Britain’s fiercest of foes

Who was Britain’s greatest ever foe? The contest, run by the National Army Museum, lends itself to controversy and debate. And that is exactly what the museum encouraged by hosting a day long event with presentations on behlf of five leading contendors followed by questions, discussion and a secret ballot.
The list was narrowed down from a long list of twenty to the top five by a public vote on the museum’s website. The top five foes (in order of votes cast) were:
1. George Washington (30)
2. Michael Collins (14)
3. Napoleon Bonaparte (12)
4. Erwin Rommel (7)
5. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (4)
Three, perhaps four, of these names are well known. I personally would not have identified Atatürk as one of Britain’s foes and I read the case for his inclusion with interest. The reson for his inclusion was soon obvious – Atatürk masterminded the campaign against the allied forces at Gallipoli. His defence of the Dardanelles forced the disastrous evacuation and withdrawal of the allies from Turkey. This alone merits his inclusion in the list – Britain’s failure to force the Turkish front prevented the piercing of the Central Powers’ soft southern underbelly.

The long life of a temporary tax

One of the biggest political battles within the Coalition surrounds the fate of the 50p tax rate. Those on the right question its effectiveness, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggesting it costs more in lost taxes than it yields in additional revenue. Others have suggested it is an essential plank in restoring fiscal stability, and a manifestation of Cameron’s statement that ‘we are all in this together’.

There had been plenty of taxes before income tax – estate duties, ship money, window tax, wool tax, brick tax, wallpaper tax and the gloriously named ‘hair powder taxes’. Duties have been levied on beards, newspapers, paper, tea, ribbons, perfumes and horses.

Income tax itself, however, is barely 200 years old, was first announced in 1798 and introduced in 1799. It was part of a series of desperate measures taken by the UK Parliament to finance the ruinously expensive wars against Napoleonic France.

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