Monday, 13 February 2012

Deliberately Misleading?

Ian Cowie, the head of personal finance in the Daily Telegraph, rightly picks up on the disgraceful jump in the numbers of older people dying of cold, unable as they are to afford to heat their homes. His solution, rather than tackle the real issues, is to propose scrapping VAT on household fuel:
Warm words from politicians are cold comfort and no substitute for action. Bringing the tax on household fuel into line with zero-rated VAT on water and food makes sense - they are all necessities of life – and could bring immediate help to thousands of people suffering unnecessarily this winter.
One small problem however - Brussels.

Domestic heating used to have zero VAT until 1993. The then Major Government under pressure from the EU began the process of harmonising VAT in accordance with the 6th VAT Directive. This meant that, in an ever increasingly 'isolated' Britain, the Tories attempted to impose VAT on previously exempt goods such as; food, clothes and newspapers. Politically sensitive as this obviously was, the Tories began tentatively with domestic heating, the upshot being that we gave up that exemption (with a 5% duty) and so to get it back now requires the permission of Brussels - permission that almost certainly won't be forthcoming.

Despite being the head of personal finance, Mr Cowie doesn't mention any of this. Now this can only be because of one or two reasons: he doesn't know or he chose not to mention it. It's hard to believe he doesn't know. VAT is not some obscure EU Directive but a real tangible part of our membership - it's an EU tax introduced in 1973 as a consequence of joining the then EEC. To plead ignorance, particularly in his position on the Telegraph, must surely call into very serious question his abilities as a journalist.

So the only other option is that he is aware. Which then means he has written an article that he knows cannot happen but disguises this by hiding important information from his readers. An article in short that is a lie and a deceit.

Either way what he has written is pointless waste of time and illustrates once again the inability of our MSM to acknowledge where the real government lies. I do wish they would grow up.


  1. I remember the parliamentary debate so well with Labour accusing the evil Tories of wanting to freeze the pensioners to death and the front bench promising to remove the tax (which they must have known was an impossibility under EU law)

    The tax was originally at 7.5% and the best they could do in office was reduce it to 5%

    My former (Labour) MP now works for an energy charity and made the same suggestion. He must have known that it was an impossibility too. It was deliberate deceit of the public which seems to come as second nature for politicians - even ex MPs.

  2. @Edward Spalton I couldn't put it better...