Episode 8 – Tiernan chats tax talk with QC Jolyon Maugham, writer of the Waiting For Godot blog, how scary is Project Fear and at no point in the show do we misrepresent MP Chris Grayling. Much.
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INTRO LINE – This week’s show is a particularly taxing one! Because well, there’s talk about tax. Sorry.
Hello and welcome to episode 8 of the Partly Political Broadcast. I’m not Tiernan Douieb. Ha! Joke. I totally am. No one would else would host this. Sigh.
Sorry this week’s show is a teeny bit late due to an interview arrangement error also known as ‘Tiernan Is Bad At Admin’ phenomenon. Or ‘Badmin’ as I call it, because I’m slick as. But I did ask on a Twitter poll if you’d prefer it the show to be released on time but with no interview, or late but with an interview and several of you balked at the idea of just me talking for 45 mins, so here we are, all late. I saw several, but there were 19 votes at last count. There’s at least 1000 of you that listen to this podcast every week now, which is exciting. So that’s a 1.9% turnout. Let’s hope we never need to have Partly Political industrial action or it’s a no go on those figures.
So yes, here we are, better late than never. Which applies to everyone except nuclear war. Oh and podcasts, as really, you can listen when you like. It’s almost magical. My ‘podcasts not nukes’ tshirts will be printed at some point in the far far future and worn by no one. Which is probably still quicker than the Chilcott Enquiry Report.
Anyway we’ve got lots on this week’s show including an interview with QC Jo Maugham who writes the excellent ‘Waiting For Godot’ blog, his musings on the UK tax system, and I’ll be looking at just how scary Project Fear really is.
But first, this week:
OSBORNE PENSIONS PLAN
I’m self employed 35 year old who’s method of paying off my student loan is just to work on the ‘if I’m not looking at it, it’s not there’ tactic. So the notion of one day getting a pension is non-existent, unless you mean it’s a tiny mansion to house my biro, in which case I’ve made one of those using Lego already and little Bic is very comfy indeed. George Osborne has dropped his plans to alter tax relief on pensions, which were only proposals anyway and ultimately he’s just not doing yet another thing that we weren’t sure he’d do in the first place. This adds to a long list including providing definite proof that he’s not a giant reptile who feeds on the dreams children have when their pets die. At the moment people pay pensions on pre-tax pay. So the current tax relief on pensions means the more money you earn, the higher your pension will be, as you could gain tax relief of 40-45% if you’re a big ol’ moneybags. One of the options for change that now definitely isn’t happening anytime soon was to replace a tiered system of tax relief with a flat rate of say 25p or more, helping those on lower wages to raise more pension funds but penalising those on higher wages. The other option was to remove all upfront tax relief on pension contributions in exchange for an entirely tax free pension when you retire. Which again, would mean those currently saving tons from their mega salaries would lose quite a lot of dosh.
So you can see George’s thinking in not doing what he probably was never going to do, in that if he has to provide any sort of relief to anyone in his life beyond his boarding school days probably, it’ll be keeping the sort of people who vote Conservative happy. Osborne said that ‘Now is not the right time for pension reform.’ Even though there’s apparently no time like the present. Especially if all you’ve got for the future is a small fire made out of unopened student loan letters.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Leader and one man vintage clothing outlet, has asked for Labour MPs to stop back biting and public attacks. Or was he visiting a dogs home? Though to be fair, dogs are pack animals that do less feral scrapping than the Labour PLP so he probably was addressing it’s members. Since Jezza’s election as leader the self destructive infighting in the Labour party has been so vicious that there are probably groups in Syria signing petitions to make it stop. Corbyn said in a Labour meeting at the House of Commons that while there are disagreements they ‘can debate these issues respectfully in here and in the party’ and that ‘the sniping has to stop.’ Still considering his views about weapons I’d presume Jeremy would still be happy for the snipers doing the sniping to have the weapons but without any bullets in. Anyway various MPs have done exactly as Corbyn asked by going straight to the press and describing the meeting as bleak and hostile and one saying it was an ‘orchestrated operation of the friendlies.’ Which doesn’t sound like a that bad an operation. At least they planned it well and they sound nice. Tristram Hunt said that the former Labour leader Harold Wilson would be slightly horrified to see the party under Corbyn, though I’d presume after having been dead for 21 years you’d be slightly horrified by most things, especially your own zombified undead state of being. Hopefully Labour will manage to sort things out before 2020, or perhaps they should just split up into different groups to make themselves happier? New labour, Old Labour, Red Labour, Blue Labour. It’d be like a really boring Dr Seuss book. Still it’s either that or they’ll have to change it so that the party name of Labour refers to the fact that getting anything done amongst them is bloody hard work.
