George Osborne: Political Mastermind? — July 9, 2015

George Osborne: Political Mastermind?

Even George Osborne’s staunchest critics couldn’t help but admire the political genius of yesterday’s Budget. Osborne announced key measures that were straight out of the Labour Manifesto, including headline policies of a new Living Wage and a crackdown on Non-Doms. His political mastery came by announcing the Living Wage, whilst cutting in-work Tax Credits, which will most likely have a zero-sum impact on take-home pay for low-paid workers.

The Tory Press have lauded the introduction of the Living Wage as a milestone for low-paid workers. Whilst critics have lambasted the changes to tax credits, meaning that the Living Wage isn’t a “Living Wage” after all. Pressure groups should continue to campaign for those at risk and the impact of these changes.

However, the Labour Party has fallen straight into George Osborne’s political trap. Two so-called “front-runners” and “Blairite” candidates for the Leadership have clearly missed the point of this trap.

 

The Tory spinners will lambast Labour for attacking the Living Wage, a policy which they campaigned for (at a lower rate) in May. The Tories have given the nation a pay-rise and if Labour want to gain any political capital they cannot attack this policy.

The attack line has to be solely on the changes to tax credits and where the Tories have chipped away at people’s incomes – not at the Living Wage.

It may be a very subtle point, but it will speak volumes with electorate. 

Labour candidates and supporters seemingly once again need reminding that there are voters outside of the “Westminster Bubble” and the “Twitter Echo-Chamber”

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Would Britain benefit from more political parties? — July 17, 2012

Would Britain benefit from more political parties?

[EDIT: Consider this argument post-electoral reform, not under FPTP ~ Cheers for this guys!]

We’re at a stand-still in British politics, cynics will call it the “mid-term blues” but I think it goes further than that. There is huge political apathy in Britain, voter turnout is continuously falling and the expenses scandal, combined with nearly every other scandal since has done nothing to disprove that all MPs are as “bad as each other.”

Britain has been a two-Party state now for long over 70 years, with many scholars and authors talking about a post-War consensus between the Labour Party and the Conservatives. You can debate the validity of such an idea until the cows come home (I know, I wrote 3,000 words on it easily!) The undeniable fact is that we live in a two-Party state, with no other Party seemingly able to make a significant impact. This is exasperated by the fact that the main Parties have rushed to the centre-ground in recent years, not really daring to be radical (seen as a dirty word) or too different from their opponents, in fear of losing votes. The 2010 General Election threw up an anomaly, allowing the Liberal Democrats to hold the key to power, but it was far from an election victory for the Party in the grand scheme of things. So, just how do we break the two Party stranglehold on power?

Split them up.

There are obvious divides with in all three major parties, with MPs and grassroots members forever moaning at their executive or backbenchers. The Labour Party remains divided and has been since 1994, even his name irks the Left of the Party. Tony Blair and his Blairite followers have been sidelined by Ed Miliband and the Unions, perfectly demonstrated by the attack on Progress (a “Blairite” think tank). So the Labour Party could easily split, with David Miliband leading a Blairite Labour movement. Allowing Ed Miliband to revive the Left and take his Party back to electoral abyss (or not, who knows what the electorate want)!

In the Tories the divide is as glaringly obvious. Cameron has attempted to modernise the Tories, and people within the Party don’t like it. Let Cameron start the New Conservatives, a more socially liberal Tory Party. Nadine Dorries and her socially backward friends can continue to conserve society, heck she might even bring back Feudal law or make Priests all powerful. We will call this Party the Dinosaur Party, complete with socially conservative members, incapable of moving on from 1872.

There is of course a split in the Liberal Democrats too. We’re far too often accused of “infighting” and not focusing on the other two Parties, but I’d say we’re guilty of it no more than other Parties. The Social Liberal Forum exists to promote just that, social liberal society, but for some (including me) that isn’t enough. They are happy to allow for the state to grow and support higher taxation and Keynesian policies. The “Orange Book” liberals, or classical liberals ‘run the Party executive’ and annoy the SLF with our all-round liberalness, including our economic liberalness (smaller state, lower taxes). The SLF could continue as the Liberal Democrats, headed by Tim Farron (the epitome of a “Lefty-Liberal”) and the [Classical] Liberal Party could be spear-headed by David Laws/Jeremy Browne.

