We are subsiding for past disasters

RONNIE Campbell makes some fair points in reference to health and care for the aged (News Post Leader, March 8), in reply to which I will also make a couple of reasonable responses.

Readers should hopefully see where I’m going with this in light of the state of the region, the pending closure of Alcan and the wider issue of jobs.

Gordon Brown sold 60 per cent of the nation’s gold and advertised it in advance, allowing the markets to bottom the price before the sale.

The reason for the sale was ‘Portfolio Risk’: in simple terms he wanted to diversify away from a commodity that was not earning income.

He made £2.3bn. Today that gold would fetch around £13bn.

He also scrapped the tax credit on pension funds, many of which were in surplus, so they could no longer shield their investment dividends from tax.

This netted £5bn a year for the treasury, and though warnings were made clear, he went ahead anyway.

Treasury forecasters advised that the changes would ‘cause a shortfall in assets of up to £75bn’ and that ‘employers would have to contribute about an extra £10bn a year for up to 15 years to get pension schemes back on track’.

Two decisions lost this country a colossal amount of money in perpetuity, in a short-term bid for a few billion pounds which changed nothing.

Of course, we can play ‘what if’ till the cows come home, but a fraction of these losses created by an inept and stupid man, could have solved Alcan’s carbon emissions problem and stopped a lot of job losses where employers had to rapidly ditch salaries because of pension deficits, increased contributions and the financial crash that exacerbated all of the above.

This entire country burned coal for 700 years and its use globally is on the increase.

Carbon emission taxes, my backside. Can someone explain the self-defeating, Cameron/Clegg logic in levying a tax on permissible emissions and in so doing, wiping out the source of the tax, the Alcan site, its jobs and all of the support services in one fell swoop?

Finally, for a further sense of political balance, if health care in the area needs improving, it needs investment – not another hospital.

To use the vernacular, there’s a rabbit away here somewhere, and I’ve a feeling the Cramlington project will be paid for at the cost of several other hospitals in the area, and possibly a range of clinical services we should be zealously protecting, if not ring-fencing.

Ronnie, why do I get the feeling this end of the country is subsidising the other one – for Labour’s past disasters and what looks to be a coalition strategic healthcare subterfuge?

STEPHEN HISLOP RVM

New Hartley