Following on from last week’s five suggestions for a decent Brexit here are five more ways we can make out country better.
6. Reform of our immigration system
Much of the dissatisfaction with immigration stems directly from the system we have been shackled to by our EU membership. Obliged to admit every ‘European citizen’, policy makers have instead focussed their efforts at curbing immigration on a comparatively small number of people who very often have more to offer and who usually deserve better. To do this, they’ve employed a system of central planning which was always doomed to fail.
Free of free movement, we can move to a model which chimes with our values. Fair for immigrant and non-immigrant alike, the system CfL is proposing would correct that which the general public believe has gone wrong without generating the type of skills shortages and demographic problems solutions at either end of the scale would.
7. Ending subventions. Inventively.
CfL is realistic. While the dependence on some geographic areas and industries on EU subventions was overplayed by remainers, there can be no sudden sharp shock as we seek to roll back the frontiers of the state that EU imposed.
In moving away from the Common Agricultural Policy we need to be vehement in correcting the injustices heaped upon the developing world by its very existence. We need to be clear in our determination that agriculture is a global market and that tariffs on imports are not acceptable.
We would also do well to emulate New Zealand where the ending of agricultural subsidies has served to make it an agricultural powerhouse, successfully overcoming the blow it was dealt when its main export market – the UK – suddenly jilted it in the 1970s.
8. Exit the Common Fisheries Policy
In what can only be written off as another attempt to get the EU to be nice to us, we’ve decided to give the EU another couple of years to kill off our fishing industry for good.
If independence means anything then it surely not allowing other nations to plunder our natural resources to support industries that are, for the most part, built on that plunder. We need to leave this charade in 2019
9. Legislate for minimal bureaucracy
A simple but effective Act would write into law the principle that no other piece of legislation could place undue burdens on people. It could determine that regulations could not involve, say, more than one point of contact with government and more than an hour’s worth of time per person, per year. In this way government will be tied only to finding solutions that make things quick and efficient for businesses and individuals. And if it can’t be done then it won’t be done. Too bad.
And after all, nothing would underline the vast cultural differences between ourselves and the fussy, authoritarian, cloudy brained mess across the channel than offering the public a degree of clarity in their relationship with the state.
10. Deepen ties with the Anglosphere
Having emerged from our temporary tryst with our slightly alternative neighbours, much the worse for the whole experience, it’s now time to rebuild our relationship with our much-maligned brood.
As family, we share common legal systems, common systems of government, a common tongue and a common heritage ensuring that things are just easier when we’re together.
Because our experiences in the EU may have tamed us and, in the cases of some people, caused us to forget who we are entirely, we have much to learn from the nations we spawned and whose cultures best resemble caricatures of our own.
Whether it’s New Zealand’s belief that subsidies are ‘abhorrent’, Australia’s control of its immigration system or Canada’s firm belief in personal liberty, much about these nations represent the British values that have been denied us by the Euro-statism that has crept into our national discourse over the years.
Finally, a third runway at Heathrow has been approved in parliament. Next comes the legal challenges and likely consequent delays. The longer the delays, the longer our economy suffers from our procrastination. A supposed outward looking ‘global Britain’ takes twenty years or more to build a single runway and expects to be taken seriously.
If Britain wants to compete in the global marketplace, the government needs to think of the future and take action. Look around the world, Amsterdam Schipol Airport has six runways, Madrid has four, Paris has four and in the US JFK in New York has four, Chicago has six and Boston has six. Our supposed ‘hub’ airport has two; compensate residents and build the damn runway!
We need to stop gazing at our navels and think of the future. The third runway at Heathrow will boost our economy, but its only sufficient for the medium term. Within a couple of decades of its construction there will likely be demand for an additional runway, then what? Another 20 years of talking?
The independent Airports Commission issued a report in 2015 which pointed out that London’s airport system would be using 90 percent of available capacity by 2030. Even under pessimistic forecasts, it said, by 2040 all London airports except Stansted would be full. We shouldn’t be pussyfooting around about building one runway, we should be looking to build more!
The debate about airport expansion saw Heathrow and Gatwick compete for investment, the answer to this is to expand both. They both cater primarily for different needs, with Gatwick catering for short haul and leisure and Heathrow for business and long haul. They both connect to different regions of the UK and have a different international network. For real, sustained economy growth; build a new runway at Heathrow and Gatwick. Not only would this be a major boost to the economy, it would likely lead to better services and lower costs for consumers as the two compete.
