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Matt Woods
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It just looked so shifty and dishonest, to see our politicians going on TV and radio giving answers like "I have no idea what Lord Ashcroft's tax status is- it never comes up when I talk to him." or "We have been given undertakings and I am satisfied that he is in compliance with the law" or "It is a personal matter between him and the tax man." Is there ANYONE at CCHQ prepared to defend our Ashcroft strategy (namely, "Lie and hope it goes away")?
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Individual Tory MPs also need to take some blame for their expenses claims. For example, David Heathcoat-Amory lost a safe seat in Wells partly because he charged his constituents £380 for manure, had to repay £30,000 in overclaimed expenses and accepted massive EU subsidies for his estate in Scotland while claiming to be against the EU. I remember working at the CCHQ call centre and the whole operation one afternoon being turned over to trying to help him defend his seat. That was time that could have been spent helping Chris Philp in Hampstead, who ended up losing by 42 votes, but instead of taking the fight into the marginals, CCHQ ended up diverting resources towards saving the skin of this selfish individual.
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I agree. Lord Ashcroft's own affairs made a fool out of people like William Hague, who was repeatedly on TV trying to worm his way out of giving a straight answer to the question on his tax status. Ashcroft was brought up as an issue way back in 2000/2001, so the party could and should have dealt with it years ago. Why, a few years ago, didn't we just put out a statement in the summer silly season saying "Lord Ashcroft has been non-domiciled up to now, but is now making arrangements to change his domicile to the UK. He will not donate any more money to the party until this is done"
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I think Ashcroft is trying to get his excuses in before anyone else here. He did a great job and is a great servant to the party, but the reasons we didn't win outright are pretty simple. 1) We didn't make C1C2 voters believe they'd be better off paying lower taxes under us than they'd be by keeping their welfare benefits under Labour. 2) There was a sense that we were still a party for the rich and privileged, fed by things such as the expenses scandal, offshore and non-dom donors. 3) The party leadership looked dishonest and shifty by not giving a straight answer on Lord Ashcroft's tax status, by wriggling out of promises made in the press and by using weasel language like "we have no plans to..." 4) There are too many middle class people on welfare who would rather put their fingers in their ears over the deficit and keep their welfare benefits. 5) Labour mobilised its core vote in certain seats by (correctly) pointing out that we would cut welfare. 6) Labour created a huge tranche of welfare-dependent voters, many of them immigrants who will now probably never vote Tory unless they're weaned off welfare and onto work. 7) The electoral system is stacked against us and is conducive to voter fraud, particularly in the inner cities. Labour used fraudulent and illegal tactics in London to good effect.
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In PR terms, linking Labour, the Union bosses and militancy will be essential in turning the public against the strikers, rioters and wreckers. I'd like the CCHQ media team to try and arrange a few tabloid editorials and TV appearances for Arthur Scargill and Bob Crow. If we can make Labour's opposition to a balanced budget synonymous with old-style militancy, strikes and obstruction, we can divide and discredit the Labour movement at the same time.
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I think the economic task can be summed up by: 1) Stop things getting any worse and assure the world that Britain is good for her money by only spending what we can afford. (eliminate the deficit) 2) Grow the economy by making Britain a better place to do business. Grow society to reduce the long-term costs of social breakdown. 3) Make sure we don't get in this situation again by developing new industries and a skilled workforce making quality products, to reduce our reliance on Finance. I'd like all policies to be tested against these benchmarks. Some will meet only point (1), some to (2) or (3) and some will tick all three boxes. Our spokesmen need to relate everything we do back to these benchmarks, which has the added benefit of drawing subtle attention to the situation we inherited without us having to say out loud "Labour left us with this mess".
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Pot Luck with Cameron Today or Humble Banana Pie with Miliband tomorrow!
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2010 on A narrative for this government (#2) at thetorydiary
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I like your idea in the last paragraph. Tax evasion is much worse than a single mum on benefits doing the odd bit of undeclared hairdressing or babysitting. I'm sure there'd be plenty of disgruntled employees who would trade in their job for immunity from prosecution and 5% of a few million if they blew the whistle. You should recommend it to HM Treasury. On the footballer thing, of course you're right that they didn't cause the banking collapses, but isn't there a case for arguing that they are part of the flash, vulgar consumer culture that has led this country into debt? Children who can't afford school equipment or whose parents need to get uniform grants turn up in the latest football shirt. People who can't afford it try to emulate their "heroes" in image and spending. I'm not saying that footballers caused this mess, but rather that we all have to look beyond "the banks" for the real causes. Corporations, banks, lenders, individuals, celebrity culture, government, public servants, businesses ALL have to accept responsibility in varying amounts for the current situation.
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The State Pension is a legalised fraud. In 1948, there were 5 workers for every pensioner. Now there are only 3 for every pensioner. Once you factor in the average retirement lengths (longer than 1948) and the average working lives (shorter than 1948), the ratio today is more like 1.8 workers for every pensioner. Politicians that continue to lie to the British public about the sustainability of the State Pension are letting Pensioners down and burdening future generations.
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"Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payrolls [and] losses that hurt the economy," "Job options will be increased and broadened with new forms of non-state employment, among them...co-operatives and self-employment, absorbing hundreds of thousands of workers in the coming years" This isn't a quote from John Redwood, or Dan Hannan or Norman Tebbit, but from the Cuban Labour Union, defending plans to cut 1 million jobs from the Cuban Private Sector. Cameron should be armed with similar quotes for PMQs tomorrow. He could probably chuck in a joke about Labour's leadership candidates all veering to the left in their Fidel Castro and Che Guevara T-shirts.
