The Tories’ caring side

RESPONSES to my previous post demonstrate two things (both of which I was already acutely aware):

1. Tory supporters really, REALLY hate it when Labour starts fighting back;

2. Tories, as I originally suggested, don’t think the state should have a role in fighting poverty, mainly because it’s not important enough.

The scorn poured on Labour’s impressive achievements in taking 600,000 children and one million pensioners out of poverty is extremely illuminating. Tories dismiss these statistics – even while accepting their accuracy – not because they reckon they could have done any better (they couldn’t have), but because they don’t think it matters. Six hundred thousand children? So? A million pensioners? Tell me something I’m interested in…

Let’s assume that the people who leave comments on this blog are more representative of the Tory Party than, say, ‘Dave’ or Boy George. And look at what they’re saying: that shipbuilding jobs should have been ditched years ago, that targets for reducing poverty are worthless, that Lamont was right in saying that mass unemployment was a price worth paying.

There’s even an attempt to claim that tax credits are equivalent to benefits!

But what is most interesting about all these comments, and many responses to previous posts, is that Tories never actually come up with any ideas for reducing poverty (apart from the “rising tide lifts all boats” nonsense). They criticise every measure we’ve implemented (someone left a comment saying that tax credits were encouraging people not to take work, even though they’re only given to people in work. Bless), but don’t come up with anything specifically aimed at poverty reduction.

Makes you wonder why the Tories even want to win an election, doesn’t it? Except, of course, we know why – so that they can be in government. Period.

Advertisements

37 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Economy, Labour, Politics

37 responses to “The Tories’ caring side

  1. Johnny Norfolk

    Tom.

    The facts are that the gap between the rich and me is wider than it has ever been. People are strugling to make ends meet in the real world more than they have for a generation. Thats the reality, its no good keep going on about the Tories that just shows you have no idea how to deal with the current situation. There is far more to an economy than giving money away in welfare. Can you not see what you and you party have done.

    So what are Labour going to do about it. I am not hearing anything apart from Labours smoke and mirrors of blame the Tories.

  2. Brian Hall

    Tax credits are benefits by another name, its just selectively targetted. Have you ever read Freidmann economics?

  3. Zorro

    “an attempt to claim that tax credits are equivalent to benefits!”?????????????

    WHAT?

    Please explain how they are anything but benefits?

    “Makes you wonder why the Tories even want to win an election, doesn’t it? Except, of course, we know why – so that they can be in government. Period.”

    I really can’t be bothered. This is just too rich coming from a Labour politician.

    Start making some serious points over here or you are going to lose your readership pretty soon mate!

  4. Zorro

    “Makes you wonder why the Tories even want to win an election, doesn’t it? Except, of course, we know why – so that they can be in government. Period.”

    This statement reminds me of Vladimir Putin accusing the Georgians of Genocide.

    Pot. Kettle…

  5. Isn’t statement 1 rather obvious? I’m sure Labour hate it when the Tories keep surging ahead.

  6. john

    Labour are obsessed with targets but good to hear you admit to failing to meet one.
    So let’s find the excuses
    Not enough money? nope, you’ve taxed the working man to the hilt, stealthfully.
    Where has the money gone? On pointless wars, armies of bureaucrats, quangos and plastic policemen, IT malfunctions, generous government pensions,MP’s expenses, imigration centres etc.etc.
    Not enough time? Thirteen years by the time of the next election. Long enough to empliment the changes.
    I’m afraid all Labour will be remembered for is turning this country into a police state.

  7. And yet still no ideas from the Tories about how to fight poverty. Probably far too busy and important to deal with nonsense like that…

  8. James

    Have I been under the mistaken belief that your party run this country Tom?
    Aren’t you the ones who are supposed to have the right solutions ? and not the Tories?

  9. Good post Tom. This is exactly what we need to be telling the electorate but we shouldn’t be allowing ourselves to end up permanently on the back foot and critising the Tories. Labour & the government need to be telling the success stories, not the endless figures which are simply misleading, but the genuine personal stories of those that have benefited from the policies introduced over the past 11 years.

    It was fascinating reading some of the comments. Ignoring the silly ones about mass unemployment being sensible and tax credits acting as a disincentive to work, the one that struck me was on the earlier post from ‘Stu’. In particular his comparison between Maggie’s perceived success in 1990 and the current government. What he fails to remember is the sheer unpopularity of the Thatcher administration and at the time there weren’t many talking about the Conservatives’ fiscal and social successes. Equally, the long term planning and investment that the Labour government has made will have an impact long after the life of this parliament, the government’s challenge is to explain how the foundations that have laid will improve peoples lives yesterday, today and tomorrow.

