Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lower Spending and Lower Taxes

Today we have the first in a series of guest posts that will run for the duration of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. The posts will be on the broad topic of the state of Conservative party and conservative politics in Britain today. Today's post is written by Andrew Allison, a conservative libertarian and fellow Blogpower member from Hull, who believes in small government with a passion.

Lower spending and lower taxes. There’s no other way.

I have been thinking all week about what to write. Quite naturally one wants to be witty, but also get a serious point across. What to write though? You have no idea the amount of times I have written something down, only to delete it almost immediately. Then serendipity shone through in the guise of a very blunt Yorkshireman called Adrian.

Adrian, a man in his early fifties, told me a story. After Margaret Thatcher took on the unions and union membership started to dwindle, Adrian’s father told him if Labour is elected to office again, the welfare state will have to be much larger, as this is the only way Labour will garner votes for re-election.

This was very prophetic. The only person in Britain who thinks tax credits are wonderful is Gordon Brown; but then he needed tax credits in order to make more citizens dependent on the state. Instead of freeing more people from the burden of income tax, he takes their money, gets them to fill out page after page in forms, processes them through the bureaucratic machine, and then gives them some of their money back. “What a nice man! We are so better off thanks to him. We must vote Labour and keep those nasty Tories out.” This is what Labour hoped and it was largely successful.

Labour are quite happy to leave people on incapacity benefit. Instead of working hard to get them back in to work, it is much easier to keep them on the poverty line, dependent on the benevolent Mr Brown.

The challenge facing the Conservative Party is clear; or at least it should be. Sticking to Labour’s tax and spending plans will not work. No true conservative could think that. Public spending in the UK is too high. Money is wasted at an alarming rate. Taxes are too high and at a time when we all need a break as we work our way though the credit crunch, they need lowering; and I don’t mean by a penny or two. We can start by raising the personal tax allowance to around £10,000 and in a stroke take those who are paid the minimum wage out of direct taxation. This is radical and our opponents will criticise us for not being able to balance the books; not that Labour have managed that after Brown’s profligate spending and borrowing spree. But it needs to be done and it can be done, however it requires a huge shake-up of Whitehall and a large reduction in government spending and waste. For any doubters, the Taxpayers’ Alliance has all the facts and figures on how your money is wasted. You may be shocked.

It is only by being radical that the Conservative Party can get a positive mandate from the voters. Britain is crying out for change. They are tired of failed Labour policies. They want something different. It is our job to deliver.

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