Budget 2018: Conservatism for the many, not the few
Simon Bonney looks at Spreadsheet Phil’s budget and how much conservatives can cheer about it.
The 29th October brought with it a few oddities; a chancellor of the ex-chequer delivering a budget on a Monday, the confirmation of an establishment shattering election in Brazil, growth has slowed but projections have been raised (it apparently slowed because of the ridiculous spring weather, not a mention of Brexit) and Phillip Hammond gave a glimmer of hope to conservatism with a mixed budget of ideological direction and tepid restraint.
Along with tax breaks for the many, not the few (as in literally everyone earning money in the United Kingdom), the relief of business rates on small and medium sized businesses (thank god!) a liquidity boost for defence and police, (though cyber security is a dubious and ambiguous allocation) investments in industrial strategy focusing, seemingly, on futuristic tech, renewables and the industries that thrive on them, the Chancellor of the Ex-Chequer has delivered a glimmer of hope that conservatism has yet to be defeated in Britain.
That hope, however, comes at the end of a very dark tunnel. Within his budget, the Chancellor also sets out new measures to saturate the NHS with funding, inject huge cash into the welfare system, inject loose money into fixing Britain’s broken (and they are broken) roads and highways, inject massive cash into building houses that we don’t need and in doing so, shows his willingness to slip into the neo liberal Achilles heel of assuming elections are won on funding, and that you can solve all ailments with money. You can’t.
Hammond, with this budget, has demonstrated that the Conservative Party has ignored everything causing these issues, not least the massive elephant in the room that is overpopulation. His logical, measured, conservative vision has been clouded by what he expects the public to want, by his readiness to pander to Labour and the opinion of social liberals. This is a budget that has been produced to win an election, not to improve the country long term.
It is a budget that has been produced in collaboration with the weaker factions of Tory party ideology whom make it their business to adopt liberal thinking and ignore social conservatism because it is perceived that stealing voters from the left is the only way to win an election, ignorant to the fact that the vast majority of the electorate are hard-working conservative thinkers. The party just won’t acknowledge that fact – and by all measures it is a fact – or stand by its own convictions and make a meaningful and open shift to the right; they can’t see the wood for the trees. The creed of weakness, seeping in to the status quo.
Not just weak, but misguided. That whole philosophy- the philosophy of playing politics to get elected and not being strong and confident enough to produce policy and a party that people actually want to elect, are drawn to – is a philosophy of misguided weakness, the antithesis to conservative strength of character and ideology. What’s more, the autumn budget of 2018 suggests the neoliberal Tory status quo for the foreseeable future (dedicating to inflated and erroneous NHS spending until at least 2023, for example), foregoing any notion of privatisation or reform- something the NHS desperately requires, but because of the weakness of the politicians we have, an issue completely void of any meaningful discussion beyond arbitrary name calling, wild accusation and hollow leverage of statistics at PMQ’s.
It must be said though, that in focusing their gaze on first time buyers, on small and medium business (aside from caving to the liberal calls to inflate the minimum wage and turn it into yet another toxic issue the Tory party can no longer muster the courage to oppose), on broadening the nation’s horizons beyond Europe with measures like increasing the annual investment allowance and opening e-passport gates to the US, Canada and Japan, giving us a glimmer of hope that the Tories haven’t crumbled under the weight of juvenile remain campaigns and are still outward looking, innovative free market businesseers, that the conservative party still know their roots.
This budget is a spark- a very fickle and vulnerable spark- of hope, that with the right leadership (not May or most of her cabinet) the party can become the conservative voice of Britain once again, an represent the wants and needs of the British people like it so historically has done.
Sure, there are things- many things- I would change about this budget, but to focus my gaze of critique on the Chancellor would be as misguided as building houses in a country that is already at least 15million people over populated. He is and will always be at the behest of Mrs. May and Mrs. May’s conservatism- a weak, putrid conservatism allowed to flourish in a political climate with too many toxic issues and no credible opposition.
For now though, settling for this fiscal atmosphere is something this conservative can do. Small businesses need help over globalist minitours. First time buyers need help over those established already. Our roads do need fixing, even if the reason why is what should be addressed… Same for the NHS and our places of education come to think of it.
Things need to be changed and if the Conservative way is going to be one of short term, financial sticking plasters, then so be it. At least they have broadened their message sufficiently deep and wide to weather the coming Brexit storm, and at least they haven’t completely forgotten their philosophy. I am actually quite excited to receive my tax cut, and I’m sure my employer will welcome the much-needed reduction in business rates. God only knows it will be needed to offset the cost of the so called “living wage” increase. For now, we have a new, Frankenstein’s monster of conservatism, a conservatism for the many, not the few!