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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April 2005, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Wales voters' panel: John Thorne on money

John Thorne
Name: John Thorne
Age: 58
Lives: Neath
Works: Administration officer
Original voting intention: Plaid Cymru
In 10 words or less:
"Left-leaning, pro-European"
After years of budgets tailored for positive headlines whilst maintaining the tax take, we have a tax/benefit system so complex that only professionals in the field can understand it.

The evidence of the campaign is that even the experts can't agree on the detail. What is needed is a root-and-branch simplification with clearly defined banding as proposed by Plaid.

It would be good to have a digestible breakdown of government funding by department that someone other than Einstein could understand.

Don't hold your breath, however.

Obscurity suits government very well. A clear breakdown in plain English would reveal, for instance, that the Welsh actually pay tax like other honest people, but judging by our share of infrastructure investment you could be forgiven for doubting it.

Have a quick glance at a map of electrified railways or three-lane motorways.

On a personal level, Plaid's idea of increasing the tax bands would create a fairer spread of the tax burden.

Combining this with replacing council tax with a system based on the ability to pay would provide a far less arbitrary tax regime. Labour want European Welsh funding to be channelled through London.

Why? I think we should count the money now and then count it again if they get their way.

Remember the scandal of failing to match Objective 1 funding? In the context of money, I'd like to mention the Scottish Parliament's decision to fund free care for the elderly.

Ask any candidate if they think that's a bad idea.

Unfortunately without primary powers, the assembly can't follow suit and Labour MPs are blocking the acquisition of those powers for no other reason than mercenary self-interest.

Ah well, that's money for you!

The campaign so far? Only Plaid are proposing anything that is both specific and positive for Wales.

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