From the outset, I would like to say that I think their basic message is more realistic than Labour’s. Up to this point:
Some politicians say: ‘give us your vote and we will sort out all your problems’. We say: real change comes not from government alone.
When a state is bringing in revenenues only 75% of their expenditure, a handover of power to “you the people” is inevitable. They are trying to make a virtue of this. As Danny Alexander put it, this could be rephrased as “you’re on your own”. Well, we will be. Huge cuts are coming, whatever your ideology. Some will welcome it, a lot will feel suddenly lonely.
But Cameron was shamelessly unrealistic in his implicit claim that a hodge-podge of mutualistic communitarian ideas can ensure that there are not worse public services. (James Mackintosh has an excellent post on this, attacking Labour as well). Cameron actually had the nerve to claim that because Sainsbury’s say “Good food costs less” then it should be just as easy with government services. A line thought up by a dyed-in-the-wool PR executive, rather than someone who has thought about how public services are delivered – and are different from groceries.
Moving on to the actual document and its economic bits:
“But the real prize for Britain is to create a new economic model, one founded on investment and savings not borrowing and debt.”
This phraseology has annoyed me before. Debt is used to transmit savings into investment. Someone borrows when someone else saves – otherwise how do you offer a return? It is a silly piece of nonsense.
We will move from state action to social action, encouraging social responsibility in all its forms and across all the country – whether curbing incivility on our streets or supporting social enterprises with the power to transform neighbourhoods. Mending Britain’s broken society will be a central aim of the next Conservative government.
I really have no idea how you ‘do’ social action, particularly with not much money.
with the national debt already doubled and in danger of doubling again, it is this debt – together with the jobs tax that Labour will introduce to help pay for it – that threatens to kill the recovery.
I disagree: I think it is a lack of aggregate demand, not 4% gilt yields and a penny on National Insurance, that might damage recovery.
We need to boost enterprise and develop a low carbon, hi-tech economy. Our exports must grow. We need to get Britain working by creating jobs in the private sector, and we must get better value for money from the public sector.
I agree with all these aspirations. But they were also the centrepiece of Darling’s budget, which I thought was basically about supporting investment. More small companies need to start up – Labour had a few plans for that. Gilt yields being below 5% is not enough to make that happe, which is what this implies:
The bedrock of this new economic model will be the stability and low interest rates that come from a credible plan to reduce our record budget deficit, protect Britain’s credit rating and give taxpayers value for their money.
Repeat: Japan has had stability and low interest rates. They are not always a sign of success ….
All the tax pledges, spending cuts, and to the extent that they are listed at all, planned supply side reforms, have been announced before. So too have plans to set up an independent Office for Budget Responsibility, transfering responsibility for banking supervision back to the Bank of England, and just about everything else that’s in the section labelled “Change the Economy”.
And the BBC’s At a Glance finds the big difference is still that ruddy NIC change.
UPDATE: To be fair, the Conservatives have more on starting up small businesses:
As well as stopping Labour’s jobs tax, for the first two years of a Conservative government any new business will pay no Employers National Insurance on the first ten employees it hires during its first year. To support small businesses further, we will:
• make small business rate relief automatic; and,
• aim to deliver 25 per cent of governmentresearch and procurement contracts through SME s by cutting the administrative costs of bidding.
We will support would-be entrepreneurs through a new programme – Work for Yourself
– which will give unemployed people direct access to business mentors and substantial