Monday 6 September 2004

How could the Tories get elected?

Further to my post about the crapness of Tories, Damian is asking what would make anyone vote Tory. I posted a huge response in his comments because I momentarily forgot that I started blogging as an alternative to ranting away in other people's comments. Oops. Anyway, here I reproduce my thoughts on the matter, and add a couple more. They're not so much ideal Tory policies as what I'd do if I were Prime Minister. I don't hold out any hope of the bloody Tories beginning to even think along the right lines for at least another five years, so I still think the UK's best bet is for someone to start a new party with these policies.

Scale back planning laws so that the only reason to stop a building going up is that it breaches safety regulations.

Scrap every single tax except for VAT (and raise VAT, if you like, but not above 20%).

Have a referendum on the death penalty. (I'd probably vote no, but I think there should be a referendum.)

Legalise all drugs.

Increase military spending to a similar percentage of GDP as the USA.

Privatise universities.

Write a simple constitution that does nothing except protect freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of association, right of jury nullification, freedom from government interference, right to bear arms, etc. Reject the EU constitution.

Yes, I said “right to bear arms". Re-legalise guns. Re-legalise self-defense.

While acknowledging that criminals have rights (not to be beaten by the police, for instance), make it clear that they do not include the right to a safe working environment or a compliant victim, and that victims’ rights are always ascendant over criminals’.

Reaffirm the ancient principles of copyright law as a tool for protecting the individual creator, and repeal and resist any moves by corporations to distort it for their own purposes.

Make it clear that UK law transcends EU law within the UK. Declare a policy of treating the EU as what it was originally sold as: a free trade area, not a political union. Resist any EU trade restriction practiced in the name of free trade. Try to teach the Europeans what “free trade” actually means.

Federalise: take as much power as possible out of the hands of Whitehall and give it to parish – yes, parish – councils. In areas where there are no parish councils, do not be tempted to create them: give the people 6 months to do it themselves. Give the parish councils the right, but not the obligation, to devolve power upwards to local councils, who in turn have the right to devolve any of their power upwards to Parliament. These powers include running the police force and other emergency services.

Privatise all schools and replace state-run education with state funding assistance for private education. Have this assistance decided as a set amount per child, with no extra benefits for certain types of school or whatever. Also extend this funding to home-schoolers.

Make national insurance both optional and worthwhile.

Scrap the N "H" "S". Make A&E the 4th emergency service. As with education, give state funding assistance to those who need it to afford healthcare.

Get rid of all pointless bureaucratic rules that people currently have to obey in order to claim benefits (e.g. "You’re not entitled to unemployment benefit because you didn’t sign on when you were between jobs for three weeks two years ago.").

Have MPs’ salaries decided by a referendum two years after every general election. And have general elections occur on the same date every five years.

Bring back the old law that, when an MP is appointed to the Cabinet, they must immediately stand for re-election as an MP, thus giving the public some say over which MPs become ministers.

Make the Lords half elected, quarter appointed, quarter inherited, and disallow political parties and whips from the Lords.

Reintroduce the old 10% margin of error for speed limit enforcement.

Reverse the parole system: instead of getting out of jail early for good behaviour, get kept in longer for bad behaviour. This doesn't necessarilly mean longer sentences: for example, you could replace a sentence of 8 years that turns into 5 with good behaviour with a sentence of 5 years that turns into 8 with bad behaviour. The point of this policy isn't to punish criminals more; it's to make the sentencing transparent to the public and to reinforce the idea that "good" behaviour (such as not rioting, not attacking people, not vandalising things) is actually the norm in society and isn't something special to be rewarded. Increasing sentences is an entirely separate issue.

Increase sentences, including a genuine life sentence.


Gary said...

> Scrap every single tax except for VAT (and raise VAT, if you like, but not above 20%).

I'm not convinced. VAT is disproportionately harsh on the low paid, whereas once you hit £56K per year you can defray most, if not all, of it. I'd rather see higher income tax rates coupled with higher personal allowances, meself.

Squander Two said...

No, that's only how it works in theory. In practice, income tax can be dodged with a decent accountant, and the more income you have, the better an accountant you can afford. A sensible tax policy should recognise that tax-dodging will take place no matter what, and so introduce a tax regime that makes it equally easy for all sections of society to tax-dodge. That's VAT: everyone can dodge it some of the time but no-one can dodge it all the time, and being rich doesn't enable you to dodge more of it or to dodge it more easily. As for defraying it, no, I'd get rid of every tax "allowance", correctly known as "loopholes". Claiming your VAT back on work expenses makes sense when you're going to be paying income tax as well, but if you're not, then it doesn't.

There is also some economic mumbo-jumbo about the beneficial effect on the economy of taxing consumption rather than earnings, but I won't bother you with that because, er, I don't understand it.

Squander Two said...

I'm dead against the three-strikes rule.

Imagine you've committed two serious crimes, so you're facing an automatic life sentence if you get caught a third time, no matter what the crime. You commit a third crime anyway, unsurprisingly. The three-strikes rule gives you an incentive to murder every witness: if you do get caught, being convicted of the murders won't affect your sentence, and committing the murders lowers your chances of getting caught. Bad idea.

Squander Two said...

I've seen no stats for it, but I have heard (and this could be wrong) that the phenomenon is common enough that some US police forces now refer to "three-strike murders". When a type of crime has had a new term coined for it, I think that's a bad sign.

I'd say too that you'd have to be very careful about how you look at stats like that. Lowering the crime rate simply wouldn't be good enough. If some people have been murdered who otherwise wouldn't have been, simply because of the perverse incentive introduced by the three-strikes law, then telling their relatives that burglary rates have been reduced isn't going to cut it.

I've linked to your blog, by the way, David.