Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The conservatives are LIARS

Who voted for the NHS top-down re-organisation?
Or to sell off Royal Mail?
To cut to the top rate of tax?
To increase VAT?
To cut disability benefits?
To cut expenditure on cancer treatment?
To close Accident and Emergency departments?
To close walk in clinics?
To decimate Citizens' Advice?
To decimate Legal Aid?

Nobody. None of these things were in the tories' 2010 manifesto and in fact some of these things, such as cutting disability benefits and cancer treatments were outlined as areas to protect or even increase and they've done the opposite. Some tories might say that they had to completely revise their pledges following the pact with the Lib Dems but were any of these things in the Lib Dems' manifesto? No, they weren't.

Read the conservatives' 2010 manifesto key points here.
Read the lib dems' 2010 manifesto key points here.

Monday, 12 January 2015

History tells us the Tories are bad for this country

In the late 1970s, the Tories managed to convince the public that the Labour government had broken the country and won a majority in the 1979 general election. 

Thatcher believed wholeheartedly that people should be able to look after themselves and be rewarded for success - regardless of how that success came about. Ironically, in order to promote this, the government did lots to help the rich to help themselves, they slashed the top rate of tax, sold off public assets cheaply to their friends and donors, introduced tax breaks for big businesses and in 1986, the biggest change which would have the largest long-term effects: the deregulation of UK financial markets.

In the 1980s, there was "no such thing as society", greed was good and manufacturing in the UK was left to rot. Everything of any commercial value was up for sale and helped along with tax breaks and anything of little or no commercial value was left to fend for itself.

Stripping away regulations which protected the UK from dodgy, risky dealing and the ability to launder money from the US and other countries through London brought a huge boom in the sector and brought London to the forefront of world markets. This culture continued throughout the New Labour years. Labour had made the Tories' failed experiment work with much-needed public sector investment but the speculators kept on taking bigger and bigger risks (well, who can blame them when they received bigger and bigger bonuses for doing so) and eventually, it all came tumbling down.

In the late 2000s, the Tories managed to convince the public that the Labour government had broken the country and received a big enough percentage of the vote to call the shots following the 2010 general election. 

Thatcher's children believe wholeheartedly that people should be able to look after themselves and be rewarded for success - regardless of how that success came about.  Ironically, in order to promote this, the government did lots to help the rich to help themselves, they have slashed the top rate of tax, sold of public assets cheaply to their friends and donors, introduced tax breaks for big businesses and are now proposing to shrink the state down to levels last seen in the 1930s before the welfare state or NHS.

Thatcher's Tories brought about the changes to our economy that, with the help of their greedy chums, caused the financial crash. If people believe that this same party, with the same principles, standing up for the same people who caused the crash are the party to bring us a proper recovery, then they deserve all they get. But what a shame that will be for the rest of us.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Labour Party are trying to have it both ways and it will be to their detriment.

Even some conservative voters want to see a change in the way our economy is handled. I would hope that a few of the people who voted conservative in 2010 will realise they made a mistake, but just for argument's sake, let's assume that the conservatives get the same amount of the vote as they did last time: 36.1% from a turnout of 65.1%. That leaves 76.5% of registered voters who might want something different. Again, for the avoidance of doubt, let's assume that some people are happy with kicking the poor and dining with the rich but want something more bloke-with-a-pint-and-a-fag-outside-the-pub-being-racist-when-he's-tired. UKIP are only aiming for 25 seats at the next election but let's be really, really generous and imagine they might get 30% of the vote. That still leaves a whopping 46.5% of registered voters for Labour to target.

That imaginary 46.5% - and probably more - are tired of spin. They're sick of lies. Most people can't see through the bullshit and non-answers and smoke and mirrors to get at what the parties might really do if they won a majority. If Labour had a clear message and honest, soundbite-free policies that set out what they will do differently in order to improve the lives of the majority of people in the UK without harming our already-stretched public services, they would surely be on to a winner.

It's astonishing, then, that they seem unable or unwilling to use this tactic. Instead, Ed Balls and the rest of the party are answering the other parties' and media's claims about Labour's poor economic record with a tough-sounding message of more austerity. Labour say they would reduce the deficit with cuts but also say that the conservatives have an ideological crusade against the state and would take us back to the 1930s before the NHS and welfare were created. People are understandably wondering what exactly Labour would do differently if their overall message is broadly the same.

The devil may be in the detail. The last Labour government used spending to stimulate growth, and it worked. The problem was that they hadn't planned for anything to go wrong and when it did, there was only just enough slack in the economy to get through it without total collapse, and if they'd stayed in power they might have had to change their methods to reduce the debt (although in fact, Brown and Darling had already returned the UK economy to growth in the months prior to the election in 2010). Perhaps Labour are hoping that if they pick and choose certain areas to make less, or no further cuts, it may be enough to bring sufficient growth for them to spend a little on ideas to bring in bigger growth and start reduce the deficit a little that way. But they daren't say it because the guffawing from the press and the other main parties will ruin them.

Labour need a clear message to counter the austerity mantra. The current government have managed to amass more debt in four years than Labour did in thirteen and that is a powerful counter-argument. In December, the former governor of the Bank of England said that Labour were not to blame for the economic crash. He said that pretty much everyone across the political spectrum shared the same view of how to run the economy and that it would have happened whoever was in power at the time. Is this not a perfect time then, for Labour to change the message? They need to shout this at every opportunity and convince the public that they won't let it happen again. It will require tight financial regulation  - which very few people will be against - and a more steady growth of the economy that would allow for an emergency fund to be put away should anything catastrophic happen again. That fund could gain interest whilst it's not being used, and the interest could pay for additional government spending. It would take a while but the alternative is massive and permanent reduction to public services we all (mostly) rely on. And that is a key point: the people who don't rely so much on public services are in the Tory or UKIP voting bracket that Labour shouldn't be trying to target anyway.

Labour are unlikely to win over many people to their alternative if the differences are marginal. And given the public's opinion of their leader and their economic credentials, they need more than a narrow margin to work with.

I should also add that the Lib Dems are trying to squeeze themselves between Labour and Conservatives by "cutting less than the Conservatives and borrowing less than Labour." Good luck with that one, Cleggy.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Tories' flawed ideology

The Tories seem in love with the past. A wonderful time when there was a much smaller state and apparently, fewer immigrants. They want to take our state services back to the 1930s. That was a great time: the rich didn't pay as much tax and the poor had cockroaches to keep them company.

Only this isn't entirely true. The cockroaches were certainly very real, but the tax bit isn't. After a post-war low of about 25% income tax paid by the top earner, in the early 1930s that upper level shot up to 65% (and hit a peak during the later years of the second world war of about 94%). 

It's reasonable to assume, then, that the Tories want to return to the early part of the 20th century. But there's a flaw with that too: at that time, the standard income tax level was only 2%, compared with 23% now. If Joe and Jenny Pleb aren't paying for the streets to be cleaned and for the police to keep the rabble away from the rich folks' estates, who will? And presumably in the mind of a Tory, we didn't need the police or street cleaners as much back then because the poorest had work to keep them busy - as well as the cockroaches - so they had less time for stealing and whatever else the grubby little urchins might get up to.

This process of elimination has brought me to one of two assumptions about the Tories' economic plans:

1) They want the poor to pay for the police, education, whatever healthcare is left and all council services whilst the rich pay for virtually nothing, or 

2) They haven't really thought it through. 

Although number one sounds the most plausible, it must be number 2 because they've already taken the poorest workers out of the income tax bracket so they're not paying for very much either.

They clearly haven't got a clue what they're doing.