Policy not Personality.

CVM

There is a big election coming up, you might have heard.  The two main candidates have both been victim of multiple character assassination.  Some fair, some tenuous and some downright false.

I am not suggesting that the character of a Prime Minister is unimportant, but your opinion of the two main candidates, is likely to be very different depending on where you get your news from.

The purpose of this blog is to lay out the policy being proposed by both Jeremy Corbyn, and Theresa May.  I had initially intended to do so for all parties, but life is short and I have nappies to change, a lawn to mow, a business to run, a several times a week barbecue habit, Facebook arguments to have, a local pub to patronise and a dog to walk.

There are other parties standing in this election, these are the two main ones.  If you want to know about the others then look it up yourself lazybones :p I have genuinely tried to make this as objective as possible and separate fact from (my, and others’) opinion.

This is not an exhaustive review of all policy, just the main ones as I see them.  If this blog contained every single policy, you wouldn’t read it.  and I wouldn’t write it.  In the same vein I am purposefully, painfully brief at times.

Immigration.

The Conservatives pledge to reduce net immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’.  Offer asylum and refuge to people in parts of the world affected by conflict and oppression, but work hard to reduce asylum claims in the UK

Labour promise to prioritise growth, jobs and prosperity over “bogus immigration targets” and honour the spirit of international law and moral obligations by taking in a fair share of refugees.

My opinion:   It is worth pointing out that the ‘tens of thousands’ is a promise May has made before several times as Home Secretary and so far has not delivered on it.  Labour is a little more vague but leans towards a softer position.  This is a political hot potato, as its widely accepted in Westminster (and beyond) that the UK absolutely needs migrant labour, but there is a social cost involved and people have strong feelings on the matter.

Tax.

The so-called ‘dementia tax’ means if you need care the government can recoup the cost from the sale of your house after your death, the manifesto suggested that the government would be able to take ‘everything you had’ until you were down to £100k in assets (including your home).  The Conservatives have since rowed back a little on this, but are not giving any new figures, saying it will be ‘assessed after the election’.

Labour plan to repeal the increased threshold in inheritance tax.  George Osborne set in motion an upwards revision of where IHT would kick in from £650k (for a married couple, £325k per person that is transferable upon death) up to £1,000,000 if it included the family home.

Labour vow no rises in income tax for those earning below £80,000 a year, and will put corporation tax up to 26%

The Conservatives will increase personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher tax rate to £50,000 by 2020, and cut corporation tax to 17% by 2020
corp_tax_fig2

My opinion: The hike to 26% still puts us as the lowest tax regime in the G7, and at 17% we are not the lowest in Europe, for companies seeking a low tax base, Ireland would still be the best option.

Labour promise no tax rises for 95% of the population, the Conservatives have not promised to raise taxes, but have also not ruled them out.

Brexit.

The Conservatives will leave the single market and customs union, and hold the position that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.  Labour plan to scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit white paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities with a strong emphasis on retaining the single market and customs union.

My opinion: Labour offer a soft (or soft-ish) Brexit and the Conservatives are talking tough and heading for a hard Brexit.  It is worth pointing out that everything depends on the negotiations, and this is one area where manifesto pledges cannot necessarily be delivered.

The Economy.

Labour will (they claim) eliminate the deficit in 5 years, nicely times to coincide with the next General Election.  They will end zero hours contracts, and bump the minimum wage to £10.  A phased nationalisation of the railways as franchises expire, and cap fares.  Create a nationalised energy provider, reverse Royal Mail privatisation and set up a ‘national investment bank to provide long-term investment.  They also plan to levy a so-called “Robin Hood” tax on the City of London, aiming to raise £5.6 billion by taxing derivatives and other “exotic” areas of trading in the financial services sector.

The Conservatives assert that they can eliminate the deficit by the ‘middle of the next decade’, which one would take to mean 2025 but is vague enough to allow some wiggle room to 2027.

