MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Don't let petty rules spoil the Jubilee

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Don’t let petty rules spoil the Jubilee

With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend now less than a fortnight away, millions will wish to celebrate this extraordinary event with all their hearts, especially in harmless and happy street parties. But in modern health-and-safety Britain, with its armies of clipboard dictators, many may be hesitating to embark on such events.

To the rescue comes Michael Gove, Minister for Levelling Up. He has written to all the United Kingdom’s local authorities, sending them a myth-busting guide to the rules on street celebrations. Members of the public hoping to mark the Queen’s anniversary would be well-advised to arm themselves with this guidance, as officialdom has a sad habit of saying ‘no’ even when the correct answer is ‘yes’.

The key words are these: ‘You should not need a risk assessment – as long as consideration is given to the safety needs of all those attending, common sense precautions should be enough. A street party doesn’t need to be complicated.’

With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend now less than a fortnight away, millions will wish to celebrate this extraordinary event with all their hearts, especially in harmless and happy street parties. But in modern health-and-safety Britain, with its armies of clipboard dictators, many may be hesitating to embark on such events

Members of the public hoping to mark the Queen’s anniversary would be well-advised to arm themselves with this guidance, as officialdom has a sad habit of saying ‘no’ even when the correct answer is ‘yes’

Even those who are only just getting started do not need to be despondent. Mr Gove has told town halls to take a ‘light touch’ approach and advises: ‘If your council asks for excessive information, you should challenge them.’

How right this is. We are celebrating 70 years of British freedom under the Crown. When the current Queen’s reign began, the country was throwing off the annoying controls of wartime. We, likewise, are rediscovering freedom after the pandemic.

And the Queen no doubt remembers saying at her Coronation as she took the Sword of State in her hands: ‘Restore the things that are gone to decay, maintain the things that are restored, punish and reform what is amiss, and confirm what is in good order.’ These words are good guidance for us all. Break out the bunting, set out the tables, and let the rejoicing be unconfined by silly rules.

Windfall taxes can hurt, Rishi – so handle with care 

Windfall taxes sound so easy, and seem so harmless to most people that many politicians happily reach for them at the slightest excuse. Making other people pay tax is always more enjoyable than paying it yourself. Very few people feel tender emotions towards huge corporations, especially oil companies or banks.

And in times like these, when millions are suffering from National Insurance rises, increasing council tax, swollen power prices and general inflation, the idea of creaming off large sums of money from energy giants and using it to ease the pain of ordinary people is almost impossible to resist.

In the light of this, it makes sense that Chancellor Rishi Sunak should be considering a special form of windfall tax that at least partly overcomes these problems

So let us not forget that there are also good arguments against. What goes up must come down, and there is no telling whether the energy giants may not in future be making big losses. In that case, will they not have a strong argument for taxpayer subsidies to rescue them? If the state felt free to milk them in good times, won’t the same logic oblige governments to give them a helping hand in bad times?

Anyway, where exactly do we draw the line between large profits and actual windfall profits? Should a government which cares about business seize every opportunity to grab money from enterprises that need cash to maintain investment and sustain jobs?

In the light of this, it makes sense that Chancellor Rishi Sunak should be considering a special form of windfall tax that at least partly overcomes these problems. By sparing those companies that invest their profits in this country, strengthening our infrastructure and economy, the Government could raise money while also encouraging good business practice. Of course, it will not satisfy those on the Left whose real aim is to punish business and buy easy votes. But that is exactly why it is well worth serious consideration.

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