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South Shields premier political blog

All in it together

with 12 comments

Brown bookOf course they are!

“We are all in this together”  may have been the most prophetic words uttered by Conservative Leader David Cameron following the post crash demise of the last Labour government, leaving an economy in tatters and the whole of Europe drowning in debt after the sage advice of Brown and Obama to governments and central banks to borrow more and print more money to keep the world floating happily along towards oblivion. Cameron’s words were meant to galvanise public opinion as we entered an age of austerity to tackle the worldwide mountains of debt and return the UK to a “balanced budget” after the profligacy of the Brown/Blair years, yet after two budgets from the coalition government the achievment of that aim does not seem to be approaching with any speed.

We had just gone through a Parliament awash with excess, the MPs expenses scandal had left a very nasty taste in the mouth and the reforms put in place have not done an awful lot to assuage public anger and resentment at what politicians are perceived to be doing with their time and our money, the News International phone hacking revelations and the subsequent Leveson inquiry will probably also confirm the public’s suspicions that our politicians are easy to influence and are seen to be far too close to some journalists and newspaper proprietors for the sake of good honest and open public governance.

Having taken what they think is statesmanlike stances during their years in office it may seem unedifying to some that former holders of great office now hawk themselves around on the world’s stage making an absolute fortune and banking their income not in a personal account, but into the account of a privately owned company specifically set up to reduce their liability to pay the full rate of UK tax. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and South Shields MP David Miliband all operate such companies and manage to reduce their tax liabilities by sums that some of us may never manage to earn in a year. Don’t get me wrong, we should all praise success, but if we are all in this together we should all be paying our fair share of taxes.

This “being in it together” though, is now becoming a catch phrase of the left, perhaps Cameron may regret having uttered those words in the first place, there are many who would just love to push them back down his throat, and if they have a reasoned cogent argument then why not? Trouble is, some are none too careful about republishing these words, take for example the septuagenarian Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart, invited by David Miliband to deliver one of his South Shields lectures:

“I have nothing but contempt for the expression ‘we’re all in this together.

That’s bullshit – we’re not all in this together,”

“The members of the cabinet are not in the same position as the people who live near me in Bermondsey. What we have seen is not so much a response to a global crisis but Tory policies as usual, masquerading under the claim of necessity.”

Putting aside the fallibility of memory, Stewart seems to miss the response to the UK crisis as well as missing the point on worldwide debt reduction, it does not look or sound so good bleating about the phrase “we are in this together” when one has resided in such luxurious surroundings as these in California:
Patrick Stewarts Californian residence

Picture via Guido Fawkes

The lofty left certainly do not so sound so chummy and down to earth when their wealth is revealed, the folks of Queensferry, Westoe, Trimdon, or Bermondsey must be choking with contempt at any politician/actor (hard to tell the difference with Tony Blair) talking about “being in it together”.

Beam me up Scotty, I want to be in it together with you 🙂

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12 Responses

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  1. Rather a biased and unbalanced argument there Curly. The “fallibility of memory” must be why you never mentioned the number of former tory cabinet members who have whored themselves around the lecture circuit and/or boardrooms, or why you forgot about the 27th October 1986, this was the date the British government (a Conservative government not a Labour one) deregulated the banks. Labour should’ve done something about it when they got back into power but didn’t. All of them are as bad as each other for snouts in the trough and hands in the till, pity you can’t also see that.

    Neil Newton

    February 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    • I don’t recall any revelations about them using (legal) tax avoidance schemes Neil.

      All of them are as bad as each other for snouts in the trough and hands in the till

      Thought you might see that I was making that point in the opening paragraph.


      February 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      • If that was your point then why didn’t you balance it out, instead of naming only Labour party members? You could have, for example, included the current Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell or Phillip Hammond, the current Secretary of State for Defence, both of whom have already done quite a bit of ‘Tax planning’. If you haven’t already watched it, here is a link to ‘How the rich beat the taxman’,

        Dispatches programme. It reports what ministers of the current coalition government are up to. Maybe then you might be able to give a more balanced and unbiased opinion on the matter.

        Neil Newton

        February 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm

  2. I no longer regularly comment in this sight, as I feel it lacks objectivity, rarely researches any issue in depth and often fails to provide any connectivity with the ‘real world’. However, I do have a couple of questions that I would appreciate you answering, purely for clarity. Are you suggesting that anyone who places their income into a registered company is committing any unlawful act? Are they breaching any law? If not, then why are you attempting to target and attack individuals who are not committing any offence? What is the purpose of your article? Can you tell me how common the placement of individual wealth into the most beneficial account is? I’d like to know as I suspect that most business people and those who have worked hard and saved for their future will have received good advice from their accountants or IFMs to suggest how to make best use of their money. Are you against people earning money be it from writing, acting, or by using their experience? There are some who have a great deal of wealth who have inherited it, they didn’t work for theirs. And finally, are the conservatives free of any such accusations – whatever the accusations are that you make. You know, we have had a gutful of people monkeying around with the reputations of good people who serve this town. It’s my belief that our MP serves us all and represents the town, if we thought he was rubbish we would vote him out. I suspect that David gives a great deal to all of the people in this town regardless of their political affiliation. Be careful that you don’t err towards trying to unwittingly smear those who are undeserving of such action.


    February 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    • No, nothing wrong or illegal at all in using these tax avoidance schemes which Labour vowed to close

      Don’t get me wrong, we should all praise success, but if we are all in this together we should all be paying our fair share of taxes.

      Wouldn’t this look a rather better position to take for politicians who profess to represent the average hard working family?
      Whether it be Cameron, Osborne, Miliband, or Stewart harping on about “all being in this together” it just won’t be perceived as credible when speaking from a position of great wealth, that’s the political reality.


