Ideas for the coalition

One of the problems with most political blogs is that a constructive response to the ideas of rival political parties is rarer than it should be. "Not invented here" is sadly a common aproach.

A glorious exception this week on "Conservative Home" is a piece from Peter Hoskin called Five suggestions for renewed Tory Lib-dem cooperation.

You can read the whole thing here, but the main points are:

1) Political Reform. Two of the big ideas for political reform often associated with the Lib Dems (though one of them was in the Tory manifesto) have been put to bed by, respectively, the electorate in the AV referendum, and by an unholy alliance between the Labour party and a minority of Conservative backbenchers who don't appear to have read the manifesto they were elected on, in the case of House of Lords reform. But Hoskin points out that there are a number of other possible reforms which would be both popular and helpful to the cause of British democracy, some of which the coalition agreement suggests the government was planning to do. These include giving people the power to recall their MPs, (there are government proposals for this, but they could go further,) by shining a light on lobbying, and cutting back Parliamentary perks.

As he says, "A renewed effort on political trust would not only suit the Coalition philosophically, but perhaps also electorally."

2) Civil liberties. Hoskin quotes from a recent article by Dominic Raab in the Financial Times, which included the following: “While Labour circumvented the justice system, the coalition should make it a weapon – lifting the ban on intercept evidence, expanding plea bargaining and strengthening prosecutorial agencies.”

3) Early years care. Hoskin points out that a key priority for the Lib/DEm leadership and members alike is care for children in the early years, as they have a vision of social mobility which "rightly places a heavy emphasis on the “early years”. But, on subject matter at least, this means that there is considerable overlap with the work that the new childrens' minister Liz Truss has been doing since before entering government.

The Lib Dems will not like all of her ideas: they, for instance, seem to place more emphasis on qualifications for childminders. But perhaps, as we saw with the English Baccalaureate, the presence of David Laws in the Department for Education could bring about a solution of some sort.

4) Transparency, spending cuts … and tax cuts?

"It will also be interesting to see what effect David Laws has in his other departmental role, embedded at the Cabinet Office with Nick Clegg and Francis Maude. This department is the one that has been pushing transparency out across Whitehall, often in order to identity waste and have it cut, and the new minister is certainly minded to do more in that direction. In a recent interviews and pamphlets, Mr Laws has been pushing for further cuts, such that state spending is reduced to 30 per cent of GDP, lower than the 40 per cent currently planned. If anyone is to insist that all departments follow the DCLG’s lead in publishing spending data, then it will probably be him. And what would the savings go towards? Deficit reduction, of course — although perhaps, eventually, there might also be room for further tax cuts. Mr Laws, it should be noted, has also been calling for “lower marginal rates of taxation at all income levels”.

5) Employee ownership.

"Another Lib Dem conference motion stands out; this one calling for action on “Mutuals, Employee Ownership, and Workplace Democracy”. This, you’ll remember, was a policy area that George Osborne was especially interested in before the election, particularly for the public sector, on the grounds that it can help deliver better services at a lower cost — and we’ve duly it seen it acted upon in government. But, when it comes to expanding that work, the policy paper that the Lib Dems have produced to support that discussion is worth a quick read. Conservatives may not agree with all of its proposals — particularly its relentless tendency to enshrine rights into legislation — but there is something there to work on."


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Jim said…
Just on point 4 I would like to see some spending cuts. In the manifesto the conservatives said they would eradicate the deficit 20% tax raises, 80% spending cuts. In their manifesto the Lib Dems said 100% spending cuts.

The deficit has been cut by approx 20%, which is a good thing. But so far its almost all been by raising taxes.

Some sources say that current spending is higher now than it was under labour.

The national debt is over £1 trillion (thats £16,000 for every man, woman and child in the country). Adding to this debt won't help, it has to be repaid. By adding to the debt you only increase the cost of servicing it (thats just keeping it at current levels, let alone paying it off).

Its now no longer a question of what we want. Its not even a question of what we need. The only question now is what can we afford?

In truth we need to change the current deficit to a £100 billion surplus, then use the surplus to pay of the debt, thus reducing the cost of debt servicing, and increasing the standard of living for everyone. (well almost everyone, perhaps not some MP's)
Jim said…
another one i dont get is why do we have income tax brackets?

See me finks there should be a set rate of income tax for everyone. Because its set as a percentage then if you earn more you pay more.

there are no two ways around spending it simply has to be cut. A start may be limiting benefits to £300 per week (thats a little under the wage you would take for 7, 8 hour shifts at minimum wage. Thus increasing the incentive to work. I dont really agree with the minimum wage though as i think it causes unemployment.

welfare needs to fall, spending needs cut, taxes need to fall to encourage business.

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