Heck, even UKIP are divided. Their older, (slightly) xenophobic wing exist solely to leave the EU and berate life in general. They have a more socially liberal, even libertarian wing in the YI. They want an even smaller state than many of the “classic liberals.”

So instead of a two-Party state, we could have a real democracy with 6/8 smaller Parties. The great benefit is that people can choose a Party that really fits with their views, rather than having to settle into a Party that often conflicts with their ideals. Nobody agrees with every decision their Party makes, if you do, you are either a loyal MP, or a moron, incapable of engaging your own brain.

Here’s a (wild) estimation of where the Parties would exist on Political Compass.

Two quick polls:

How to win votes and alienate people? — June 25, 2012

How to win votes and alienate people?

*This post is focused solely on David Cameron’s “plans post-2015” on housing benefit, not all his welfare reform speech*

There can be no doubt that David Cameron’s speech today on welfare reform shows how worried he is about his political life-span. It was a cry for help from the Tory right; a pledge to attack the “entitlement culture” in Britain; and the first sign of desperation from the normally perfectly assured Conservative leader.

Cameron is lost. Politically he doesn’t know where he stands, so he has done what any Conservative leader would do and has attacked welfare recipients, but crucially, YOUNG welfare recipients. He is seeking to perpetuate the myth that under-25s are lazy and feckless. We are far from it.  Why is he doing this? To win back the traditional Tory vote. His plan to slash housing benefits for under-25s (and save £1.8bn) is a perfect example of “conservatism”, it is a vote winner. Here’s the real killer, the vote he’s winning here is the over-60s vote, the key voting age (in terms of actual numbers). There is no doubt about it, cutting housing benefits for under-25s is the beginning of a vote winning series of policies from the Conservatives. Come 2015, they could be election winning policies.

The problem is, they are terrible policies. Ill-thought out, ill-timed and irresponsible. Anybody up for another round of omnishambles?

One million young people are unemployed, how is taking away £90 per week (on average) in housing benefit going to help young people? Removing housing benefit from anybody retrospectively is cruel. It is not the claimants fault that the Government’s expenditure has gotten out of hand, it is the Governments. On the one hand, the Government has said in the past ‘You clearly need financial help with housing, and we will provide £x to cover this based on your needs.’ They then turn around and say ‘People think you receive too much, we need their votes, so, sorry, but we’re taking it away, you probably still need £x, but oh well. Votes are more important than your housing benefit.’

The last Government and some of our pensioners are responsible for excessive spending and a housing bubble, which forced the average price of a home in the UK to over £225,000. Does David Cameron really think that the majority of under-25s can afford a 40% deposit? His idea is crazy.

The Government should be relaxing planning laws, and encouraging private enterprise to increase the housing stock in the UK. We need more affordable homes, with low interest rates businesses should be confident to invest, but our red-tape stands in their way.

Of course, there are disincentives within our welfare system that need to be tackled, but Cameron and the Tory-right are hoping that if they shout loudly enough and for long enough, people will believe them that benefit claimants are the scourge of this country. People are on benefits because they require financial help, not simply to “sponge” off the Government.  How about for once, we actually clamp down on tax evasion, instead of always focusing on demonising benefit claimants.

We spend £5bn on the universal benefit of a free bus pass for pensioners. Why not make that means tested and save the £2bn there, instead of attacking the next generation? Oh, because pensioners vote. How very cynical of you…

It is time to bring back David Laws? — May 10, 2012

It is time to bring back David Laws?

Where to begin? David Laws is almost a cult of personality to many in the Liberal Democrats, and nearly as many in the Conservatives. For me his political beliefs are exactly what the Liberal Democrats should stand for. His beliefs are the reason I joined the Liberal Democrats. He is a classic liberal who wants small government and free trade. Described by a fellow Liberal Democrat as:

“An unreconstructed 19th century Liberal. He believes in free trade and small government. Government should do only the jobs only government can do. There’s no point in having a large public sector if the users of the public services are getting poorer.”