US SUPER TUESDAY
Donald Trump has said he’d like to take on Ted Cruz ‘one on one’. Currently Trump is ahead in the ‘Best Unwanted Howling Baboon Tribute act’ competition but also in stakes for Republican presidential candidate, with 12 state wins in caucuses & primaries. Though that’s still only 384 delegates out of the 1237 he needs to win. Meanwhile goblin trying to infiltrate humanity Ted Cruz has 300 delegates and after a win in Kansas, six states. The fact is, both are extremely terrifying with a distinct lack of care for facts, some scary racist views and huge amounts of self-absorption. Hopefully though the one on one battle that Trump wants will involve some sort of weapons, especially considering they’re both keen gun fans, and we can all hope for a Double KO for the sake of the planet. I stayed up last week watching far too much of Super Tuesday, which is my last favourite DC film so far. There was a moment on Sky News when a man who looked like an extra from Dukes Of Hazard said that he’d voted Trump because America needed something different. It probably does, but Trump seems like an odd solution. Like someone realising dieting wasn’t losing them weight so they thought they’d try cutting off their own head instead. Good luck America. We’ll be training even more British astronauts here in the UK just incase you screw it up.
I’m taking this one personally. In the House of Commons last week Chris Grayling made it clear that the government won’t be reviewing the 1989 ban on Parliamentary footage being used for satirical programs. Why? Is it because he’s so scared that a lot of footage of him will be prefixed by commentators saying how he looks a lot like an alien was given a design brief of how to create a human man, containing very little information and excluding all notions of a need for empathy? Rupa Huq, who happens to be the very funny Charlie Brooker’s sister in law, ask that the stupid stupid ban be reviewed because how can we expect to trust a government who’s obviously have so little faith in their policies that they won’t let them be scrutinised by comedians. It’s ridiculous rules like this that mean we can’t have a UK Daily Show or why John Oliver had to go to the US to do Last Week Tonight. It’s hard to mock things that you can’t show, so if all parliamentary footage is out of use, and that’s where the governing policies are made, then it leaves us comedians a bit stuck. Considering comedy is a good tool to help people understand worldly goings on, it leaves people stuck too. Unless they listen to this where I accidentally used a clip of David Cameron in the commons last week but no one seems to have noticed. Anyway, cough cough Charlie Brooker said on his Twitter that this ban actually makes it easier to misrepresent MPs as you can’t depict the realty of what they said. So baring that in mind, this week I’ve decided that as I can’t reply you Chris Grayling’s comments from the Commons last week, I’ll act them out for you COMPLETELY VERBATIM. I mean, how can you prove it’s not?
House of Commons: Thursday 3rd March 2016 – The house met at half past nine o’clock. Question from Dr Rupa Huq, Labour MP played by Miss L from Casting Call Woe on Twitter. I’ll be playing Chris Grayling:
HUQ: May we have a statement on the uses of broadcast footage of the House of Commons? My constituent, Charlie Brooker, has raised with me—[Interruption.] He has, and he was one of my 270-something constituents who contributed to my majority. He has raised with me the problem that he is unable to use such footage in his programme “Screenwipe”, yet other not too dissimilar broadcasters are allowed to use it. It depends on whether the programme is satire, light entertainment or factual. Given how vague these boundaries are and the fact that these rules were dreamt up some 27 years ago, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that now is a good juncture to revisit this matter and have a statement on it?
GRAYLING: If it is a matter of concern to the hon. Lady, she should make a submission to the Administration Committee. However I am a massive tool and I’m terrified that if you show recordings of me people will go ‘Look at that massive tool! He’s so rubbish that many of his policies as the previous Justice Minister have now been reversed by Michael Gove who we also thought was a tool, so that makes Chris Grayling a mega mega tool.’ Oh god even thinking about it has made me wet myself everywhere. I’m so hateful. I should probably live in a well.