Environmentalists who wish us all to live in yurts and adopt a vegan diet will complain, but aviation technology will continue to advance and get cleaner. The advancement of cleaner and greener technology is the key to tackling climate change, not destroying our growth prospects without making a dent in global climate change targets.
The strongest argument is concerns about increasing the north/south divide, but this is a strong argument for allowing expansion and development of Northern airports when the necessity and demand is clear in the future.
In response to the Cabinet’s approval of Heathrow expansion, Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, said:
‘Manchester Airport is investing more than £1bn in transforming its facilities and unlocking the spare capacity on its exiting two full-length runways […] Government must now match its support for a third runway at Heathrow with specific and practical proposals to maximise the potential of airports like Manchester in the period to 2030 – the earliest the third runway is likely to be delivered – and beyond that.’
Hear, hear! Britain must be a country of action and dynamism if it wants to flourish after Brexit.
There is broad consensus that we have a problem with our housing market. It seems that for virtually all of my life politicians have been agonising over housing – are we building enough?, are they affordable?, are they in the right places? Etc etc etc. And in recent years and months the agony over this issue has intensified.
There are three angles to the UK’s housing problems:
- A lack of safety net in the form of social housing for those who need it
- Expensive, insecure, poor quality private rented housing which is leaving families vulnerable and in some cases making them ill
- Buying a house for the first time is increasingly difficult and expensive, leading to a gap between the haves and have-nots which is increasingly generational.
We need to build more houses
Virtually everyone agrees that house building across the UK needs to accelerate. The primary motivation is to make it easier for young people to buy their first home, and to stabilise – or bring down, depending on the numbers built – house prices.
Building more houses would also have a positive impact on the private rented housing sector, as a larger supply of housing would increase competition and mean that in order to make money landlords would need to up their games in terms of cost and quality.
And in turn, boosting the private rented sector would reduce the pressures on social housing, as fewer people would be in need of it.
The government has pledged to build 300,000 new houses each year. But this doesn’t mean BoJo putting on his hard hat and laying bricks – it means the government wants private developers to build houses, and it hopes to create the circumstances that will encourage them to do so.
And it is at this point that our political leaders get lost.
We have ill-conceived schemes like Help to Buy and Stamp Duty reliefs for particular groups of buyers. In March the Prime Minister announced plans which claim to speed up the planning process and remove appeals, whilst also putting local communities at the centre of the process – something of a contradiction in terms. Tough words for landlords and developers, including references to chief executives’ pay, featured in the same speech alongside a pledge to make more government (taxpayers’) capital available for house builders.
The wrong prescription
The government understands the importance of solving the problem of housing and house building, but all of its changes and plans for change are just fiddling. Things like Help to Buy horribly distort the housing market, with no visible boost to supply. The proposed changes to the planning process maintain the current (failing) system with just a few small changes.
Meanwhile the NIMBYs are out in force, and that often means Conservatives. The failings in local government and local services are used as an excuse to prevent development. Conservative MPs protest against something they call ‘house dumping’, where housing the local community doesn’t actually need is built, but weirdly enough developers still manage to sell the houses to someone. Environmentalists shout about concreting over the countryside, whilst only around 8-10% of all of the UK’s land is developed in any way at all (including housing, industrial, roads, etc).
The left declares that this is market failure; that government and local government does indeed need to step up its house building programme in order to house people in council and social housing. I disagree. When I look at the housing market, I see not a failure of the market, but a failure of regulation.
The planning system is broken
Regulation, in the form of the Town and Country Planning Act, chokes off the supply of land that can be built on, and therefore the supply of housing.
This might seem like an obvious point to the average CfL reader, but let’s take a few moments to explore what exactly this regulation means.
Land which can be built on has become a precious commodity. By artificially restricting the supply, we increase the price of land – from an average of £21,000 per hectare for agricultural land, to £6 million per hectare for land with planning permission.
This obviously adds to the end price of houses, but it also has another undesirable effect on the housing market: it makes buildable land itself an investment. And it’s this that leads to so-called ‘land banking’, as developers choose to balance their books by holding on to very valuable assets which can be relied on to steadily increase in value with much lower risks than building. And of course, this further limits the amount of land that can and is being built on, fuelling a vicious circle of limited supply of land.