Laws is an unequivocal Liberal with a voting record to match.

Nick Clegg today in his web seminar with Liberal Democrat member said that he would love David Laws to return to the front benches of Government, something David Cameron has been on record saying previously. For me, it cannot come quick enough.

Before becoming the MP for Yeovil in 2001, Laws graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in Economics and had a successful career in the City. He became involved as an economic advisor for the Liberal Democrats and later became the Director of Policy and Research.

Laws co-edited and contributed to the fantastic Orange Book which became the blueprint for Liberal Democrat policy running up to 2010. Within it he wrote a brilliant chapter on introducing a National Health Insurance Scheme. The merits of which I have written about previously. Laws has argued that Gordon Brown’s tax credit system had created a dependency culture in which there were too few incentives to work. Then, as now, he wanted cuts in the cost of public sector pensions, housing benefit and incapacity benefit. (via Guardian)

In 2010 he acted as one of the chief negotiators when forming the Coalition. He wrote a fantastic and informative book entitled 22 Days in May on the matter.

On Ed Balls he wrote: “And I guessed that he would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to work with in government – certainly if he was in any position of power.”

On joining the Euro: “Hurrah!, as I have never been a big fan of Britain joining the euro, and have never thought that there was the slightest chance of the British people supporting the euro in a referendum.”

On a coalition with Labour: “It was clear that if we went into coalition with Labour, we would not be establishing a new government, we would be chaining ourselves to a decaying corpse.”

I cannot recommend the book enough for an insight into what happened during those crucial days for Britain.

The book ends on a sad note for Laws, and for the Country. On the 29th May 2010 he resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Laws had been caught up in the Expenses Scandal, claiming over £40,000 for a second home owned by his long term partner James Lundie. Prior to this Laws had kept his sexuality a secret. Laws immediately paid back his expenses in full with a full apology. Laws claimed that he did not intentionally break any rules and claimed that the rules he broke were open to interpretation. He was suspended from the House of Commons for 7 days.

The inquiry found that if he had attempted to profit from claiming expenses he could have claimed £30,000 more. here was claimed to be no loss to the taxpayer from the various breaches of the rules. The commissioner stated “I have no evidence that Mr Laws made his claims with the intention of benefiting himself or his partner in conscious breach of the rules.

The inquiry clearly found that Laws had not intentionally misled the Commission. He has served his “time” for his mistakes. There are some on the Left who are fearful of Laws’ return, he is a master debater and impressive intellectual. He is a huge supporter of the Coalition and their policies. They hide behind snarks about him “being a crook.” He would be a huge asset to the Treasury or any department he is placed in. It is a matter of when, and not if it is time for David Laws to return to the front benches of Government. Now come on Dave – give us a real reshuffle.

If anybody doubts that he has support in the Conservatives – George Osborne once attempted to convince him to join the Conservatives. Laws rebuffed him: “I am not a Tory, and if I merely wanted a fast track to a top job, I would have acted on this instinct a long time ago.”

Vote below:

Goodbye Tories. Hello Liberal Democrats! — May 4, 2012

Goodbye Tories. Hello Liberal Democrats!

Well, its been coming. Another insignificant Twitter defection. I won’t pretend that me jumping across to the Coalition’s junior Party means anything will change, or that anybody even cares about me doing so. But, I do write here often. Surprisingly, and thankfully a couple of hundred of you give me a read every now and then. So here’s my explanation on why I’ll be joining the Liberal Democrats.

