Thursday, 12 November 2009

10 Policies for a Better Britain

I have posted a range of comments focused on local issues. Here is my pick of ten policies to change Britain for the better. In no particular order .......

1. Salvage bankrupt Britain: Digging Britain out of the deep hole in the nation’s finances will demand tough choices. If you include all of the hidden liabilities Gordon Brown prefers not to count – including PFI and pension liabilities – the total public debt is around £2.5 trillion. To give these mind-boggling numbers some perspective, that is three times the financial cost to Britain of winning the Second World War. One of the Conservative proposals that has not received the attention it deserves is the plan for an Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), an independent body to monitor public spending and debt. Imagine every time the Chancellor – of whichever party – leaves Number 11 with that brown briefcase, heading off to Parliament to deliver the budget. If spending or debt is above a sustainable level, the OBR would trigger an almighty warning siren, alerting MPs, the media and the public to a reckless budget. If only we’d had an OBR 12 years ago.

2. Give business back its cutting edge: Companies of all sizes have suffered during the recession, but none more than small businesses. Taxes on British business are too high. Five years ago, Britain had the 4th lowest rate of corporation tax in the EU, now we have the 19th lowest. We need to cut corporation tax, especially the small business rate, to get government off the back of British business - and free our entrepreneurs to drive the economic growth that creates jobs.

3. Support families, end the ‘couple penalty’: According to the Center for Social Justice, the average couple is £12,000 better off each year through the tax and welfare system … if they split up. If we are serious about supporting the family, the ‘couple penalty’ is the first thing we should address.

4. Welfare reform: With around 5 million people claiming out of work benefits, and a million NEETs (16 to 24 year olds not in education, employment or training), welfare reform is a national priority. We need more training to support people into work, but hold a tougher line on those playing the system. Recent government figures found that 9 out of 10 people claiming incapacity benefits are fit to work. Welfare reform is an economic issue – we just can’t afford the bill. But, in my view, it is also a social issue - vital to replacing the welfare dependency culture with a stronger ethos of personal responsibility.

5. Zero-tolerance policing: Britain needs to follow the example of law enforcement leaders in the US. Bill Bratton, Rudolph Giuliani’s legendary police chief in New York, turned round that crime-ridden city. He recently retired as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, where again he halved violent crime. The formula is to cut police red-tape to get officers spending more time on patrol. Next, replace Whitehall’s micromanagement with locally-elected police commissioners, directly accountable to local communities and responsible for the police budget and law enforcement strategy. Then roll out comprehensive crime-mapping, so police – and the public – know exactly where the hot-spots are.

6. A dedicated Border Police Force
: The facts speak for themselves. The street price of heroin and cocaine in the UK has plummeted. The upper police estimate of human trafficking into Britain has quadrupled in the last few years. And almost every UK counter-terrorism investigation with any international dimension throws up some failing or oversight at the border. A dedicated Border Police Force would help secure our porous borders.

7. A multi-speed Europe
: Britain has too much to lose economically by withdrawing from the EU. We need to deregulate and liberalise the common market, to make it more internationally competitive – given the rising competition from India, China and Latin America. And we need to regain British authority over social policy and criminal justice. Over the longer-term, I believe a multi-speed Europe – allowing groups of countries to proceed at different speeds, in different policy areas - would best serve Britain, our European partners and the EU as a whole.

8. Cut out the spin
: Ever since Alastair Campbell introduced the idea of a permanent election campaign, politics has descended further into the clutches of the 24 hour media cycle. It is a difficult genie to get back in the bottle. But we need to try, because spin is infecting public debate. One practical measure would be a commitment by government ministers not to trail new policy announcements in the media, but always to introduce it first – orally or by written statement – to Parliament. That would make it much harder to exaggerate selective snippets, and allow MPs, the press and the public judge new policy in the round.

9. Scrap ID cards
: They just don’t do what it says on the tin. ID cards can’t stop terrorism (you don’t have to carry the card, and foreign nationals can stay 3 months before getting one). They won’t cut benefit fraud, which rarely involves fraudulent identity. And even the government now accepts they won’t help tackle crime. But they will store 50 separate items of personal information on each and every one of us on a highly vulnerable database – an attractive prize for criminal hackers. At a cost of £19 billion, ID cards are truly the worst of all worlds – ineffective, intrusive and ludicrously expensive.

10. Local democracy
: Whether it is giving people a greater say over local healthcare priorities, strengthening councils’ powers to protect the greenbelt or giving local authorities a greater share of the revenue raised from business rates, local democracy is the British democratic revolution waiting to happen.


Anonymous said...

Dominic, congratulations on your selection. I'm pleased to see such an able candidate selected to represent Esher and Walton. As a current student of international relations and law I'm also pleased to see someone with real expertise in representing the nation on the world stage.

These 10 points are very important to the future of our country, and it's good to see that you have your priorities straight.

I'm not a traditional conservative voter. I'm a "floating voter" (whatever that actually means nowadays). One thing that's particularly important to me is that the Conservatives don't undermine our standing in Europe to win political points. I want to see a committed pro-Europe candidate to take over the reins of Ian Taylor's wonderful work on Europe. We need sensible integration, particularly over political matters such as the development of a European military taskforce. I welcome your commitment to Europe, and I hope that you will go further by speaking out against those in your party who seek to undermine the EU, and who so cynically called for a referendum on a subject the public do not understand.

I wish you the best of luck. You are a shoe in for the next election, so I hope to see you commit to Europe in Parliament, and continue to make the Conservative a progressive European centre-right party such as Moderate Party of Sweden.

Please come and visit Speer Road in Thames Ditton any time.


Post a Comment

The site policy is to publish all comments, unless abusive or anonymous.

Welcome to Dom's Blog

To sign up for my monthly bulletins, click here.

For my Privacy & Cookies policy, click here.

Dom's Podcasts

Watch Dom's Hardtalk interview here.

To watch Dom's recent podcasts, visit his You Tube channel here.

Local Campaigns

Local issues, National debate

Blog Archive

Follow Dom on Facebook