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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Run for your lives! The politicians are back from holiday!

Today's storm in a teacup about Baroness "Green Shoots" Vadera shows how infantile our politics has become. There'll be gales of hot air on both sides for 24 hours, which is about the attention span that Westminster prefers. Meanwhile the last set of initatives wither on the vine.

I still can't believe that a bunch of supposed grown-ups came up with that hare-brained VAT reduction scheme just a couple of months ago. I was reminded of it this morning when a manager of a chain of clothes shops was on the radio, pointing out, as an aside, that it had made no difference whatsoever to the amount of money coming in. What he would have no doubt added, had he had time, is that the amount of pointless administration it caused far outstripped any benefit it might have brought. I've been in shops where they've been quite honest about the fact that they hadn't bothered. Understandably.

I genuinely find it hard to believe that a bunch of barristers, business consultants, civil servants and professional politicians sat in a room and decided that reducing the rate from 17.5% to 15% was going to make any difference to the consumer. It seems perfectly emblematic of the way that because governments can't do anything to effect the big things (see yesterday's hysteria about social mobility, which has gotten worse despite the efforts of successive governments of different stripes), they fiddle endlessly with the small ones.