Cautious welcome for North East unemployment figures

Figures released today showing that unemployment figures in the North East are down have been cautiously welcomed by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“The fact that unemployment figures in the North East are now declining is a hugely encouraging sign.  However, we do need to be a little cautious when looking at these figures as the North East still has the highest rates of unemployment in the country.

“The gap between the North East and the national average is still over four times as high as it was at the end of 2007, and these figures come on the back of three consecutive quarterly rises,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP’s North East Euro-MP.

“Many people still aren’t feeling a recovery, but at least for once there is some good news to report.  We need to make sure that those who are in work are always better off than they would be on benefits, and one good way to start is with UKIP’s policy of no tax on minimum wage.”


My Column – Explaining (Aggressive) Tax Avoidance and Evasion

In the media, we’re constantly hearing talk of tax avoidance, aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion. Changing one word for another can completely change the meaning of a sentence. So when we talk about clamping down on ‘immoral’ ways to get out of paying tax, what do we mean? And what should the country do about it?

A very simplistic (and therefore, perhaps, slightly wrong) view is to say that tax avoidance is legal, and tax evasion illegal; avoidance being about finding ways within the law to minimise the tax you pay, and evasion being about deceiving the Inland Revenue over your true tax position.

The current situation goes back to one of the most famous legal cases, in 1936, with a ruling handed down by Lord Tomlin on the Duke of Westminster’s tax arrangements:

“Every man is entitled if he can to order his affairs so that the tax attaching under the appropriate Acts is less than it otherwise would be. If he succeeds in ordering them so as to secure this result, then, however unappreciative the Commissioners of Inland Revenue or his fellow tax-payers may be of his ingenuity, he cannot be compelled to pay an increased tax.”

Those who want to legally avoid tax have relied on this ruling ever since, although it was modified slightly in 1981 in the Ramsay case. Now, a deliberate and aggressive attempt to exploit a loophole isn’t enough to save you from legally having to pay tax: a court may take into account the purpose of the legislation. To take a rather silly example, if Parliament were to introduce a tax on all red cars, then you fixed a black stripe on it and claimed ‘I don’t have to pay the tax any more because this car is no longer fully red’, you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Actually there’s a lesson here that politicians should be careful about how they introduce new taxes: in 1696, a law was introduced taxing people based upon the number of windows in their house, and it wasn’t long before windows were bricked up across the country with consequent lack of fresh air and health issues. Getting the law right is important.

First of all, what do we want to achieve? We want to ensure that large multinational companies pay their share in tax. We want to ensure that it’s no longer in the interests of the very rich to hire hugely expensive accountants because it’s still cheaper than paying the tax that’s owed.

But at the same time, we don’t want to harm the small business which is in a precarious situation. Whether a business voluntarily registers for VAT or not, whether mileage is calculated on the HMRC per-mile rate or based on the depreciation of the car, or whether a sole trader registers as a company or is self-employed – these decisions are often taken on the basis of what’s best for the business, and which option will pay the least tax.


You can read the rest of this article at my Huffington Post blog here.



Letter – The political class just don’t get it, do they?

Dear Editor,

The political class just don’t get it, do they?

Ed Balls has declared that a hedge trim or car wash should be treated the same way as a more formal purchase. He declares that people doing odd jobs “are not going to be VAT-registered” – all the while admitting that he himself hasn’t always treated purchases this way.

He is seeking to tax every drop he can from hard working people, not only seeking to grab yet more of their hard-earned money but also bury them under yet more red tape and paperwork.

But the fault doesn’t lie with the people, it lies with the politicians.  They should simplify the tax system, deal with the VAT mess, ensure big corporations pay their share and create a system where the rich can’t evade tax and expect to avoid prosecution.

Unlike Ed Balls and his Labour Cabinet colleagues, not all are millionaires: many people need these odd jobs to make ends meet and feed their families. Of course they should pay their taxes. But asking the local ice cream van for a receipt so we feel like ‘we’re all in it together’ isn’t going to solve the problem, and it might just be a tad patronising to the working people Labour used to care about, Mr. Balls.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

My Column – Ukip – Voting Yes in the European Parliament?

