If you are in business, I would like to say that there is a party for you. A leader with conviction and integrity who can lead us out of this mess. But I can’t.
What I can do is highlight some important aspects of what has been revealed thus far and I have developed a “badometer” i.e. who is least likely to be bad for you and your business rather than who is the best. -10 is very bad and 0 is ambivalent.
Let’s start with the incumbent. Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister. Formerly, the longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer. His record isn’t great. He raided the private pension system when he first took office. Giving the Bank Of England freedom to set the interest rate was a good move. Filling the committee with his cronies wasn’t. Handing regulation to the FSA has been an unmitigated disaster. He sold gold at the wrong time and price. Increased taxation for the majority, spent money in a profligate manner, didn’t fund our troops properly, contributed personally to the credit crunch, dithered over saving Northern Rock, allowed income tax to rise, took away personal tax allowances, gave copper bottomed pensions to public servants whilst penalising the private system, and to cap it all has allowed National Insurance to rise against the better judgment of almost every prominent business leader in the country.
Not a great track record. Although the PM tells us that this was a global recession and he took all the right decisions, this was a recession he helped to create. One that has cost the nation dear. Like his “no more boom and bust” statement, I am afraid he took many bad decisions which have ended up in saddling the nation with a burden of debt for a generation. There is too much waste, too much reliance and interference by the state and not enough incentive for entrepreneurs or ordinary workers. The manifesto doesn’t offer much in the way of incentive or action to reduce the red tape that burdens SME’s particularly. As for the defecit. They created it, can they be trusted to reduce it?
I have concluded that on the badometer he scores very badly. -8 I am afraid.
So, to the Tories. To be honest during the financial crisis they didn’t have much to offer. They made mistakes, dithered their way through the crisis but as the situation developed I do think they gained some credibility. Where they are less bad is in two distinct areas. The Conservatives say we need to grow the private sector to secure a long term recovery and they also think the proposed National Insurance rise is a tax on jobs and income tax in another guise. Fine. Less bad. They do have too much to say on banks and bankers and to be honest their plans are both confused and foolish. What we need is to encourage investment, development and growth. Stop playing to the media and perhaps you might encourage some positive vibe. The move to reduce Corporation tax, reduce red tape, start cutting the deficit immediately and encourage SME’s is good news though. The problem is there simply isn’t enough detail or costed analysis to show that words will translate into action.
On the Badometer David Cameron’s Conservatives are a -4.
And the Lib Dems. I am not sure there is much point discussing them. Many people say Vince Cable is a wise old owl. He is not wise and he’s not an owl either. The mansion tax would cost more to raise than it would earn. At best it’s an envy tax and at its worst it hits many people who happen to live in a nice house they purchased years ago. They may not be cash rich. And what about this plan for the first £10,000 of earnings to be tax-free? Shouldn’t people have to pay some tax rather than leave it for higher earners to pay the lot? Shouldering burden at all levels of society is “fair”. As for their attacks on banks and bankers if you want to frighten off every international institution from locating in the UK and lose tens of thousands of jobs and relegate the UK to the bottom of the Conference league of economies vote Lib Dem. My Badometer? -10
So there you have it. After 1 week of campaigning the Conservatives are least bad for business.
In addition to his radio work, James podcasts, writes, broadcasts and presents on a wide range of current affairs. You find out more details about LBC Radio at www.lbc.co.uk/jamesmax and about him on his personal website www.jamesmax.co.uk