Brian Monteith: Meet cheerleaders of talking tripe tendency

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There must be a general election on. That can be the only reason for some of the nonsense coming out of the mouths of too many politicians in the last week – but this is no justification and they need to be called out.

The greatest battle for chief cheerleader of the talking tripe tendency is going on between Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, and with less than a month to go it’s too close to call.

Ed Milband’s game is as transparent Kim Kardashian’s underwear – demonise the Tories as being the party of the rich so that those who are not so fortunate (the majority of us) will vote for Labour. Divide and rule is the game and for all that Labour claims to defend the interest of minorities, the wealthy are one minority it takes great pleasure in giving a kicking.

The first stage of Miliband’s ploy was to come out against so-called zero hour contracts. The number of people now employed in these flexible engagements that don’t guarantee hours to staff using them has apparently grown to 1.4 million, of which it is the main source of employment for half of them. Labour claims the growth of the contracts is a Tory attempt to undermine workers’ rights and Miliband says he would ban any that are longer than three months.

This would, of course, mean that some people might then be given contracts with guaranteed hours after three months, but it also means others will undoubtedly have their contracts terminated altogether. Which column most people on zero hour contracts will fall into is unknown – not least by Ed Miliband.

Given that research shows two-thirds of those on zero hour contracts are satisfied with this flexibility and do not want more hours than they receive, the problem is not all it seems.

Worse still, Miliband also appeared to be unaware that nearly 70 Labour MPs have employed staff using those self-same contracts and Labour councils have been doing the same too.

Then, following the outcome of an industrial tribunal, it was found that Unite, Labour’s largest trade union donor, has been employing as many as 100 tutors delivering training courses using zero hours contracts.

What was meant to be a potentially popular policy to “put working people first” now has all the makings of an embarrassing disaster that would lead to fewer working people.

Then, in an attempt to maintain his “up with the workers, down with the rich” narrative Miliband announced without a hint of shame that if he were prime minister he would end what is called “non-dom tax status”.

Non-domiciled taxpayers are UK residents who are domiciled abroad – this generally means they pay tax on their British earnings but not on their overseas earnings (except when they bring that money into the UK).

They are an especially easy target for very few of us will ever meet such a person. They are a minority within a minority – there are only some 114,000 registered with the HMRC and of those, only 5,000 pay the £30,000 levy to allow them to gain full non-dom tax status (a process introduced by, you guessed it, the last Labour government).

Indeed, the number of non-doms boomed under the Labour Government. The tax revenue from all non-doms was £8.2 billion in 2012-13, with those having the full non-dom tax status paying about £650 million of that.

It was only in January that Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was asked about ending non-dom tax status and replied that it would “probably cost the UK money” as some of them would relocate elsewhere.

Now his boss, Ed Miliband, is saying it would mean more tax revenue – but isn’t willing to put a figure on it. Within hours the names of super wealthy non-doms who have donated to the Labour Party were being published to show Ed Miliband that he had thrown yet another embarrassing boomerang.

Not to be outdone in this parade of hapless politicians Nicola Sturgeon has started banging on about wanting what is called “full fiscal autonomy” while attacking the Tories for their austerity policies.

Only the SNP would bring an end to austerity, was her claim at a number of leaders’ debates. But wait a minute, if full fiscal autonomy were introduced it would mean Austerity Max – for Scotland would become bankrupt overnight and have to introduce its own austerity to get by.

Even before the oil price crash the economics of the Scottish state did not stack up – we spend far more than we raise in taxes, but the gap is covered by the transfer of funds from the UK Treasury in the Scottish block grant, using the Barnett formula.

But under full fiscal autonomy that transfer disappears and the Barnett formula becomes history.

Suddenly and immediately, Nicola Sturgeon would need to find the £7.6 billion shortfall.

There would have to be drastic public spending cuts and tax rises if the markets were to be convinced to lend money to the SNP government – it would make George Osborne look like Father Christmas rather than ­Ebenezer Scrooge.

Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Miliband, both peddling fantasies – maybe they are a political coalition meant for each other?