When I accepted the invitation from Surrey Heath Conservative Association to stand for Surrey County Council I did so as a person with a lifetime’s experience of charitable work, involvement with Chamber of Commerce & other business organisations etc. I felt I had something to offer the community, both locally & throughout Surrey. Having been elected in 2009, I found myself with the title of ‘politician’. Are politicians popular? No! Yet without politicians how could democracy, as we know it, operate? Anyhow, I resolved to be a ‘councillor’ first & a ‘politician’ second; whatever ‘hat’ I happened to be wearing was pretty irrelevant when dealing with the local issues such as speeding, potholes, anti-social behaviour, parking, schools etc. I quite enjoyed the pre-election campaign; if people wanted to discuss National issues I’d happily do so – after all I was well aware that Labour were over-spending & that a ‘black hole’ was being created which the next government would have to deal with – and don’t we know it! Generally I perceived little or no ill-feeling from my opponents.
As we approach the 2013 Election in May things seem to have changed so far as the Labour Party is concerned. We Conservatives are being called ‘The Nasty-Party’. There seems to be an attempt to stir up the ‘poor’ against the ‘rich’. I’m seeing Tweets about Mansion Tax – but the authors seem to concentrate on ‘Mansions’ owned by business people or which have been inherited – they seem never to mention the ‘Mansions’ owned by the footballers, pop stars & film stars etc. who we ourselves have made ‘rich’. Whilst older people in Surrey are shocked to learn that their houses might take them into the Inheritance Tax Bracket, now that the IHT Threshold has been frozen, I’ve seen Tweets suggesting that all Inheritance should be banned. I’ve seen a Tweet suggesting that all ‘Mansions’ should be compulsorily-purchased & converted into houses for the poor. I’ve seen aggressive Tweets about private-sector Landlords who do nothing but ‘trouser £thousands’.
We’ve heard much about the desire for ‘fairness’. I’m all for reducing the tax burden on the ‘poor’, so long as we don’t drive the ‘rich’ out of the country. For example, how much tax was lost because Roger Moore became a tax exile many years ago? What I really dislike are the apparent attempts to encourage jealousy of those that ‘have’, without necessarily asking how they got it.
My parents obtained a mortgage & bought a house at an early age; as a Local Authority employee my Father was able to obtain a mortgage. Nevertheless, the repayments proved to be demanding, especially in those days when ‘Mums’ often stayed at home. Dad cycled to work & often did some work at his allotment before having breakfast & setting off on his bike. His Father gave us his 15 year old car when I was 10; we had our first TV which someone was throwing out when I was 16.
By contrast, my friends who lived in Council Houses often had the best bikes, they had TVs, went on holiday to Butlins etc. At the time I though this ‘not fair’! After leaving school I continued studying & earned no real money until I was 23 – whilst some of my childhood friends & neighbours had been earning reasonable money since they were 16. Later in life I benefitted from my studies & what I inherited from my parents – but what a price there may be to pay for my Care Home Fees or Inheritance Tax.
Fair! I don’t think so!