Saturday, March 31, 2007

Competition 2 - suggest a caption

Original caption: These children are a bit young to vote yet, Gordon

The above photograph appeared on the Little and Large Telly blog yesterday, with that fairly innocuous caption, the one you see above.

You may have read today's headlines re Gordon Brown. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we now know, almost 10 years after the event, how he jettisoned Treasury advice, and then, without batting an eyelid, torpedoed Britain's final salary pension schemes below the water line. He did it by the absurdly simple act of withdrawing their 20% tax relief on investment dividends . He slipped in this little Treasury earner during his "honeymoon period". It was the first of his many subsequent stealth taxes.

In view of the iniquity of what he did - sucking 5bn pounds a year, every year, of lifeblood out of pension funds, I think some pithier captions are called for.

This blogger made his feelings clear about Brown's raid on pension funds almost a year ago in the Times. I'll see if it can be googled out of the archives, and post here later. (ed: quickly located, see below)

In the meantime here are four alternative captions. I got the ball rolling with the first three.

"Have you been shown how to fill out a tax return yet?"

"Yes, but there's now much less hayfever since schools got rid of their playing fields"

"Then you tell your Daddy from me that tosser is not a nice word....... "

Phil Slocombe's caption:

"Just think of me like Father Christmas"

Those Telly moderators must have been at peace with the world yesterday, publishing them all , incuding that distinctly dodgy third one.

And as you can see, Phil Slocombe, bless him, one of the Trusty Trio of new guest bloggers, brought in from that wilderness called "Your View", joined in on the fun. too. Thanks Phil- but then you did owe me one (having primed the comments on your maiden blog :-)

Perhaps my die-hard band of readers can think of some more. But please don't send them here ( which might look like internet piracy). Send them direct to the blog instead. I'll cut and paste new ones as they appear.

Footnote: from the archives (see above):

Would Gordon Brown make a good prime minister:

"You asked whether Gordon Brown "looks a billion dollars".

To me he looks more like £5bn, taken each year from our pension funds.

This was not done as a response to some dire national emergency.

He made his raid shortly after taking up office, as a kind of pre-emptive strike, and, for reasons I do not understand, was given a comparatively easy ride by the press and media generally.

He was allowed to get away with committing a (to my mind) hugely irresponsible act, the knock-on effects of which have caused so much anxiety and pension shortfalls for millions of folk.

Did Chancellor Brown, looking for a quick fiscal fix, correctly guess he could get away with it, knowing that the press tends to go easy on new ministers deemed to be in their "honeymoon period"?

There are other reckless acts one could cite, like the decision to sell off gold reserves, and then announcing publicly what he proposed to do in advance.

Dumping so much gold on the market had the inevitable effect of depressing its price.

Billions extra could have been saved if he had done the sensible thing of drip-feeding into the market, especially given today's prices.

And let's not forget that the so-called extra "penny in the pound" on NI contributions was in reality a 10 per cent increase, and effectively a stealth increase in income tax.

Or the profligate spending on unnecessary public servants, botched computerisation project, etc.

I believe there to be a serious flaw in the way this man operates - by stealth and by fait accompli - one which I consider inimical to democratic processes.

He's a dangerous loner. I voted for Blair (though now regretting it) but Labour will never get my vote if Brown succeeds Blair. "

Colin Berry, Antibes, France

Times April 12th 2006