Saturday , June 22 2024

What we want to see from the May Conservative Government

When Theresa May became Prime Minister, most of the Daily Globe writers and I were not overjoyed. We wanted a Brexiteer as Prime Minister and we felt uneasy about May due to her lack of devotion to smaller government as Home Secretary.  However, in the little over a month she has been Prime Minister, she been very impressive.

So far, the Daily Globe would like to commend Theresa May for several of her actions. First, we are very happy that she has created a Department for exiting the European Union and a Department of International Trade. This in itself shows that “Brexit means Brexit.” However, what further showed her Brexit resolve is appointing the “three Brexiteers”- David Davis, Liam Fox, and Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary- as the men in charge of Brexit. It is right that those who believe in Brexit should lead it.

Brexit, however, is not the only reason Theresa May should be applauded. She should be commended for the seriousness she has brought to her office. It is wonderful that she got rid of Ed Miliband’s virtue signalling but utterly pointless Department of Energy and Climate Change. It is great that she put the nation’s security first and got the Trident renewal vote passed. Furthermore, it is fantastic that she intends to lift the ban on new grammar schools and allow local people to earn royalties from fracking. Her willingness to take challenges head-on “out of the gate” is very encouraging. Finally, her elevation of and value of experienced “grey” people in the cabinet, over those who checked a politically correct box or may have been personal friends with the Prime Minister, is refreshing.

But there is much work to be done. In order for Theresa May to be a success, she and her government need to help elevate the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to succeed today, in Brexit, and into the future. Her aim should be an aspirational and booming Great Britain- as successful on the world stage as Team GB is in the Rio Olympics.

What is the formula for success for Theresa May and her government? Honestly, no one has all the answers. However, here are some suggestions that are likely to work. If her government succeeds in the following five areas her first term in office will be a success.

Strengthening the Economy. It is becoming increasingly clear that Remainers doom forecasts were wrong. Moody’s is now saying the UK will not face a recession, there are a record number of people working in the country (including after the referendum vote) and the stock market is performing exceptionally. However, that is not to say there is not room to improve. If Great Britain is going to have an advantage in attracting business over her continental EU rivals, she needs to make Britain the best place to do business in Europe.

My proposal, sticking with the “One Nation” theme the Conservatives have resurrected lately, is to give the “one nation”- the entire United Kingdom- a tax cut. The new Chancellor, the self-made millionaire Philip Hammond, knows the value of a pound, and he of all people would know what people can do with more pounds in their pockets. So I propose giving everyone a 5% cut in their income tax rate from the top rate of income tax down to the bottom. This will reward the often forgotten middle class, the strivers, and give them help in being able to spend the money in a way that will benefit themselves and their family. But a tax cut for the wealthy, combined with tougher penalties for tax dodging, will encourage them to keep their money in the United Kingdom. As the lesson of the boom of the 1980s shows: let people keep their money and the economy will flourish.

Finally, Philip Hammond should slash corporation tax to 10%. George Osborne had already pledged to make corporation tax the lowest in the G20– why not make it lower than the Republic of Ireland and one of the lowest in the entire world? With low taxes, a world-class educated workforce, the financial capital of the world in London, the English language and the best time zone for trade- who wouldn’t want to move their business to the United Kingdom? Shortly before the referendum, James Delingpole went to Switzerland and said he saw what a beautiful future post-Brexit Britain has. But Britain can do so much more than Switzerland- it’s already the fifth largest economy in the world!

Being Responsible with the Nation’s Finances. Many readers I am sure are currently saying, all those tax cuts are fine and all, but how would we pay for them? Putting aside two obvious points that the money belongs to the people and not the government, and that the Laffer curve (and real life examples like the 1980s and even Osborne’s cut of the 50p rate to 45p) shows that lower taxes result in greater tax revenues in the long run, there will need to be short term cuts to keep the nation’s finances in order.

In order to offset short term losses to the treasury, I prefer three main ways to cut spending that will not hurt the nation’s poorest but are also necessary decisions. The first area I suggest cutting are “sacred cows”, big expensive projects like Hinkley Point and much of the Northern Powerhouse. Those are glamour projects that are leaving the UK taxpayer with an ever increasing bill. They should be abandoned. Secondly, they should cut silly projects like green subsidies for wind farms (which in fairness, the government had begun to role back in the past year) or individual politician’s pet projects. Basically, they should cut subsidies and payments to projects that do not serve the national interest or should better be handled by the private sector. Finally, the UK should take the surplus (the £6.5 billion to the EU that would otherwise not have been paid out) amount it pays the EU and that it receives nothing in return for, and place that amount in the DFID budget. That amount would account for around half of the DFID budget because of the 0.7% of GDP requirement and allow the government to save spending around £6 billion on additional foreign aid. Further, putting the EU’s profit from the UK into the DFID (which is headed by Brexiteer Priti Patel) budget sends the right message to the EU: that it is a foreign organisation and all money sent to it with nothing in return is foreign aid that is subject to future cuts.