I haven’t got much of a clue about tax. Once I year I spend too long looking at an excel spreadsheet typing in how many egg mayonnaise sandwiches I’ve had from a service station. Then I send it to my account who pretends not be shocked at how little I earn and a few months later I have to pay money I don’t have to HMRC. I don’t think I know anyone that actually likes paying tax, especially when it’s to a government that you feel are misusing it properly. Like spending £5m on advertising the new minimum wage that isn’t even a living wage. They’re essentially rubbing it in your face that the money you don’t have enough of is mainly being used to patronise you about that fact on TV, posters and social media! Woohoo! But the fact is tax payments also fund a lot of important things in this country like the NHS, education and transport, well until they’re all privatised that is. And most of us can’t get away with not paying it, unless you’re a big corporation who know exactly how to legally not pay much of it at all. Out of interest, if you are a big corporation, how do you listen to this and if it’s just one download or subscription to cover everyone that works for you, at least give me a review on iTunes yeah?
Tax avoidance is a tricky subject as some say it’s a necessary allowance to attract more businesses to invest and work in the UK, while others say, as I would that they should contribute accordingly to the country they’re earning money in. With recent stories about Google’s tax avoidance while Facebook announces it will pay more tax in the UK, the whole subject of tax avoidance seems like a prevalent issue. So this week I spoke to Jolyon Maugham who is a Queen’s Counsel and leading legal practitioner in litigating tax cases. He writes an excellent blog called ‘Waiting For Godot’ where he regularly posts his thoughts on tax based news stories. So I thought I’d ask him some very taxing questions. Taxing, geddit? Sorry.
INTERVIEW PART 1 – JO MAUGHAM
We’ll have more from Jo in a minute but first:
Question from Tristram Hunt: What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the introduction of procedures on English votes for English laws.
Chris Grayling: We have fulfilled our manifesto commitment to introduce English votes for English laws, which I believe will strengthen the Union. We have undertaken two Legislative Grand Committees, and oh god this is all so bloody boring. I’d much rather be punching some kittens or kicking a child in the face. What I really want is English votes for people I like and then to put everyone else in a sack and drown them in the Thames while I drink champagne and watch. And I’d make you watch Tristram while I sat naked on your shoulders singing the national anthem and you’d bloody love it. If I had it my way I’d run around naked everywhere you know, wearing just a yoghurt pot as a hat but apparently I can’t because of bloody left wingers so instead I can only do it in one of my four lovely London homes that idiots in the public pay for. Hahahahahaha.
All verbatim. Seriously.
What’s up with the EU this week I hear you say. Well I say, what’s up with EU?
The battle between the Brexiters and the Bremainians has got like that of a film script. Though by that I mean more say something Adam Sandler has done rather than an Oscar winner. You know, the sort of film where you hate all the characters equally and the script is terrible. There’s been a resignation from John Longworth, head of the British Chambers of Commerce, after he was suspended for publicly backing a Brexit. Lots of Brexiters backed him, obviously and those who want to stay condemned him for taking sides, obviously. All in all, the BCC represents 52 chambers of commerce in the UK and so has to remain neutral to represent all of those, so really Longworth wasn’t suspended because of which side he took, he was suspended because he took a side at all. Considering how must know about commerce he gave the worst advertisement for his professionalism possible. Though it could just be that he knew this, and wanted to resign as a sort of try out exit from a large trading body before he voted for another one.
The former head of the Bank of England Mervyn King has said that he hasn’t ruled out voting for a Brexit, but he also hasn’t ruled out voting to stay. So that’s helpful. He did also say that the Eurozone is doomed to fail which makes me think he’d be a terrible teacher. How’s the Eurozone going to even muster up the courage to try to do well with feedback like that?
