Ruth and Hammond’s Radical New Tory Ideas: More Taxes, More Spending, More Regulation

After a month of think tank launches and relaunches, op-eds and policy papers discussing the new radical policies the Tories need to win the next election, Ruth Davidson and Philip Hammond have come up with the uninspiring, unoriginal idea of high taxes, new regulations, more intervention, more borrowing and more public spending.

Ruth today says the Tories have cut taxes far enough and demands more money for the NHS, presumably funded by tax rises or extra borrowing. Her call comes the day after Tax Freedom Day, the point in the year at which the average person starts to actually keep what they earn rather than pay it to the state in taxes. That day now comes later than at any time since 1995 – even worse than under New Labour. Government spending is at £30,000 per household. There is room to solve the housing crisis and make sure the NHS is properly funded while bringing down overall spending and lowering taxes.

Hammond, meanwhile, is planning a speech arguing that Thatcherite free market capitalism is no longer fit for purpose and that greater state intervention is needed to win over young voters attracted to Corbyn. This is such a lazy analysis of the the 2017 result. The ‘youthquake’ theory has been largely debunked, polls are showing a clear trend towards young voters now preferring the Tories to Corbyn, and under 25s are more likely to think the government taxes and spends too much already. As are 25-39 year-olds and 25-49 year-olds. 

Ruth and Hammond’s blunt big state approach is not new, it’s not original, it’s not radical, it is the same, tired, old ideas of more taxes, more spending and more regulation. Not only does it concede ground to Labour and play Corbyn’s game – and he can always promise more spending and regulation than the Tories – it doesn’t even correctly identify the direction in which young voters want to see the country to go. Will Tory members and voters really go for it?

Marr to May: “In the Last 8 Minutes You’ve Spent £12 Billion”

At the beginning of her Marr interview Theresa May criticised Labour’s plans for spending and borrowing. She then went on to announce £12 billion of new spending on tuition fees and Help to Buy without saying how she would pay for it. This is dangerous unfunded Labour-lite stuff, fighting on Corbyn’s turf…

HS2: All Aboard the Gravy Train

High Speed Two Limited is the private firm “responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s new high speed rail network”. It is wholly funded by the taxpayer through a government grant-in-aid under the umbrella of the Department for Transport. HS2 Ltd this morning released its corporate purchasing card statements for the second quarter of the year. They reveal the gravy train summer enjoyed by rail pen-pushers.

Despite the company having its own office space in flashy Canary Wharf, £3,836 was paid to “Canary Wharf” for “staff training events” in April alone. This figure is additional to rent and it is not clear from the statements what precisely it was spent on.

£3,661 went on a health and safety training course organised by Astutis, “Creating a positive health, safety and environmental culture at your organisation”.

In June, a £718 cancellation fee for a staff member’s private healthcare appointment with BUPA was charged to the taxpayer.

£710 was spent on HR software called ‘TeamMood‘ – this allows managers to “follow the mood at the team level. It also allows people to be more sincere about their feelings.” 

HS2 is already £7 billion over budget, you don’t need to pay Guido £710 for him to tell you that’s a mood killer.

Manchester Labour Council Splurge £50,000 on Designer Chairs

Taxpayers will want to sit down before reading this. Labour-controlled Manchester council are cushioning recent cuts by splurging £50,000 on 140 designer chairs. The furniture fat cats bought 90 Vitra’ chairs at £387 each and 28 ‘Modus’ chairs at £289 each to glam up the local library, as well as 16 ‘Hitch’ and 6 other ‘Vitra‘ office chairs worth an additional £10,000. Town hall pen-pushers can’t provide exact costings because it would take too long to search their accounts. Taxpayers’ concerns have disappeared “Pouffe!” into thin air.

LibDem John Leech says:

“For a council that claims poverty and blames Government cuts every single time… their ability to find pockets of money for vanity projects is utterly incredible, and absolutely shameless.”

They don’t have a chair leg to stand on…

MoD Spends More on Accountants Than Fighter Jets

jet accountant mod no ttext

The MoD spent £4.2 billion on “Technical, Financial Services and Other Services”. A handy statistical bulletin released today itemised the £20 billion of the defence budget spent within the UK in 2014/15:

“The industry group that received the highest level of expenditure from the MOD was ‘Technical, Financial Services and Other Business Services’, at just over £4.2 billion. This covers services for legal, accounting, management consultancy, and technical testing and analysis.”

The amount spent on pen pushers is nearly twice the level of expenditure on “Aircraft and Spacecraft” and approximately 350% more than on “Weapons and Ammunition”. Maybe the MoD is developing “keyboard warriors”…

What the Welfare Budget Looks Like Minus Pensions

Counting pensions as an old age ‘benefit’ has provided lefties with data-based ammunition against small state conservatives who want to slash the welfare bill. Looking at the graph below, targeting proportionally tiny housing benefits or tax credits looks futile – superficially at least – when 42% of the ‘welfare’ budget is spent on pensions:

You can see why lefties love using this statistic – it grossly skews the welfare bill to make it look like we hardly spend anything on the things their opponents want to cut.

So what does the welfare budget look like if we take pensions out of the equation?

This truer reflection of the welfare budget sees the other slices of the pie double in size.

30% of the non-pensions budget is spent on family benefits, income support and tax credits, some £45 billion.

Housing makes up closer to 20%, £26 billion.

A much clearer illustration of what we spend on welfare than lefties and the ONS would have us believe…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

WATCH: Watson: Labour Did Not Spend Too Much

Watson: Labour Didn’t Spend Too Much

AN: But was Labour still borrowing too much when the financial crash, which they didn’t cause, but were they still borrowing too much when it came about, as Andy Burnham is now saying?

TW: Look I know the point you’re taking, there is a discussion within the party about whether when the crash came about, whether there was a small surplus or whether we were running a deficit. Frankly, and yes people said we should be running a small surplus. Frankly that isn’t related to the banking failure.

AN: That wasn’t my question. I accept that. I didn’t say you caused the crash. Should you have had a tighter fiscal position at the time the crash came?

TW: Let me just say, the reason I’m making this point and coming back to you on that, is people say that the banking crisis, the attack the Tories made on us is because we were running a deficit. Because we were running a deficit that led to the banking crisis.

AN: You and I both said two times each, that is four times we’ve said it isn’t the case, I am asking a different question, were you borrowing too much when the crash, which you didn’t cause, came?

TW: I personally don’t think we were.

Man With Plane Trolls Owen Jones From the Sky

With Owen Jones visiting South Thanet yesterday to campaign for Labour, Simon Moores – an economist, Guardian contributor, councillor and pilot – saw his chance to troll the his lefty colleague from a great height. And troll him he did, by flying this banner over the constituency for the afternoon:

Moores tells Guido:

“I did it off my own back because I can’t stand Owen Jones. I can’t stand economic illiterates and Jones drives me crazy.”

One critic Owen can’t block…

The Graph That Ruins Miliband’s Argument

Even after Labour’s manifesto mea culpa about fiscal responsibility, Ed would still not say he thought Labour spent too much before the crisis. He had his audience cheering as he yelled “absolutely we were right to invest in those things”:

Miliband told the Labour manifesto launch:

“It was the financial crisis that caused the deficit…”

Really, Ed?

The financial crisis caused the deficit that Labour ran in 2002/3?

And grew in 2003/4?

And in 2004/5?

And in 2005/6?

“It was the financial crisis that caused the deficit…” in 2006/7?

And in 2007/8?

Really, Ed?

Seen Elsewhere