I’m writing this article on my way back from Strasbourg, having just voted in favour of a motion for probably the first time since being elected as a Ukip MEP. Raif Badawi, a liberal blogger, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and 1,000 lashes in Saudi Arabia, because his blog was critical of the religious system. I voted to condemn the flogging of Raif Badawi and call upon the Saudi authorities to release him. Seems fair enough? All Badawi did was exercise his freedom of speech.

But as ever, these things are not quite as simple as they appear. The political groups drafting the resolution tend to take the opportunity to add other things in. Sometimes it’s a call for taxpayers’ money to be spent on a project that we don’t need.

Maybe you’ve seen a Twitter advert which asked “Why do Ukip hate elephants so much?” after six of our MEPs (before I was elected) voted against a resolution. The resolution concerned complained that the UK and other nations are allowed to set our own laws on wildlife crime. It called for the harmonisation of all member states’ laws on wildlife crime. As the UK already has very strict laws on ivory, we don’t want our laws to be weakened. We were also concerned about the text suggesting Europol should get involved, because the European police force lacks many of the checks and balances of the British police. The headline vote was to oppose the ivory trade; the practical implications would have done the opposite.

Back to today’s vote, there were a few parts of the resolution I wasn’t comfortable with. It called on the European Commission to intervene, which rarely ends well. The text was quite badly-drafted in condemning all corporal punishment: are they really equating a parent giving a child a smack with a brutal thousand-lash public flogging of a blogger? I’m not wishing to comment on the debate over parental discipline here, but that’s precisely my point: it isn’t relevant to a resolution about the case of Raif Badawi. So why was it in there?

On a more international note, a sentence in the text compared Saudi Arabian punishments to those of ISIS. Was that text really necessary or could it be counterproductive diplomatically to compare the two? Just because there’s a grain of truth to that sentence doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to put it in a resolution.

In the end, after much soul-searching and despite my misgivings, I decided I ought to vote in favour of the resolution. I told my assistant that I would be doing so, and expected I would be rebelling against the Party line (Ukip doesn’t really have a formal ‘whipping’ system, but we try to achieve a consensus if we can). We normally abstain on similar issues. Then something remarkable happened: I went to the voting meeting, only to find that our staff were also recommending we vote in favour of the resolution. The humanitarian issue, they argued, was so clear that it overrode our other concerns over the text.


You can read the rest of this article at my Huffington Post blog here.





Letters – Thank you to the people of Hartlepool

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank all of the local residents I met at the UKIP North East conference in Hartlepool last Saturday. I meet local people on a daily basis and have been delighted to watch the consistent growth that UKIP has enjoyed in the town. It was fantastic to get the chance to meet so many local people all at once and to even have passers by going out of their way to approach the venue to enthusiastically announce their support for UKIP.

The North East has effectively been a one-party state for too long. I am delighted that UKIP are able to provide a true opposition for local people and I look forward to see a very exciting election campaign develop in the months ahead. I believe that UKIP can make a real difference and we are putting up a strong, young, hardworking candidate in Phillip Broughton who I believe could make a real difference for the people of Hartlepool.

Even if UKIP are not to your tastes, a strong opposition is good for all of us. Many local seats have been “safe” for a long time and waking up complacent politicians is good for all in our communities.


Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – The public need honesty from politicans, not scaremongering and spin

Dear Editor,

The Labour Party has been scaremongering about UKIP since before the last European Election, so Ed Balls’ latest is hardly news. From false claims that UKIP wishes to privatise the NHS to false suggestions we wish to scrap maternity leave, there is hardly a vicious attack to which they aren’t prepared to stoop.

He suggests EU exit would be ‘deeply destabilising’ and the biggest risk to British firms this decade. Hardly so, when outside the EU we would be guaranteed a free trade deal with them. We are their best customer, and they would hardly wish to stop trading with us.