I’ve always classed myself as a Liberal, but thought myself to be too Right-wing for the Liberal Democrats. But this definition of right and left is far too simplistic, and deeply confuses the matter. I’ve always been a huge fan of David Laws (ignoring his expenses fiasco) he is a superb politician and a great thinker. His work in the Orange Book along with Nick Clegg et al. is to be admired. I fully consider myself to be an Orange Booker. I have a liberal approach not only to social issues, but to economics. I am pro-business, pro-wealth and pro-growth and it is these economic believes have kept me in the Conservatives. Recent tax cuts are taking a step towards this. But I want more than that, I want lower taxes – for everybody. I understand, and support the Laffer curve principle for why the Coalition cut the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%, but just because the rich can avoid tax doesn’t mean they should be the only people to benefit from a tax cut in these difficult times. We should be cutting taxes across the board and encouraging people to spend and start up businesses.

Now this has been coming for a while, and it takes a lot of honesty and self-assessment to really admit this…

What is it about the Coalition that I like? Liberal Democrat policies. It was the Liberal Democrats who have taken millions out of income tax all together, not the Conservatives. They at least attempted to push for political reform.They are pushing for House of Lords reform, something I have argued for. I was a keen supporter of Yes2AV, putting me once more against the Conservatives. They introduced the pension reform which re-introduced the triple lock. The pupil premium helps gives kids from disadvantaged backgrounds a real chance in education. The Lib Dems have consistently pushed for more accountable democracy and are truly concerned about every member of society, not just big business, the unions, the rich or the Murdochs.

More concerning for me, what is it about the Coalition I don’t like? They are ALL Conservative politics. Tax breaks for married couples, equating to social engineering.  The NHS reform was a shambles, badly communicated, it will more than likely be badly administered. It offered top down reform, breaking a pre-election pledge. It increased the bureaucracy and pissed off everybody within the NHS.  Authoritarian extensions of Labour’s snooping laws, something they opposed in Opposition. Minimum alcohol pricing is deeply illiberal. Now they are talking about banning porn on the internet and blocking certain websites. North Korea must be thinking they are going to have some buddies in Europe soon. It turns out this Conservative government only pays lip service to liberalism, something I can no longer be a party to.

Things that worry me about both Parties? Further encroachment towards the EU. Yet, the Liberal Democrats support a referendum. I’m not a fan of referendums on the whole (I think those with vested interests can pour too much money into the debate – see AV referendum) but on remaining members of the European Union I feel that it is vital for the people of the UK to have their say. Increased borrowing – I can barely tolerate it, but if we simply cut away at the state in the manner some libertarians and UKIPers wanted, I honestly think there would be anarchy. You cannot simply cut, cut and cut public spending, sadly we are too reliant on it. To pull the rug from underneath the public sector would leave a sorry mess. We should continue to cut at the pace we are doing now, any further and we could be guilty of going “too far, too fast.” The Coalition is held together by a paper-thin promise to cut the deficit, and they are on track to do so by 2016. This has to remain the economic priority.

The Conservatives have taken a battering in the Local Elections, and already they cry for more “conservatism.” This is the tipping point for me, I want less conservatism and more liberalism. And that my friends, is why I will be joining the Liberal Democrats.

I have some friends in the Conservatives who will be reading this and I honestly think they will agree with me on a lot of what I’ve said, it’ll  be interesting if they take the leap with me. I’ll be looking to join up with the people at Liberal Reform and I hope they’ll join me!

Come 2015 I will be campaigning for the Liberal Democrats. Oh, and somebody owes me a meeting with David Laws!

I agree with Ed — May 1, 2012

I agree with Ed

Yes, believe it or not – I agree with Ed Miliband. Trust me, I was as surprised as you are. You are in the right place I promise you. A Conservative is openly agreeing with Ed Miliband. Worse yet, its yet another Tory policy I disagree with. Maybe I am in the wrong Party after all

This week’s horror show policy idea (baring in mind its only Tuesday!) is the idea to give married couples a tax break. To many, on the face of it this doesn’t seem like such a bad policy, but trust me – it is.

“A High Court judge is launching a campaign to champion the institution of marriage as “the most stable family structure” for raising children.” What a load of garbage. I don’t know what reality this judge is living in, but there are plenty of people who are brought up by single parents, step-parents and same-sex parents. The idea that children are better off simply because their parents remain married is bogus, its a sweeping generalisation. Children are individuals, whose cases will differ from child to child.

