Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Why I despise the Tories

Firstly, for their paucity of ambition; they waffle vaguely about spending cuts, and the best they can come up with is this:

With total public borrowing set to reach £1 trillion, the Tories would cut tax credits for households earning more than £50,000 and bring in road tolls on newly-built roads, [David Cameron] said.

Scrapping the 50p tax rate for high earners, proposed by Labour, would not be a priority, and it would be several years before the party could consider cutting inheritance tax, Cameron said. Cutting tax credits to the proposed £50,000 level would mean 130,000 families losing an average £500 a year.

So they aren't going to scrap the ludicrous 50p tax rate that will raise bugger-all, and they hope to repay £1,000,000 million of public debt with road tolls and by making means testing even more savage - 130,000 families x £500 a year = the princely sum of £65 million, or about 0.1% of planned government spending? As to Inheritance Tax, that ought to go straight in the bin and be replaced by adding a few more Council Tax bands, all the way to "Z" (ditto Stamp Duty Land Tax), as far as I am concerned.

Secondly, for their paucity of ambition. Alice Cook did a chart on government spending yesterday - basically, if we reduced government spending by planned borrowing of £175 billion per annum, that would still only take us back to 2004 spending levels of about £450 billion per annum. Were 'services' that much worse five years ago? Were welfare payments that much meaner five years ago?

Thirdly, what is their obsession with means-testing? It's just taxation by another name. If they want to make sure that families earning over £50,000 don't get Tax Credits, then they are going to have to increase the withdrawal rate by 5% or 10% for some or all recipients, i.e. put up the effective basic rate of tax by 5% or 10%, only instead of doing it in an honest in-your-face manner, they do it by drafting in another army of administrators to pinch a few quid here and a few quid there.

Wouldn't it make more sense to reduce the basic level of Tax Credits (or replace them with a much higher tax-free personal allowance) and scrap means-testing entirely? Have they overlooked the fact that fraud, error and overpayments of Tax Credits are running at £1,000 to £2,000 million per annum, most of which arises because of the complications and means-testing? Now, that's money worth saving!

And finally, for their paucity of ambition...

Cameron said he would not axe budgets for overseas aid and the NHS, but cuts would be made elsewhere.

The 'aid budget' can go straight in the bin as well, as to the NHS, see this fine article on the IEA 'blog.


Umbongo said...


The ring-fencing of overseas aid (including payments to the behemoths of the East - India and China) and the NHS together with gesture class politics (which will make little financial difference to the Treasury's problems) are the Conservative signature policies indicating that Cameron will be no different from Brown: more "sincere", a nicer smile, a better tailor perhaps, but a "tax and spend" - or "tax but don't cut where we should" - freak nevertheless. We're f**ked!

CityUnslicker said...

Whether you like it or not, the press and the public are not up for a real discussion about the real world.

It is all la-la land and lbour encourage this by talking about investment and other such crap.

UKIP and others have the luxury of not needing votes in every marginal seat in the country to form a government.

Much of what you hate the tories for you should hate labour for. It is they who have built a voting client state of near 10 million people which the Tories have to try to woo.

Thatcher was quite reasonable too when first campaigning for office; it is the nature of politics.

Mark Wadsworth said...

U, I preferred your proposed aid budget.

CU, I agree that the Tories "won't be as bad as Labour", but given they are more-or-less guaranteed to win the next election, they have the luxury of being able to say exactly what they mean and then being able to actually do it. So I would take their utterances at face value (unlike those of Labour).

Oldrightie said...

The chattering nonsense from people never brave or even able enough to get into Government. I'm utterly sick, after 12 plus years of a despicable regime, to see the carping and nastiness oozing forth for my Party that is to inherit such a sick wasteland. A plague on all your houses.

Anonymous said...

While the currently announced Tory ambitions are poor, as CityUnslicker said a large portion of the country is in lala land and Cameron needs to be careful about scaring them off. Its no use being 100% right but out of power - although that's no reason not to work towards it.

Also I don't think the Tories are as sure of winning as you say. They haven't got much above 40% in the polls and due to boundary features, they need a good few % more than Labour to get the same number of seats. The tories start from a very low base and need a huge number of new seats to have an overall majority. That is likely at the moment due to the fragmented Labour vote but with a bit of a Labour rebound we would be into hung parliament territory which would leave us in an even worse state.

JuliaM said...

"Thirdly, what is their obsession with means-testing?"

Keeps those civil servants employed and expands the idea of the state as distributor of all largesse...

"...to see the carping and nastiness oozing forth for my Party that is to inherit such a sick wasteland."

They need to cure it, though. Not prolong the agony. And I can't see Dave's ideas doing anything other than that.

Lola said...

Well. That's you me and Simon Heffer broadly in agreement.

Tim Almond said...

They're way behind the curve, living in Notting Hill Land. They get the opinions of other politicians, the mainstream media (especially the BBC) and pressure groups.

International aid? We've tried that for 30 years, and the public have seen that it just doesn't work.

The NHS? It's fucked, and the public is slowly waking up to that fact. The New Labour experiment of throwing money at it has shown that money might have been part of the problem, but a far greater part was efficiency.

But I can understand that they leave the NHS alone, as it's totemic to the Labour party and the BBC.

Even in education reform, which I thought might be their real interesting policy area (let the BBC worry about the NHS while we drive through privatisation of education) has been so bound up in cavaets that it's not likely to have much impact.