Tory Tax promises – Too Good to be true? You Bet!
Dave Cameron has said that he would pass a law to say that it is illegal to raise Income Tax, National Insurance, or VAT for the next 5 years. The Tory party would pass that law within the first 100 days of a Tory majority government. That sounds great, but. Last election he said that he had no plans to raise VAT, guess what he did as soon as his feet were under the desk? Raise VAT.
But a law, that sounds like a real Tory promise. So, if he is not going to raise those taxes and manage to reduce the deficit how could he go about it? What about all the taxes he has not mentioned?
These 3 taxes account for something like 65% of the Government’s income so not being able to raise them means one of 2 things. Either the taxes not mentioned, business taxes and rates for example, are in the firing line or Welfare spending is going to be decimated.
To a large extent we know that The Tory Party has the Welfare budget in its sights. £12bn of undisclosed cuts has to mean more misery for the least well off. Without the prospect of tax rises those cuts can only be worse than feared. Remember that Danny Alexander said only yesterday that the Liberal Democrats stopped The Tory party from making swinging cuts to child benefit in the last parliament. (Alexander actually said “slash” which is an English slang term for urinating. Pissing on the Poor is what a lot of people think that The Tory party has already done.)
Beyond the headline The Tory party has made an interesting statement. If we need a law to make them keep their promises then does that mean that all the other Tory pledges are not really pledges? How much of what they say can we trust?
Another interesting, well to me anyway, facet is that for the first time The Tory party is limiting the scope of the Chancellor’s power to raise and vary taxes. They have never done that before, and with good reason. Imagine an economic downturn. What can the Chancellor do? Without repealing that no tax rise law, he would have one hand tied behind his back. It would have to be a crisis for them to repeal the law, so his options would be reduced to cutting local government funding or hitting the poorest, again. Then again, The Tory party would not baulk at that, so that’s OK then.
What are the polls telling us about the Tory Campaign Strategy?
The Tory party has always had a slick and efficient campaign team. Once in gear it sets off and usually steam rollers over everything in its path. At the start of the campaign the word was that the Tory party expected the machine to work again with them taking a lead in the last week or two. So far that has not happened. The last BBC Poll of Polls that I have seen still puts the Tory party on 34% and the Labour party on 33%. As there is a 3% margin of error that means they are still neck and neck. What is going on?
The Tory campaign started with the slogan “ A brighter future a more secure future”. When launching their manifesto the Tory leader David Cameron used the word “secure” innumerable times. The thought was that by using the words “secure” and “security” that repetition would implant the thought that the Tory party is solid and dependable, trustworthy, whereas Labour isn’t. However, that strand of the campaign seems to have withered on the vine.
Then there were the remarkably personal attacks on Miliband. Michael Fallon was widely condemned for his “backstabber” attack. On 9th April Sky News broke details of a Tory dossier urging everyone to attack Miliband. The trouble is, the attacks did not work. People saw the attacks and saw Miliband stand up to them. Miliband’s stock rose as a result. Another campaign strand fell by the way side.
In 2010 the Tory strategy was to link leadership and the economy. It brought them success. This time round they have forfeited leadership. How can you talk about leadership if you are scared to turn up to the debates? Cameron did not want to give Miliband the opportunity to look like a PM in waiting. Denying him a stage on equal footing may have been legitimate, why make your opponent look good? The trouble is that Cameron just looked scared to debate Miliband.
The next strategy is the “vote for my party to stop another party working with a third party after May 7” strategy. That is a hard strategy to get over to the public. As the third choice strategy it also has little time to build in the public mind. It also has a ring of negative campaigning about it which may turn people off. All they seem to have heard for most of this campaign is the Tory party being negative. Voters tend to like good reasons to vote for people, rather than negative reasons why not to vote for someone else.
There have been some spectacular, one off own goals. Even Theresa May, would be next Tory leader, has been guilty. To say that a SNP backed Labour government would be “Worst crisis since the abdication” seems well over the top and was much derided.
Over all, the Tory campaign has slid from one gaff to another, from one failed strategy to another. What must be worrying Labour is that they still can not get away from this substandard Tory party in the Polls.
A Garden visitor, he is becoming tamer.
