In the Grauniad Polly Toynbee does her best to defend big government and claims that the Tories won't dare to actually cut anything for the chattering classes. What I love is her conclusion which rather lets the cat out of the bag:
Labour's failure to embed its social programmes in the public imagination may some day make them vulnerable. Had Labour wrapped its spending around a bolder narrative of social justice, it would be so much easier now to demolish the "rolling back the state" rhetoric.
Might one suggest that the social programs are not embedded because any competant observer can see the waste and jobsworthness of these programs. As TimW points out perhaps the best comment on her screed is this in the feedback below:
October 6, 2006 07:56 AM
I understand that a paper would employ jounalists to provide Comment and Opinion, but what is the point of a Random Thought & Unsupported Hypothesis section?
To be slightly more creative, Tim suggests cutting the DTI and leaving the EU to provide a swift £13billion in savings. I can't disagree and neither do I find it hard to argue with the commenter (because I suggested the same thing at Tim's post) who says:
Cameron might just as wel[l] start with cutting the thousands of non-jobs that were advertised in 'Society' and the health pages of the Grauniad over the last eight years, including the condom outreach and diversity co-ordinators. [...] Gordon's biggest waste is the thousands of these useless non-jobs on the public tit.
I'd add that a rationalization of tax policies - such as unifying income tax and national insurance, removing corporation tax and inheritance tax, and raising the threshold for the lowest band of income tax to something like a living wage (say £1500/month = £18,000/year) would probably save a huge amount becuase we could also remove all those tax credits and the clashing incentives they present to people who approach the top end of the tax credit scheme - such as those who work more than 20 hours a week at minumum wage. I'm not sure of all the savings this would make - but I am reasonably sure that it would result in a significantly smaller requirement for inland revenue personnel.
What else would I do? look to reduce income tax even further by calculating how much central government contributes to local government and remving both that subsidy and the tax that supports it. Councils could then raise property taxes to support themsleves but because corporate taxes have gone and personal income taxes been reduced so much the increasse would probably be acceptable. Note as a halfway house I might look at the possibility of ring-fencing a certain amount of income tax as earmarked for local government and migrate to a situation where counties could vary the rate of income tax they set.
Finally Polly suggests that a Tory government would not cut middle class tax breaks but go after the working stiffs. A sane Tory party would continue along the lines I'm hinting at and go after those who are dependant on the state while rewarding those who can do things themselves.To pick some examples - I'd make the BBC license fee voluntary. Make it easy for the BBC to receive funding from individuals (and possibly make any BBC donation partially tax deductable but not fund it through government (note I might modify this slightly and fund some world service activity). Of course since we've withdrawn from the EU there will be no CAP and no farm subsidies so we might as well go the whole hog and fire 90% of DEFRA including canning most of their pointless inspectors. The only ones we might keep are a few health and safety inspectors and some of the planning inspector types - but they'd be moved to local authority control.
Hitting the middle-class? Well how about revising the university funding scheme? I'd support certain subjects only - primarily scientific ones. I might even provide grants for students of English, Maths and Physics in exchange for a year of teaching. What else?
Want something more radical? How about solving two or three problems at once - legalise drugs but require that sellers be licensed (similar to pubs, offlicenses and/or pharmacies) and cut the price of heroin by buying up most of the Afghan poppy crop for the next two to three years and supply it via some privatised entity (or heck let the alcohol/tobacco companies do it under license). You'd get quality control, opiates available for pain management without a problem and a valuable re-export since IIRC pain management drugs suffer from a lack of offiical opiate supply in much of the world.
Update: Via a fellow Witanagemot member, I have found this "wonderful" news in the Torygraph - it seems Polly's wonderful NHS can't figure out how to tell pregnant women about a common treatable infection that kills or seriously disables about 2 babies a week