The national mourning period and State Funeral of our dearly loved Queen Elizabeth allowed for a brief pause in the normal hurly-burly of life. A time for reflection, not just of the exceptional period of stability that she brought through thick and thin, good times and bad across her seventy-year reign, but an opportunity to realise that we have a great nation and that the Monarchy is a unique glue that keeps us together and strong. The planning of all aspects of this national event went like clockwork and we can all feel proud of being a part of it as we shared our sadness at the passing of a remarkable woman recognised and respected internationally. I had the great privilege of being in Westminster Hall for the address to both Houses of Parliament, Commons and Lords, by the King and also had the opportunity to pay my respects as the Queen Lay in State for that extraordinary period.
Normality returns with something of a bump. I am delighted with what I’ve heard thus far from the new Truss government. Common sense emerging on energy policy with more licences for oil and gas in the North Sea and a removal of the shale gas extraction ban. There are many who get themselves in a fizz over fracking. Let’s not forget that without that proven technology being implemented in the USA we’d be in an even more precarious situation as the Liquified Natural Gas ships make their way across the Atlantic to make up for Europe’s energy failures. It must be preferable to source energy domestically, blessed with it as we are. This new industry would bring investment, jobs, tax revenues and balance of payments savings compared to spending tens of billions abroad which brings no financial benefit and indeed financial losses and an estimated 5 million additional tonnes of CO2 emitted in the process of supercooling and regassification as it is shipped around the world on diesel powered ships from as far away as Australia.
We also need to look at other ‘greenwash’ nonsense that has dominated muddled thinking by my government and previous administrations, gripped as they have been by Net Zero whilst China, India, Indonesia and others go all-out to dig more of their own domestically mined coal to give their industries and populations a clear advantage of cheap energy. Take, for example, the madness of cutting down mature trees in North America, drying and pelleting the wood with all stages of the process from the chainsaws, the lorries, the pelleting machines and the dryers being powered by hydrocarbon energy. The pellets are then transported on diesel powered ships across the Atlantic, transported by lorry or rail to repurposed former coal power stations in the UK and burned. The CO2 output per KwH of useable energy is twice that of coal and four times that of using natural gas. We then call this ‘green’ and say that this is CO2 free because of the carbon cycle and sourcing abroad – who are we trying to fool?
I welcomed the Chancellor’s fiscal event or ‘mini budget’. In a nutshell we are back on a proper Conservative path of taking a smaller percentage tax slice out of a pie we wish to grow with a longer- term result of higher overall tax revenues rather than the long-term orthodoxy, which can never be sustainable, of simply taking a bigger tax slice out of a static or diminishing pie. It has to be right that National Insurance is being reduced back to where it was – taxing things we want more of, i.e. jobs can never be sensible. Corporation Tax rates reversed to where they were to attract new companies to the UK and for entrepreneurs to take the step to grow their ideas.
The Stamp Duty Land Tax changes all assist labour mobility and reduce the unfair tax take to the state for simply wishing to move house. Many have wished to focus on the reduction of the highest rate of personal tax from 45% to 40%. The 40% rate was deemed the right one by the 1997-2010 Labour government across 12 years and 11 months of their term in office, with their then 50% introduced rate only seeing the light of day at the tail end of their tenure. The amounts raised by the 45% rate have always been small in any event. An indication to the wealth creators that risk will be rewarded by lower tax rates has to be the right message.
Of course it is a strategy that has some associated risk as we step away from a comfort zone that simply doesn’t work. We need a disruptor government to challenge many failing orthodoxies and I’m pleased to be a part of it.