  10. James – fair enough, except if the Tories want to get my vote they’ll need to spell out what they would do differently and how it would actually bloody work.

  11. Madasafish

    Well Tom, this marks a new stage in desperation.
    You post on poverty and then claim most of the replies are from Conservative doubters..

    So where are the Labour voters whom you have helped?

    Too poor to buy a PC? Too busy trying to earn a living?
    Or so overwhelmed by Labour generosity that they see no need to support you?

    Or is it because they do not believe you?

    Because face it, the posts above show you are losing the arguments.
    And the economic statistics show – because of Labour mismanagement and consequent tax burdens – couple with energy and food price rises and an oncoming recession – the poor are going to become poorer – during your Government.

    You cannot deny that : it’s a matter of simple economics backed up by BOE forecasts and ONS statistics.

    If you claim poverty is reduced by Government action ONLY , then when it rises .. it’s all YOUR fault (I refer to the Government not you personally).

    The sad thing is your Government has spun and lied so much, no-one with any critical faculties gives anything it claims any credence.. whether it is deserved or not.

    As far as Conservative policies: they are obvious. And spelled out . It’s called good governance.. Not wasting money on silly thing like: encouraging immigration , rejecting loads of claims and not being able to repatriate the rekectees. But supporting them all at state expense.

    Funding 2 wars.. (If the Conservatives were, can we imagine the ranting from Labour)

    Encouraging people to do nothing all their lives on benefit…

    Encouraging parts of the UK to fester and live lives where life expectancy falls 20 years below others.. yes in Glasgow… And in Labour consituencies and Labour have been in power for 11 years.. and nothing has happened..

    And you then have the gall to complain about Conservative policies when the existing Government has sat back and let its OWN voters die 20 years early.

    No wonder Labour voters are deserting: actions speak louder than words to voters.

  12. Stu

    Au Contraire, Tom, it’s great when Labour ‘fight back’. The only way to improve is through competition – that’s a great Conservative principle in effect right there. I like blogs and comments precisely because we get to disagree about things (incidentally I very much agree with you on school uniforms, and to some extent on CCTV cameras, so we definitely have some common ground…)

    My understanding is that the Tories would fight poverty in a number of ways, such as encouraging investments in small businesses (and removing red tape) to create private sector jobs; streaming and setting by ability in schools to allow children to achieve highly based on their abilities rather than the location that their parents can afford to buy a house in. Perhaps changes in the tax system to allow people to keep more of the money they earn rather than having to give it to the government and then fill in numerous forms to claim it back. What the Tories don’t believe in, so far as I’m aware, is handing poor people wads of cash and hope for the best, nor in advertising the setting of targets as if they are achievements in themselves.

    We can go back and forth on this debate over and over again and never see eye to eye. I don’t ‘pour scorn on Labour’s achievements’ any more than you pour scorn on Thatcher’s achievements. Actually, since you seem to view her as evil incarnate, you might say I don’t pour anything like as much scorn on Labour as you do on Thatcher. Since Labour’s achievements are inextricably linked to Thatcher’s, you really ought to be a little less scornful yourself.

    Oh, and commenters on this blog aren’t more representative of the Tory party than “‘Dave’ or Boy George'”. I for one am not a member of the Conservative Party and have never voted for them (admittedly, I was in New Zealand when the last election was called, and in Australia when the vote happened – otherwise I probably would have voted for them, or at least against Labour). The Conservative Party is the Conservative Party, not a random selection of internet commenters who happen to support them. As far as I am aware, nobody commenting here is directly involved with the formulation of Conservative Party policy, nor privy to the full details of such policies.

  13. Quentinthecrisp

    Gees Tom, you attract more Tories to your site than ‘Dave’ does on his.
    Their blogs must be really, really dull.

  14. Madasafish

    Tom won an award for his site.
    Deservedly.
    That’s why he attracts us.

    The brightest and best! :-)))

  15. richard

    In what fantasy world are tax credits not a form of benefits? They’re money that’s given to you by the government in order to increase your income above the level that it would be normally, funded by other taxpayers who pay more tax as a result.

    Even the HMRC lumps them together on one page…

  16. Tax credits are “tax credits”, administered by HMRC and not DWP (who administer “benefits”). Can I assume that your antipathy towards tax credits means you would do away with them if you got the chance?

    Tax credits are also what has brought 600,000 children and 1 million pensioners out of poverty. Still, not a good enough reason to keep them, eh?

