of conservative supporters, anxious about making profits from their businesses!
Then there`s the comparison between the performances of Cameron and Miliband: no prizes for guessing who was described as "fluent", "impressive", "polished", "fresh" and even "persuasive", whilst Miliband, with his "Blairite mannerisms" received the "Like as if" treatment, and was viewed as "disingenuous". This biased approach to reviewing an election programme is disappointing in such a respected newspaper.
The fact that Cameron was still peddling the old nonsense about Labour`s over-spending, even to the extent of resorting to his party trick of producing Liam Byrne`s note, seems to have gone completely unnoticed by your reviewer. Just to do a spot of re-balancing, it seems particularly relevant at this stage of the election campaign, to remind voters that in the thirteen years of Labour government, £142.7bn was borrowed, compared to the £157.5bn borrowed by the current Tory-led coaltion in its five years.
I am sure Mr Rentoul would not agree, but it seems to me that the whole austerity business has simply been a confidence trick to enable the Tory-dominated coalition to shrink the state and carry out its long term plan for a low-wage economy; comparing the country`s economic woes to those of Greece was nonsense, when we have our own currency, and have quantitative easing at our disposal, Raising wages to increase spending back in 2010 would have led to economic growth and, through increased taxation revenues, enabled improvements to take place in the NHS, education and general infrastructure.