One thing you can say about Melanie Phillips - you always know where you stand with her. And where you stand is clearly to the left of her, since it's impossible to go any further to the right. She stands firmly next to the starboard wall of reality, and sometimes beyond it.
Take her column in yesterday's Daily Fail.
Infantile Lib Dems, cynical Cameroons and a plot to squeeze the middle classes dry
That says it all, really. You don't need to go any further. Her madness perceives a dastardly plot to "squeeze the middle classes dry" - whatever that means. What's more, the plot is being hatched by those infantile LibDems and their partners - the Cameron-led clique of Etonians and Bullingdon Clubbers - a well known faction of leftists, anarchists and commies. This is the crazy world of La Phillips, which the Mail pays huge sums of money for her to describe. Nice work if you can get it.
Yesterday, radio and TV studios hosted a procession of squirming Lib Dem spokesmen miserably trying to explain to incredulous interviewers the progressive contortions of their proposals for tax increases in the Budget.
First, the Lib Dem election manifesto in 2010 proposed a ‘mansion tax’ on multi-million-pound properties.
When that was knocked back in coalition by the Tories, the Lib Dems proposed cutting tax relief on pensions for higher-rate taxpayers.
When that, too, was greeted with justifiable horror because it would punish the prudent for saving, Nick Clegg came up with yet another wheeze - a ‘tycoon tax’ to ensure that millionaires who legally avoid high tax rates are required by law to pay not less than 20 per cent in tax on their income.
Indeed, the Lib Dems appear to possess a bottomless bran-tub of proposals to ‘soak the rich’. However, the reason for the ‘mansion tax’ was that the realisation had dawned, somewhere in the dim recesses that pass for a Lib Dem brain, that taxing wealth-producers until the pips squeak means that - surprise - they become less inclined to produce more wealth.Phew! Let's take a pause to consider.
"Taxing wealth-producers until the pips squeak." In Phillipsland all rich people are 'wealth producers', and any attempt to impose a slightly higher rate of tax on them will make their pips squeak. No matter that most truly wealthy people employ other people to do their work for them; no matter that most wealthy people (eg bankers, landowners, stockbrokers) often never have an original or a socially useful thought in their lives; no matter that most truly wealthy people inherit their wealth and live lives of considerable ease, thanks to their ability to NOT work and to employ other people who do the work. No matter that a slight increase in their tax contributions will have no effect whatsoever on their lifestyles and their wellbeing, let alone make their bleeding 'pips' squeak.
Shall we continue?
That was why Dr Vince Cable decided that taxation should be shifted from income to assets. The idea was that, instead of putting off those actually delivering prosperity for the nation, the state would pounce upon the fruits of their labours. Hence the ‘mansion tax’ on their houses.There she goes again, insisting that the truly rich are "actually delivering prosperity for the nation", and suggesting that there's such a thing as "the fruits of their labours". As far as the rest of us can see, the City of London, spiritual home of those well-known labourers, "delivered" ruination to the nation, not prosperity. The fact that their mansions were frequently bought in the first place with huge 'bonuses' for crashing the economy doesn't seem to have occurred to Phillips.
The Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, merely waffled about ‘asking the wealthiest to pay more’. Ah, the dreaded ‘w’-word.
In Lib Dem-speak, ‘wealthy’ seems to mean anyone who is not poor. So their proposals will clobber the many millions struggling along on middling incomes but who the Lib Dems think are the rich who must be soaked.Here we see the real craziness, or possibly the deliberate evil, in Phillips - since she substitutes 'wealthy' for the word which the muppet Alexander actually used, which was 'wealthiest'. And where is her evidence that in 'Lib Dem-speak' the word 'wealthy' means 'not poor'?
They call this the ‘fairness’ agenda. Well, when a Lib Dem talks about fairness it’s time to take to the hills. For, of course, this is utterly unfair.
Yes, it is right and proper that the better-off should contribute in tax more than the poor. It is the mark of a civilised society for the ‘haves’ to offer a helping hand to those who genuinely have not.