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Let me ask you a question. If "Bankers" were taxed at 70%, do you think they would: a) Say "fair cop" and pay it? b) Use their cunning to get paid in ways that avoid the tax? c) Relocate to another country where the tax is lower? d) A combination of b) and c)? No one likes to see the very wealthy flaunting money while people are struggling, but we need to approach this with realism. Why not tax footballers at 70%? What about film stars? How many Labour luvvies would be such committed socialists if they had to hand over 70%?
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Exactly. Andrew Lilico has said as much on these pages. I think we need to do a better job of explaining to the public what a double-dip means and how it sits in the wider context. I think we could be doing a better job of managing expectations.
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Very true. In the 1980s, we failed to replace the old industries with real jobs. Whole areas either went onto welfare, were trapped in low-paid work or became dependent on the state sector. The challenge is to go for growth and nurture our current world-class industries (Aerospace, Medical research, pharmaceuticals, telecomms, computer games and yes even Finance) and develop new ones (Space technology, Energy, Hydrogen power, computing). The way to growth is not by handing out borrowed money and hoping enough people use it to buy ringtones and Chinese TVs.
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I think we should explain not only why Balls is wrong, but to explain that his plan is go go back to "business as usual"- an economy based on the public sector, borrowing, consumer spending, low-paid service jobs topped up with welfare, cheap immigrant labour and make-work schemes. I would rather see a double-dip than a quarter that's technically in growth because of artificial "stimulus" of printed money.
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The trouble is that there's no way for the public to see "what would have happened". We can say "if we hadn't reduced spending, we would have had a sovereign debt crisis", but the public will only go on what they see and experience in their everyday lives. I actually think if the only way we can avoid a double-dip is by debt-spending and consumer activity, then we should probably just have a double-dip. Then we need to get on with properly reconfiguring the economy as you say. I can't understand why we're so silent about growth and job creation. Maybe the government want to get all the bad stuff out of the way so they can spend the last two years of the parliament really pushing for growth and selling the benefits and positive aspects to the country.
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Fair point, but HOW are we going to get people into work? The economy needs to create jobs. We know Labour's plan. Labour want to borrow £200bn a year from the Chinese, use it to pay half the country to dig holes and pay the other half of the country to fill them in. We need to help manufacturing and the private sector to reduce our reliance on Finance and services. This shouldn't mean wrecking the financial industry- let's keep what's good about that and build on it. We can't build a meaningful economy by borrowing money and hoping it all gets spent.
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We know this parliament is a one shot deal. We can't worry about polls and we've got nothing to lose. Everything should be focused on: 1) Be radical 2) Change Britain 3) Make it impossible, or at least very difficult, for Labour to reverse. I also think we need to have a broader debate about the sort of economy we should have. We could well be facing a double-dip. I think we need to pre-empt this and prepare the public. A double-dip might well be necessary in order to reconfigure the economy for the long term. By building up the phrase "double-dip" to be some sort of doomsday scenario, we are making a rod for our own back and making it more difficult to argue for a move away from a debt and credit-based consumer economy.
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I think my assessment of the situation was a little too close to home for him!
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The Union leadership are going to end up looking ridiculous if they want to go ahead with "civil" disobedience (code for very "uncivil" disobedience). As always with the left, agitating, wrecking, shouting, disrupting and destroying are the only tactics they know or care about. For them, the country can come second, like last week when Labour's friends in the TSSA left Battle of Britain veterans stranded by using a tube-strike to disrupt Blitz commemorations. The Union leadership are the enemy within. The key to winning this one is to understand that lots of workers have very real concerns and are facing anxiety through no fault of their own. We need to be sensitive to their situations, but also explain that that there are lots of people in the private sector facing an uncomfortable time and that the government needs to be fair to public workers and taxpayers alike. If we're sensitive but honest to the workers and firm with the Union leadership, we can drive a wedge between the decent membership and the Militant tendency. Workers facing lost pay won't have the stomach for a long fight and support for any strikes or wrecking tactics will quickly crumble, especially once union leaders are isolated from their members.
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If we want decentralisation, we need to stop talking about "postcode lotteries" as our spokesmen stupidly kept calling them during the election campaign.
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Well that's that lot neutered as a dissenting force. They'll all be behaving themselves. By 2015, we might have to give every MP a job in the government to keep the thing together!
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I hate benefit cheats and scroungers as much as anyone, but we need to get a sense of perspective here. The country is not broke because of the small minority of people swinging the lead. Very few people choose to live on benefits because it's not much fun. Unemployment and increased welfare uptake is a symptom of the recession, not a cause. If there are jobs, people will fill them. There are low paid jobs in shops and factories attracting a hundred applicants per position. There are professional people taking bar jobs and part-time work easing low-skilled workers out of the market. We do need to replace the welfare state with a welfare society, certain benefits are too generous and welfare has become too much of a right rather than a benevolent last resort. There are savings to be made, but these savings are nothing compared to the benefit of an economy that has enough jobs for everyone, paying good wages and actually producing things. I'd be far more interested to hear how George Osborne is going to do this rather than nickel and diming people who probably claim less in a year than MPs do in a month.
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Surely, most places had portraits before Labour had them taken down. Most of these pictures will be in storage and so shouldn't cost a penny to put back.
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The year 9 class I taught recently didn't know who was involved in the First World War or who won. Maybe spending a few pounds more on civics and promoting assimilation into our culture would actually be an improvement to education itself?
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The sad thing is it wouldn't take much. All it requires is a bit of effort and leadership. It doesn't cost the taxpayer a penny for staff to iron their shirts, have a shave and be polite. It doesn't take much to hang a flag up and bung a portrait of the Queen on the wall. It's important to welcome people to our country and give a good impression if they're going to spend their money here.
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