As night follows day

One thing was inevitable: Lynne Featherstone MP would be chirruping her approval of ‘Gids’ Osborne’s money-grubbing:

Great news – the amount you can earn before being taxed will rise to £9,440 this year. That’s £600 less tax to pay for working people, since the Liberal Democrats entered Government in 2010.

Nice of Ms Featherstone to gross up four years of tax to produce a nice number. Bet that took a load of expensive research.

But, not so!

There’s the extra VAT for a start. Since the Tory policy, pre-2010 Election, was definitively no increase in VAT, may we assume that the extra 2½% impost was a LibDem addition to ConDem domestic economics? In any case, we see Division 10 on Monday, 28 June 2010, and Ms Featherstone voting for the increase.

Shall we add in the other taxes — the kind of things Leona Helmsley reckoned were only for “the little people”?

May we start with energy tax?

Over three years, energy costs were up by nearly a quarter. A typical household bill of £1200 in 2011 will by now have devoured the entirety of that £600 tax relief. And, if it were a pensioner couple, half the winter bonus went too. Let’s not overlook that green energy tax, which is paying hundreds of millions to the wind-farmers, and 6% return on capital — half of the bunce straight out of the pockets of those working people close to Ms Featherstone’s heart.

Or what about transport tax?

In 2010 a single journey, zones 1-4, on the London Tube was £4. Today the cheapest fare, anywhere — even a single zone — is £4.50. The comparable zone 1-4 fare is £5.50. That’s an increase of 37½%!

Do we hear Ms Featherstone complain on our behalf?

“The spare room subsidy”

Then there’s the iniquitous Bedroom Tax — exactly the imposition on those lower-income working people for whom Ms Featherstone’s LibDem heart bleeds.

Even LibDem Voice (as recently as 19th March 2013) recognises it does not pass ‘the Fairer Society test’. Apart from the headline article, by John Coburn, we see on the comments some real Lib Dems in full agreement.We’d gladly hear Ms Featherstone contest Tony Greaves’s point:

The “bedroom tax” – what all the Housing Associations I know are calling it anyway – is a typical policy devised and imposed by people who would never live in social housing, who would not apply any such restrictions on themselves, who have little understanding of what it is like to live on a low income (that is to say be poor), and have little knowledge or understanding of how social housing actually works, or the circumstances in such local communities.

It is a thorough disgrace and just one of the whole series of government attacks on poor people and people who are not as fortunate as themselves and as their civil service advisers.

Did Ms Featherstone ever vote against this Bill? Oddly, whenever major small-l liberal issues make it to a Commons vote, Ms Featherstone appears invariably otherwise engaged. Hard work being bottom of the ministerial pecking order at the Department for International Development.

Reg Varney in a fright wig

A juicy morsel there, and about the most repeatable, from the Daily Mash, on Ms Featherstone’s previous gender-issue outing.

Let us celebrate that Ms Featherstone found the time and energy to put aside her other endeavours to demand — to demand! — that The Observer sack Julie Burchill. Since Ms Featherstone is pernickety about citing her ministerial commitments, lest she offend collective solidarity, this must fall under her DFID responsibilities, along with counting her air-miles. So, perhaps Ms Featherstone could contradict, with examples, Nick Cohen’s claim:

I have worked through the worst days of Bernard Ingham and Alastair Campbell’s manipulation of the media, but I have never before heard a minister in a democracy call for writers and editors to be fired for publishing an opinion, however offensive and controversial it may be. That the minister in question calls herself a “liberal” means that Featherstone is not just a menace but a hypocrite too.

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Filed under economy, Gender, George Osborne, London, Lynne Featherstone

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