As Ed Miliband so succinctly put it (never thought I’d write that here!)

“But in the end what matters most is the strength of your commitment and whether you provide a good and loving home to your children. That comes in different forms. It’s really important to say that.”

But there is a more philosophical point behind this policy idea. To give married couples any form of tax break suggests to the public that being married is better than cohabiting. The Government is encouraging people to get married with a tax incentive, it is clearly stating that marriage is the better option for couples and that people should be rewarded for remaining married. It is social engineering in its most blatant form.

The state should remain neutral in social issues such as this, it shouldn’t be showing a preference to one party over another.

Beyond the sorry mess of the idea, how would they go about implementing the policy? Would it be for all married couples? Couples married after the tax break is introduced? How much would it cost? How would they cut it off? Would it be a flat tax break, or progressive? Would it encourage more “sham” marriages? Would same-sex couples receive it? (I highly doubt this by the way, this is a policy being pushed by the Right of the Party, who are against “marriage” for same-sex couples – making the policy even more repugnant).

Overall, tax breaks are a shambolic idea being suggested by the Right wing of a Party who wants less state intervention, but is paradoxically suggesting the complete opposite.

Ed Miliband is completely right to oppose the policy and for that, I congratulate him.

Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives? — April 25, 2012

Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives?

Well, well, well. Omnishambles indeed. Where to start? The Conservatives have had an absolute disastrous month or so. I might as well start with the biggest of all screw ups. The UK is back in recession. There’s no spinning the fact, back to back quarters of negative growth is a disaster, it puts the UK in real danger, the Eurozone is a mess and the UK could lose its credit rating and the markets confidence, which was crucial to George Osborne’s Plan A.

Recent news this past week offered the UK some “good news” the Government was borrowing less than before, a fall in real terms of approximately 10% to (wait for it)… £126bn. It’s not a fall in borrowing at all, its a fall in the rate. Conservatives and Cameron especially are quick to remind Labour that you don’t get out of a debt crises by piling on more debt. But that is EXACTLY what the Coalition is doing. Austerity hasn’t even kicked in yet, with estimates that 15% of the spending cuts have actually occurred as of this month. There is a lot more to come, and sadly Plan A isn’t working right now.

Worryingly for the people of Britain, the alternative to Plan A offered up by Labour seems to be a mix between taxing bankers and spending the same money, a number of times over and a Keynesian borrowing scheme. In reality they have no costed, credible alternative, and as Ed Miliband and his followers will tell you, its all part of the electoral game. The Coalition’s plan clearly isn’t working, but, and we can only play counterfactuals here, the Labour borrowing plan would be far worse.

Moving on to Yesterday’s fiasco. Jeremy Hunt is being hounded to resign (at the time of writing his Special Advisor has just resigned) because of his role in News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB. Hunt is accused of essentially pushing the deal through for News Corp. and not remaining impartial in his role. Another blow for the Conservatives. But guess what, once again Labour are guilty of hypocrisy. Ed Miliband called on Vince Cable to be sacked for standing up to the Murdochs, now wants Hunt sacked for rolling over for them? Its hardly like the Labour Party were never close to the Murdoch’s, or gave them access to their highest ministers. I’m sure Tony Blair never spoke to Rupert Murdoch – despite being a Godfather to one of his children.

So where does a disgruntled Conservative turn? Certainly not to Labour. They lack credibility on the economy, they are an opportunistic Party, too concerned with playing the electoral game and are stuck with a weak leader propped up by the Unions. If you think I’m wrong to say that – check out Ed Miliband last night. When pushed on what cuts he’d reverse he merely replied that he would “tell you at the next election.” It is utterly deplorable that in such tough times Labour politicians and supporters are more concerned about seeing a Labour majority in 2015 than working constructively with the Coalition.

