Things we hope to see at the Conservative Party Conference

CPS Director Tim Knox and CPS Head of Economic Research Ryan Bourne reflect on what they hope to see at the 2013 Conservative Party Conference.

“The economy has spluttered into life, and the leader of the opposition has clearly articulated the direction of travel in which he wants to take the country. This presents a challenge to Conservatives. How should they react to overt calls to regulate more of the economy? To the calls for new wealth taxes? To the inevitable temptation to start flittering taxpayer money on a variety of pet projects? With living standards lagging behind the uptick in GDP numbers, populist interventions look appealing.

Yet it’s important to put things into context: our deficit is still £116 billion for 2012/13. We have the pressures of an ageing population, and a technological revolution on the way which will transform swathes of the labour market. Now is not the time to go back to the failed interventions of the past. We all like popular policies, but we really need policies whose eventual results will be popular.

We hope in this conference to see a vision for Britain that reflects modern circumstances and the long-term fiscal outlook. To hear a positive reiteration of individual liberty, market economics and personal responsibility as guiding conservative principles. A steadfast policy commitment to sound finance and pro-growth tax reform. A conservative approach to easing the cost of living. And a willingness to address head-on why conservatism is best for the people of Britain.

Here are some four broad themes of things we’d like to see/not see at conference:

Lower taxes and sound finance

  • No confusion or obfuscation between “debt” and “deficit” by any platform speaker.1
  • No populist give-aways or gimmicks, but a commitment to continue to reduce the deficit and the size and scope of government into the next Parliament.
  • A commitment to lower taxes (and no new taxes in the next Parliament), including an ambition to raise those earning the minimum wage on full-time hours out of income tax and NI altogether.2
  • An articulation of how a majority Conservative government would go about reforming the tax code to both simplify it and to make it more pro-growth.3
  • A commitment to use the eventual sale of RBS to make every taxpayer a shareholder, allowing the taxpayer to profit from any upside observed after re-privatisation.4
  • A commitment to privatisation of e.g. the Crown Estates, London Underground, the Trust Ports, the Commonwealth Development Corporation, the Royal Mint, the Met Office, Enrichment Holdings, Glas Cymru, Channel 4 and local authority-owned airports (e.g. Manchester).

A cost of living agenda through conservative pro-market supply-side reforms

  • Elimination of renewables subsidies and the development of a secure web-based account switching facility.5
  • Abolition of the UK carbon price floor.6
  • Deregulation of the childcare market in order to enable more informal arrangements to flourish again.7
  • Planning reform, including a much-needed framework for new Garden Cities development.8
  • Pension pot aggregation, combined with a central clearing house and database.9
  • A commitment to more on-track competition on the rail network.10

Publics services

  • A commitment to simplifying the bureaucratic burden involved in free school applications and allowing free schools to be profit-making.
  • A commitment to save the NHS £billions by reviewing the clinical negligence rules and entitlements; and by indicating patent expiry dates on all drugs listed in the BNF.
  • An indication on the powers which a majority Conservative Government would seek to repatriate from the European Union.12

A coherent ideology for 2015: growth, liberty and opportunity

  • The recognition in at least one major platform speech of the importance of “Liberty” and “Freedom” coupled with responsibility as guiding principles of the next Conservative Government, and why Ed Miliband’s state-centric solutions are wrong for Britain.13
  • “Growth, Liberty, and Opportunity” as the three key aims of a Conservative majority government, with associated policies to back them up.”
  1. A distorted debate: the need for clarity on debt, deficit and coalition aims (2012) by Ryan Bourne and Tim Knox
  2. Nick Clegg’s ambition to lift the poor from tax is a lesson for Tories over low pay (2013) by Ryan Bourne and Poor People! Stop Paying Tax! (2001) by Maurice Saatchi.
  3. See our Tax Simplifier blog series  and follow @TaxSimplifier on Twitter.
  4. Give us our fair shares (2011) by James Conway, Toby Fenwick and Michael O’Connor.
  5. Capitalism for the little guy (2013) by Dominic Raab MP.
  6. As Australia drops its unpopular carbon tax, how long before Britain’s own carbon price floor is axed? (2013) by Tony Lodge, and The Atomic Clock (2012) by Tony Lodge.
  7. Childcare: what childcare? Dr Spock must be turning in his grave (2013) by Kathy Gyngell.
  8. Simplified planning and the need for sunset clauses (2013) by Keith Boyfield.
  9. Aggregation is the key (2013) by Michael Johnson.
  10. Rail’s Second Chance (2013) by Tony Lodge.
  11. Some more ways to save money on the NHS (2013) by Ryan Bourne.
  12. The UK and the EU: Time to cut the knot (2012) by David Heathcoat-Amory.
  13. Freedom and liberty: The dangerous words our politicians ignore (2013) by Tim Knox.

Date Added: Friday 27th September 2013