  17. richard

    Yes, i’d do away with tax credits tomorrow if I had the power to do so. Government shouldn’t be in the business of taking people above “relative” poverty (based on an arbitrary figure, I should add), Government should only concern itself with keeping the most vulnerable out of “absolute” poverty.

    Our government is a vast and bloated monstrosity. Nearly half the population work for it, supply services to it or receive benefits from it.

  18. Ladies and gentlemen, David Cameron’s Conservative Party!

  19. richard

    Actually I’m rather more right wing than call-me-Dave. I genuinely believe that the business of government is to be as small as possible while maintaining the liberty of its citizens.

  20. Madasafish

    6 million families and 10 million children in them receive tax credits.-mainly one and two children families.

    Or approximately 15-20% of the UK population.

    There are loads of figures on
    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-apr08.pdf

    Everyone can recognize a need to support the really poor in society but that percentage is incredibly high..

    And a look at where it all goes by region just confirms that old industrial areas that vote Labour tend to have the poorest in society as judged by benefit receipts.

    And Labour policy is: to increase benefits to take more out of poverty.

    Admirable. But the taxpayers eventually revolt. And refuse to pay more taxes. And if they are Corporations , leave the UK.
    Net result: we cannot as a country afford to pay benefits.

    I’m sorry but as an economic model it is unsustainable. It will not work. It engenders a culture of no work and benefit dependency.

    Meanwhile the UK taxpayers are growing older.

    Now the elderly require more medical help and care etc and stop working and need pensions..

    Any sane rational Government would add two and two and make four…

    I am growing older. Soon I will be an OAP. I live near Stoke on Trent Ten years ago Stoke had all 66 of its councilors Labour. Now it has 16 and the BNP are winning seats . And immigration is a major issue. And what do Stoke Labour MPS do? Nothing.

    Now these issues are interlinked.
    We have a Government dedicated to helping the poor by taxing those working more. And offsetting the aging population by encouraging immigration.

    That is a recipe for social unrest and fiscal disaster.

    Now unfortunately more Labour Cabinet members in senior positions represent Scottish constituencies and do not see this.

    Net result: Obvious.

    And on top of that the Scottish Ministers are more concerned about losing their seats to the SNP.. so fail to address local issues in England.
    (and judging by the applalling life expaectancy figure sin Scotland, one has to ask: why are all these benefits in Scotland being wasted? Why is it that they are all safe Labour seats? Are MPs sitting back and doing nowt?

    Or is it that the benefit systems are incapable of solving the long term problems.. wish existed before Labour came to power (yes the Conservatives are NOT blameless ) but after 11 years of a Labour Government , you have to ask: does the system work to take people permanently out of poverty and reliance on the sate?

    More of the same say Labour. A change say the Conservatives. I have no idea what the SNP say.. but if they gain power, they also inherit a major problem.

  21. richard

    I heartily agree with the previous blog. The persistent claim that Labour has taken “1.6 million people out of poverty” pays no regard to the fact that their circumstances haven’t changed, merely the amount of state benefit that they receive.

    Tony could have achieved the same results on the first day of government by simply increasing child benefits and the OAP to £500 a month.

    -=-

    Oh, and the idea that Tax credits aren’t a “benefit” simply because it’s paid to poor people by HMRC rather than by the DWP is frankly laughable.

  22. lloyd

    Funny how you can tell when the Labour Conference is getting close!

  23. Madasafish

    And just in case you think I am being pessimistic, read Mr draling in the Guardian..

    “The chancellor, who says that Labour faces its toughest challenge in a generation, admits that Brown and the cabinet are partly to blame for Labour’s woes because they have “patently” failed to explain the party’s central mission to the country, leaving voters “pissed off”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/aug/30/economy.alistairdarling

  24. Andrew F

    Let’s assume that the people who leave comments on this blog are more representative of the Tory Party than, say, ‘Dave’ or Boy George. And look at what they’re saying: that shipbuilding jobs should have been ditched years ago, that targets for reducing poverty are worthless, that Lamont was right in saying that mass unemployment was a price worth paying.

    But then, you’re not exactly representative of the Labour base, are you? Most rank and file members still favour nationalisation, still doesn’t want nuclear proliferation in the form of trident, and still hates seeing their civil liberties eroded. Parliamentary parties are always far more centrist than the party as a whole. Duh.

