Friday, 19 May 2017

Two completely different visions, one easy choice


The Labour and Tory manifestos are out now, and what a in incredible contrast, not just in policy but in the approach too.

One is a carefully costed vision of hope for the future where the government invests in the nation and its people to make things better. The other is a totally uncosted recipe for a dystopian nightmare where the government can asset strip terminally ill people in order to cover the cost of handing vast tax breaks to corporations and the super-rich!

Costings

It's quite extraordinary that the Tories spent days attacking the Labour Manifesto with accusations that "their sums don't add up" then they released a "magic money tree" manifesto of their own with no sums in it whatever!

Even the Lib-Dems managed to produce a manifesto with costings, but the Tories produced an absolute farce of a document stuffed full with over 50 uncosted policies.

It's obviously impossible to say that the Labour Party manifesto costings will be 100% accurate, because the future is impossible to predict. The UK could be hit by a huge natural disaster or a devastating terrorist attack in the next few years, which could throw the calculations off whack. The UK will definitely be hit by a Brexit recession whichever party wins the election, and we don't know how big that will be except to say that a "no deal" strop away from the negotiating table and over the economic cliff edge would obviously be significantly worse than a negotiated settlement.

The difference here is that at least Labour tried. They said where the money would come from for each of their spending commitments and put their sums out there to be scrutinised. The Tories seem to think they can evade having their sums scrutinised simply by not bothering to do any, and just making it all up as they go along!

The Labour manifesto

The 2017 Labour manifesto is full of really great ideas to make Britain a better place. It's not perfect (my main objections are the renewal of Trident, their strategically inept stance on Scotland, and their failure to take a stronger stance against the Tory policy of allowing profiteering academy chains to topslice education budgets in order to fund ridiculous six figure executive salaries) but it's by far the best Labour manifesto I've ever seen.

  • The Labour concept of education as a universal right that benefits all of society through a National Education Service is fantastic.
  • The Labour plans to properly fund the NHS, social care and emergency services is something only the most blinkered of Tory tribalists could disagree with.
  • The Labour commitment to end George Osborne's disastrous austerity agenda and replace it with an investment-based recovery strategy is a long-awaited blast of economic competence from the party that had lost its way so badly they went into the 2015 General Election promising "austerity-lite".
  • Labour are planning to gradually raise the level of corporation tax to 26%, which is still well below the G7 average. They're going to help small businesses to compete by restoring the small profits rate, so that entrepreneurs, infant industries and small businesses pay a lower rate than gigantic multinational corporations. This makes a huge amount of economic sense because it stimulates entrepreneurship and mitigates against the advantage that economies of scale gives to huge corporate behemoths.
  • The Labour policies of keeping the pensions triple lock, winter fuel payments and properly funding social care should be big vote winners amongst the older generations (depending of course on whether the older generations actually find out about these policies).
  • Labour's immigration policies are sensible. Instead of picking an arbitrary target out of the air and missing it year after year like Theresa May, Labour want to address the harmful impacts of migration with a series of specific policies (a clampdown on gamgmastering, a ban on exclusive overseas recruitment, preventing undercutting of legitimate businesses, making sure all employers pay at least the minimum wage, restoring the Migrant Impact Fund to boost public services in areas with high levels of immigration).
The Tory manifesto
The Tory manifesto isn't all bad, but even the good stuff isn't costed.

They want to plant a million trees but don't say how much that will cost. After seven punishing years they want to slowly phase out their economically ruinous cuts in infrastructure spending, but they don't include any costings. They say they now want to invest in Further Education (after seven years of completely trashing it) but they don't say where the money is coming from. They vaguely promise to increase funding for cycling infrastructure, but again no sums are provided.

The good stuff is significantly outweighed by the bad, the terrible and the downright malicious.

  • The most attention grabbing policy is their Dementia Tax policy of asset stripping elderly people for the "crime" of getting ill in their old age. Screw the fact these people worked hard and paid their National Insurance and Council Tax for decades in order to fund the NHS and social care. Their houses are low-hanging fruit for the Tories to harvest in order to fund their agenda of handing even more tax cuts to the corporations and the super-rich.
  • The Tories want to bring back the barbaric practice of ripping wild foxes apart with packs of dogs. 84% of the British public oppose it, but they'll vote to bring it back if they get a big enough majority.
  • The Tories want to give fracking companies the right to drill wherever they like, and they also want to strip local government of the ability to decide for themselves whether they want fracking or not by centralising fracking-related planning decisions in Westminster.
  • The Tories are planning to throw the Leveson Report on the scrap heap and ignore its recommendations as if Rupert Murdoch's employees never hacked into Milly Dowler's phone at all. If this isn't compelling evidence that Theresa May is totally in the pocket of the right-wing press barons then you must be operating in the hopelessly confused fantasy realm that the right-wing propaganda rags are designed to bamboozle people into.
  • The Tories have openly scrapped their 2015 pledges to not raise income tax, and to not raise National Insurance. If you work for a living, now you've been warned about what they have in store for ordinary working people (somebody has to pay the cost of their corporation tax cuts don't they?).
  • The Tories are planning to scrap free school meals for infant children.
  • The Tories are sticking with the arbitrary 100,000 immigration target even though they've missed it spectacularly over and again since 2010. Theresa May was the Home Secretary who oversaw the biggest migration inflow in UK history and now she thinks she can recycle her same broken promise for a third time and the gullible anti-immigration mob will just lap it up as if they've never heard it before (the extreme-right are so alarmingly fact-averse that she's probably right).
Different visions

It's absolutely clear that these two manifestos offer wildly different visions for the future. The Labour manifesto offers a positive investment-based strategy where the government works to improve the lives of all citizens by investing in infrastructure, public services, a National Education Service, housing and decent wages so people actually have money in their pockets to create the economic demand that is the fuel that powers all economies.

The Tory manifesto outlines a bleak dystopian future where the government works to confiscate as much wealth as possible from ordinary people (like the houses of terminally ill pensioners, or the tax rises their dropped commitments are signalling) in order to fund even more lavish tax breaks for the corporations and the super rich individuals who bankroll their party.

Conclusion

If you're a hopeful person who thinks that the government should work to make things better for ordinary people, rather than making things much worse in order to fund tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich, then there's absolutely no way you should be voting Tory.

If you think that political parties should at least attempt to explain how they're going to pay for the policies in their manifesto, there's no way you should be voting Tory.

If you think that after seven years of ruinous Tory austerity it's time to ditch the Tories' bonkers "let's cut our way to growth" strategy and try a more traditional investment based recovery strategy, there's no way you should be voting Tory.

Make sure you are registered to vote, because if you don't, you won't be able to vote against the dystopian nightmare Tory vision of the future.



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