This is Freddy. He visits the garden every day to feed. Originally, he was quite timid, now he is becoming bold. Today he was feeding while the lawn was being mowed. If there is no food out when he arrives in the afternoon he will wait while I walk up to him to bring him some!
He lives in the school playing fields over the fence from the garden coming over for tea just before 4.00 most days. If pheasants were not indigenous to this country we all marvel at them if we saw them abroad while on holiday. They are magnificent looking birds. It is a shame that Freddy, like most of his cousins, was raised to be shot.
Mind you, pheasants do taste good.
I am doing a sponsored walk for East Lancashire Hospice
Those of you that know me might be a bit surprised that I am going to do a sponsored walk. After all, I smoke too much and like a drink. Add to that I have an office job and do not do much exercise. However, The East Lancashire Hospice is a great cause.
True the walk on the 6th of June is only 10 miles AND it is billed as a pub walk….
Joey Essex Shares his Political Insights
A reality TV star, Joey Essex, has interviewed Nick Clegg. These kind of one off interviews can sometimes pose difficulties for the party leaders. One of the main problems can be that the interviewer does not stick to the unofficial rules and can pose hard questions. They have no relationship with the interviewee and as they are unlikely to interview them again do not mind upsetting the subject of the interview.
What did we learn from Joey Essex about Nick Clegg? Joey praised Nick Clegg for his “honesty”. That was because it seems that Nick Clegg came clean and admitted that he was unlikely to win the General Election 2015. Such bravery from Nick Clegg.
Other revelations included that Nick Clegg’s party is actually called “Liberal Democrats”. What Joey Essex thought they were called, heaven knows. The revelation that amuses me most is that Joey Essex thought that Nick Clegg’s name is actually Clegg and not “Leg”.
What is the truth behind this Tory Claim?
There are always Tory claims and Labour claims during an Election. Very few are accurate. Sometimes they seem to be pure fantasy. What about this Tory claim? What is it based on? The claim is that a future Labour government would raise taxes on every working family buy £3,068. That is a remarkably specific amount, so it must be true, mustn’t it? Not according to Labour, they dismiss it as being just made up, plucked out of the sky.
To begin with the claim says “every working family”. What is a working family and how many are there? According to the Office for National Statistics there are 17.4m families with at least one member working in the UK. Take out the working families in Northern Ireland, the Tory Claim says British families, and the figure becomes 17m.
So 17m x £3,068 and Labour would raise £51bn. What? Really? (Have I got the decimal point in the right place?). Labour is askance at the suggestion that it would need to raise that much through taxation. They would raise the top rate of tax, we know that. Mind you The Tory claim that that tax rise will not actually increase the tax take for the Exchequer. The Tory claim is based on their belief that Labour is committed to save £30bn a year as it has signed up to the Charter for Budget Responsibility. Labour denies that. Remember that the Tories do not want to borrow at all while Labour is happy to borrow for investment.
Confused yet? I will press on. The Tories claim that Labour has to raise £30bn either by tax rises or borrowing. They also claim that Ed Milliband said that he wanted a 50:50 split between tax rises and spending cuts. Milliband says that he has not committed to a 50:50 split. Even if he had and he did need to raise half of £30bn that is £15bn and not £51bn.
So have the Tories just reversed the figures? Apparently not. The Institute of Fiscal Affairs has the answer to where the original figure came from. The Tory claim has been beefed up. It is their calculation of the tax rise under Labour per working family over the life of the next parliament. So, what looks like a massive tax rise is, actually, not that big. The Institute of Fiscal Affairs also says that “Cumulating numbers like this over several years is, at best, unhelpful. Ignoring the existence of non-working households doesn’t help provide sensible averages either.”
Besides which, having analysed labour’s rules on taxing and spending the IFS calculates that Labour would need to borrow only £6bn, not £15bn, or £51bn.
Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. We can look forward many more Tory claims and Labour counter claims. All the fun of an election and there are still weeks to go! What’s not to love?
Tory Benefit Cuts, now you See them –Now You Don’t……
IDS (Ian Duncan Smith) one time leader of the Tory party. (Really, he was, you have probably just forgotten – just like most of the Tory party are trying to * see below). Has said that a new Tory government would impost £12bn of benefit cuts. What he has not said is where the cuts would fall. The odd thing is that he is confident that the cuts could be made but is pretending that no decisions have been made or areas to be targeted have been identified. The stock answer for anything like this is that “officials” are always looking at new proposals, and they do not form part of party policy. This defense has been used by governments for years and years, just before whatever the officials were looking at are introduced.