But this isn’t all that our current planning laws do: they also make it harder for builders to do business. Getting planning permission to build new houses is a difficult, time consuming and expensive process. It can cost millions of pounds and take several years, a burden few can afford to take on. And so is it any wonder that the market for new houses is dominated by large companies that build at scale? They are the only people able to bear the cost of the planning process, and the only way for them to make it worthwhile is to build at scale – the large, local character changing estates that so many people do not like.
The little man, the small scale builder that puts up anything less than 100 houses at a time, is a rarity for precisely this reason.
Why should we care about the small scale builder when we need hundreds of thousands of houses? Two reasons: loads of small builders putting up a few houses here and there can easily add up to as many or more new homes than a few large scale developers can build on their own. And second, houses built by small, local developers are more likely to in keeping with local communities (after all, they live there too), and more likely to mean places grow gradually in a more manageable way than suddenly adding 3,000 houses at the edge of a village.
Time to be radical
And so we have the perfect storm: in a basic law of economics, restricted supply means higher prices; while the greatest enemy of free markets, corporatism – where the regulatory burden can only be met by large companies, pushes out the little guy, and kills competition – rules.
The housing market is the biggest and most serious example of regulatory failure in the UK today, and any attempt to fix it which does not address the fundamental problems at the root of that regulation is merely tinkering, and is bound to fail.
We at Conservatives for Liberty believe it is time to be bold and brave: the Conservative Party has historically been at its best when it has been its most radical, and liberalising planning law is a huge opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people in a way that remembers the impact of repealing the Corn Laws.
Liberalising planning is always a scary prospect – what about protecting the countryside? Planning local services? Respecting local communities?
Well, let’s get real for a moment. 90% of the UK’s land mass is countryside – we could double the amount of land which is currently developed and the countryside would still cover 80% of the country. In short, though emotionally engaging this argument is not based in a real, legitimate concern.
Not building houses doesn’t stop pressure on public services: it just means that the same number of people are crammed into not-enough houses which may be in slightly different locations. And if we liberalise planning, development is likely to be more spread out across the country as builders do not have to concentrate on building in areas with the most accommodating local government.
Respecting local communities is a more difficult prospect, not least because this concept is ill-defined and the objections of local communities are not always reasonable. This is the political question: is it worth treading on a few toes to enable the building of the housing our young people so desperately need, with all the benefits that meeting our country’s housing needs would bring?
At the end of this long article the policy proposal is quite simple: scrap the Town and Country Planning Act. Establish a commission to monitor how much of the UK’s land mass is built on, and when it reaches 15% – which represents around 10 million new homes based on current building densities – send it back to parliament for review. Under this policy, development could only be prevented for reasons of safety, areas of outstanding natural beauty (not the same as the greenbelt), and places of historical significance. Minimal taxes on house building would be designed to meet the public costs of development, and allocated directly to local and national government in order to provide the infrastructure and public services needed to serve the new households.
That’s it. It might seem too simple to address what we’ve come to regard as a complex problem, but the reality is the only reason enough houses aren’t being built right now is that the government is in the way. Just watch and see what happens when we knock down those bureaucratic barriers.
I don’t generally write about politics in the context of gender, because frankly, it doesn’t matter to me. Maybe it was a terrible oversight, but my mum simply didn’t bring me up to think about my gender in any political or economic context.
And that’s why the past year or so has been particularly frustrating for me, as issues around gender and politics, feminism and sexism (and on and on and on) have been discussed repeatedly – almost literally ad nauseum – both nationally and internationally.
But now it’s not just frustrating – it’s worrying too. I consider myself a pretty strong woman: I’ve done well against some difficult odds; I have succeeded, and am succeeding, in fields that are traditionally male dominated. It even feels strange to write that, because it’s never felt male ‘dominated’ to me and I’ve never found it harder as a woman.
I am worried, and quite angry, that the culture and atmosphere being created by a supposedly feminist, pro-women agenda is actually toxic for girls and young women. And I can’t help but compare it with my own upbringing.