But the fact the Lib Dems totally ignore is that the middle classes and the truly wealthy already do just that.As we already know, this is complete nonsense. As we already know, the truly rich employ battalions of accountants to figure out how to avoid paying their fair share of tax, as laid down by the laws of the land. Some of them actually go so far as to deliberately evade taxes. Some of them do their banking offshore and use tax havens and anonymous bank accounts to keep their wealth well out of sight and out of reach. None of this is disputed by sane people.
And why is she still banging on here about the 'middle classes' - and trying to put the fear of God and of the taxman into them when she knows perfectly well that the creepy LibDems are merely suggesting that the wealthiest in our society should pay slightly more in taxes - certainly no more than they can easily afford? I think we know why.
This is not fairness. This is grossly unjust. It is also not merely an attack on the rich but a deeply oppressive bullying of the middle-class which, as the Treasury’s cash cow, is already targeted for financial punishment many times over."Deeply oppressive bullying"! "Grossly unjust"! "Attack on the rich"! "Financial punishment - many times over"! Either this woman is completely nuts or she's a vile propagandist of the first order. But not a very good one, since her gross exaggerations and distortions will only penetrate the brains of those who already hold such ludicrous opinions, Mail readers, obviously, and have no chance of converting anyone with any sense of reality or sense of social justice to go along with her bonkers way of thinking.
More than 3.5 million people now pay tax at 40 per cent on an annual income above £43,000. To call people earning such sums ‘wealthy’ is an offence against the English language.So who's calling them wealthy? Not our chums the LibDems.
There may also be an overhaul of council tax, with new bands on properties worth more than £320,000 — again, hardly a ‘mansion’ in South-East England where that kind of money may buy only a modest semi.True, Mel, but we all know that to have the highest band for council tax set at 320K always was and always has been grossly unfair. Why should someone wealthy enough to buy a million-pound property pay the same as those who can afford £320,000 or less? If we have several bands below 320K then why should the banding end abruptly at that level? There's no logic to it whatsoever. But then the Thatcherite architects of the Council Tax were never interested in fairness or social justice - they were only interested in substituting something - anything - for the hated poll tax.
And then there’s the proposed cut in child benefit for all those earning more than £42,745 — which would further penalise single-earner families while continuing to pay the benefit to dual-income families bringing in £80,000 a year.This from someone who recently argued in the Mail for the abolition of all child benefit. Not happy about a staged abolition, Mel?
What’s more, those who cripple themselves by independent school fees or who pay for private health insurance are still subsidising everyone else through the taxes to which they contribute such a disproportionate share of their income.Who says it's disproportionate? They pay proportionately less income tax now than their parents or grandparents ever paid, thanks to recent governments of the right and centre-right shifting the tax burden to VAT, which is the least proportionate and most unfair tax of all, since everyone has to pay 20% VAT on nearly all purchases, regardless of their ability to pay.
And who asked these people, these idiots, to "cripple" themselves anyway? Surely such "crippling" is self-inflicted by people who are wealthy enough to seek what they see as better quality health, education, etc. How come the rest of us can make do with the regular state provision? David and Sam Cameron for example, apparently. Are our hearts supposed to bleed for these poor "cripples"?
These middle-class and wealthy people are, in fact, contributing to the common weal many times over. Yet they are vilified by the Lib Dems and their ilk as social parasites.Look, Mel. We all know that poor people who have jobs pay proportionately more tax than rich people who have an earned or unearned income. End of.
And when did LibDems EVER "vilify" the middle classes, OR vilify the wealthiest people among us for that matter, let alone call them social parasites? Many LibDems might be rather stupid people, but even they aren't THAT stupid. In fact I think it was the governor of the Bank of England, or possibly the head of the CBI, who said that many merchant bankers are social parasites. Which is quite true, as it happens.
[With] a ‘mansion tax’ the State, in effect, lies low so as not to frighten people away from helping the economy to grow; but when they have actually done so, it wallops them and snatches their money away."Wallops"? "Snatches"? Since when is passing legislation to require the wealthiest in society to pay a bit more in what's effectively a council tax "walloping" anyone? And who's going to do this walloping and snatching, anyway? Oh - I do believe it's us - we, the people - who are sick and tired of letting the richest 1% or whatever get away with paying proportionately less tax than the rest of us. For that matter, why should the richest, say, 10% get away with paying proportionately less council tax than people with properties worth £320,000 or less? That's what most of us would call disadvantaging the majority of the middle classes that Mel cares so passionately about, a la Mitt Romney.