Building a Proper Energy and Industrial Strategy. One of Theresa May’s closest advisers is a man named Nick Timothy, whose hero is Joseph Chamberlain. Joseph Chamberlain was a self-made businessman, turned mayor of Birmingham, turned front bench MP, who also believed strongly in the union and the betterment of the working classes. Therefore, especially with the creation of the new department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, it seems clear that May wants to follow Timothy and Joseph Chamberlain’s thought and encourage the strengthening of jobs that would benefit the working class in Britain- especially in heavy industry and the energy sector. Below are my suggestions for a successful energy and industry strategy.

Back in 2013, I wrote an article arguing that the best energy strategy for a nation is to have is to have a diversity of energy sources to choose from. That has been clearly proven to be a winning formula for the Untied States, where they are no longer dependent on foreign oil and where energy is cheap. Britain too can have this kind of success by not “picking winners” by giving subsidies for whatever energy is in fashion, but by letting the market choose. Britain is a nation rich in natural resources which could provide plenty of jobs to many people, especially including manual workers.

Therefore, I first suggest that the UK go full speed ahead on fracking, allowing property owners with natural gas under their land to receive payments from the royalties. This will benefit ordinary home owners, provide jobs for thousands of people across Britain, and lead to lower energy bills. Next, I suggest that the government no longer treat coal as a scourge upon the earth but as a valuable resource that can be handled in a clean manner. Many northern communities were left devastated when coal pits were closed and many areas continue to suffer. Many communities (unfairly) blame the Conservatives for the demise of their livelihood. Conservatives should loosen onerous regulations that make almost impossible the re-opening of coal mines and the usage of coal energy. Instead Conservatives should write sensible regulations that allow for coal areas to thrive. The same goes for steel and heavy industry. Currently, (thanks to Ed Miliband and the EU), the UK’s regulations are so burdensome that steel plant closures make economic sense. That needs to change. At the very least, green regulations need to be on par with other industrialised nations to let the UK compete. Furthermore, areas like green energy and nuclear power that currently enjoy taxpayer largess should be encouraged but should be able to stand on their own two feet. Finally, the government should allow the expansion of either Heathrow, Gatwick or both. This industrial and energy strategy is important for not only lowering Britons energy bills and strengthening the British economy, but in also continuing on in Iain Duncan Smith‘s great legacy: of restoring dignity through work.

Making a Success Out of Brexit. Shortly after the referendum I wrote a Brexit manifesto outlining what the Daily Globe wants to happen during the Brexit process. Thus, you can read it on the hyperlink and there is no need to repeat the entire argument. However, I want to briefly re-emphasise that the United Kingdom needs to use the article 50 period to readjust itself from a European nation, dependent on European institutions, to a global nation that builds the strongest of ties with its natural allies in the Commonwealth, the United States, and beyond. At the end of the process, the EU needs to be seen as a neighbour and one of many trading partners and friends but not the sole focus of the UK’s time and energy. Thus, the importance of new trade deals. I would, for instance, aim for a deal with Commonwealth partners by the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2018- which will be held in the UK. In order to make a success out of Brexit the focus must be on the new global relationships- “Out and into the world” as The Spectator beautifully put it.

Making a Success after Brexit.  Article 50 should ideally be triggered around 1 January 2017. That gives enough time for the new Department of International Trade and Department for Exiting the European Union to be properly staffed and trained and for the government to finalise a good Brexit strategy. During that time, I would hope that the government sticks to the priorities outlined above and that the nation succeeds. Following Brexit, and after boundary reform has been finalised, I would hope the government would repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act and call an election one year earlier than scheduled- in 2019. This would allow the Conservatives to go to the nation on a manifesto without EU constraint. Assuming Labour continues to be a shambolic disaster show in 2019, this would hopefully be a landslide win for the Conservatives and allow Theresa May to have a mandate for another fresh set of ideas to better the country.

That being said, 2019 is a long way off. I hope Theresa May will build upon her promising start as Prime Minister, adopt similar policies to those in this article, and that her government will be a resounding success. The United Kingdom needs great leadership- the Daily Globe’s hope is that Theresa May will deliver.

About Ted Yarbrough

Ted is the co-founder and editor of the Daily Globe. He is a long-time blogger on British politics and has written a thesis on Thatcherism.

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