Theresa May has doubled down on the bashing she gave the libertarian wing of her party at last year’s Conservative conference, setting out her and Nick Timothy’s principles:
We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous. True Conservatism means a commitment to country and community; a belief not just in society but in the good that government can do; a respect for the local and national institutions that bind us together; an insight that change is inevitable and change can be good, but that change should be shaped, through strong leadership and clear principles, for the common good. We know that our responsibility to one another is greater than the rights we hold as individuals. We know that we all have obligations to one another, because that is what community and nation demands. We understand that nobody, however powerful, has succeeded alone and that we all therefore have a debt to others.”
Should bring an end to the Maggie comparisons.
In terms of policy this means the previous Tory vow to never raise income tax, VAT and NI has disappeared, replaced by a flimsy “firm intention to reduce taxes”. May’s Tories are not a committed low tax party.
“Paying your fair share of tax is the price of living in a civilised democracy but politicians should never forget that taxes are levied on businesses that employ people, and individuals who work hard and face tough decisions about how they spend their money. The Conservatives will always be the party that keeps tax as low as possible and spends the proceeds responsibly. It is our firm intention to reduce taxes on Britain’s businesses and working families.”
And it means Miliband-style big government intervention in free markets. As the manifesto says: “A Conservative government will strengthen the hand of regulators”.
“Government can also help by making consumer markets work more fairly, and in doing so reducing the cost of the essentials that families have no choice but to buy… Tackling living costs must mean making consumer markets work fairly. Markets should work for consumers, as well as producers – with competition keeping prices low and encouraging new product development. Poor information, complex pricing and exploitative behaviour prevents markets operating efficiently for the benefit of all. As Conservatives, we believe in markets as the best means to bring about prosperity and innovation, but we should act firmly and fast when a market works against the interests of consumers. Since 2010, we have capped the cost of credit for expensive payday lenders and will shortly ban letting agent fees. We will now go further to reform markets in the interests of consumers and reduce the cost of living. A Conservative government will strengthen the hand of regulators.”
The money Britain will stop sending the EU each week will be spent on a very LibDem sounding fund to reduce inequality:
“We will use the structural fund money that comes back to the UK following Brexit to create a United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund, specifically designed to reduce inequalities between communities across our four nations.”
And there will be a new sovereign wealth fund funded by shale gas revenues and privatisation:
“We will create a number of such funds, known as Future Britain funds, which will hold in trust the investments of the British people, backing British infrastructure and the British economy. We anticipate early funds being created out of revenues from shale gas extraction, dormant assets, and the receipts of sale of some public assets.”
Spending more money while delaying clearing the deficit until 2025. Even George Osborne is now attacking May from the right, he says: “Far from using Brexit as a chance to get rid of red tape, the Tories are using it as an excuse for extra regulation”. Tough day for those of us who believe in untrammelled free markets, individualism and reject egalitarianism…