Cameron’s one-nation programme: pull the other one!

Like Thatcher declaring on the steps of Downing Street in 1979 that, like Francis of Assisi, ‘where there is discord, I will bring peace’, so Cameron in the Queen’s Speech debate has pledged a one-nation Britain – until one looks at the detail and reads between the lines.   To take one example, the most recent government statistics show that the poorest 10% of households pay 47% of their gross income in direct and indirect taxes, while the richest 10% pay just 35% of their income in taxes.   How is that to be addressed?   Further, the higher tax-free personal allowance will do nothing for the 44% of adults, including pensioners, whose income is already too low to pay any income tax. – which is why raising the personal allowances will do more to benefit the well-off than the poor.

The doubling of free childcare to 30 hours a week for 3 and 4-year olds will be largely funded by local authorities who already complain that the existing scheme is chronically under-funded.   Local ratepayers will be forced to bear most of the cost, which means that the new funding settlement will burden local residents even more.

The first target of the £12bn welfare cuts is the reduction in the household benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000.   Charities have already stated that this will increase child poverty by at least 40,000, especially for those living in major cities.   An alternative measure which would reduce poverty rather than government expenditure – controlling escalating home rental costs – doesn’t feature on the Cameron agenda.

The UK workers’ share of GDP has declined to 50.5%, the lowest level ever recorded, a huge fall from 65.1% in 1976.   Yet Cameron’s new anti-trade union bill will make it virtually impossible for unions to undertake legal industrial action which in the last analysis is the only way to resist harsh or exploitative employers.   That can only weaken further the position of the lowest paid workers and increase in-work poverty.   How is that to be justified when there is clearly high approval rating for the ability of unions to call a strike? – 70% of the public believe that is ‘essential to protect workers’ interests.   To show how discriminatory this is, just imagine the furore if Labour were to rule that companies could only donate to the Tory party on the basis of a shareholder opt-in.

The new government has promised to raise at least £5bn a year from clamping down on tax avoidance.   This is certainly welcome, if credible, though the index provider MISC has found from its analysis that listed companies avoid at least $82bn of tax every year through tax havens, transfer pricing, royalty charges, and numerous other scams.   But all such boasts by Osborne of a crackdown on this massive diversion of tax liabilities have dissipated in practice.   One law for the ultra-rich and another for the rest of us.

8 thoughts on “Cameron’s one-nation programme: pull the other one!

  1. Nurses a pay rise no we cant afford it council workers nah we cant afford it but mps once again another payrise swell times if ones one of those seven grand hay jeff3

  2. Harry-

    Interesting thank you, although my first instinct is that this is possibly a measure intended to increase liquidity, (have I got that right ?) by forcing savers to purchase revenue generating assets, (and to boost the price and the value of such capital investments,) instead of saving with the banks; but then I’m really no economist; but this is something that someone who went to the London School of Economics might be able to usefully clarify for us?

  3. Getting back to Mr Meacher’s article:

    According to ‘The Week’ there was an article in The Times by Tim Montgomerie on the same theme but making a few different points, so I thought it was worth reproducing it on here :-

    Is David Cameron genuine about wanting to govern as a “one nation Tory”? If he is, he’ll need to rethink some of his current priorities. For far from showing that “we’re all in it together” and that the Tories are the true “party of hardworking people” too many policies look like sops to their core vote. For instance, at a time when ministers are looking at making a further £12bn in welfare cuts, what justification is there to end inheritance tax on properties worth up to £1m, a reform that will disproportionately benefit the better-off? Workers at the bottom of the pay scale are facing a squeeze on their in-work credits, yet people earning twice the average national income will be quids in as the 40p income tax threshold is lifted to £50,000. The over 65s meanwhile – a relatively well-off group and the only age bracket that that voted decisively for the Tories in the election – are set to continue to enjoy inflation-busting pension increases. This “lopsided” agenda isn’t “one nation conservatism; it’s two nation conservatism”.

    I take it as a good sign that such an article appears in The Times and hope it’ll lead to more fairmindedness in the country.

  4. J.P.Craig Weston.

    Yes, given the advanced warning, you make a fair point. However, the people able to spend money will, by and large do so, as normal, while those not able to do so are in a pickle.

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