The Tories like to portray themselves as the party of low taxes, cutting the deficit and that they are less likely to bring in authoritarian laws than the labour party. However that is contradicted by there actual performance and in particular, by recent events.
The recent living wage is generally seen as a good idea by many. However, the Tories have been tight lipped about how they are paying for it. Well anyone who pays taxes will find out on in April when your NI contributions go up by anything from £150 to £300 per year. Now while generally I’m okay with this, correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t this count as a tax increase?
Indeed, any time during the labour government Gordon Brown made any sort of a fiddle with tax rates the Tories and the right wing media would be accusing him of implementing “stealth taxes”. Indeed, Osborne actually promised to cut NI rates (again accusing labour of “stealth taxes”).
For this is far from a one off. Numerous sets of taxes have been increased by the Tories, from stamp duty to VAT. The estimate is that the average UK household will be paying £2,000 more per year in taxes. At one point they were even talking of taxing churches. So far from cutting such taxes, the Tories have been responsible for far more significant rises in “stealth taxes” than labour.
And that’s before we even bring up their planned raid on pension funds. Admittedly this will primarily effect higher earners, which is something of a rarity for the Tories as the bulk of their tax increases have hit middle income earners, rather than the better off. Indeed, they very famously cut the 50p tax rate shortly after coming to power. Meanwhile the poor are feeling the brunt of Tory cuts.
But at least the deficit’s down ya? Actually that depends on what you classify as a “deficit”, but certainly they cannot claim to have halved it. Indeed in five years of government they have borrowed more than labour did in 13 years.
Now okay, the bulk of that spending in the early years was due to the recession. However, this was true of labour (who were running surpluses prior the recession!). The Tories were quick to exploit this rise in borrowing and one of the key promises they made back in 2010 was to bring it down. However six years later and we’re still along way from this. Any sort of deficit reduction now largely depends on a series of events occurring that work in the Tories favour, notably an upswing in the economy. Something that seems unlikely if you’ve been paying attention to recent economic data. And the IMF are worried that fears over Brexit might be behind some of this market turmoil.
In short, the finances of the UK look little different from those of other nations, indeed they actually look a lot worse. Take the US, where Obama has managed to pull down the deficit while raising public spending and not imposing painful austerity on the US. Indeed its generally been the Republicans who, rather hypocritically, both opposed any cuts that impact on their supporters (such as the loon’s “occupying” a Oregon bird sanctuary) or corporate sponsors. And much like the Tories, they also accusing Obama of not bringing it down quickly enough!
And as for more open government, while the rest of us were eating our Turkey, the Tories were sneaking various bills through without any scrutiny from parliament. This included many potentially unpopular measures such as the abolition of student grants, welfare and tax break cuts and yet further cuts to solar power subsidies.
And we also have the disturbing story of asylum seekers being made to wear coloured wrist bands at all times, by one of the private contractor’s the Tories appointed to look after them. I recall joking a while ago, that the way the Tories were carrying on they’d be getting migrants to go around with little yellow stars soon….just to be clear this was a joke, not a policy suggestion!
The reality is that the Tories are the party of spin and hypocrisy. If labour are the party of tax and spend, the Tories are the party of tax and don’t spend, just redistribute the nation’s wealth upwards to the already rich.