At its best cricket is wonderful, at its worst absolutely infuriating. I write from the heart having attended the third day’s play in the England v Bangledash Test Match at Lords. Even ferret breeders need an occasional treat but this proved to be more a test of endurance. The early rain was no one’s fault but play did eventually start and what followed had us booing as if our lives depended on it.
I gather that someone on high has changed the rules for bad light. As a result the umpires continually checked their light metres and regularly took the players from the field of play, sometimes for a matter of minutes. Bangladesh were batting and every cricket lover wishes to see them given a fair chance of building a team capable of creating occasional excitement in a cricket loving nation that suffers hardships the like of which we cannot imagine. Instead the umpire’s paranoia about an occasional cloud served only to destroy them. At one point they brought the players back, allowed three balls (the third of which saw the middle stump cartwheeling) and then took them off again.
We passed the time by listening to the radio. It was comforting to learn that such eminent characters as Ian Botham and ‘Bumble’ Lloyd shared our frustration. The former spoke for thousands when he remarked that cricket is supposed to be about entertainment and it is high time that the fools that run it realised that before it is too late. Bumble explained that the rules about bad light are supposed to protect batsmen from danger. But he could see none.
Of course the one redeeming feature about such days is that one gossips. Our patience having been taxed and having eventually tired even of our hero Bumble we turned to tax or more specifically the ludicrous announcement by the Coalition of a rise in Capital Gains Tax. The plan was seemingly cobbled together to satisfy the Lib Dems who seem to have gained imfluence beyond their numerical strength. As with many of their plans it is wide of the target they intended which was presumably the mega-rich.
None of us wet grumps sitting huddled together for warmth like old hens come under that bracket. But several pay in regularly to savings schemes in anticipation of a rainy day ( we were actually sitting out in one so the phrase is apt). In fact 3.75 million people are building capital in this way. Fidelity has reported that someone who invested £5000 in the FTSE All Share in 1988 would currently face a tax bill of around £4,900 based on the increased value in shares over the years. Under the new proposals that would more than double.
Fidelity is urging the government to apply some form of taper relief to at least avoid savers being unfairly penalised by being taxed on increases in value due solely to inflation. If Ministers fail to do even this the effect will be to disincentivise savings and encourage more and more people to rely on the State during retirement.
We can expect fireworks on this. Vince Cable, whose brainchild it is, argues that there are few working class people who get capital gains. Clearly he associates such things with the dreaded ‘wealthy Tories’. He can be assured that we ferreters are neither and those amongst us who have worked hard and saved no longer have his picture on our ferret lockers. Admittedly some of our number have never saved and rest content that the last temptation to do so is being removed.
To crown this early coalition madness the respected Adam Smith Institute has stated that every time the United States raised GCT, revenue from it fell as savers declined to sell. The Institute calculates that a tax increase of 10 percentage points leads to a reduction of 21 per cent in income for the Chancellor.
By now the players had once again shuffled on to the field and our increasingly boring discourse ground to a halt. I wish I could wind up with a happy ending but they went off again and we came home pausing only to conclude that if the cricket legislators and whoever is now running the national purse don’t soon display some sense it won’t be only David Laws who will be considering what to do with his future!