      February 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      • I’m lost now. The many of the elite in society have great wealth particularly those who encourage the capitalism we see supported by the conservatives including the ‘bankers’ who provided us with our current economic calamity, yet still get huge bonus payments that, quite frankly, put your criticisms of actors and MPs into the shade. There are many many ways to avoid paying taxes those you have chosen to specify are used by a multitude of people and businesses know many more. I think you are now saying that these people do pay their taxes and they pay them legally! I would ask that you take care in projecting your personal spite against particular politicians and beware of the very slippery slope that climbing such monkey bars can have. Why don’t you return to the more balanced, South Shields based forum that we used to enjoy? You current irregular articles lack what I thought were thought provoking and debatable issues we were able to read in the past, this blog site has unfortunately suffered demise in the past six months or so. Where is the Curly we used to enjoy a good chinwag with?


        February 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

  3. Norpol I m sure curly is saying that they are legal but not very well liked thats not to hard to understand I think.
    Kevin this is a blog not a researched academic book its here for you and I to say our opinions, its no different at many other blogs I think you need to chill a little or try looking at the stupid comments added to the Shields Gazette stories.
    At least theres some sanity in here. The way I see things is curly writes some stuff and invites opinions he knows that not everyone agrees with him but he gives you a platform where you can drop on him like a ton of bricks. I dont know how to spell condescend and you cannot spell site but thats how you sound maybe that why curly dont write so much these days.
    Back to the meat I dont care for rich men talking about being in it together no matter who they are, We are not!

    Michael Taylor

    February 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    • Thank you for your lesson in the context of the word sight. It was Kevin not Norpol who wrote it, an oversight. Let me reciprocate. You need an apostrophe after the, I, in, I’m. Curly should have a capital C. ‘That’ should have an apostrophe (‘s) at the end. Well, that’s the first sentence, I don’t think I need to go on, check the rest for yourself. However, the most important point I am trying to make is not the poor use of grammar, this is after all a blog site (learned my lesson) where people rattle off on keyboards making the odd mistake. The point is I asked Curly to take caution in apparently targeting individuals who are not doing anything wrong or unlawful and to have some respect for the role our towns MP has. If you had spare cash and put it into a normal account you would get interest and pay tax, put it in an ISA you pay no tax – nothing illegal not even a loophole, and I don’t think Curly has placed a strong enough argument to suggest anything other! The Monkey business should teach us all to be more careful in treading what can be a thin line.
      I agree with you. We are not ‘all in it together’ I notice that the north east has the worst unemployment in the nation, and South Shields is particularly bad. I notice unemployment going up and up. I notice that we have been flat lining in the economy for some time now, and I notice that the austerity measures hit the poorest of us. I notice we are borrowing more than ever, and I notice the reluctance of a government to reflect on their approach to the NHS while there is so much resistance to a policy that did not have any mandate at the last election. Maybe this is why ‘curly don’t write so much these days’, or doesn’t.


      February 18, 2012 at 10:25 am

  4. History will be kinder to Gordon Brown Curly.

    No politician is perfect and neither is any government. Years of no investment in education (just look around South Tyneside) turned around by a Labour Government, the minimum wage (feriously opposed by the tories) and of course we have Gordon to thank for keeping us out of the Euro.

    A world banking crisis was not Gordons or the UKs fault but world leaders turned to this bloke to provide a clear and committed steer. The terrible scenes of customers taking their money out of Northern Rock Bank could (and would) have been copied to other banks, but Gordon and his Chancellor halted this with a keynesian solution to maintain confidence in the system.

    He had his flaws and probably should have been content is his respected role as Chancellor – but I still feel history will judge him far more kindly than todays commentators.


    February 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

  5. Well Curly, you seem to have unleashed the dogs of war with your comments. I have to say, broadly speaking, I agree with you. I accept that Milliband and Co, are doing nothing illegal, but I find it, what is the word, hypocritical perhaps, for them to criticise others for doing exactly what they themselves are doing, ie lining their pockets. I have no problem with success, I have no problem with people trying to hang on to their hard earned cash, I just have a problem with the “do as I say, not do as I do” brigade, no matter what their politcal party. It was quite clear from the expenses scandal that some politicians of all parties are a tad short of being honest. On the subject of the “banking crisis”, my understanding (perhaps incorrect, I accept) is that the problem arose because of (USA) government interferance in the housing market, by encouraging the granting of loans (mortgages) to those who could not afford to repay. The “risky” mortgages were then sold on, as “investments”. The bankers “crime” was to fail to understand the risks they were taking in treating these loans as assets. But, ultimately it all comes down to human nature, we are all happy to get our nose in the trough if we can, and only cry foul when the gravy runs out.


    February 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm

  6. Lol@Ken, at least Curly is keeping them off the streets and out of mischief here.
    Curly altruistic politicians are very few and far between and actors are two a penny, you never know Capt. Jean Luc Picard may well have been rehearsing a part as a Prime Minister.
    You are probably better off thirty years out of it, things could be worse of course around here, at least Allen Branley hasn’t made the claim that we’re all in it together.


    February 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm

  7. Curly, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Are you saying that Patrick Stewart doesn’t have a valid opinion on the Tory PR bullshit that is “we are all in this together” because he is wealthy? If that’s what you’re trying to say, then the response would that Stewart doesn’t make UK government policy. For that matter, neither do Brown, Blair or Miliband. However, offshore trust fundies like George Osborne are at the helm right now, and you need to face up to the uncomfortable fact that these people are enacting policies which will hurt those who are poor, old and in ill health – people around you in South Shields.

    Without any coherent point, it just seems like you’re just attempting a weak snipe at Labour.

    brian paget

    February 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

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