Apparently, the Tories are planning to fight the coming General Election on much the same platform as the last. One imagines the commitment to the single market will be removed and the immigration pledge will be altered.
This is a mistake.
I will be voting Tory, unless it makes sense in my constituency to vote Labour or Lib Dem to prevent an SNP victory. But they get plenty wrong. They should be willing to admit this and change course.
My wishlist for five things to be removed from, and five things to be added to the manifesto.
- The Pensions Triple Lock
- Possibly the most expensive and ill-thought out commitments a government has made. Committing them to raising pensions at 2.5%, wages, or inflation – whichever is greater. Constantly ratcheting up the cost of pensions at a time when the government should be attempting to wean people off dependence on the state in their dotage. A transfer of wealth from the young to the old. And this is the perfect election to get rid of it, the idea that the over 60s are going to vote for the IRA candidate is for the birds.
- Get rid of the no increases in taxes pledge
- Pledges like this can only lead to backfires. A chancellor should not have their hands tied to the point that they cannot vary the rates for 75% of government revenue is ridiculous. I’d prefer to see taxes lower, but circumstances can change and the government needs flexibility
- An expensive boondoggle that will be overtaken by the market in autonomous cars. There is no need for it or for any mid-distance point-to-point infrastructure investments. Edinburgh/Glasgow – London/Birmingham, sure. But London-Birmingham? Please. Autonomous cars and new ownership models for cars will mean people can travel quickly, cheaply, and in privacy within our current/slightly expanded road system.
- Inheritance Tax Changes
- The Tories should be the party of earned, not unearned wealth. Yes – parents should be able to give a certain amount to their children without incurring IHT. That rate should be increased with inflation (as should all tax thresholds). But for the party to truly ‘solve’ intergenerational inequality, they need to increase the churn rate of money between generations. More sales of property from the newly dead would increase the number of homes on the market for the newly wed, decreasing prices and increasing the efficiency of the market.
- “make sure no-one is forced to sell their home to pay for care”
- This goes against Tory ideals that people should be responsible for themselves. People should be incentivised to save throughout their lives for the end of their lives. The family unit should also be placed at the centre of care for the elderly, with the state only intervening when there are no children to help. Making parents the responsibility of their children as in Singapore would lessen the burden on government and prevent feckless children pawning their parents off onto the state
- Tax deductibility of mortgages for people fewer than five years into home ownership
- Previously I leaned towards total mortgage tax deductibility. This would lead to an incentive to take out mortgages and an increase in the inefficient allocation of capital by banks (more mortgage lending, as it’s safe and into fixed assets which banks can reclaim, means less lending to riskier enterprises that will have greater payback). But making mortgages tax deductible for anyone who has owned a property for fewer than five years would massively decrease the cost of getting onto the ladder and increase their spending power as they got onto the market. It would be costly and would increase house prices, but combined with a campaign to build millions more houses by reforming the planning system this would dramatically improve the fortunes of the young in this country.
- Crossrail 2/Heathrow Expansion/Planning Reform
- London risks becoming unattractive in the future as a result of Brexit. It will remain one of the two global cities, but could decline relative to Paris and Tokyo to become closer to them and less like New York. This is unacceptable. London pays for the rest of the union. From Cornwall to Clackmannanshire, London pays for it all. An investment in Crossrail 2, in two new runways at Heathrow, a new runway at Gatwick, and a rapid transport system between the two, and a change in the planning system to favour development unless the area is of special significance would save London from any decline and revitalise it – the young could afford to live there, the 30-50 bracket would no longer abandon it. We could steal aviation market share back from Dubai. London is our national champion, and yes there is too much focus on it and not enough on Glasgow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle – but we cannot focus on those without London paying for them.
- Remove students from any immigration cap/quota
- It’s a stupid policy. The one group of immigrants the country is in favour of. And we’re saying to Chinese and Indian students that they’re not welcome here when we need them to pay for our universities. Change it. And in any immigration reform have any student completing a Masters or PhD offered permanent residence.
- Merge DfID, FCO, DfIT under the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- DfID needs reform. The DfIT should sit under the Foreign Office anyway. And the FCO needs investment. Bringing the DfID under the FCO should not be seen as a way to scrap the 0.7% target but to make it more effective. With true business cases used for every project and recognition that if the 0.7% target isn’t reached in one year it could be set aside for projects in the future or for acute crisis response.
- Diesel scrappage combined with a low cost incentive scheme for PV and EV and a countrywide commitment to autonomous vehicles
- Air quality in London and other major cities has become a bigger theme recently. Changes to the Congestion Charge should be combined with a generous scrappage scheme for older diesel and some older petrol cars with an added incentive for anyone turning a diesel over for a new, autonomous ready EV. We should aim to become the global centre for autonomous vehicles, stealing the lead from California with a permissive testing system. As part of our Brexit strategy we should be establishing free ports and should incentivise builders of autonomous vehicles to establish in these zones for export.