If we can thank it for nothing else, the EU referendum should at least be hailed for giving us some of the worst metaphors possible. Priti Patel said that a ‘vote to leave is not a leap in the dark, it is a leap from a ship heading, like the Titanic, towards a huge iceberg.’ So that’s still bad then right? Either stay on the boat and die or jump into icy waters and die? If anything, leaping in the dark sounds nicer. At least it’ll be a surprise what you land on. If anything this mess of a message proves that a metaphor from Priti Patel isn’t so much an ill though through idea as it is the political version of Fox’s 2015 Fantastic Four reboot that no one understood why it happened.
Following that Boris Johnson, during an interview on the Marr Show said that the EU is a jail with the door left open which would of course mean it wasn’t a jail and if anything just shows that Boris is like a metaphor that doesn’t actually seem to mean anything.
But the most exciting development of the past week was ‘Project Fear’. A term that was coined by pro-independence campaigners during the Scottish independence referendum has now lurched it’s way back for the EU referendum. If anything, they should really go for full horror film effect and call it ‘Project Fear 2: The Bitching Is Back’. Iain Duncan Smith is one of the main whingers using this term, which is strange as he’s the sort of man who you’d assume used ‘Project Fear’ as a holding name for any of his policies in the Department Of Work and Pensions. Now as you’ll know I think there’s a lot of nonsense on both sides of the campaign but it does take some gall for a man like Iain Duncan Smith to accuse the remain campaign of ‘desperate and unsubstantiated claims’. This is a man who’s been told by the UK statistics authority on several times that his facts and figures aren’t supported by official statistics and a man who once denied that his benefit cap would increase child poverty while he sat infront of a graph that showed it definitely, definitely would. IDS now says that staying in the EU increases our risks of a Paris style terror attack, which is based on no facts at all.
The main complaints from the Leave campaign were based around a government analysis that said our economy would be worse if we left the EU. IDS called it a ‘dodgy dossier’ because it compares the deal we might get to that of Norway’s and Switzerland’s, which requires them to make hefty financial contributions to the EU in order to trade with it. Duncan Smith’s complaint was that if we left we wouldn’t have to get a negotiation like other countries have because we’d get our own one because in my head and imagination we can do what we like because I’m not basing it on anything I’ve read.
Ultimately it’s all still very boring and even though Project Fear sounds exciting it’s far less a good new horror flick and more a farcical horror parody probably starring the Wayan Brothers.
Now back to Jo Maugham and his tax knowledge.
INTERVIEW PART 2 – JO MAUGHAM
Thanks to Jo for a fascinating interview. He can be found on Twitter @jolyonmaugham and check out his blog ‘Waiting For Godot’ at waitingfortax.com.
Again, if there’s any subjects you’d like me to find someone to ask questions about, or you know of someone or are perhaps an expert or in the frontline yourself that’s affected by recent political issues, and you fancy a chat please do get in touch. I’m especially looking for anyone who thinks they can make sense of the next budget on March 16th for the following week’s show. So if you are that person, firstly, I’m sorry, and secondly, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org , or on Twitter @parpolbro. Don’t bother with Facebook, especially after that chat.
TRADE UNION BILL
Trade Unions have been given more bad rap in the last few years than anyone who bought Kanye West’s latest album. I don’t mean that. ‘No More Parties In LA’ is great. Anyway, under Ed Miliband the Labour party brought in reforms to change the way they worked with trade unions after an investigation into Unite having slightly more to do with the outcome of an election in Falkirk. Then there was the fact that unions voted Ed Miliband as Labour leader in the first place. On top of that Londoners have been irritated time and time again by tube strikes and the recent Junior doctor strikes has led to stupid lying beanpipe Jeremy Hunt blaming the British Medical Association for spreading misinformation.
Now, the government’s Trade Union Bill, if passed, will undermine workers right to strike by reversing a prohibition that’s been in place for 40 years, allowing employers to call in agency staff to replace them. On top of this, industrial action can only happen only if it’s backed by 40% of workers eligible to vote. There are also rules meaning unions will require a picket officer who will carry around a letter of authorisation that must be presented on request and it’s all so patronising you start to wonder if the next rule will be that there must be two adults to every worker and when someone blows a whistle they should form a line . Now some of you may be hearing this thinking great! Hopefully that’d mean there won’t be any problems travelling into my low paid job with not enough holiday, unreasonable hours and unpaid overtime. Thank goodness these unions won’t be able to be selfish anymore sticking up for normal people like me who’d really like better working rights.
