(Or: Why we can’t afford to let them win the next election)
The Tory Party has recently released its very own ‘vision for the future’. Although it makes for disturbing reading, it does offer an insight into the inner ideologies of the Tory Party, an organisation so keen to re-brand itself and gain some distance from its unofficial title of ‘The Nasty Party’. Entitled 2020 Vision: An Agenda For Transformation, the document is available to read here.
I won’t go into the whole document, although it does give interesting insights into the Tory’s agenda. So much of Cameron and Co.’s rhetoric is steeped in doublespeak so it’s interesting to see the veil lifted and see their, albeit terrifying and destructive, agenda that lays behind the lies. The whole document gives insight into their own vision of a Tory-led UK in 2020, but I wanted to quickly examine the small section found under the heading “The Innovation Economy”. It is here that an actual fictional narrative has been created describing the horrifying implications that could happen if the Tories remain in power:
It is the morning of the 7th May 2020. Over breakfast, Mr and Mrs Jones, happily married for 50 years with three children, are reflecting on the past and their hopes for the future. Reflecting on the difficult years of 2010-2015, they now know Britain is on the right track. Britain is topping the world economic tables for competitiveness and unemployment is low. The most striking development is that it seems the whole world wants to invest in the UK.
Mr and Mrs Jones have a large proportion of their savings in bonds. Not Government bonds—which are no longer issued—but in interest-bearing bonds from mutuals, cooperatives, social enterprises and private businesses. Their oldest child, John, is a successful ‘Life Science’ entrepreneur. He is hiring 20 top class science graduates and another 20 apprentices from the local technical college. He happily invests his profits in research and development. His business benefits enormously now that the Government only accepts electronic invoices. The UK online services industry has cornered the market for electronic invoicing standards. Electronic invoicing alone has added about 0.5 percent to GDP. Their daughter, Mary, is a successful maths teacher on the road to promotion. Her husband is an orderly at the local hospital trust. Nobody can remember if it is private or public; it is just a good hospital and they both hold a stake in its future. Their youngest, David, is a perpetual student and hightech entrepreneur. Like so many others, he is also registering his own IP with the Online Intellectual Property Office.
Mr and Mrs Jones seldom see politicians on TV. The only political stories appear to be about tax reductions, high-tech exports and the massive trade surplus. Britain is confident, dynamic and at ease with itself. The only criticism Mrs Jones has is that “the Conservative Government failed to raise the tax-free threshold to £25,000. It’s such a disincentive for lower earners.” However, Mr Jones reminds her of the days of “those awful tax credits, national insurance contributions and year-end tax returns.” Mrs Jones reflects on this, adding, “at least we know where we stand with a 20 percent flat tax.” “But,” Mr Jones says, “never trust a politician, I very much doubt they will get the flat rate down to 15 percent by 2025 as they promised.” “True,” adds Mrs Jones, “but we can’t expect too much, now that Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year.”
Fantasy? Not necessarily.
Whilst making for a rather unsettling read, it describes what the Tories aim to achieve. It also describes their ideal future for the UK. There is a really good breakdown of this part here, but I will give a quick explanation of the parts I found unsettling (in no particular order).
Britain is topping the world economic tables for competitiveness and unemployment is low.
Under the current Tory government unemployment is a key concern, despite the government assuring us that unemployment is falling. The reality is that the statistics that make up unemployment are convoluted, with many on workfare schemes, and still claiming JSA, being counted as “employed”. Government workfare schemes are actually taking paid job vacancies away from workers. High street names like HMV are going bust, leading to mass redundancies. Widespread public sector cuts mean even more unemployment. With all this in mind it is really hard to see how the Tories envision a future with Britain topping the economic tables and low unemployment figures under their leadership. Unless in 2020 they are still manipulating the unemployment statistics, of course… The skwalker1969 article describes it nicely:
Silly, silly people who opposed the Tory wage-slashing, benefit-cutting, state-shrinking ways! Don’t we realise that we’re on the path to a Shining Future? 2.5 million unemployed people, an impending triple-dip recession, Foodbanks opening at the rate of 3 a week and rising rates of suicide – nothing more than a few eggs that needed to be broken to complete the Conservatives’ ‘omelette’.
Government bonds are no longer offered
I won’t profess to say I understand the whole government bonds aspect, but the blog I mentioned earlier, skwalker1969, has given a decent description of what it all means:
“The idea that government bonds – which is how governments finance their spending – ‘are no longer issued’ is far more revealing than you might think at first reading.
That the report thinks such bonds will no longer be necessary betrays the extent to which the Tories, in their secret ‘heart of hearts’, want to slash the state on which many people inevitably have to rely.
Only in a country where virtually everything is provided by private companies, and paid for by direct charges on each individual ‘customer’, could a government even conceivably do away with government bonds. Either that, or we discover that we’re sitting on oil reserves that make those of Saudi Arabia look like a duck-pond.
Without that unlikely event, a country that does not fund its spending through bonds is going to be one that has no place for the vulnerable, for those who through disability or circumstance are unable to pay their own way. Such people are too expensive, and too unprofitable for private providers if the government is not footing the bill.
That this is how the Tories see the future speaks volumes about their plans and ethos – far more than their coded, public statements will ever admit to. Life sciences and electronic invoices Here we see what the Tories are pinning their hopes on.
