There is no call for me to discuss matters in the Church while the people of this land, indeed of the world at large, are suffering. Hunger grows as the price of food rises while fuel costs also increase. Homes are in peril and businesses teeter on the brink of solvency.
The world is in poor shape and so is Britain. It may be too late for one country to consider how to escape whatever may happen. Not all will be impoverished by the crisis. Those that can supply fuel and food may emerge wealthier and stronger. Those that can manufacture with minimal recourse to primeval residues may find they enjoy price advantages.
All in all this makes a bad time for Britain. The Chancellor and his predecessor twist and turn, wriggle this way and that in order to escape. Now the price of fuel is to be restrained; now they will borrow more to pay for this extravagance. And all the while the excellent Mr Vincent Cable is in their pursuit.
It is heartening therefore to see Mr Nick Clegg becoming bold in liberalism. For a century this party has wrestled to reconcile its historic mission - that with which I invested it - not to burden the people, not to deprive them of their earnings with an equally deep felt compassion for the poor, the suffering. In my age there was less conflict; by freeing the state of the shackles of mercantilism we created economic growth and ensured wealth and employment. But now...now it may be time to return to these original principles.
Mr Clegg therefore promises to look for ways to "cut Britain's overall tax burden". There is an honesty here which, I am led to believe, has been lacking in recent years when parties have pledged to reduce income tax and have done so by increasing the Treasury's revenues by other means. Such measures have been utterly contrary to my principles, so warmly endorsed, so frequently by Her Majesty. I would rather have cut income tax; I would rather have raised income tax than raise other taxes which may serve to confuse and depress the populace. In this statement I may seem to diverge from Mr Clegg's proposals, which envisage the raising of other taxes. But there is now a new, unforeseen factor in the economy alongside labour, capital and land - and that is energy. It is reasonable therefore to increase taxes on this factor and reduce them on labour.
Switching taxes between factors is straightforward and will reinvigorate the economy and ready it for the future. To reduce the overall tax burden however requires reductions in expenditure. To borrow more is not to be contemplated as this will place pressure on bank rates and on the competitiveness of our goods overseas. To reduce expenditure is not impossible but it will require a programme that is clear to administrators as well as to the party in government. Peace and retrenchment are clearly two pillars of such a programme and would furthermore assist in stabilising the world at large.
I will correspond privately with those who wish to discuss matters of the Church. These are affairs of great moment in the spiritual realm but should not distract from the immediate crisis of the state.
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