Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ridley Didley Doo, Number Three

Yes, it's the return of the column that charts Yvonne Ridley's ongoing commitment to non-eccentricity and left wing politics. This time we're going to talk about tax, and it's a subject that requires us to take a short trip down memory lane.

Whatever brickbats one might want to throw at the Respect Coalition, and there are many, and however one might want to question what right the SWP have to claim that it is a socialist project, it does retain some vestigial left-wing characteristics. One of these is a policy, which you can see in the founding declaration on the link above, to:

"Tax the rich to fund welfare and to close the growing gap between the poor and the wealthy few"

All good social-democratic stuff.

Now, to the second part of our little tale. Prior to the last general election, an eccentric anti-tax group called "Tax Pledge 2005" contacted most sitting MPs and candidates, seeking to get them to sign a declaration that the group had drawn up. Again, it's visible on the link to the Tax Pledge site, but for the lazy, this is what it said:

"I pledge to the taxpayers of my constituency and to the British public that, if elected to the next parliament and except in the event of a national emergency, I will vote against all increases in tax rates unless accompanied by an equal or greater reduction in the overall tax burden within the same proposals."

They didn't have a lot of success with this. Of the MPs contacted, not only Blairites such as Hazels Blears and Liberals like Sir Menzies Campbell would not sign it; Thatcherites like Julian Brazier, John Redwood and Sir Peter Tapsell also took a pass.

In fact, overall the pledge only got seven signatories; two from Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, one Ulster Unionist, one Tory, one (presumably rather odd) Green candidate, one from the "Official Monster Raving Loony Party", and... Yvonne Ridley, Respect candidate for Leicester South.

One has to raise the question - had Yvonne actually read her own party's founding declaration? Was she aware that socialists (and for that matter liberals, social democrats and Heathite Tories) are generally in favour of paying for extra public services through taxation? And what deeply felt commitment to left wing politics was it, that led her to take a position on tax which was to the right of John Redwood?

As to what this sorry episode says about the political calibre of some Respect candidates and their understanding of progressive ideas, I leave the final judgement to you.


Blogger stroppybird said...

Hmmm, wouldn't consider that Ridley woman in the least progressive. How any party that would want to be considered a serious left force would have her as a candidate is beyond me.

Still I believe she is 'modest' ;-)

3:14 AM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

I guess they must think she gives them credibility... although on what earthly basis I've no idea. Certainly, joining a US anti-semite on a deputation in Malaysia, signing a tax pledge such as this one, and calling for non co-operation between Muslims and the police, would seem to be an odd way to demonstrate one's cred.

4:25 PM  
Blogger stroppybird said...

Well one post you will not see on stroppyblog is 'In defence of Yvonne Ridley':-)

Perhaps someone could come on here and do that ?

2:24 AM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

Anyone's welcome to do so - any takers?

6:17 AM  
Blogger A soft socialist said...

Julian Brazier more of a socialist than Yvonne Ridley. I'm sure that would go down well at the next RESPECT meeting.

7:51 AM  
Blogger AN said...

don't forget that she sends her child to a private school

and there was that interview she did where she described al Qaeda as the modern day international brigades!

9:18 AM  
Blogger stroppybird said...

Seriously, I would be curious to see someone say why YR makes a good candidate .

3:09 PM  
Blogger A soft socialist said...

Anyone available to answer?

4:24 PM  
Blogger stroppybird said...


Not one of your heroines :-)

12:13 AM  

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