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Cameron’s one-nation programme: pull the other one!

Cameron (still from Captain Ska video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQFwxw57NBI)Like Thatcher declaring on the steps of Downing Street in 1979 that, like Francis of Assisi, “where there is discord, I will bring peace”, so Cameron in the Queen’s Speech debate has pledged a one-nation Britain – until one looks at the detail and reads between the lines. To take one example, the most recent government statistics show that the poorest 10% of households pay 47% of their gross income in direct and indirect taxes, while the richest 10% pay just 35% of their income in taxes. How is that to be addressed? Further, the higher tax-free personal allowance will do nothing for the 44% of adults, including pensioners, whose income is already too low to pay any income tax. – which is why raising the personal allowances will do more to benefit the well-off than the poor.

The doubling of free childcare to 30 hours a week for 3 and 4-year olds will be largely funded by local authorities who already complain that the existing scheme is chronically under-funded. Local ratepayers will be forced to bear most of the cost, which means that the new funding settlement will burden local residents even more.

The first target of the £12bn welfare cuts is the reduction in the household benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000. Charities have already stated that this will increase child poverty by at least 40,000, especially for those living in major cities. An alternative measure which would reduce poverty rather than government expenditure – controlling escalating home rental costs – doesn’t feature on the Cameron agenda.

The UK workers’ share of GDP has declined to 50.5%, the lowest level ever recorded, a huge fall from 65.1% in 1976. Yet Cameron’s new anti-trade union bill will make it virtually impossible for unions to undertake legal industrial action which in the last analysis is the only way to resist harsh or exploitative employers. That can only weaken further the position of the lowest paid workers and increase in-work poverty. How is that to be justified when there is clearly high approval rating for the ability of unions to call a strike? – 70% of the public believe that is ‘essential to protect workers’ interests. To show how discriminatory this is, just imagine the furore if Labour were to rule that companies could only donate to the Tory party on the basis of a shareholder opt-in.

The new government has promised to raise at least £5bn a year from clamping down on tax avoidance. This is certainly welcome, if credible, though the index provider MISC has found from its analysis that listed companies avoid at least $82bn of tax every year through tax havens, transfer pricing, royalty charges, and numerous other scams. But all such boasts by Osborne of a crackdown on this massive diversion of tax liabilities have dissipated in practice. One law for the ultra-rich and another for the rest of us.

6 Comments

  1. swatantra says:

    The Tories seem to have hijacked the One Nation slogan, which we originally stole from Dizzy. And they’ve sequestered the Hard working families tagline as well. Maybe we could pinch their Long Term Economic Plan catchphrase, that is if Labour could get down to actually producing one.

    1. Robert says:

      The Tories had it first labour picked up on it.

  2. Barry Ewart says:

    Yeah ‘One Nation’ Tories – inheritance tax cuts for millionaires, corporation tax cuts for their big business friends.
    And allowing housing association tenants the right to buy (when evidence shows these homes are rarely replaced) and as someone pointed out this actually restricts the choice of sociall housing tenants to social housing areas only – don’t we have dreams of buying a nice stone terrace or country cottage?
    It’s just Tory political and social engineering restricting the urban space of working class people.

    1. Robert says:

      In England now the rest of the country and buying housing association home have been in since Thatcher. I have been offered my housing association home many times .

      But this is now devolved and Wales are banning the buying of homes, including any housing association which uses public money.

  3. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

    Yes ,fully agree with this. There is an excellent economics video here which has within it a parallel story from the US, showing that while growth has continued, renumeration in pay has flatlined since 1973.
    It also explains why “no money left” and deficit reduction is a deceit. All put together by some excellent post Keynesian economists, and very entertaining.

  4. David Pavett says:

    I agree that the Conservative claims about one nation are a joke. But perhaps we should remember that the Disraeli mantle that Labour tried to adopt (Tristram Hunt even described him as a “working class champion”) was predicated on the continued existence of a class-divided nation. It was one in which the working class would show deferential respect to their natural leaders and betters in return for being granted some alleviation of their worst conditions. Was Labour’s one-nation talk any more convincing than that of the Conservatives. It was “one nation” in which the banks and great corporations, the railways, the mass media (with the exception of the BBC) would remain in private hands. Even a great deal of public provision would have remained outsourced to private companies. What sort of “one nation” would that have been? It would have been one in which some of the worst conditions of the poor would have been improved while leaving our “natural leaders and betters” still in charge.

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