My mum always said to me, pretty much every day of my childhood, that I could do and be anything I wanted to as long as I was prepared to work hard enough. But instead of being encouraged in this way, girls and women are now told time and again that they are limited by their gender. That the odds are stacked against them and that everything will be harder for them; don’t bother aiming high, because the patriarchy means you will never get to the top.
Instead of being empowered, they are told that even words are dangerous to their weak constitutions, and that they need to be shielded from opinions that are distasteful or just different. Bring back the fainting couch and smelling salts – it’s all gone a bit Victorian.
My mum always said to me, it doesn’t matter what people look like, where they come from or what they have; instead, what matters is whether they’re a good person or not. Being kind, being honest, and being responsible – they’re the things that are important.
That’s not what girls and women are told now. Instead, they are told that they will be judged every day of their lives for their gender, how they look, how they speak, and how all of this matches up to society’s expectations of ‘femininity’.
At the same time as being told that they will be judged unfairly, girls and women are encouraged to judge others – if people come from certain ‘privileged’ backgrounds, or if they say something that doesn’t fit into a narrow version of politically correct speech, they are irredeemably bad, and so must be denounced and avoided.
Every woman nowadays is encouraged to think of themselves as a victim. Whatever happens to you that isn’t exactly as you want; you are a victim of sexism and the patriarchy. If someone disagreed with or ignored you, it is because you are a woman. If you find getting a job or a promotion harder than you thought it was going to be, it is because you are a woman.
If you walk into a room where there are few women and many men, you are inevitably going to be ignored or belittled or treated unfairly – no need to wait and see, get your guard up now – all because you are a woman.
I just can’t understand it. I was a victim of a serious crime at quite a young age. I experienced all those feelings of powerlessness, confusion and shame that come with being a victim. First of all, why would you go looking for that where it doesn’t exist? And secondly, why would you belittle the suffering of real victims with your fake victimhood? Equating rape and being wolf-whistled as part of the same thing where we’re all victims of the patriarchy together absolutely disgusts me.
I am worried that all of this together will hold girls and young women back. In being told to expect everything to be a battle, are they not likely to shrink from it? In being told that the only thing holding them back is their gender (and ‘the patriarchy’), are they not likely to look at every setback as sexism rather than examining their own performance, learning and improving, and through that succeeding? In being told that they will be judged (and should judge others), on a narrow, superficial basis, is it not likely that their confidence will be undermined and their anxiety increased?
When I was growing up, my role models were my mum, my granny, and my great grandma. These are women who endured through enormous hardships and succeeded against the odds. They did so with humour, love and joy. And that’s what they taught me too; but what are the next generation of women being taught? Please, don’t let it be that they are weak, perpetual victims. Let’s make sure they learn that they are strong, and they can do and be anything they want if they are willing to work hard enough.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that the railways should be nationalised. Surprisingly, for somebody who has never even worked in the transport industry, let alone the railways, Jeremy Corbyn believes that he has a wealth of knowledge and a policy that will make railways cheaper, more efficient and reliable.
When will I have to stop reminding people that the railways are in fact already nationalised? The infrastructure, track, stations etc. are all owned by the government and some are even managed by the government’s nationalised railway company, Network Rail. The terms of the franchises that the Train Operating Companies operate are set out by the government. The rolling stock that runs up and down the lines is procured by the government. Around 40% of rail fares including season tickets, anytime and off peak tickets are regulated and so the government is in control of how much they cost.
The government is also responsible for all capital spending on the railway, as well as the maintenance of the track, and all signalling related to the day to day operation of trains is operated by Network Rail. Perhaps next time you hear that there are delays due to signalling problems don’t blame the train operating company; blame our state-run railway.
If the railway network is to continue to grow, it needs an injection of creativity and fresh ideas. It is a system that is operating at full capacity on a day-to-day basis on top of, in many parts, 150 year old infrastructure. It was designed to operate in an age where travel and freight patterns were completely different to what they are today.
The UK railway network can only modernise if the way it is planned and operated is in tune with what the current market wants and needs. I do not believe that further government intervention into this system will lead to a railway that is going to be fit for purpose into the future. If the market does not control how the railways are shaped then we will end up with a railway that serves only the collective demands of the railway unions and niche whims of single issue politicians. In a government run railway the customer, i.e. the passenger, always comes second to the demands of local politicians and unions.
