Will Jack keep you safe from roof tax?

AND you thought your council tax was bad. You probably thought it was impossible you might end up paying more than you do already - well, you most definitely are wrong. Pour yourself a large Scotch. Sit down and thank Jack McConnell for coming to your rescue.

In fact, pour yourself another large drink for the words "McConnell" and "coming to your rescue" rarely sit easily together.

Let me explain. Just after he was re-elected in 2003, Jack McConnell commissioned Sir Peter Burt to produce a report on the financing of local government. McConnell's intention was that this particular hot potato - which divides the Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition - be kicked into the long grass.

If Burt came up with an answer as elusive as trying to unravel the Gordian Knot, then all well and good, they could agree to disagree. If it was a solution they could both buy into, it would be a bonus. In the meantime, the issue was parked in a distant lay-by and they could get on with running, allegedly, the country.

So Sir Peter Burt, formerly Bank of Scotland Governor and now Chairman of ITV (yes, the people behind Celebrity Love Island and Club Cupid) and therefore not a man to be pushed around, was asked to deliberate and cogitate. And then come up with a plan.

Well, yesterday he announced his plan and it was a shocker.

He dismissed the council tax as unfair. Congratulations. Pass go, collect your attendance allowance and move on to Pall Mall. He rejected Local Income Tax as impractical and costly to administer. A double-six; take another throw and land on Regent Street.

He then announced a new system should be introduced that taxes every household by one per cent on the asset value of the property, valued annually. Ehh! He lifted the Chance card and it says go to jail - with no get out jail free card up his sleeve.

The ploy has worked for McConnell. Burt backed neither the Labour nor Liberal Democrat policy (nor for that matter any other party's) and instead came up with an idea that will cause fear and trepidation across our property-owning democracy. Before Burt could even launch his report McConnell announced he would save everyone's bacon by rejecting the idea.

Think how much your house might be worth and divide it by 100. Then compare this with what you pay in council tax - remember - before water rates. I suspect the word you're looking for is "Ouch!" According to the ESPC, the average house price in Edinburgh is now 195,075 - that would mean a new Roof Tax of 1950 before water rates of probably 354 on top.

By my calculations a typical Band D property is worth about 173,000 and would be liable for 1730 Roof Tax. Any property valued today at more than 77,000 - which is practically everything - would suffer higher taxes. Hardly anyone would not pay more.

So, Jack has ruled out any such tax of one per cent on property values. Hmmn. He didn't rule it out at say, 0.9 per cent or a lower rate. Funnily enough, Labour at Westminster has just introduced this very same tax at a rate of 0.633 per cent in Northern Ireland. What does Jack think of that? Silence. He gives the perception of having killed the idea, but has he?

The question that comes from this modern-day morality tale is this. Can you trust a politician? Or more to the point, can you trust Jack McConnell? Well, I'll leave that to you. I suggest you pour another large drink before you think about it.

Ignore BBC, poll was not a disaster for Bush

THE BBC is dominated by left-leaning liberals obsessed with an anti-American, anti-Christian, pro-celebrity, save-the-female-white-spotted-praying-mantis-before-humans culture and it's reflected in its news reports.

I caution anyone from dismissing this statement as simply more of Monteith's malicious meanderings.

A recent get-together of these wealthy BBC luvvies, secretly taped (like they do to so many of their victims) had them all guffawing about their collectivist and multiculturally-amoral tendencies.

The reporting of the US elections is just another example of how biased the BBC can be. Of course the mid-term elections were a significant setback to George Bush personally, and in many ways to the Republican Party too, but was it really as black as it has been painted?

I intend to analyse the results once the fog of war has cleared, but for now I offer these two observations.

First, to win many of their gains the Democrats had to run candidates that are as conservative as the Republicans they defeated. This suggests that Bush is in fact winning the battle of ideas. Second, the re-election of Governor Schwarzenegger in California offers hope to the Republican Party that a strong candidate could still win the Presidential elections for them.

After the initial rejoicing when he was first elected, Arnie's support tailed off - only for him to now bounce back within a year.

The Republicans may have to offer a more mainstream and less evangelical candidate as their presidential nominee in 2008, but a presentable moderate teamed with a more conservative running mate could still win them the keys to the White House.

Book closes on PC nonsense

REJOICE, rejoice, the right-on bureaucrats are in retreat.

A council in England that had issued a similar politically correct phrasebook for its employees as the one that has just been released in Glasgow has withdrawn it, never to see the light of day again.

The council's new Tory rulers want to call a spade a spade (well, maybe a shovel) and use real northern language that locals of all colours understand.

A black pudding is a black pudding again and the more racy one-liners of Ronnie Barker can be repeated. It's enough to make me believe in democracy again.