So much for the Lib Dems and their politics of envy.Oh, Lord - she's dispatched the LibDems and their politics of "envy" already. Watch out you Tories!
But are the Tories really any different?
As we all know, the Cameroons’ modernising strategy rests upon being seen to wear on their sleeve hearts that bleed for the poor. The way they have chosen to achieve this is by bashing the better-off. (!!!!!! Is 'bashing' a fit and proper word for such a lady?)
So they kept the top rate 50 per cent tax band for those earning upwards of £150,000 a year. This was purely a propaganda gimmick.
For it rapidly became obvious that in terms of raking in extra revenue it was utterly self-defeating, since the measures people were taking to avoid it actually reduced the amount coming into the Treasury.This is the usual lie about higher tax rates producing less in taxes, which has been shown to be a lie again and again.
The Prime Minister and the Chancellor reportedly have come to understand that it is not the most brilliant idea to be dumping so cynically on the Tories’ supposed core constituency - the striving and aspirational classes.(I think she'll find this is the Tories' ONLY constituency at the present time. Striving is good? Greed is good?)
But they nevertheless still seem fixated on the need to hit the better-off - simply to fend off the accusation that they are ‘toffs’ who would happily see poor children starve in the gutter. Hence the ever-more frantic attempts to trade the 50 per cent tax rate for one of the Lib Dems’ war-on-the-wealthy schemes.Accusation, eh? How ridiculous. How unfair. We all know that the Cameroons don't want to see poor children starving in the gutter. That's Mel's job already.
Still mesmerised by the false analysis that the Tories can win power only by appearing to be Left-wing, the Cameroons have unfortunately signed up to the manifest absence of fairness in the redistribution of wealth.Oh sweet Jesus. Lord above. This is getting crazier by the sentence. I'm speechless.
Not only is this unjust; not only does it belittle the striving classes by assuming that all wealth is either unearned or somehow illegitimate; it also breaks off the nation’s middle-class nose in order to spite its own face.Crazy. Bonkers. She's babbling. And foaming.
For the message the Coalition is delivering day after day is that the Government is anti-business and anti-wealth creation, and that any entrepreneur thinking of investing in the UK needs his head examined.Speechless. This government has done nothing except pander to the City and the 'Markets'.
With the economy desperately struggling to pull itself out of recession, this takes political stupidity to an epic level.Well the 'economy' had better pull itself out, since the government is so unwilling to help it, just as these Tories never did or said a thing to help it during a 30 year period when there was no such thing as industrial policy, unlike in Germany - only cheerleading for the City, privatisation, asset-stripping, the Big Bang, deregulation and the bonus culture.
The Lib Dems subscribe to this politics of envy and class spite because - heaven help us - they actually believe in it. The Cameroons subscribe because they think it will win them elections.As I say, you have to be waaaaaaaaaaaaay over on the extreme political right wing in order to attack the Cameroons for their so-called left-wing policies. Surely cynicism is the stock in trade of politicians, anyway? Obviously Mel would rather the Tories nail their (her) nasty policies to a highly visible mast in order to ensure future electoral success. Good one, Mel. Let's all simply tell the proles they can just fuck off and die, and be done with it.
It’s a moot point which is worse - infantilism or cynicism. The pantomime horse that is the Coalition unfortunately has one at each end.
Is it just me, or is this Phillips person getting crazier as she gets older? Or is she just showing clear signs of early onset something or other? Early onset frothing at the mouth, terminal rabid Mail-syndrome? Maybe it's just burn-out from a long (too long) career as a media rotweiler and arch propagandist. Give yourself a break, Mel. Retire now before it's too late to rediscover - or maybe discover for the first time - some semblance of reality, decency and sanity.
And by the way, dear Oxzen readers, don't forget to read the truly entertaining and hilarious comments of her readers which are on the website below Phillips' column. These are people who didn't just lose the plot - they never had any idea of it in the first place.