The only privatised part of the railways is the day to day operation of the trains and even this is on a short term franchise agreement with the government. The policy of nationalising the railways is probably the most achievable aspiration for the Left as it wouldn’t be far different from the system that already exists. Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto of union power and collective bargaining would only lead to one thing on the railway network – Southern Rail style strikes spreading nationwide. The only solution to the railways future is the market, not more short term restrictive government operation.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty
In his 2017 stand-up entitled ‘2017’, comedian Louis C.K. takes a brief moment to discuss the state of education in the US:
“What is the job?” (asks a would-be teacher)
“We need you to make students know math”
“Wow… do they want to know math?”.
“Oh no, they don’t want to know it, you have to make them know it against their will…”
“And who are these children?”
“Oh, just any children that live near the building” comes the reply.
With a wry sense of having one’s own experience shared and understood, I sent this video to my colleagues. Much later I began to reflect on the very real political connotations that these experiences demonstrate.
It isn’t until things are laid bare like this, under a stark and unflattering spotlight, that one can see the serious flaws in a system like this. Maths (I refuse to endorse the bastardisation of my tongue by my American cousins) could be substituted for any other subject and the principle would be the same; what our children learn and where they learn it is predestined. There is little choice that can be had within this system.
Take Primary Schools as the first example. If you want your son or daughter to go to one of the best local schools, then you had better live near it. You will apply to your County Council who will allocate places. If you live in a part of town with high deprivation and an inadequate and failing school, we wish you the best of British luck. If you have managed to receive a poor education at Primary School then there is more gloom ahead, you see you will have to follow the same process to apply for Secondary School. If your Primary School wasn’t much cop then you are unlikely to have had your intellectualism set aflame, so Grammars may well be out of your reach. The social mobility argument here turns in to a bit of a myth, it is only as good as the Primary School you are gently placed in to.
Once you are at Secondary School though, you can expect to embrace your talents. There are just one or two minor things though; the Options that you wish to take have been blocked in such a way as to ‘encourage’ you to take certain subjects over others. These would be the subjects that reflect better on your School’s overall headline figures (don’t blame the schools, we will get to that). You will have substantially more Maths and English on your timetable, because they are double weighted in the new ‘Progress/Attainment 8’ measure, so if you are good at those then you are in luck. If you want to study music or art, departments are closing as a result of fewer students choosing them at GCSE (remember the encouragement that students have received).
So the problem seems to be that there is not much choice, not much focus on the student and not a great deal that can be done to embrace the individual talents of children. This is not the fault of Conservatives, of course, it is the fault of successive generations of Governments that have forgotten TVs ‘Golden Rule’. One should never work with kids. The State just isn’t very good at it, and they certainly aren’t better than the majority of parents or the students themselves at deciding their fate.
A brief moment here to hammer home this point with my favourite tool; Jeremy Corbyn. Labour’s plan for education is a Comprehensive education, a misuse of the word meaning ‘dealing with all elements of something’ as it deals with entirely none of the problems in education. But imagine Corbyn’s World (the one terrifyingly glimpsed through the Labour Party’s campaign broadcast). All students will attend the same kinds of schools and study the same kinds of subjects. The schools will even feed them, for free, just in case parents aren’t to be trusted with such a complicated and risky task. For a Party that claim to celebrate diversity, they certainly have a homogenous view of British children.
But what of the Conservatives? Well here, we can see some positive changes being made. There needs to be a plethora of different kinds of schools and Governments should do everything that they possibly can do to get out of the way of people wanting to open them (with some, hopefully obvious, exceptions). The anticipated appearance of Grammar Schools in the Party’s manifesto reaches out with a desperate hand and just about scratches the surface of the problem. But it is, certainly, a start.
The central problem with Grammar Schools is that people think that they create a win/lose dichotomy, where the cleverest students (who are mostly middle class) succeed and the poorer, less able ones are left on the scrap heap. Largely this is because that is true. Not because Grammar Schools are a bad idea, but because we have embraced selection of academic ability but have not found a way to embrace the talents of others. Your ability to reach Grammar Schools, as I already alluded to, is also heavily dependent upon the quality of your Primary School education. One must address both problems if you are to create ‘Schools that work for everyone’ (you’re welcome Mrs May!)
