All entries for Thursday 01 March 2007

March 01, 2007


I’m getting a ridiculous number of hits on my blog at the moment. They all seem to be coming from people searching for Tracey Temple on Google. I wrote an entry about her ten months ago, but it only started yesterday. My hits went up 100%!

Blog Stats 1

Bear in mind that last point on the graph is today – so it’s likely to beat yesterday’s figure by the end of the day.

And the next one is even more bizarre. It shows what people are entering into Google in order to get here:

Blog Stats 2

Of course, the weirdest thing is that 1) Google seems to point people looking for Jade Goody topless in this direction and 2) PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY SEARCHING FOR THIS KIND OF THING!!!

Let's scrap Council Tax

Council house - Who pays for this?It’s that time of year when we find out how much Council Tax we’ll have to pay for the next year.1 For years, rises have been above the rate of inflation, and people have got increasingly angry at their local councils.

Oddly, central government often escapes the blame. But the reality is it’s usually their fault.

Whenever a bill is passed in Parliament, it usually requires local councils to make changes to their policy or carry out something on the government’s behalf. But rarely does the government increase their budget to pay for this. It’s a clever way of making policy without having to pay for it.

Since 1997, the proportion of Council income coming from central government has fallen dramatically. The slack’s been made up by getting more money directly from Council Tax. It’s all part of a long-term push towards depoliticisation, which began in the Margaret Thatcher era.

It was the same logic behind privatising the railways. Take them out of central government control and all controversy will subside.

Didn’t that work well?

Well now it’s time to change Council Tax. It’s become a ridiculous system, and not just because it’s based upon the value of your house. It’s ridiculous because the demands being made on the Council’s income aren’t coming from the Council – they’re coming from Westminster.

So I suggest we scrap Council Tax altogether. If initiatives are going to come from central government, it should be central government who has to pay for them. Bring in direct funding for Councils and you’ll end this opaque taxation merry-go-round which is just making a lot of people poorer. Make government accountable for their actions and they’ll soon slow down their spending plans.

1. Okay, so I’m still a student and don’t pay it, but that’s not the point.

Tick tock… Tick tock…

Tony Blair - Time to go?I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The longer Tony Blair stays in power, the worse things will get for the Labour Party.

But it’s becoming more and more important that he goes sooner rather than later. Poll results predicting a Conservative lead of 11-13% perpetrate the view that a Conservative government in 2009 is almost inevitable.

That’s a perception that Gordon Brown needs to change. Back in 1995/6, it was obvious the Conservatives were on their last legs. There was little they could do to change the perceived wisdom that the Tories were sleazy, old and without fresh ideas.

Well skip forward to 2007, and it’s becoming hard to disassociate Labour from the same problems. The Cash for Honours inquiry is an unfortunate mirror of the Cash for Questions row – albeit with the threat of jail sentences for added flavour – and there’s only so many tweaks the government can make to the NHS and the education system before running out of ideas.

We’re about halfway through a Labour government. The bristles on a new broom are being weakened every day Mr Blair stays in charge.

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