Here's what to expect
52p top rate of tax
Ed Balls won’t be looking for money when he says the ‘additional’ top rate of tax will go back up — there’s no evidence it will raise any. Top-band income tax will be 50p, which added to the extra 2p National Insurance would give Britain an effective top tax rate of 52 per cent. If it’s a temporary measure, as Balls has hinted, one-percenters will defer bonuses and disappear from the statistics (a problem, when they pay £1 in every £4 of income tax).
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[/audioplayer]What if Ed Miliband wins? His victory is still seen, especially by those on the right, as a near-impossibility — an event so improbable as to defy the laws of political gravity. But then again, we’re three weeks away from the general election and still the Conservatives still haven’t managed to establish a convincing lead.
No election night is complete without a man dressed as King Arthur waving a plastic sword as the result is read out. Eccentricity is the bedrock of British democracy. The freedom of a madman to waste £500 to get on the ballot is precious. On these islands, we have a right to rave. And sometimes what we rant about is quite revealing.
I’ve been fascinated by eccentric independent candidates ever since as a teenager I met Mr Mark Ellis, a perennial independent running against EU domination and casual littering.
Could you be a useful and loving father to your children if you only ever saw them on a computer screen? Most of us would say no. So much of being a parent is about being physically there. It’s curious then that our courts seem to think the opposite — that a chat via Skype or on an iPad is all a father needs to bond with and care for his child.
British judges, like American ones, have to deal with increasingly complicated custody cases every year.
How many of the people driving mobility scooters these days actually need a mobility scooter? The invention of the vehicle was a great move forward (literally) for those who genuinely needed it: the disabled and the infirm. But then another group of users appeared. Rather slowly, admittedly, and wheezing as they did so, before settling their vast backsides into the soothing embrace of the scooter’s seat.
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[/audioplayer]A scurrilous rumour recently swept Rome: the Pope had summoned the Vatican’s finance czar over his expenses. When Cardinal George Pell admitted spending more than £3,000 on a designer kitchen unit, Francis quipped: ‘What, is it made of solid gold?’
That never happened, of course, but the tittle-tattle served a purpose.
‘How’s your shoulder?’ someone asked recently, and it was only then I realised, for the first time in a while, that my shoulder felt good again. In last year’s Grand National — you might recall if you watched it on television — I had a heavy fall when going well on Long Run, the wonderful horse on whom I won the Gold Cup. I landed on my shoulder and had to hobble off the course. Those famously intimidating Grand National fences may have been made a bit more forgiving in recent years — thank God! — but they are still huge, and when you fall going over one it hurts.
It’s a complete recipe for disaster of course. By which I mean being trapped at sea with The Spectator’s ‘Low life’ correspondent for an entire week. That’s seven whole days. At sea. Crikey!
Not that Jeremy Clarke isn’t the best of company (he is — everyone adores him) and not that we won’t all have the hugest of fun. After all, Cunard’s Queen Victoria has at least a dozen different watering holes to keep us (and JC) happy, from the Golden Lion pub to the swanky Commodore Club for pre- and post-prandial cocktails.