Schools, therefore, need more freedom. Freedom to innovate in their curriculum, to engage with new technologies, build partnerships with their communities and local businesses and to adapt to the talents of their pupils in the subjects that they offer. But under the current model this is impossible. Academies opened the door to education leaders to go out and design the best learning experiences for their students, a door which was quickly slammed shut by the new headline measures. How can a school focus on the sporting or musical talents of students if they have to ensure that children are making progress in a narrowly confined set of subjects? Research has shown that Private Schools succeed because of the breadth of their curriculum, so what on Earth are we doing placing shackles around the ankles of Head teachers that want to do the same in their State Schools?
More concerning though is the OFSTED ratings. In their annual report only 11% of schools were declared as being ‘Inadequate’ or as ‘Requiring Improvement’. This is against a backdrop of schools plummeting in International League Tables, falling GCSE results and a significant number of schools where students are making below expected levels of progress. Given that OFSTED costs a substantial amount of money, what are we getting out of it? There are a number of incredibly impressive International models of how to run a successful education system, all of which OFSTED seem to have entirely ignored. The better policy appears to be to plough on ahead, continuing to restrict the innovation that schools can display by presenting them with arbitrary tick box exercises. What evidence is there that this has provided a more rapid improvement in education standards than sharing the very best practice from the country and around the World? None? Then can I have my money back, please? Maybe I could build a new school with it.
So in the Conservative Manifesto what I would like to see is Theresa May go further than Grammar Schools and embrace all manner of innovation, an ability for students to select the best school for them and not just schools to select the best students. She should get tough on OFSTED, tough on the causes of OFSTED, embrace a system that allows schools that are accountable to their stakeholders and to build partnerships with their local communities and local businesses. This generation, glued to their smart-phones as they may be, hold in their hand the entirety of human knowledge. The challenge is to learn how to embrace it, how to make this the basis of an exciting new era for British education.
If we want there to be Grammar Schools then we must also create schools that are equally capable of embracing the talents of their students. This is a call to bring liberty to education, to free it from the Government restriction that currently smothers our children and allow them to thrive. The Country will thank us for generations to come.
Daniel is a Secondary School teacher in Buckinghamshire and a member of the Wycombe Conservative Association. Follow him on Twitter: @
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty
“I’m voting Labour because of the NHS.’’ How many times have you heard it? A statement worn as a badge of altruistic honour; a noble creed that raises the Labour Party above the sordid cesspool of party politics. The very definition of how Labour is different, how Labour cares. In fact, this claim is just as brainless, bigoted and thoughtless as, “I’m voting UKIP because they’ll kick all the immigrants out.’’
That Labour can still be trusted by the public on the NHS truly baffles me. The Mid Staffs disaster, in which thousands suffered as a result of a culture imposed and enforced by Labour, should have been enough to put this myth to rest. If that wasn’t enough, the resulting inquiry by Bruce Keogh into 14 other hospitals with dangerously high mortality rates should have closed the case. If that still wasn’t enough you can throw in the travesty of PFI; saddling trusts with insurmountable debts which will cripple them for decades. Then there’s the £10 billion wasted on the aborted NHS computer system and the mess they made of GP contracts, making it even harder to see your family doctor and overwhelming A&E as a result.
In the face of such a damning rap sheet how can millions continue with their hypnotic, myopic support for Labour on health?
The real crime though is not that hospitals failed under Labour, but that they were prepared to do anything to conceal the truth about these failures. Labour flatly refused a public inquiry into what happened at Mid Staffs; claiming it was a single case of mismanagement and not symptomatic of their target culture. The Francis Inquiry, delivered by the Tories, proved this was not the case.
Under Labour, any criticism of the NHS is simply not allowed, there is a Stalinist suppression of the truth; those who defy this are mercilessly censured. The bullying and intimidation faced by Helene Donnelly at Mid Staffs was a chilling example of this, and an even more disturbing aspect was the extensive use of gagging orders; paying staff vast sums of money to prevent them from speaking out. Whilst there is an obvious moral question over paying people not to raise legitimate concerns about patient safety there is also the very real question – How many lives could have been saved by those millions? Their blood is on Labour’s hands.
