Cameron should fear UKIP: they're stealing his voters
Opinion roundup: the rise of UKIP and taxes, the end of Syria's regime and full-time retirement
DAVID CAMERON IGNORES UKIP AT HIS PERIL
TIM MONTGOMERIE ON DIVISIONS ON THE RIGHT
Margaret Thatcher and John Major won elections because they faced a divided left and kept the right united, writes Tim Montgomerie in The Times. "David Cameron has performed the opposite trick." From the moment he formed a Coalition with Nick Clegg, he united Britain's left-wing voters in the Labour tent and started to divide the right. Team Cameron has always taken Conservative voters for granted, and devoted more energy to winning swing voters. Now "disillusioned Conservatives have found a new home". The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has surged from 3 to 4 per cent support to up to 11 per cent in some polls. From gay marriage to human rights laws, UKIP is wooing Conservatives. Cameron will win many of these UKIP voters back simply by leading a successful, wealth-creating government, but he must stop taking right-wing Eurosceptic voters for granted.
OSBORNE ON A TAX ESCALATOR GOING UP
BENEDICT BROGAN ON TAX
The Budget might have been criticised for reducing the top rate of tax, but the real message was the opposite, says Benedict Brogan in The Daily Telegraph, "one of perpetually rising taxes, stretching far into the future". George Osborne may be, in principle, a low-tax Conservative, but when it comes to what he can do between now and 2015, the facts stack up against him. "He is trapped on a great tax escalator, and it only goes up." A recent Office for Budget Responsibility report revealed how the Chancellor must keep pedalling fast to keep us ahead of bankruptcy. For the foreseeable future – until 2060, say – spiralling health, pension and welfare costs mean that the state will have to find ever more money, either by putting up taxes or cutting expenditure. And with the current political consensus against cutting government spending, "future governments will be tempted to milk us via taxation with as much creativity and subtlety as they can manage".
SELF-INTEREST MEANS SYRIA'S REGIME IS DOOMED
PAUL COLLIER ON REGIME CHANGE
Bashar al-Assad is now history, says Paul Collier in The Financial Times. "The issue is not whether, but how he will be forced out." The Syrian regime has survived for so long not because of its military strength but because it avoided crossing a red line of international outrage. Homs was that red line. "The dead of Homs did not die in vain." The resulting outrage has led to a financial squeeze brought about by international pressure. "Financial sanctions radically change the fundamentals of combat because they change the self-interest of the officer corps." Once army officers realise their future pay is in doubt, the defections start. Several key figures in Syria including the oil minister and two generals have already been wooed to the opposition. Building the opposition this way is crucial: the interests of the army become aligned with regime change. "Once this sinks in, the end-game is clear."
DITCH THE IDEA OF PENSIONS
ROS ALTMAN ON RETIREMENT
The golden days of pensions are over, says Ros Altman in The Times. People are living longer and healthier lives, and it is simply not sustainable to expect either state or private pension savings to guarantee a good income for an ever-increasing length of time. Some pensioners may have managed an early retirement with a good income, but it was a brief aberration that has lulled people with unrealistic expectations. Many sixtysomething baby-boomers have another 30 years ahead of them. Erratic markets and poor interest rates can no longer guarantee rising pensions. So instead of thinking of our lives in three stages, education, full-time work, and full-time retirement, we should think of a fourth stage. This is when part-time work takes over from full-time, gradually adapted to our financial and health needs. Retirement should be process rather than an event. It's no cause for despair. "Let's call it the bonus years."