Sunday, 2 October 2011

Andrew Tyrie is Right, but Who's Gonna Tell the Truth?

This probably wasn't what Dave wanted to hear ahead of the Tories' annual parade, which of course is being held this year in the distinctly unconservative city of Manchester. With the predictable assortment of trots, reds and those seeking to defend their 'entitlements' marching against spending cuts, it would perhaps have been politically favourable for his charges to stay on message and toe the party line, at least in public. As a general rule, the Conservative Party have historically been the most internally 'disciplined' amongst the trio of duds that make up  mainstream Uk politics.

One of the reasons why their disintegration into full-on civil war during the 1990s is so well remembered is precisely because it was hardly a common occurrence - meanwhile, the New Labour high command, determined to win at all costs in 1997, had instructed their MPs not to so much as breathe without checking their pagers first. This bunny has always believed that the broad church of a political party should seek to encourage debate from within, but there is a line beyond which having particularly heated fall-outs, especially in public, does nothing but harm in the long run. When one considers the disproportionate level of influence that the Social Democrats have managed to exert over coalition policy, such expressions of disquiet from within the Tory ranks have been fewer than must surely be held in private?

As chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie's opinion on the state of the economy and the coalition's plan to get it back on track counts for something, at least nominally. It becomes more significant when he turns out to be balls-on accurate in his analysis - "inconsistent and incoherent" is a polite enough way of getting across the message that the current course of action is merely leading us down a cul-de-sac of drawn out austerity and economic stagnation. Tyrie appears to be agreeing with the results of this poll of Conservative members - http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/10/over-half-of-tory-members-say-osborne-should-cut-faster-and-deeper.html, that either the scale or pace of the cuts should be increased to facilitate lower, more competitive taxe rates.

This of course is precisely the opposite of what the fantasists are marching for today, but still enough to generate noises in uber-Statist country about divisions and splits within the Conservative Party. This may be politically undesirable and less than brilliant timing, but needs saying nonetheless. Cameron's obsession with climate change, increasing the international aid budget, taking on another costly foreign intervention and the utterly vacuous 'Big Society' (something along the lines of 'let's all join the scouts') amount to nothing more than the frittering away of money that should be returned to those who earned it. The issue with these 'vicious and wicked' cuts (if only) is not only do they fall short of the mark required to significantly reduce the tax burden, most of them are still some way from being implemented, and therefore become vulnerable to political expediency.

With talk of 'infrastructure' spending and a 'buy now, pay later' housing scheme, the Brownite notion that governments can somehow conjure up jobs themselves appears to still dominate our political discourse. When this bunny saw 'Tory Boy' Osborne on television earlier, explaining how the coalition would be creating 200,000 jobs, it served to illustrate precisely how Statist thinking and vocabulary has seeped into the fabric of all three of the dud parties. Meanwhile, tax cuts, at least of the personal (as opposed to corporate) variety are dismissed as unaffordable and off the radar for the time being. In reality, increasing the purchasing power of ordinary wage earners should be the number one priority for any government serious about creating the conditions for sustained economic growth - this is the only 'stimulus' that has a proven track record of working.

Deregulation would be a great boost to business were the scale of the Tories' stated ambition actually possible. The Labour years saw SMEs strangled by red tape that increased the costs of employing people and offering a service at a fair price to the consumer. Their gangster capitalist friends of course had sufficient resources to cushion the blow, or the necessary hired help to navigate their way around the rules. It was the one-man band looking to strike out on his own who really suffered, as the mountain to market entry grew and startup costs soared - it would make so much sense to re-visit regulations regarding health and safety, equal opportunities and rights on maternity/paternity, simplifying or modifying some while scrapping other aspects altogether.

The great difficulty of course rests in the fact that like three quarters of all our laws, most of the rules that govern economic activity in the Uk originate from and are forced upon us by the European Union. The logical (and correct) conclusion to draw from this is that only leaving the EU will enable any British government to deregulate the economy sufficiently to kick-start a spurt of growth, based on the creation of real wealth and jobs as opposed to the old Statist trick of 'investing' taxpayers' money and including resultant activity in the growth forecast. The Tories' recent noises on Europe, a subject that has clearly haunted them over the years, have been either disingenuous or delusional - take your pick.

They are clearly hamstrung by the presence in coalition of the fervently pro-Federalist Social Democrats, whose sycophancy towards all things EU borders on nauseating. While the grassroots and new intake of MPs appear to be as Eurosceptic as ever, Conservative top brass makes the occasional noise about 'repatriating powers', something which history tells us will not be allowed to happen. All of the significant developments in the narrative of the EEC/EU (think Single European Act, Maastricht, Lisbon) have been in entirely the opposite direction. Recent events confirm what we already suspected, namely that as far as its advocates are concerned, mass unemployment and malfunctioning economies across the Eurozone are, to coin a phrase, 'a price worth paying' for the greater good of the Federalist dream.

With the pro-Euro wing in the Tories smaller and less vocal than it has been for a generation, the party might never get a better opportunity to confront their demons on the issue and acknowledge that the terms of the conversation have shifted to a rather black and white 'in or out'. At least opening up the possibility of withdrawing from the EU would give their plans for the economy a whole host of other areas the sort of credibility they badly lack right now, but then given the Statist dishwater politics we have right now. this bunny would not bank on it happening. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

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