But outside the EU, Switzerland thrives: it has more free trade deals than we do, despite our membership of this economy-inhibiting bloc much touted by europhiles. The other European countries outside the EU thrive too. Outside the EU we could have the best of both worlds: free trade with our neighbours but freedom from overregulation and the ability to negotiate our own deals with developing economies.

Ed Balls repeats the mantra that we must seek to ‘reform’ the EU. Conservatives and Labour have had 40 years of attempted reform; it is worse now than when they started. But whenever the UK attempts reform, we fail. Cameron has had 4½ years of attempted reform and not one single stroke of a pen has been removed from a single EU law.

UKIP’s vision is not of isolationism, but of a dynamic trading nation looking beyond the shores of Europe to the whole globe.


Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

UKIP North East Conference takes Hartlepool by storm

The UKIP North East Conference in Hartlepool over the weekend was a huge success. With hundreds of delegates in attendance, you couldn’t help but notice an atmosphere.

The event began with a packed-out Gala Dinner on the Friday evening, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage MEP in fine form. Several members turned up rather late on the Saturday morning, and for the record we would like to confirm that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the consumption of alcohol.

The Saturday morning session saw Phillip Broughton do his usual motivational speech, and as the local PPC for Hartlepool he was able to get members in the mood for more! With one minor hiccup over the sound system apart (though some might say that Suzanne Evans’ speech was so good it deserved to be heard twice), the speeches were of the highest quality.

Our local MEP Jonathan Arnott spoke of the ‘beating heart of UKIP’, of taking the fight to Labour in the North East of England and his personal determination to show what the Party truly stands for – rather than some of the smears in the media. Jonathan had lost his voice due to illness, and joked that ‘Tristram Hunt probably wished that he had lost his voice on Question time on Thursday night’ – referring to the latest in a string of occasions on which the shadow Education Secretary had made a faux pas.

Next up, of course, was UKIP Leader Nigel Farage MEP – and what can be said of him other than it’s never a good idea to miss his speeches, delivered in tubthumping style? It was quickly becoming clear that the aim to take on Labour in its heartlands would be a theme of this Conference. Nigel gave the ambitious suggestion that UKIP could come second in every seat, hinted that we might win in Hartlepool – and possibly pull off surprises elsewhere.

The theme of ‘UKIP v Labour in the North’ is perhaps illustrated best by UKIP’s Deputy leader Paul Nuttall MEP, who is standing in Bootle – Labour’s second-safest seat in England. By contrast, our MEP Jonathan Arnott in Easington is standing in the third-safest. Paul’s speech was one of the most passionate of the day and certainly served to wake the Conference up after lunch. Also from the North West, Louise Bours MEP exploded a few Labour myths about UKIP NHS policy. After all, it was Labour’s PFI scheme which brought the majority of current private finance into the NHS. And it’s UKIP who are campaigning against it.

Nathan Gill MEP (Wales), David Coburn MEP (Scotland) and Bill Etheridge MEP (West Midlands) gave impassioned speeches on a diverse range of issues. Each has their own style – from Nathan’s quiet confidence to David’s rabble-rousing via Bill’s anti-political correctness common sense.  John Bickley, who as our candidate for the Heywood & Middleton by-election came staggeringly close to joining Douglas Carswell in Parliament, spoke about his campaign experience.

On a more local note, throughout the day local candidates gave their thoughts to the Conference and were well received. Cllr. Norman Dennis gave a superb speech on winning a Council seat in South Shields in the morning. Melanie Hurst explained how the Party should pitch for the female vote, and Johnny Leathley gave a rundown on the growth of Young Independence. The Conference did retain a ‘local’ theme throughout, with John Tennant, Chris Gallacher, Mandy Boylett and Nigel Coghill-Marshall all chairing sessions.

UKIP Easington Public Meeting – 24th of Feb 2015. Featuring Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP Easington are holding a public meeting in Horden Catholic Club, (South terrace, Peterlee, SR8 4NQ) at 7:30 PM on the 24th of February.

UKIP Easington PPC Jonathan Arnott MEP and UKIP Employment Spokesman Jane Collins MEP will both be speaking and participating in a Q&A.

This meeting is open to the public as well as UKIP members. For more information please contact