John's Jottings for February 2003

John Ward

Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.


Did you know that the average British adult now pays five-sixths of income in taxes of one kind or another? The official figure is 82%, which means that someone paid, say £1,200 (gross) per month loses virtually the whole thousand and ends up with just over £200 of real spending power.

Now of course we'll always have to pay taxes unless the nature of society changes so drastically that it can be avoided somehow, but it is unhealthy to pay too much in taxes: everyone suffers (well, apart from the Chancellor of the Exchequer...) to a greater or lesser extent.

When New Labour come to power at Westminster in 1997 there were strong hopes that the party would be able to leave its old ways of high taxes, poor services, increased bureaucracy and centralisation behind. It has been a great disappointment that they have failed to do so, and look like they are heading even further in that harmful direction. I had personally wished them well in their stated quest, and feel very much let down that—despite all the claims (now known to have been merely spin)—the trend is steeply downhill. There have been no fewer than 53 tax increases (including additional new taxes) since Labour came to power in 1997.

We have seen some of this impact us locally, here in Medway:

The overall intent (it has been discovered) has been to try to force us to raise Council Tax to be more like the levels found elsewhere in the south-east of England.

Most other local authorities in the region will be charging well over a thousand pounds (plus precepts) at Band D, whereas Medway's Band D from April this year will be just £824·49. The Conservative administration of Medway Council has achieved this truly remarkable feat by very careful budget-setting (a process that has been refined over the past three years) yet without cutting any front-line services: indeed, some have been enhanced and several new initiatives introduced.

I know it's a cliché (and I'm not exactly renowned for trusting such things!) but all of this really does show that you get high taxes and poor services under Labour, and low taxes with good services under the Conservatives. If I hadn't witnessed this so closely, and with all the information that I get that doesn't necessarily appear before the public, I doubt that I'd have accepted this as true, even though many of my local residents had been telling me this ever since I moved here some six years ago.

Local (and national) political parties are not all the same!

Worth knowing when we all head out to the polling station on 1st May...

Next time: Cliffe Airport: the re-consultation begins