Trebles all round

Congratulations to BAA and BA for the successful opening of Terminal 5 – it’s taken less than a week of live passenger testing to get the whole thing working pretty much as it’s supposed to.

If you think that achieving that kind of switchover in that kind of timeframe with the kind of really-rather-minor chaos that’s taken place is anything other than reasonably creditable, then you’re a churlish muppetteer with no knowledge of how things work in the real world. Which means you should probably seek a career in journalism…

I’ve no sympathy for anyone who was delayed, either. If you book to fly out of a new airport terminal the day after it opens, what on earth do you expect will happen…? I flew into T5 on Sunday, and was entirely unsurprised by the 35 minute wait at the gate to sort out some steps because the airbridge wasn’t working. Had I been particularly worried about 100% on-time arrival rather than interested to see the new terminal, I’d’ve flown a different airline.

(side note: anyway, who the hell takes hold luggage onto aeroplanes? You can easily get a fortnight’s clothes, a computer and plenty of stuff to read into a pair of hand-luggage-able bags, thereby shortening your arrivals time by at least 45 minutes and diminishing your chances of lost luggage to near-zero…)

Point of order

In the UK, all debt for which the government is ultimately liable appears as government debt on the national accounts.

If the debt of a PFI company is guaranteed by the taxpayer (as for Metronet, for example, unwisely) then it appears as government debt on the national accounts.

If it does not appear as government debt on the national accounts, that means that the taxpayer isn’t liable for it.

While there are many arguments possible about the benefits or disbenefits of PFI (and, irrespective of whether PFI is a good thing or a bad thing in aggregate, it is certain that the disbenefits are exaggerated and the benefits understated in nearly all discussions of the topic), this isn’t one of them.

Two bald men in ‘fight over comb’ shock

Tax Research has an article criticising the TaxPayers’ Alliance for being a bunch of rentaquote extreme-right-wingers who distort the facts to bash Labour, socialism and anyone who thinks taxes should be higher than 1%, and also criticising the media for taking the TaxPayers’ Alliance seriously.

This is entirely true: the TPA is a lobby group for well-off people. If it – or indeed, anyone whose concern with cutting taxes is motivated by ideology rather than personal venality – were truly interested in tax cuts for moral or efficiency reasons, it would focus on addressing the 80%+ marginal tax rates faced by very poor workers, rather than the frankly immaterial amounts of tax paid by those of us lucky enough to earn or inherit a lot of money.

However, I’m sceptical that Tax Research is in much of a position to comment. As I’ve pointed out several times on this blog (and on another temporarily disappeared blog, which I will mend when I get a free weekend in the UK…), its leader Richard Murphy is equally keen to offer dubious opinions on complicated issues, and is frequently quoted in the press doing so…

You draconian what draconian?

Sorry for radio silence, I’ve been in Istanbul (not Constantinople) doing Exciting but Hardworking things.

Quick comment on the budget: many people, mostly on the “we believe in free markets except when, err, I’ll get back to you on that one” right, seem to think that the government’s rise in beer excise duty spells the death knell for struggling pubs.

The rise in beer tax is 4p. A pint of beer costs £2.50-£3.50. If you can find anyone, anywhere, who’s willing to drink a £2.50 pint but not a £2.54 pint, then I’ll eat a hat salad, a hat casserole and a hat meringue pie…