    And, er, I don’t see the point in poverty targets – and I consider myself a socialist. The physical setting of a target means nothing if there’s no consequences for not achieving it. In reality, they’re mostly used as political rhetoric. In a speech it sounds great to say, “We will reudce poverty by x percent by year y.” But actually, the plan is to reduce it by as much as possible and then claim victory.

    I enjoy running. Sometimes, when I’m in an egotistical mood I tell my friends I’d like to run a marathon. It doesn’t mean I’m going to.

    Also, in case you haven’t noticed, the significant decreases in poverty since Labour took power in ’97 are largely the result of the kind of ‘trickle down’ economics that the Labour party is supposed to oppose. The test now is whether we can continue to reduce poverty when the international economy isn’t so conducive to growth. My best is, ‘no’ – because the upper-echelons have had it so easy that they’ve forgotten how to be socialists.

  25. Johnny Norfolk

    Tom

    I think you need to contact Mr Darling. He is on a island not far from you. It looks like he understands what is about to happen the worst recession for 60 years. Was Mrs Thatcher in power then ?. Who will you blame now.
    The BBC was shocked that Darling had done their work for them and said it as it is. So you see Tom you are just not facing up to what we keep telling you. He can see it. We can see it, but you cannot.

    All your welfare will count for nothing when the country goes bust as that is what Darling is saying.

    I have always thought Labour is just not in the real world, thinking that all you need to do is spread the wealth rather than earn it. well you are going to find out now.

  26. Tom – I am so annoyed that Madasafish at 10:17 pm beat me to telling you (as if you didn’t already know) that Alistair Darling has said we are in the worst economic situation for 60 years. Now here’s a man who is prepared to tell it like it is….

    He admits we are well and truly fooked – and he’s the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2008 (not 1992 – gettit?) – plus, he’s a Scottish MP with a wafer thin majority that will disappear at the next General Election.

    Haven’t checked your majority Tom but don’t get too complacent!

  27. richard

    Diabolo, Tom’s majority is pretty much unassailable, at least with the less drastic swings you’d expect at a general election.

    Ironically he’s got a lot more to fear from the SNP securing independence for Scotland as his seat is already represented at Holyrood.

  28. El Toro

    “1. Tory supporters really, REALLY hate it when Labour starts fighting back;”

    Substitute Tory for Labour and Labour for SNP and we are where we are I would suggest.

    I’m not quite sure why the Scottish Labour Parliamentary Leadership Candidates spent a whole hustings talking about Alex Salmond other than for the reason stated above – Certainly wasn’t to further new and innovative policy proposals for the benefit of Labour supporters and, indeed, the rest of the country.

    Just an observation you understand.

  29. Wow. Just wow. I wish the Tory leadership would be as candid as Tory supporters clearly are.

    Tax credits are not benefits, they are TAX REFUNDS. Obviously the Tories here can’t be bothered to learn how they work, because they only affect “poor people from industrial towns”. But for their benefit, I’ll point out:

    You only get working tax credit if you are working. Hence the name. Without it benefit traps would be bigger and more people would be “scrounging off the state” instead of working and contributing taxes. A residual amount of child tax credit is automatic (so at base level might be called a kind of benefit), but if you are working you get much more child tax credit, at which point it too becomes a tax refund.

    Because tax credits are targeted at those who need them most and because they are worth more than tax deductions or tax allowances they cost the state less than cutting taxes across the board, which would have to be paid for by increased borrowing, cuts to essential services or raised taxes for some – all things the Tory leadership supposedly doesn’t like.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t have criticisms of tax credits. But the problem with them is that they’re not enough on their own – scrapping them is not the answer! Me, I’d like benefits to rise too. Tax credits have been effective in lifting some of the easier-to-reach people out of poverty, but study upon study has shown that higher benefits (particularly child benefit) are the only thing that will lift many people out of poverty. Yes, more support to help people into work is good too, but the areas where “worklessness” is an ingrained habit rather than a structural problem to do with lack of relevant skills are not typical across the UK (and usually where the first is to be found, the second is a greater problem anyway).

    To any Tory who’s going to make an argument about benefit traps I’d like to know: will the Tories commit to raising the minimum wage in line with or above the rate of inflation to avoid benefit traps? If you want less people claiming tax credits there’s a simple answer – make work pay more.

  30. richard

    Will the Tories commit to raising the minimum wage in line with or above the rate of inflation?

    I can’t comment on what the Conservative party will do, but I personally would add the minimum wage to my list of things to abolish. They’ve cost the economy innumerable jobs and driven small enterprises out of business.

    Oh, and tax credits are a “benefit”. Just because you get the refund before paying tax rather than after doesn’t make the income you derive from them any real.

