Daily archives: May 18, 2017

The Tory Manifesto Is Priceless

The most extraordinary thing about the Tory manifesto is that you can read pages and pages of it and not come upon a monetary value put on anything. Figures are extremely few and far between indeed, and where there is a cost placed on something there is normally no indication given at all of where the money is coming from.

You have to get to page 14 before you come across a single figure at all. Then it tells you that by 2020 they will increase the personal tax allowance to £12,500 and increase the higher rate threshold to £50,000. But it places no value at all on the next cost of this tax cut, or how it can be afforded.

You have to go through six more pages of waffle before you get the next figure at page 20, a National Productivity Fund of £23 billion. Again, no indication is given of the source of this funding, perhaps because it is very much an old recycled announcement.

Perhaps the most remarkable instance of lack of clarity on funding is the promise of £8 billion extra for the NHS. Again no indication at all is given of where this money is coming from. The only indication of an extra funding source is a levy of £450 per head on overseas students for use of the NHS. That will raise only about £50 million and is just a chance for an attack on a group May particularly hates – and a bone to the racists.

It is impossible not to contrast the complete absence of prices on 95% of the proposals in the manifesto, and the complete lack of explanation of the source of funds on almost all the few items that are costed, with the huge media onslaught on the fiscal detail of the opposition parties’ manifestoes. A completely different standard is being applied to the Tories.

The BBC as usual wheeled out the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the “independent” body representing extreme neo-liberalism. The IFS has been lyrical for hours these last few days giving instant judgements on why the Labour manifesto had holes in it, repeating continually the corporate propaganda that if you increase taxes on the super-rich, they will pay less. But when invited by the BBC to comment on the finances of the Tory manifesto, the IFS merely replied that they would be presenting an analysis of all the manifestoes next Tuesday.

The Tory manifesto is literally priceless – it puts no price on anything. But we all know it will carry a disastrous cost for our public services and for the most vulnerable in our society,

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An Unworthy Thought

Pensioners alone were responsible for blocking Scottish Independence in 2014, and pensioners were the only group that supported Brexit by any substantial majority. I know there are exceptions, but broadly it is inarguably true that pensioners caused Brexit and blocked Indy. So I am struggling not to relish the schadenfreude at the Tory manifesto shafting pensioners. I do realise this is an unworthy thought; it is a temptation against which I am struggling, manfully. The truth is, of course, that many pensioners are among the most vulnerable in our society, and that their undoubted tendency as a group to harbour outdated and unpleasant views out of kilter with the rest of society, is in part due to a tendency by wider society to exclude pensioners.

The Tories calculate that the pensioners will loyally vote Tory anyway. They may be right. Pensioners are also the group most susceptible to dog whistle racism, and the anti-immigration nonsense the Tories are proposing will play well with pensioners. The largest payer of penal charges on employers who hire foreign workers will be the NHS, so it is difficult to see how that helps. Employers in general prefer to employ local workers where they can. Security of employment status, an employee with established social support, absence of language and communications difficulties. There are plenty of reasons for employers to prefer local employees. They employ others only when there is good reason to do so; attempting to penalise that is daft. It does not appear that the manifesto is going to contain any other practical proposals for reducing immigration, just the aspiration; which is probably a lie.

I worry about reintroducing the stigma of means-testing to free school meals and to winter fuel payments for pensioners. At my school, we knew who got free school meals in our class, and children can be cruel. My parents and my grandparents would never, for reasons of pride, apply for any benefit other than those like the basic pension which came automatically. I suspect they are not alone. There is no reason in logic to means test the winter fuel allowance and not means test the basic state pension, of which it was a de facto part.

Sorry for such a stream of consciousness blog entry – election campaigns don’t always lend themselves to properly gestated thought.

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Tories Rely on BBC Lackeys

Astonishingly the Tories have today banned Murdoch’s Sky News from interviewing senior ministers, as they think Sky asks too many difficult questions. For now they are only allowing senior ministers to be interviewed by the reliable Tory house propagandists Kuenssberg, Robinson, Smith and their colleagues at the BBC. The stark contrast between the level of critical scrutiny the Tory manifesto is getting from the BBC, compared to their scathing sarcasm about opposition proposals, shows Tory trust in the BBC is well placed.

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