Monday , June 17 2024

The strength of Liz Truss’s economic policy is clarity on the message. Starmer will have to meet the challenge

In a matter of weeks, Liz Truss, the front-runner in the Tory leadership race, has presented the country with bold economic plans of a low tax agenda that go above and beyond anything Starmer has offered in the past two years. The Labour Party leader is still facing an identity crisis with many voters yet to fully understand what ‘Starmerism’ actually means and what economic policies a government under Sir Keir Starmer would introduce. Liz Truss’s economic plan of pursuing a low tax agenda provides clarity of her vision for the country whilst Starmer’s vague standpoint fails to cut through.

Liz Truss has rolled out a positive economic vision in the Tory leadership race committing to tax cuts illustrating the direction she would take the Conservative Party if she became leader. Truss plans to reverse the high tax burden introduced under Boris’ administration and to restore the Conservative Party to traditional ‘Conservative’ economic policies.

Currently, the UK is experiencing the highest tax burden in seven decades with the tax burden expected to reach 36.2% of GDP over the course of the next few years. Under Truss’s plans, she vows to reverse the skyrocketing cost of National Insurance which Truss admits she opposed in Cabinet, and next year’s rise in corporation tax, which is expected to increase from 19% to 25%. Her policies aimed towards increasing economic growth, supporting small businesses, and attracting investment into the UK have gained support among party members and provided clarity on her would-be economic agenda. Liz Truss even told Sky News’ Kay Burley during a leadership debate her tax cuts could help us avoid a recession: “We can change the outcome and make it more likely the economy grows,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Starmer has proffered few ideas to spur economic growth, leaving the public wondering what his plans are to encourage enterprise and investment in the country. Given Starmer’s past involvement in the socialist movement and how it contrasts with his more recent push away from socialist policies, it’s hard to know what ‘Starmerism’ means anymore. It was only a couple of years ago that the former member of the East Surrey Young Socialists was writing a piece outlining his socialist model for Britain. More recently, however, Starmer has tried to distance himself from his socialist credentials. Starmer has even abandoned the 10 socialist pledges he promised in 2020 when standing to become party leader, including his plans to nationalise energy and water companies. This shift in Starmer’s economic views leaves the public wondering what he stands for. 

And he’s not doing much better with Labour Party members. Starmer’s recent intervention during the rail strikes to urge Labour MPs not to join the picket line has to have them confused. How does Starmer’s actions align with party values, given that the Labour Party was founded to stand up for workers rights and to give a voice to the union movement? Front bencher Lisa Nandy’s presence in the picket line despite Starmer’s intervention shows the Labour Party leader has less than a total grip of his party. Starmer’s failure to create a buzz of optimism around his leadership and his inability to unite the Labour Party around a common message, could explain why 91,000 members have left the party in the last year alone.

Starmer’s vague economic position contrasts with Truss’s clear, bold economic vision. Not only does Liz Truss’s plans for reducing tax provide clarity on her economic direction, but tax cuts have been tried and tested before under previous Conservative governments and have been successful in boosting economic growth. In the UK, former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher slashed taxes and went on to win three successive elections. Despite different economic circumstances in the 1970s, following Thatcher’s first election win in 1979, the top rate was reduced from 83% to 60% within Thatcher’s first budget. Alongside supply-side reforms the growth rate hit record post-war levels at over 2% quarterly growth by the end of the 1980s. Truss’s plans to boost economic growth could continue the Conservative legacy set by her predecessors.

Truss’s economic plan of lowering taxes and giving workers more of a return on their earnings could even be popular among younger voters. Back in the 2019 general election, only 21% of 1824yearolds voted Conservative. However, pursuing a low tax agenda has proven to be a popular policy among younger voters in other countries in Europe and could be a way to increase youth support in the UK. In France, Marine Le Pen’s bold economic vision for France gained Le Pen support among younger voters. Marine Le Pen proposed to eliminate taxes for those under 30 in the recent French election, leading to 49% of 25–34-year-olds supporting Le Pen. Hence, Truss’s cut taxes could be a draw to appeal to young voters. 

Compared to Liz Truss, there is not much substance to Starmer’s current economic position despite Starmer serving as Labour Party leader for over two years. Voters are now left wondering what Starmer’s economic plans are for the country and what ‘Starmism’ actually means. Starmer’s lack of ideas and vision for the country leaves us pondering whether Starmer might just simply not have what it takes to become Prime Minister.

About David Atkins

David Atkins is a political commentator with Young Voices UK. David is a political journalist and has interviewed politicians including the likes of Ann Widdecombe and Edwina Currie. He works at GB News as a producer. 

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