What about to the Liberal Democrats? Well its certainly not a huge leap across the political spectrum to join the junior party of the Coalition. But it would be political suicide. The Liberal Democrats have been used as cannon fodder. Come 2015 (if the Coalition lasts that long) the British public will be reminded of the Tuition Fee betrayal, a failed attempt at political reform with AV and most likely the House of Lords and frequently backing reform they originally opposed. Worse yet for the Liberal Democrats, their successes will be stolen. It will be COALITION policy that took millions out of income tax all together, COALITION policy that re-introduced the triple lock for pensioners and COALITION policy that tackled tax avoidance. With all the apathy aimed at the Liberal Democrats, I fully expect them (wrongly) to struggle in the Local Elections and subsequently the General Election in 2015.

What about UKIP? Farage Fever took over last week when UKIP polled above the Liberal Democrats. This surge lasted all of a week and ICM/Guardian had them back at 3% shortly after. UKIP have a lot of good policies, there is no mistaking that, but how many of them are feasible? It is easy to promise the World when you have no chance of being asked to deliver. We aren’t going to leave the EU any time soon, we can see that by Osborne sending the IMF another £10bn (a policy Labour aren’t sure if they support or not!) Whilst this is unlikely UKIP will forever remain a one issue Party in the eyes of the electorate. Their welcoming of Roger Helmer, whose views on rape and homosexuality are abhorrent has really put me of UKIP lately. There are a large number of their members who are xenophobic, you only have to ask them about immigration and their desire for a cap. It is not a libertarian party, far from it, it simply has a handful of libertarian members. Crushingly for UKIP, the big two, Labour and the Conservatives destroyed the Yes2AV campaign enshrining a two-party system in the UK for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t even back UKIP to pick up a single seat in 2015.

The UK political scene is in a dire mess, we have no credible alternatives. Is it time for me, and the country to ditch the Conservative Party just yet? Maybe not, but we’re very close.

Ed Miliband’s latest bandwagon — March 29, 2012

Ed Miliband’s latest bandwagon

The problem with Twitter is that you are in a bubble, you follow like-minded people and the discussions tend to be about the same topics. With this in mind, I’ve avoided Twitter as much as possible this week, as it seems that the majority of tweets are commentating on an episode of “The Thick of It.”

Last week’s budget “gave the rich a tax cut and decreased the pension relief.” On top of that, we had the Cash for Cameron scandal, but what are people and worryingly politicians focusing on? Pasty-gate. A VAT hike on hot pasties.

Ed Miliband genuinely visited a Greggs over the Pasty tax.

CHRIST ALIVE – GET A FUCKING GRIP.

The Leader of the Opposition is a man who picks his battles, the problem is he picks tiny, insignificant ones. It’s hard to live in a democracy when the Opposition is led by such an imbecile. He should be focusing on the serious, underlying issues that are plaguing the UK, not jumping from one bandwagon to another.

He should be coming out to renounce the impending fuel strike, but seems as his union paymasters are in favour of it, it seems nearly impossible that he will do so. I wonder if we’ll see another repeat of this howler.

Labour under Ed Miliband are an Opposition of one word. That word is No. They are consistently acting as a roadblock to reform for the sake of it.

Here’s something that some are unwilling to say. The Conservatives have had a terrible March, they are making a hash of things. But does anybody really think Ed Miliband is Prime Minister material? Give me a break.

Sunday Trading Laws — March 13, 2012

Sunday Trading Laws

Vince Cable was caught out last week for having attacked the Coalition for lacking a growth plan. Vince has obviously forgotten that a) He’s part of the Coalition b) His department should be encouraging growth.

So I’ve thought of an idea for him. Scrap the Sunday Trading Laws! This a policy that won’t sit well with the “natural conservative” or religious types. But, frankly, I don’t really care. I understand their views, but I don’t believe in a world where the private sphere of Religion should be influencing the public realm of politics. So that’s one complaint dealt with quickly.

The weekend, the great bastion of freedom from the boring, slavish week of work, right? What do people do? They drink, they see friends and family and they shop. But bizarrely, they have to do the most of their shopping on Saturday’s, because we have state enforced opening and closing times on Sunday’s here in the UK.