Because this is the often overlooked fact. Trade Unions are, and I don’t want to shock you, made up of working people. Gasp. I know right? It’s like an M Night Shamalyan twist or something. Just like normal working people, some are great, some are arseholes but generally they all deserve rights on account of being alive. Since they were decriminalised in 1867, trade unions in the UK have been fighting to make working conditions better for, well, workers. They offer legal advice and support for their members and many will represent you at a tribunal if you undergo a disciplinary procedure or suffer from workplace harassment. Which is nice because I certainly wouldn’t do that for you.
How dare they right? If anything, what they should be doing is allowing big companies and employers to trample all over them and exploit and abuse their working day right? I mean how dare they want to have a reasonable job. I mean getting at least 40% of union voters to agree to a strike does sound reasonable doesn’t it? Well yes, I suppose so, though when you take into account it only requires 6% of Parliament to pass national legislation that could affect those union voters, you start to see the odds aren’t stacked equally.
The number of workers on zero hour contracts in 2015 was up 19% from 2014. Wage growth is at a low and now the Trade Union Bill will just penalise those, like the BMA supporting the junior doctors, who keep pointing out they just want to do their jobs properly without keeling over with exhaustion on less pay than they were before. Labour have been fighting the bill and Jeremy Corbyn addressed a protest march in Cardiff against the changes. Though public sector services in Scotland and Wales may be spared due to devolution anyway. The bill still has to face the Lords and a leaked letter from Nick Boles suggested the Conservatives make a partial retreat. One of the changes requires union workers to ‘opt in’ to a political fund rather than ‘opt out’ which could cost Labour £8bn of funding, adding to the plans which seem to suggest an unstoppable endless Tory takeover of the kind that may feature in a future Bond film. Even Conservative peers such as Lord Forsyth to say needs cross party talks are needed before the bill goes through. And I bet they will be very cross. It’s funny isn’t it. When the Conservatives kept saying they back ‘hardworking people’ no one realised it was off the edge of a very high cliff.
Louise Haigh (Lab): This week, a Select Committee in the Lords found that, contrary to Government claims, the Trade Union Bill will profoundly affect Labour party funding. Previously, the Leader of the House had a letter from the Minister for Skills, the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), seeking to make concessions on the Bill. Will the Leader of House now agree to the concessions and commit to cross-party talks to reach a fair and long-lasting settlement on party funding?
Chris Grayling: Of course, that is a matter of discussion and debate in the Lords, and the Lords Committee has made recommendations. But basically no, no we won’t. Hahahahahahah go fuck yourselves hahahahaha democracy is for twats hahahahahahahahhaahahahahahahahahahahahahahah you’re a twat hahahahahahaah you’re all twats hahahahahahahahahahhaahha
Totally verbatim. Promise.
That’s all for this week’s show. Couple of quick thank you’s as I’ve been bugging people for ways to make this show better and how to get more people listening and they’ve all been hugely helpful indeed. So ta to Jason Spacey who is @jason_spacey on Twitter and a very funny man indeed, Hywel Evans from the Box Set Podcast, Ben Walker from the Do The Right Thing podcast and Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown, and Mark from the British Comedy Guide who produce loads of excellent podcasts including the two I’ve just mentioned, Isy Suttie’s brilliant new one and the very very funny Man Buy Cow so go download and listen to all of those and never take your headphones out ever.
We now have 14 iTunes reviews which is exciting but why not make it more exciting by giving us more than that? And please do let us know what you like about the show, what you don’t like about the show, any suggestions or even why you make that weird noise when you sleep. It’s really weird. Email us on email@example.com , on Twitter @parpolbro or on those tax bastards Facebook at facebook.com/parpolbro.
Also if you’ve been liking the beats behind my words, that’s all the doing of my brother Corin aka The Last Skeptik. He does a lot of the music thing but his latest EP is out on Monday on iTunes and the like and it’s called ‘Your Beattape Sucks Vol.1’ because he knows all about marketing.
This week’s show was brought to you by Chris Grayling’s mum and Chris himself definitely told us to say that but it was during a Commons debate so I can’t prove it.