Allister Heath

In place of tinkering: the 2020 Tax Commission

The report which Fraser mentioned last week, from the 2020 Tax Commission, has just been published – you can download the summary here and full report here. Allister Heath, chairman of the commission and a contributing editor of The Spectator, says more here:- It is time for Britain to make a vital choice. Our economy is stagnant,

This is going to hurt

There is much to be terrified about in today’s global economy. The eurozone’s death dance, China’s slowdown and America’s inability to create jobs are enough to make the most upbeat investors gloomy. But even these problems pale in comparison with the biggest threat, one with implications so hideous that financiers are reluctant to talk about

Wake up, Osborne!

He has been desperately trying to persuade us that things could be worse, but the truth is that this week’s news is a bitter blow for George Osborne. He has been desperately trying to persuade us that things could be worse, but the truth is that this week’s news is a bitter blow for George

Politics: If Greece falls, Britain will suffer

When George Osborne delivered his first budget, Greece made the perfect backdrop. The television news channels had split screens: on the left side, the new Chancellor making the case for austerity. On the right side: riots in Athens as a government confronted the consequences of its profligacy. Now, as then, British eyes are on Greece

Forget the cuts

To listen to the reporting of the Chancellor’s phased and rather limited spending cuts, you would think that the gates of fiscal hell opened at 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday. They are the ‘most savage cuts in our lifetime’, said an ITV reporter. The ‘fastest, deepest cuts in public spending ever mounted by a government in

The Irish problem

It isn’t spending cuts Those arguing against spending cuts have recently adopted a one-word argument: Ireland. The case it stands for is as simple as it is bogus. Ireland had a deficit, now even worse than Britain’s. It adopted an agenda of sharp public spending cuts, on the same logic used by the British government.

The Budget

As valedictory Budget statements go, this one did not disappoint. Alistair Darling may lack Gordon Brown’s verbal chutzpah, but he made full use of Labour’s arsenal of debt and tax concealment tricks, all of which have been carefully honed by this government since 1997. The most important points were buried in the fine print, missing

Day one: getting us back in business

Dear Treasury Permanent Secretary, Good news: the nightmare is over. We both know that Gordon Brown is one of the greatest economic vandals ever to have resided in Downing Street. And to make Britain competitive again will require hard work. We can start immediately, and without the need for legislation. I’d like the following to

Britain must be saved from the financial abyss

A few months ago, Alistair Darling was asked how long he thought his government could continue to borrow £600 million a day. Might creditors one day refuse? The Chancellor gave an oblique reply. ‘When you walk over ice, you never know it is too thin — until you fall through.’ He said no more, but

Britain on the brink

It is a calculation that should fill all of us with an immense sense of dread: there is now a 72.2 percent chance of a hung parliament. Or so says Michael Saunders, Citigroup’s chief European economist and the one man in the City everybody listens to when it comes to the interaction between parliamentary politics

Darling’s budget was bad. Osborne’s complicity was worse

There was much that was absurd about Wednesday’s pre-Budget Report, from Alistair Darling’s failure to outline a realistic plan to prevent Britain’s national debt from exploding, to his risibly over-optimistic long-term growth forecasts. Public spending will jump again next year, we’re told. Schools, hospitals and police will be protected from cuts if Labour wins the

Why is Osborne obsessed with bonuses?

It is hard to work out what the bankers did to George Osborne. Perhaps he was refused an overdraft at a formative age. Whatever it was, he is taking his revenge, saying that the large British banks should only be allowed to pay trivial cash bonuses. The plan has its political attractions — focus groups

Savage cuts are the safer option

If John Maynard Keynes were alive today, he would be appalled at the disastrous state of our public finances. He is loved and hated in equal measure as the man who made pump-priming during downturns intellectually respectable. But nothing he ever wrote could be used to justify the scandalous mess in which Gordon Brown has

A shameless Budget

It’s official: enterprise, hard work, education, success and aspiration are no longer valued in Britain. Yesterday’s Budget, by far the most irresponsible in recent history, marked the final death of the New Labour project, which was meant to reconcile social democratic policies with a competitive economy. From next year, anybody earning between £100,000 and £112,950

A predictable guru

There is only one politician who has emerged from the recession with his reputation enhanced. Yes, you’ve guessed right: I’m referring to Vince Cable, the ubiquitous grey-haired, sober-suited deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats. Even many Tories would feel reassured were Cable, who exudes reasonableness, to become Chancellor; broadcasters with little understanding of finance defer

The great downhill bicycle ride

A little over a year ago, when it was already obvious to virtually everybody that the boom was over, the City’s Panglossian crowd came up with one last, seemingly profound, argument to allow them to continue to deny reality. Going by the ugly name of ‘decoupling’, the theory was that the emerging economies were no

The grim state of public finances

Once again, Gordon Brown has got away lightly with his gross mismanagement of the economy. Today’s public finances statistics were less bad than feared, thanks to strong revenues from income and corporation tax in January, but they were pretty grim nevertheless. That is not the impression one gets scanning today’s almost universally positive headlines, however.

Fleecing non-doms is the thin end of a bad wedge

Allister Heath says that Brown’s poll tax on Britain’s 114,000 non-domiciled residents will drive away talent when our economy most needs it. Shame the Tories would do the same You would have thought that with the economy weakening, the stock market sliding, house prices tanking and Northern Rock’s botched rescue a daily humiliation, Gordon Brown

The economy in 2008: chilly showers but no hailstorms

Allister Heath forecasts that Britain’s economy will suffer less than America’s, but that homeowners and consumers will still feel the pain — and blame it on Gordon Brown First, the good news: there will be no recession next year in Britain. But while avoiding ‘the Big R’ will be some cause for celebration, the overall

Braced for a new oil shock? Relax, this isn’t the 1970s

Those of us born in the late 1970s have a great advantage when it comes to understanding today’s oil market: we cannot remember Opec embargoes, nor the double-digit inflation and bitter recessions they triggered. So while many of our elders and betters were predicting Armageddon as the price of oil climbed inexorably over the past