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September 30, 2011 11:44 pm
The new-intake MP for Orpington. On the influential public accounts select committee. Boris’s younger brother, former FT journalist
● Watch gang videos at www.SpiffTV.com. Type in your postcode to see your local gang - there’ll be one. Parliamentary computers are blocked from accessing the site, which speaks to the gulf between politicians and a generation of young people more bewildered by life than any other before them. But with newly released statistics predicting that by the end of 2011 there’ll be more young “neets” (not in education, employment or training) than ever recorded, SpiffTV should be compulsory viewing throughout Westminster.
● Throw everything at the obesity epidemic. Nearly one in four adults is now obese and 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women and 25 per cent of children could be by 2050. In outer London, more than 54 per cent of people are either overweight or obese, putting huge strains on local health budgets. The UK needs to tackle this complex problem more aggressively in many ways, including controls on the advertising of food to children; support for retailers who sell fresh and healthy food and increased access to health services for those at risk of obesity.
● Make Britain’s tax system an asset again. The UK cannot afford to be branded a high-tax economy. The World Economic Forum ranks the UK 95th out of 135 countries in terms of the impact of its tax system on incentives to work and invest. George Osborne, the chancellor, wants Britain to have the simplest and most competitive business tax regime of any major western economy. He has reversed planned increases in payroll taxes, lowered small business tax rates and has set out plans to reduce corporation tax to its lowest ever rate. Lowering personal income tax rates, not least the Harold Wilson-esque 50p top rate, must also be a priority.
● Resist schadenfreude over the Eurozone crisis. Given the importance of export-led growth to the UK’s economic recovery and the risks to its own banking system, the UK must continue to work constructively to help resolve the crisis. David Cameron must pursue a strategy of maximising British influence in Brussels, so that he can push effectively to entrench and deepen the European single market and ensure that the Commission gives a much higher priority to specific British interests in multilateral trade and FDI negotiations.
● Build a new hub airport for London. If the UK is serious about export-led growth, it needs transport links to match. London has good connections to its traditional partners, but lags behind European competitors in serving the BRICs. While it has 215 departures a week to New York, for example, it has only 31 a week to two destinations in mainland China. Paris Charles de Gaulle has 56 weekly departures to three such cities. Runway utilisation is 70-75 per cent at rival European airports, but 99 per cent at Heathrow and Gatwick. Delays are damaging Britain’s competitiveness. Give the UK an aviation strategy for the 21st century.
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