So, with that in mind, what are the benefit cuts that the un-named “officials” are looking at – not that they are Tory policy you understand.
The Carer’s Allowance to be restricted to those who qualify for Universal Credit. Almost 40% of Claimants would lose out.
The contributory element of Employment and Support Allowance and Job Seekers Allowance – currently claimants who have paid enough National Insurance contributions can get the benefits with little means testing; DWP analysis suggests 30% of claimants, over 300,000 families, would lose about £80 per week.
Disability benefits are to be taxed. That would include Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance.
Industrial Injuries Compensation Scheme is to be replaced by companies getting industrial insurance policy cover for employees.
Council Tax Support to be included in the Universal Credit.
Child Benefit is to be limited to the first 2 children in the future. (Surely a more efficient way would be to limit the number of children anyone could have to just one, like in China?)
Regional Benefit Caps. The present £23,000 limit would be less for those not living in London. Hasn’t Cameron already said that he would like to reduce the limit to £20,000?
* Ian Duncan-Smith, revisited, The architect of The Tory Benefit Cuts Plan.
IDS was Tory leader from 2001 until 2003. He became the leader of the Tory party after William Vague resigned after the general election defeat in 2001. His candidacy was helped n no small measure by Margaret Thatcher’s support. His time as Tory party leader was not without it’s troubles.
Not a strong leader, his time at the head of the Tory party was not a happy one.
In 2002, Michael Crick a respected TV journalist exposed errors on IDS’ CV. There was a claim that he has attended the University or Perugia and had a degree from there, he actually attended the Universita per Stranieri. That university did not grant degrees. There was also a claim that he had attended the prestigious Dunchurch College of Management. He had actually attended some weekend courses at GEC Marconi’s staff college.
The poor performances at PMQs saw discontent grow within the Tory ranks. Ian Duncan Smith was referred to by his initials “IDS” which many Tory backbenchers insisted actually stood for “In Deep Shit” and so they were. In 2002 IDS sought to regain (?) authority over the divided party. In his 2002 party conference speech IDS said, “do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man”. It was not a success, the following year his conference speech he said “the quiet man is here to stay, and he’s turning up the volume.” That did not work either.
His leadership was under intense pressure, not helped by Michael Crick who revealed that he had compiled embarrassing evidence, this time of dubious salary claims Duncan Smith made on behalf of his wife that were paid out of the public purse from September 2001 to December 2002. The ensuing scandal, was known as “Betsygate”.
IDS was dumped by the Tory party MPs in October 2003, apparently they thought that Michael “something of the dark” Howard was a better bet. You have got to laugh, you could not make this stuff up.
General Election 2015 – Cameron Was Right to be Scared
David Cameron and Ed Milliband were interviewed this week on the same night by Paxman. On the night the studio audience said that Cameron had won. However, a strange thing has happened in the couple of days since. The viewing public has decided that Milliband won!
For months the two main parties have been neck and neck, each on about 34%. The Sunday Times commissioned a poll by YouGov. It showed that the Labour party is now 4% ahead of Cameron’s Tories!
There are more facets to the poll, and none of them make good reading for Cameron. While he is still ahead in the who would make the better Prime Minister stakes, Milliband is coming up. More worrying for Cameron is that when asked who is most in touch with real people, Cameron is not second behind Milliband. Cameron is third behind both Milliband and Farage! Milliband is seen as more trustworthy, genuine and in touch than Cameron.
Of course, one poll does not mean that the general election 2015 is decided. At present it suggests that Labour would get 314 seats, the Tories 251, SNP 48, and the Lib Dems 16. Not an overall majority, but enough to start working with to construct a government. Anything could happen, including votes for the SNP handing the government to Cameron.
Thinking about the polling. It seems that those questioned were people who actually watched the programmes. What you have to ask is what their voting patterns have been in the past. For example, if they were all Tory voters you would tend to think that they would favour Cameron and the reverse if they were all Labour voters. AS far as I can tell the sampling was balanced, more or less. What really matters is what the wider public get from the coverage. The first day after the interviews the coverage was all positive for Cameron, the following days less so. Certainly, the coverage today, Sunday, is quite dreadful for Cameron.
