(This was originally posted on Vox Political in January this year. A lot has happened since then. I rediscovered it today while I was going through material for the second VP book collection, and thought it might be worthwhile to put it back up and ask whether people thought it was a more – or less – realistic prediction of the future under a Conservative government. Would the Tories be more extreme if they got into power?)
What does the future have in store for the UK, if the Conservatives win the 2015 election?
It seems sensible to conclude my loose series on the current changes to social security benefits – see here, here, here, here and here – by taking a look at what we know they have planned, and what we can reasonably expect from them. Some of this comes from the document ‘2020 Vision’, which has been produced by a group of Conservative Parliamentarians; some is just pushing current activity to a logical conclusion.
It’s all horrifying. Let’s have a look:
1. Conservative ministers to be above the law. That’s right; they want their future governments to be answerable only to Parliament, not to judges. Apparently they think the possibility of judicial review when they make illegal decisions means that the system is too slow. Of course, being answerable to Parliament means being answerable to nobody because a Conservative majority means Parliament will rubber-stampe anything they do, no matter how hare-brained, harmful or tyrannical.
2. NHS to be fully privatised. Of course this is already well on its way now, with the collusion of the right-wing press in keeping some of the major changes quiet. Just take a look at some of the measures being brought in by Jeremy Hunt, right now, if you don’t believe me.
3. Benefits system to be privatised. There has been some discussion of this on the blog already. The idea is simply to switch the system from being nationwide and run by the state to a patchwork of private insurance, run by private companies, for profit. From what’s being said, the biggest player in this would be Unum, the disgraced American company which is already doing considerable damage in the Netherlands, from what one reader has been telling us.
4. Police to be privatised. This is being piloted in certain parts of the UK already. Of course, with private companies running a police service for profit, only the rich will be able to afford their services. In other words, its a wheeze to ensure the poor lose what little luxuries they currently have and are unable to turn to our law guardians for justice.
5. Regional pay for all employees. This is in order to accelerate the race to the bottom of the pay scale for the people who do the actual work. If pay for the same job varies between UK regions, then employers can happily turn to their workforce at any time and say, “They’re doing it for less over the border, so you can take less as well.” The government tried it with public sector pay but was told to think again. We know some of them want to do it with benefits. It’s only a matter of time before it happens.
6. UK to exit Europe. Not because the EU is anti-democratic, forcing unreasonable demands on the UK, but because its human rights laws are damned inconvenient for a political party that wants to crush anyone who isn’t in the top 10 per cent of earners (I may be exaggerating this; it could be that they’re only interested in the top one per cent).
7. Free movement to be discouraged. They already have plans for a two-tier road tax system.
8. Education to be fragmented so you only get the best if you pay for it. Obviously we’ve always had private education but the starvation of the state system to fund ‘free schools’ is softening the system up for worse to come. Can anyone say they honestly understand Michael Gove’s divisive and wasteful policies?
9. Flat-rate taxes. This is a Conservative dream, because flat-rate taxation – one percentage for everybody – provides an unfair advantage to those who have more money to start with. They recognise that there are people in the UK who understand how unfair it is, so they launch periodical campaigns to point us in the other direction. Hence the current push to get us to believe a 20 per cent rise in JSA, from £59.15 to £71 (a rise of just £11.85), is totally unfair when compared to a 12 per cent rise in average wages, from £420 to £468 (a rise of £48 – more than four times as much). How can it be unfair to keep the level of the former the same, as a proportion of the latter – especially when one considers the rocketing prices of groceries and utilities? Those of use who can remember the Community Charge should also remember that this was also a flat-rate tax. People took to the streets to put an end to it but clearly the Conservatives have not learned the lesson. ‘2020 Vision’ suggests that Income Tax could come down to 20 per cent for everybody. This means someone earning £25,000 a year would have £20,000 left after Income Tax. Someone paying themselves £1 million a year would have £800,000 left afterwards. And we wouldn’t have anything like the public sector services that we have, even today after nearly three years of Coalition rule – that level of taxation cannot sustain that level of spending.
10. Continuation of the high-level national deficit and debt. This is to justify the shrinking of the state. The changes that have been made so far, including those that are to come in this year, are not intended to boost the economy – quite the opposite. If this government wanted to boost the economy it would close tax loopholes (including those that have been created by the current Chancellor) that allow the richest in the UK to avoid paying more than £100 billion every year and ensure that any of them who wish to leave this country as a result pay their fair share before they leave. It would also borrow – yes, borrow; don’t you know that interest rates are fantastically low just now? – in order to invest in British jobs and industry, the new technologies that will power the world in the future. They’re not doing that, for specious reasons, and they know that the poorest in the UK will suffer as a result.
That’s what the UK will look like under a government of Tory tyrants.
No wonder so many Scots want to leave.