  31. Stu

    tim f it really depends what you define as a benefit. If you define a benefit as money paid to you by the government due to your having a low income, I would say Tax Credits qualify.

    If you define benefits as a selective group of monies paid to you by the government which the government names ‘Benefit’ (like Housing Benefit or Child Benefit,. for instance), then I suppose they aren’t – but then neither is Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

    Either way, the people who are describing tax credits as benefits are most definitely using the word ‘benefit’ as an umbrella term for money paid by the government to those on low income. The mechanics of that payment or the reasons why it is made are largely irrelevant to the definition – the point it that it is still hard cash moving from the treasury to the individual.

  32. Remind me how many jobs there were in 1997 and how many there are now? Labour seems to have done pretty well at creating jobs with a minimum wage in place.

    What’s the point of having more jobs if you have to take two of them and work eighty hours a week just to survive?

    As to income being not “real”; what a ridiculous thing to say. If you can pay for your shopping with it, it’s real. Yes, tax credits and the minimum wage compensate for flaws in the market by topping up the pay of essential workers whom the market would otherwise pay at such a low rate they lived in Victorian-esque squalour. That doesn’t mean the income is unearned; it means society has made a judgement that it has been earned but not paid by the market. Besides – to most people, the pay of executive directors of failing companies, premiership footballers, landowners sitting on huge inherited estates etc is less “earned” than tax credits. Should anyone abolishing tax credits for your reasons confiscate that wealth too?

  33. Madasafish

    I’m sorry BUT:

    It is illogical if taxation on the poorly paid is so high that they need tax credits/benefits to give them a living wage.

    So the obvious solution is to cut tax levels on lower incomes. (I will not mention 10p tax rates!)

    Immediately a whole swathe of costly and inefficient beaureaucracy is not needed. (so tax revenues can be saved).

    And we can then target benefits to the relativley FEW who still need help – Not the 6 million plus who currently get them.

    We will also save half a forest of paper forms no longer needed, about 20 government Offices, a host of Managers and about 200 paragraphs in an annual budget.

    Unfortunately Mr Brown does not believe in simplicity but in employing loads of people and taxing the poor.

    Labour tax the poor! That’s why they need benefits.

    Whether a Conservative Government will reform it is open to question.
    But sinve it is bleeding obvious I hope they do. If they do not, I will be as critical of them as I am of the current Government.

    Having said that, it is so obvious a change it would be stupid to assume it will not happen.

  34. richard

    There are so many errors of logic in Tim F’s arguments that I barely know where to begin;

    1) “Labour seems to have done pretty well at creating jobs” –
    True, but the majority of those jobs have been taken by new immigrants rather than those that were present in the UK in 1997.

    2) “Tax credits and the minimum wage compensate for flaws in the market” –
    Actually these are intended to distort the market in order to redistribute wealth to those whose skills or job-role don’t merit a higher income in an open market.

    3) “That doesn’t mean the income is unearned” –
    Well, by definition any income you receive from the government other than as a result of your work is patently ‘unearned’.

    4) “it means society has made a judgement that it has been earned but not paid by the market” –
    No, it means that the government of the day have made that judgment. On reflection, I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as society.

    5) “Should anyone abolishing tax credits for your reasons confiscate that wealth too?” –
    Well, since those on higher incomes already pay more tax I’d suggest that that’s already happening.

    For the record I’m in favour of a flat-tax system

  35. “For the record I’m in favour of a flat-tax system”

    Gosh, you do surprise me…

  36. Richard

    Flat taxes are easy to administer, reduce tax fraud, massively simplify the tax system and improve entrepreneurialism.

    Graduated taxes are simply a form of redistributive socialism and aren’t relevant in today’s society. A flat tax of (say) 15% on everyone with a minimum income of (say) £14K would immediately take 7 million people out of tax altogether with only a modest loss of income for the government.

  37. Lynn Fellows

    Why are people in so called poverty? The vast majority in this country are parents breeding children into poverty so who’s fault is that? They made the decision to breed didn’t they and then want others to pick up the bill. The redistribution of money from singles and childfree couples in this country is ridiculous and has pushed these groups into more poverty while so called child poverty has gone down. What accountability is there on parents to spend other peoples money handed to them via the tax system on their children anyway, what is to stop them spending it irresponsibly, they have shown themselves to be irresponsible in breeding without the funds to pay their way? The right way to tackle poverty would be to make it antisocial to scrounge off your next door neighbour instead of widening the nanny state like New Labour has done so scrounging is now a way of life for millions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s