Even the Tory supporters are getting in on the act. Writing for “The Conservative Woman” blog Beatrice Timpson is scathing about Cameron’s preformance. Read it here. Not a happy woman.
The latest General Election polls
I saw 2 polls in the papers yesterday.
The Observer Con 34%, Lab 35%, Lib Dem 6%, UKIP 14%, Greens 6%.
YouGov Con 34%, Lab 34%, Lib Dem 8%, UKIP 14%, Greens 5%
So the pattern of The Conservatives and Labour being neck and neck remains. Since 2011 Labour has been ahead in the polls, but never very far ahead.
What does it actually mean for the result of the general election? The traditional wisdom was that with both the main parties on 35% Labour would win a majority. The trouble is that the traditional wisdom does not hold. Labour’s vote in Scotland has collapsed, some heartland constituencies have seen a 25% swing to the SNP. The Tories are challenged by UKIP, which has picked up most of the votes that would have gone to the BNP.
There are other factors to consider, even in 2012 The Telegraph was arguing that the Tories could not win a majority. One of the reason being that the Tories attract less than 20% of the ethnic minority vote. As they move out of Labour heartlands they take their votes with them diluting the traditional Tory vote.
What else is going on as we move towards the general election 2015? Look at the Liberal Democrats. Their vote has collapsed so where will it go? In the past Liberal Democrats have looked to the left to ward off the Tories. Well, that did not work, all Clegg did was to rush into bed with Cameron. That does not persuade Lib Dem supporters to return to the fold, they fear that he might do it again. Those that voted Labour last time will stick with Labour. Those that voted Lib Dem last time have had their fingers burned, many will not do it again. They are also, as group, very likely to vote for soemone. They will vote Labour.
Some Tories are saying that they need an 11% lead in the polls to win a majority. That is too high but they certainly need a bigger lead than Labour does to win a majority at the next general election. The truth is that unless there a significant shift we are heading for Labour being the biggest party at the next general election, but without a majority. So, a coalition. Maybe not. Cameron, wanting to hold on to power, would probably try to run a minority government if the Tories were the biggest party or could argue that they won the popula vote. Not an impossible scenario. A difficult trick as their only natural supporters would the rabid UKIP mob. Labour could try running a minority government without a formal coalition. They would look for support from the SNP and the Liberal Democrats on a case by case basis.
Who said that the general election 2015 is boring?
The Sunday Times Says That Senior Tories Want to Save Dave Cameron.
The story runs that despite all the public pronouncements about winning the General election outright a plan is being hatched to save Dave Cameron should he not win the general election.
In spite of a somewhat lack luster performance by Miliband so far the Tories are worried. So they should be with the polls close and them no where near the sort of popular support that would guarantee a victory. Anything other than a straight forward Tory majority would be bad news for Dave Cameron.
He “won” last time against a hugely unpopular Prime Minister but still had to form a coalition to become Prime Minister. Not to win out right this time against a weak leader of the opposition is unthinkable, if he wants to survive as the leader of the Tory party, and he does. Desperately.
George Osborne told his MPs that they would all be re-elected, but they do not believe him. Apparently one minister is ready to call for Dave Cameron to fall on his sword if he does not win. The knives are not out, but they are being sharpened. There are mutterings that Dave Cameron and his cronies should be planning to win, not planning and escape route to save their jobs.
However, Dave Cameron has a crafty wheeze up his sleeve. Should he lead the largest party, but without a majority, it seems as if he will try form a government without a coalition. The thinking is that there will be about 20 ministerial and government posts available to hand out after the general election in 2015. Those belong to the Liberal Democrats at the moment. 20 posts would make for a lot of goodwill from power hungry Tory MPs.
The other scenario has Labour as the largest party. A coalition with the Liberal Democrats would be fragile. This time round they would drive a harder bargain. They would not be so naive. Dave Cameron would say to his MPs that to ditch him then would be foolish. A new, untested leader would be a mistake in those circumstances.
Dave Cameron is the one with the big problem. Perhaps the biggest problem for him is that the loyalty of his friends is not guaranteed. The Tory party is a ruthless party.