Letters from The Northern Echo


GORDON Brown, the most notorious highway robber of all time, is now the grand master of the stealth tax.

He says he wants people to provide for their old age, but raids their pension funds and then forces them to suffer the indignity and nightmare of means testing and form filling.

He says he is all for the family, but has removed married man's allowance and mortgage tax relief. He and Tony Blair say education, education, education, then tax university education.

While he pretends to cut red tape, businesses are flattened by the juggernaut of bureaucracy. How many can cope with being unpaid tax collectors and social security administrators, tax credits, student loans, paternity leave, self assessment and the reams of regulations for employment, health and safety, discrimination, VAT and, on top of all that, another whopping stealth tax, the so-called climate change levy.

Also, to calm the euphoria of the budget bribes, yet another stealth tax, the increase in council tax.

Isn't it time for a real change? Do we really want the government raiding our pockets all the time and trying to run every aspect of our lives? I know I don't. - Stephen Feaster, United Kingdom Independence Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Ryedale.


LUISA Strani is correct in stating Britain could veto any proposal for tax harmonisation (HAS, Mar 3). But how much longer are we going to be able to exercise that veto? If majority voting is forced upon Britain, then the veto is worthless.

Already the most successful country in the EU, Ireland, has been criticised for its taxation policy and the German minister has stated publicly that tax harmonsation is inevitable. The French have put tax harmonisation as a priority.

Taxation in Britain is lower than most EU countries. If there is harmonsation there is only one way for our taxes to go - up.

The EU also wants a uniform VAT rate of up to 25 per cent on all goods including food, children's clothes, travel fares, books, newspapers and new houses.

If we joined the euro our interest rates would be fixed by the European bank and a one-size-fits-all policy does not and never will work.

The advantages of joining the euro and thus tying ourselves still further to European control, are far outweighed by the disadvantages.

It is a risk that this country cannot afford to take. Remember the disaster of the ERM and the misery that caused. - K Peacock, Darlington.

THE pro-euro claptrap from Luisa Strani (HAS, Mar 3) demonstrates the unfortunate bilge as typical of the one-sided onslaught to which students (and even schoolchildren) are exposed.

The myths she refers to are the proven, oft-quoted intentions of the EU's leading lights.

The single currency is not an economic issue, it is a political straightjacket. EMU gives total control over a member state's economy and with that control over all aspects of a nation's life.

Her smug reference to "when we join" (the euro) totally ignores expressed opinions. Each and every opinion poll taken shows a minimum of 70 per cent against and an average of 50 per cent in favour of withdrawal from the EU all together. These are our expressed democratic desires, but then democracy and the EU are not compatible concepts.

A second Labour term will end democracy in Britain, let there be no doubt.

Mr Blair (backed by the LibDems) will force us into the euro by whatever foul means he can devise. The warning signs are clear, we ignore these warnings at our peril. - Dave Pascoe, Hartlepool.


I NOTE in a Labour Party newssheet that Alan Milburn is boasting that they have won back Assisted Area Status for Darlington, which was taken away by the Conservatives.

The truth of the matter is that Darlington became so prosperous under the Conservatives that it no longer needed aid and that now, after several years under Labour rule, the Darlington area has declined so much that it once again requires assistance.

Alan Milburn should stop trying to deceive the people of Darlington or he could personally face the prospect of requiring assisted status after the General Election. - Name and address supplied.


I WAS astounded to read that the ruling Labour cabinet on Darlington Borough Council laughed off criticism of its decision to impose a massive increase of 12.5 per cent in council tax.

This is an arrogant attitude and shows the contempt the Labour-controlled council has for the people of Darlington.

I trust that, at the local elections, the voters of Darlington, especially the pensioners who will be the hardest hit, will remember Councillor Williams and his cabinet and give them a deserved kick up the backside. - R Elliott, Darlington.


EVERYONE is not a winner, as your Budget coverage (Echo, Mar 8) indicated.

What about those pensioners who have just turned 65 who were born after April 5, 1935, who have lost the married couple's allowance, which is now a tax relief of £537 per annum?

The Chancellor certainly excellent himself there. It's amazing how many people seem to be unaware of this. The increase in the state pension for the year 2001-2 was, in fact, promised last year. The only new element for pensioners he announced in the Budget was that, in the year 2003, tax allowances will rise in line with earnings. No doubt by 2003 he will have a "spin" on this.

In fact, even after the widening of the ten per cent tax band and the increase in the state pension, but losing the married couple's allowance, I will be losing £11 a week. Thanks very much, Mr Brown. Things are certainly not getting better.

In reality, you have done nothing for the younger pensioner. - AL Carter, Marske, Redcar.