My opinion: the conservatives are continually revising the date of when they will pay off the deficit, it was originally going to be 2015, and now will be 2025 at the earliest.  The conservative route is to ‘cut’ (spending) their way to balanced books, whereas Labour intend to achieve it by increasing tax on the ‘rich’ and growing the economy through investment.  Of course the Conservatives do also intend to grow the economy, but that is implied more than stated.

The NHS.

Conservatives: 8 billion extra for the NHS over the next 5 years.

Labour: 30 billion extra for the NHS over the next 5 years.

My opinion: Both parties detail complex plans including efficiency savings, ring fencing, upgrading key facilities, free parking at hospitals etc etc etc.  But at the end of the day (in my opinion) it is the numbers that count.

Education.

Labour want to create a ‘unified national education service for England that is free at the point of use’  I can’t seem to work out exactly what that means, and I need to walk the dog soon.

They also promise to abolish university tuition fees, reintroduce maintenance grants, and restore the education maintenance allowance for 16-18 year olds from lower and middle-income backgrounds

Also free school meals for all schoolchildren, increased free childcare of 30 hours revised down to include 2 year olds.

The Conservatives will build at least 100 new free schools a year, end ban on selective schools and ask universities and independent schools to help run state schools and reintroduce grammar schools.

No new places in schools rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted.

Free breakfast to every child in every year of primary school in place of free school lunches for first three years.

It is quite difficult to wade through all the funding formulas and proposals offered by both parties, Luke Sibieta of the IFS (a politically independent and widely respected research institute claims that:

“Labour would increase spending per pupil by around 6 per cent after inflation over the course of the parliament, taking it to just above its previous historic high in 2015. “

And then;

“Proposals from the Conservatives would lead to a near 3 per cent real terms fall in spending per pupil over the parliament, taking it back to its level in 2010.”

 My opinion: The key differences here are tuition fees, and grammar schools.  There are arguments for and against both, you will likely have an opinion already.  The increased free childcare will be very, very helpful to parents.  To put it into context, where I live in London, full-time nursery for a 2 year old costs between £1,000 and £1,500 a month.  This discourages a lot of people from returning to work, which has an impact on the economy, and these people are no longer paying tax.  No new school places in underperforming schools is the sort of ‘tough love’ that might be needed, as long as support and investment is provided to help these schools improve.

Housing.

The Conservatives are renewing their 2015 commitment to deliver 1m homes by the end of 2020 and deliver 500,000 more by the end of 2022, as well as reaffirming reforms proposed in the housing white paper to free up more land.

They also plan to build new fixed-term social houses which will be sold privately after 10-15 years with automatic right to buy for tenants.

Labour will build over 1m new homes, and 100,000 council and housing association homes a year, as well as offering help-to-buy funding until 2027 for first-time buyers. Controls on rent rises for private renters.  They will also suspend the right to buy until councils can prove they have a plan to replace homes, and finally scrap the bedroom tax and reverse decision to abolish housing benefit for 18-21 year olds.

My opinion: I don’t believe either of them can build as many homes as they promise to, but I believe they will both build as many as they can.  Labour have more emphasis for renters with more council homes and rent controls.

Final thoughts.

As I have already said, this is not an exhaustive list of policy, nor is it an exhaustive analysis of the policies I have chosen to highlight.  My main aim is to encourage focus onto policy, and away from sound byte and personality driven politics.

If you think other issues are more important, or if you disagree with my analysis, good!   Talk to your friends about them.  These are the issues we need to discuss, rather than whether or not May wants to punish disabled people with the glee of Cruella Deville, or if Corbyn starts his day by solemnly swearing to an etching of Lenin to destroy capitalism and the bourgeoise.

cruellastalincorbyn
All policies affect everyone in different ways, and have a macro effect on the whole of society.  But having said that you will probably – on balance – be better off under the Conservatives  if you earn over 80k a year, stand to inherit from a considerably rich relative soon who doesn’t require care, and want a hard Brexit.

If you earn under 80k, have kids between the age of 2 and 18, are a renter, are about to go to university, work in the NHS and prefer a soft Brexit, Labour have more to offer you. But that is my opinion, I encourage you to form your own , by considering facts and policy.

If you found this helpful, please share it, and please talk to your friends about what proposed policies you think are important.

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