Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beware of the Leopard

Can the Tory Leopard really change it's spots? And more to the point is now the time that redecoration of the polka dots going to achieve it?

Iain Dale, recently returned from being civil partnered, led me to an article by Tim Montgomerie in today's Telegraph. Not since Lady Thatcher visited factory floors while looking to get elected in Dartford have the Tories appeared so keen to woo the hard-working classes. Fee Fi Fife glum their leopard smells the blood of a minister's son.

Tim talks about taking working class families out of tax because:

"Income tax is taken from many poor families, churned through an expensive bureaucracy and then returned in benefits."

and that

a clear majority of voters are ready for a refund from a political class that has squandered their money [to fund better public services].

He advocates this policy as being as radical and just and the aforementioned Lady Thatcher's sale of council homes. It will cost he says £44bn to take 14m people out of the tax system altogether. Fourteen Million!!! now I have to say that is radical! I'm all for removing people who can't afford it from their tax burden however is it just? Is it some pie in the sky figure? Is it achievable and what are the costs and benefits of it?

He advocates freezing public spending rather than keeping up with the £12 billion a year increase that Labour have been producing to make up for this shortfall. How is that going to be achieved? Ok £$7.7bn of that is what the increase to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is costing extra. So we still need to find £4.3 billion per annum, that's before taking into account potential world driven inflation, fuel poverty pay outs of the elderly having to meet an up to 40% increase, which surely would need to be found from somewhere to make up for the shortfall from less income.

So where is the public spending savings going to come from? And how? Tim did mention the reason for the taxes was allegedly to fund better public services. But that a lot of this has been lost in bureaucracy. Now obviously sorting out the level of waste through that bureaucracy which would led to some savings. But what about the rest? A lot of the funding has been going to improve infrastructure hospitals and schools. Will that programme be cut back.

Both my primary and secondary school had insufficient capacity while I was there. Both have finally had their refurbishment and improvement schemes funded since 1997. Before that there had been 18 years of Conservative control of Education funding and what happened, more upon more 'temporary' classrooms. At least the current lab technicians never have to do what I did in my brief spell back at my old school carry supplies out through the rain to the temporary science labs.

Yes the plan to take that many people out of taxation is radical. It is headline stuff. But what about the small print.

We saw 18 years of the Tories selling off the family silver. We now face many people in potential housing crisis and not enough social housing to catch all, thanks to Mrs T's radical scheme. We have bigger more centralise hospital services these days, people still need to be got there and the specialist posts filled by qualified consultants and specialists who need training. Our schools need to keep up with technology to empower our future generations to be ready for the world at large books and pens are no longer enough.

Let's not forget that while Labour have lost the way many of us remember why we gave them a chance in the first place. The Tories had forgotten about social structure, welfare, the people. They will still need looking after even after many of the lowest paid are taken out of tax. Is this a black hole on the horizon?

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Unfortunately there's an overarching myth that government needs the amount of money it has and must provide all the services it does.

It does not need to. Leave more money in people's pockets and they can purchase their own services if they wish.

Couple that with land reform and a CBI and we don't even need to support the poorest because they have a guaranteed income and land reform means an end to the state created inequalities.

Naturally we shouldn't sell off the state owned industries for government benefit, we should abandon them to the workers who work in them.

Remove the NHS's support from the state and give each hospital and practice to those who work in them to run as they see fit.

As for this mantra that government needs more money, that has been shown to be false by the amount of money Labour has thrown at the state owned industries, only for them to continue to decline in quality. The failure is not with the amount of money, but the whole system of state ownership and direction.


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