Labour has always argued that it is prepared to invest in the NHS but the experience of the 2010 election, where unlike the Tories Labour refused to ring-fence NHS spending, contradicts this. Not to mention their failure during the 2015 campaign, again unlike the Tories, to commit to the extra £8bn the NHS had asked for. When you add all this up the Labour Party’s record on health is, quite frankly, indefensible.
Yet still the public still lap up Labour propaganda on the NHS as gospel. The ’24 Hours to Save the NHS’ claim they trot out at every election is just one example of their Orwellian attempt to rewrite history. In his recent autobiography Alan Johnson, the former Labour Health Secretary, claimed that my mother, the patient safety campaigner Julie Bailey, put up a sign outside her café that declared, “NHS STAFF NOT WELCOME.” The accusation is utterly baseless but a former Labour frontbencher could say anything on the NHS (The Tories are going to sell it off to Trump/China/Voldemort) and brain-dead lefties would swallow it whole.
It is at this point that any self-respecting lefty dusts off the faithful old dog-whistle – Privatisation!
The Left seems to have a caricature in their mind of a grotesque Steve Bell Grauniad cartoon – Theresa May sitting in a gothic castle cackling demonically as lightning strikes, salivating at the prospect of flogging off the NHS to her posh chums as she gorges on caviar, Foie Gras and roast suckling Syrian refugee.
Yet on privatisation the facts don’t add up. Labour privatised around 4% of the NHS while in office– double that of the Tories – How does that make it the party protecting it from privatization?
Privatisation is not the issue, patient safety is. The NHS is not sacrosanct, human life is.
Ultimately, the NHS is nothing more than a government agency – could you imagine DVLA workers dancing at the Olympics opening ceremony? – and it should never be elevated above the people it exists to serve.
So vote Labour if you want higher public spending, vote Labour if you want higher taxes, vote Labour if you think Corbyn would make a good PM, but do not vote Labour because of the NHS. To do so is an insult to the multitudes who suffered at their hands and an invitation to continue where they left off.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty
When is a Conservative not a Conservative? When they clobber entrepreneurs, increase taxes & spending, and add to the national debt.
The press was briefed pre-budget that we were in for a dull affair, and Philip Hammond duly delivered. There was no radicalism, no imagination and – bizarrely – no proactive response to the imminent beginning of Brexit negotiations. Worst of all, while the Chancellor attempted to pre-emptively quash political rows – like the growing disquiet over social care funding – he managed to create a brand new one; and how disastrous it has been.
Energised by the spirit of individualism, Britain’s self-employed helped fuel our economic recovery. Some of the most entrepreneurial people in the country have struck out on their own, taken risks, worked hard and added a dynamic element to our economy. Their reward? Being told by a Conservative Chancellor that they are recipients of “a subsidy” because the state doesn’t confiscate enough of their money.
Hammond said it was not “fair” that the total National Insurance bill for employee earning £32,000 a year would come to £6,170, including contributions from both the employee and their employer, while the equivalent for a self-employed person earning the same amount would be just £2,300. All because the self-employed benefit from the same public services as employees. What un-conservative rot!
The self-employed do not receive state-mandated holiday pay, sick pay, parental leave, compassionate leave, workplace pensions, prescribed notice periods nor protections against being laid off. Nor should they, but there are clearly very big differences between the benefits enjoyed by the employed and what the self-employed lack; a sense of security being chief among them.
If its fairness the Chancellor wants, he should have levelled the taxes out by incrementally cutting NICs for the employed, thereby relieving a financial burden on a lot of people on a low income. Encouraging enterprise and letting people keep more of their earnings; that’s what we want from the Conservative Party.
We are supposed to getting match-fit for Brexit. One of the British economies biggest strengths is its dynamism and the flexibility of its labour market; the rise of the gig economy in this country is another advantage we have over our eurozone competitors. The Government should be encouraging it, not taxing it.
If only we could look at a serious commitment to deficit reduction to cheer us up. Philip Hammond, like his predecessor, talks the talk when it comes to fiscal discipline. George Osborne was a master of rhetoric, and the new Chancellor projects an image of seriousness, dependability and frugality. Despite the image, public spending continues to rise in cash terms and deficit elimination is dependent on growth rather than savings.
At least there we didn’t have to put up with the Osborne gimmicks, except for further complicating the tax system with another loophole to provide relief for small pubs. The pub industry is suffering, but so are many other; why is the Government picking favourites?