Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No beef in Birmingham

The Labour conference is surrounded by a ring of steel to keep terrorists out, but security at the Tory conference is more about protecting the good people of Birmingham from views that some may find disturbing.

George Osborne had his moment in the sun today, with a hard hitting, smirk-free speech on the economy. The BIG IDEA this year - following hard on the heels of that 2007 £1 billion tax giveaway for the 3000 richest families in the country - was a two year freeze on council tax bills after a Tory election win. I'm not clear how this will be achieved. There's the now routine promise to make savings by slashing the bill for external consultants - something that Tory-run Birmingham City Council could try - and redeploying the money elsewhere. Of course, this money seems to be a limitless pot, as it goes to supporting the health service, marriage, tax cuts and whatever happens to be the favourite cause of the group hearing from Cameron this week. That money will guarantee an increase of up to 2.5% in council funding from the benificent Tory paymasters. What happens if councils need or want to go beyond that increase isn't specified. Will a putative Cameron government, committed to local people, immediately enforce a cap on local authority spending?

Of course, there are those who think that this might be a devious ploy to encourage councils to push bills even higher over the next couple of years as they fear spending cuts thereafter, with a consequent boost in support for the tax and service-cutting Tories.

Osborne also accused the government of pushing the Bradford & Bingley risk onto the taxpayer - conveniently ignoring the clever scheme whereby the Financial Services Compensation Scheme will carry the ultimate risk of any shortfall. Yes, the government support it in the medium term, but if at the end of the process, not all the money has been recovered, then the industry has to pick up the tab.

And then there was the pointless government spending watchdog, which was condemned as 'ridiculous' by Irwin Stelzer - a leading economist and key advisor to Rupert Murdoch. When the Tories are promising to cut government waste, why do they need an additional department to tell them that they are spending too much? Can't George and Dave add up?


Robert said...

But then again others would say how the hell did Brown not see this coming or the bust housing market, as he leaned across the dispatch box to tell us and the Tories boom and bust was over.

I just think who is the better the Tories or Labour, well Labour have given us this world and it's not that nice, so would the Tories do any better I've no idea, I do know I've had enough of this rubbish

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