Forget WikiLeaks PMQs Wednesday had its own NickiLeaks.
"Text messages, allegedly from Tory council leader David Hodge and intended for someone in Whitehall named Nick, suggest the council was offered a "sweetheart deal" by the government. Theresa May suggested the Labour leader was using "alternative facts" for his attack - but failed to explain what deal if any had been offered to Surrey council."
January 19, we posted a report titled "TORY SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL LOOKING AT 15% COUNCIL TAX RISE." Surrey Conservative County Council had announced plans to hold a referendum as it looked at increasing Council Tax by 15%.. The council was citing much needed funding for social care as the cause of this whopping tax hike.
At PMQs Wednesday the jig was up though.
Leader of the official opposition Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, is in possession of leaked emails which appear to show a deal between the Tory council and government done to prevent the required local referendum on the proposed excessive council tax hike.
Unelected PM Theresa May, Tory, squirmed and resorted to her normal defensive modus operandi attempting to attack Corbyn personally.
She showed herself to be guilty as charged.
The mainstream media have been quick to pick up the story.
"Jeremy Corbyn stuns Theresa May with secret texts 'exposing special deal' for Tory council" reports the Daily Mirror.
Helping out Tory councils in Tory heartlands may be nothing new from this government but it may be to some voters.
February 2016 "Tory Councils In South Get Most Of £300m ‘Cushion’ From Cuts - As Labour’s Northern Heartlands Miss Out."
Wednesday David Hodge leader of Surrey County Council has posted the following update on the Surrey website:
Statement from David Hodge Leader of Surrey County Council:
Whether you believe Mr Hodge is up to you.
Perhaps the email sent "inadvertently" to the wrong person will have a positive impact nationwide?
Surrey Conservative County Council are to hold a referendum on its plans to increase Council Tax by 15%.
The council is citing much needed funding for social care as the cause of this whopping tax hike.
There may be an element of passing the buck onto the local electorate but current law in the UK means any Council Tax increase in excess of the amount set by the Secretary State each year must pass a referendum.
This is a Tory policy and the allowed percentage is always low.
It means local people will face tough choices.
A 15% Council Tax hike is huge.
After a Tory government commitment to keep council tax rises low such a rise is massive.
But each year council tax rises have remained low services have suffered and been cut.
Add to this government mismanagement which has hit poorer areas more than traditional Tory supporting regions and there is little wonder so many councils are cash strapped.
The previous rates system, which linked what you paid to the value and standard of your house, was viewed by many as unfair but in particular by the Tory Party.
In 1989 the divisive and costly Poll Tax replaced the Rates.
Protests against the unpopular Poll Tax led to a watered down version called the community charge which then morphed into our current council tax system.
Each tax rebrand cost us all a great deal.
New computer systems, staff training packages, necessary paperwork and more were utilised, binned and binned again.
Thatcher and her ministers sold the poll tax to voters as a fair method of funding local public services.
It was not and neither is the council tax.
A re-look at Council Tax banding is long overdue but make no mistake when or if it is updated the poorest people in our society will be hit the worst.
The system is loaded in favour of the very wealthy; those people who can afford to pay more but never do.
Will Surrey get the go ahead for a 15% Council Tax increase? Will other councils follow suit? Will a 15% increase be enough or will they need another huge increase next year?
More importantly can cash strapped citizens afford to pay such increases?