Before 1994, the people of the UK couldn’t shop at all on Sundays. Now we’ve had “great progress” and we can shop for 6 hours, normally between 10am-4pm.

Surely I cannot be the only person to think that this is just ridiculous. If we scrap the bill, then people can fully enjoy their weekends and shop like they do any other day of the week. Sunday isn’t special to the large majority of people in the UK. It’s just another day, it should be their choice when to shop.

 

Tories on… — March 8, 2012

Tories on…

Day 3 of focusing on where the UK’s political parties are going wrong, brings us to the Conservatives. You can read about Labour and UKIP on here and here!

Now I won’t re-hash a lot of old posts on Minimum Alcohol Pricing, or how the Government should drop the NHS bill to replace it with a National Health Insurance Scheme. Please read their respective links! But I’ll chalk that up as two major points. In fact, I’ve talked a lot about where the Conservatives have been going wrong lately, even partly criticising the benefit cap.

So, guess what. I’m going to change the game. Lets see where the Tories are doing well!

Tories on Education

You could be forgiven for thinking we were still living under Tony Blair’s Premiership, the early days of the Government was dominated by one word. “Education, education and education.” And education has been one of the great successes of Conservative Policy so far. Academies and free-schools have taken off, and are often over subscribed. We should be proud to want to the most out of brightest pupils and Michael Gove’s new specialist schools are doing just that. GSCE rates are improving in some academies at twice the rate as state-ran schools. The academies have been a resounding success, and long may they continue to prosper.

Add to this, the fact Apprenticeships have increased by 177,000 and you can see how well the Conservatives have done in this area!

Tories on Benefits

Despite criticising the benefit cap in an earlier post, the overall cap is a good idea, it just needs tinkering with, or an improvement in housing! But one thing the Conservatives have really succeeded with is their idea of Universal Credit. The Universal Credit is set to replace the myriad of benefits we have now and be one streamlined system. It will make benefits easier to claim, but MOST crucially it will make working beneficial from the first pound. Gone will be the days of 95% tapering.

“Universal Credit: welfare that works marks the beginning of a new contract between people who have and people who have not. At its heart, Universal Credit is very simple and will ensure that work always pays and is seen to pay.”


Tories on same-sex marriage

At their 2011 Conference, David Cameron announced that he supported same-sex marriage and that he would begin legislating for it as soon as possible.

“Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

“So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.”

This debate is almost coming to fruition. Yes there are archaic relics who remained bigoted in the Conservative Party, some in fact who were involved in politics during the horrendous Section 28 days, something that any modern Tory should be ashamed of. But they are in the minority, the new, shiny Conservatives led by David Cameron believe in equal rights, and I hope this bill is passed. Then it will be up to couples and ministers/priests to choose if they want to marry.

Tories on Tough Decisions

Tough decisions are unpopular decisions, that is a matter of fact. Cameron comfortably polls ahead of Ed Miliband in leadership characteristics, such as “decisive”, “sticks to what he believes in” and “likely to make tough decisions.” The Tories have made tough decisions on the economy, and where to wield the axe on public spending. Now the Conservatives have two very tough decisions to make in the next couple of weeks in the run up to the Budget.

Firstly, we should continue on the road to scrap Child Benefit for the top 15% of society, there is no justice in people on £14k p.a. paying towards footballers and politicians (as extremes) benefits. Yes, we would be breaking a pre-election pledge. But it is a tough, pragmatic decision, and one we need to stick to. I think the bill does need some tinkering with, as a single parents are handicapped by the current wording.

Secondly, we NEED to scrap the 50p tax band. It will be unpopular, because it will be seen as “same old Tories, only looking after the rich and screwing over the poor.” But what George Osborne has to make PERFECTLY clear is that the current 50p tax rate is hurting the poor. People are avoiding the 50p tax band, and the Government is actually losing revenue, if they continue to do so, the country will suffer, there will be less taxes to redistribute.

At the same time he should stick to his guns, bring in the £10,000 threshold, a Liberal Democrat policy and avoid a Mansion Tax (another LD policy!)