Monday, September 05, 2016

Can Theresa May be a One Nation conservative PM ?

Macroeconomic management to be competent requires income and expenditure to be managed co-jointly. Statement of the obvious but how often do Chancellors single-mindedly look at only one side of the P&L ? Some Governments, usually Conservative  ones, focus on public sector spending. Some, usually Labour, focus on where (in their judgment) our money needs to be spent. Over all of this hovers politics. And elections. Politics is the Art of the Possible.  

The disintegration of Labour, the disappearance of UKIP post Farage, the fact that it will take the LibDems years to rebuild all give Theresa May a great chance to do what is right. To be a One Nation Conservative. That means ignoring the strident ideological pressure of the likes of the Tax Payers Alliance and their bedfellows. This is not a time for tax cuts and certainly not a time for cuts for the rich! Some tweaking maybe on the margins and hopefully some recognition that direct taxation can be progressive 
 whilst indirect taxation is regressive. But no major changes to the tax system and current levels are called for. 

At today's low interest rates borrowing to fund investment is prudent and necessary. Projects like HS2 and Heathrow expansion, Social Housing (huge need) etc. should be proceeded with. The collateral benefits in respect of employment and economic Growth are obvious.  

Every area of public spending should have Cost/Benefit Analysis applied to it. Our new place in the world post Brexit needs to be understood. Leave grandiose projects like Trident to the big boys of Europe and the US. We have chosen to disengage - that does not and cannot mean some return to the idea that we are a Great Power again. Our Defence expenditure must reflect this. Cut it further.  

The NHS is under pressure and as we all age and live longer it will be more do. Costs of healthcare per capita in the UK are not particularly high compared with other advanced countries. I have written here about how the NHS must be a public/private partnership. It already is and that is not going to change, nor should it. But we must avoid listening to the ideology driven claptrap of Right and Left. The NHS must not be a political football. We need an urgent recognition that a healthy nation is not just a moral responsibility for Gocernment but a pragmatic one. That means above all an efficient NHS. It's a huge task and maybe in future some new funding models are necessary. But we have long since chosen to have free healthcare at point of use - there must be no taxing of the sick. We need an agreement involving all stakeholders about the NHS. Not forgetting patients ! 

I fear that Mrs May's unassailable position will put her under pressure from the Right to cut public expenditure indiscriminately and to provide rewards for Business and High Earners. It's happened before! One Nation Conservatism is due a revival. But you've got to be clear about what that truly means. The Right has one cataclysmic victory to chalk up with Brexit. Mrs May must not give them any more.


At 8:50 am , Blogger Claire Toplis said...

It's the equivalent of sticking one fingers in a dam sprouting leaks , it's going to be tough and manic ahead .


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