The economy is circling the drain because of policies that are either misguided or, more likely, deliberate; full-time jobs are disappearing while poorly-paid part-time jobs replace them if we’re lucky; decision after decision sucks cash – and therefore demand – out of the UK economy. And demand is everything, for economic recovery.”
Nobody can remember if hospitals are private or public
Perhaps one of the more relevant and eye-opening aspects of this Tory vision is this statement, though it might seem unsurprising to many. It is clear that the Tories want to sell off the NHS to private corporations, privatising the National Health Service that even Thatcher left alone. However, in their ideal future, the public can’t remember, and don’t seem to care, if hospitals are private or public; they’re just seen as “good hospitals”. The NHS will be privatised and sold off bit by bit, and in the Tory Party’s ideal (and delusional) vision of the future, nobody will care. Well, maybe they will care when the private corporations cut corners and place profit before quality, efficiency before patient care, inflated management bonuses before…
Mr and Mrs Jones’ youngest son is a “perpetual student”.
One of the more delusional aspects of their vision is the notion that the average couple, Mr and Mrs Jones, have a grandson who is a ‘perpetual student’. This is laughable considering this government tripled tuition fees. Enough said, really.
Politicians are seldom seen on TV anymore
This bit is rather scary, though I suppose the whole ‘vision’ itself is one big nightmare trip. So, in the crazy world of Tory-led 2020, politicians are “seldom seen on TV anymore”, and the only political stories that do appear are all about “tax reductions, high-tech exports and the massive trade surplus”. So in their vision of the future, politicians rarely feature in the news. Clearly an uninformed and ignorant public is a Tory wet dream. With a government rarely featuring in the news, it would be free to get away with… well, anything it wanted. Such as privatising public services, for instance. Although maybe it’s not as sinister as all that. Maybe the Tories aren’t on TV much because they don’t actually do much in the future. In fact, it’s probably explained by the fact that:
Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year
I guess in the Tory world of 2020, corporations and business run everything, and Parliament is just there to occasionally lower taxes for the wealthy elite. Maybe by 2020 Parliament is more like the Royals, where they’re just there as a tourist attraction and a hark back to the “old” days where elected governments actually ran the country. Maybe, despite the attacks on the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable, the public services, the council cuts (etc, etc.) – maybe despite all of that, Cameron’s “Big Society” was actually implemented and a lot of public organisations and local services are run by volunteers in the community, and everything else is controlled by multinational corporations that pay 0.5% corporation tax, or something. Ah, those crazy Tories…
The funny thing is, even the Tories (in their crazy scenario) admit that they won’t be able to do much with only 16 weeks out of the year. Mr Jones is moaning that the flat tax rate of 20% (more on that in a second) isn’t the 15% that they promised (at least the Tories still envisage them breaking promises in 2020), to which Mrs Jones replies:
True,” adds Mrs Jones, “but we can’t expect too much, now that Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year.”
There is a 20% flat tax. For everyone.
Another scary aspect of this ‘vision’ is the fact that taxes are lowered to the extent that there is a “flat tax” of 20% for everyone. That means that even the millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate of tax as the working classes. Actually it will probably be much like today, where they pay even less due to tax evasion/avoidance, etc. However, in the future, and even with a 20% flat tax rate for everyone, the Tories aren’t happy. This future government of 2020 wants a lower flat tax rate of 15% for everyone. It’s hard to see how further tax reductions will help support the government and the country, but then again by 2020 (under a Tory leadership) everything will be run by the private sector so there probably won’t be any sort of welfare system or “public” services to speak of by this point anyway. Maybe we won’t even need a welfare state, because by that point all the poor and disabled will have died out (so they hope?). Even schools will be fully privatised, run for-profit, by the time the Tories are done. The flat tax gained will just go towards paying the MPs salaries, I suppose.
There’s much more to dissect from that scenario, and the 2020 document as a whole, but I only wanted to do a quick run-down of the impressions I got from it. It’s clear that the authors behind the document are delusional, and potentially dangerous (!!). If this is representative of the Tory ideology and real vision for the future (and I cannot see anything to counter this), then it is clearly very worrying. If anything puts you off voting for them in the next election, let it be this. Unless you want a future government who only sits for 16 weeks a year, and lowers taxes for higher earners to the point where a welfare system and public service sector becomes impossible to maintain; a future where big business runs everything and the government doesn’t even feature on the news… It’s not that I love seeing politicians and government policies talked about on TV all the time, but surely they need to be in the public eye to be held accountable? Surely the public should be kept informed?
Damian Hinds, the Conservative MP who is one of the authors of the report, said that the ideas aimed to encourage social mobility, supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds who wanted to get on in life.
“The electorate gave our party half a chance in 2010,” said Mr Hinds. “This work is about showing what we could offer the country if voters give us a full opportunity to govern on our own in 2015.
See what I mean? Anyway, let me know what you think below.
- Cloud Cuckoo? ’2020 Vision’ reveals disturbing Tory fantasy world (skwalker1964.wordpress.com)
- The Welfare Bill: A government of millionaires just made the poor poorer – and laughed as they did it (Independent) (independent.co.uk)
- Exclusive: Revealed – Tory plan for firms to run schools for profit (independent.co.uk)