Monday, January 27, 2020

Brexit is done. Get Fairness Started

The boring and brilliant 'Get Brexit Done' tag did it for the Tories with Brexit voters gifting the election to the Tories with an extraordinary 80 seat majority for Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. Labour's diligently crafted policies were ignored in the face of the big issue that triggered the winning votes.  Some long established Labour constituencies switched to the Tories. Is this a sea-change or a one-off blip? In five years time will Labour voters revert? Or will Labour fade away as a major party?  For the new Tory administration pressure must be on to do whatever will retain the old Labour seats in an election by 2024. 

Young people voted heavily for Labour in 2017, and also this time; with Remain not being a big enough issue for enough of them to abandon ship for the pro-EU Lib-Dems or Greens. Of these,  full-time students voted massively for Labour with x3 times as many as voted for Conservative. Their manifesto pledge to abolish tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants obviously did it for Labour. The Tories would be advised to do something similar and neutralise the appeal of Labour for students. After all there will be added students next time and some older Tory votes may just not be - both trends will endanger the Tories. How about a lifetime grant for education with created money as proposed by Prof Richard Werner? 

Home renters tended to vote Labour, and owners Conservative. This aligns with the age bias generally, with older people voting Tory. The disparity of home ownership between age groups continues to grow for all income groups. This despite the Conservative Help-to-Buy schemes which become Help-to-Bonuses for house developers . If a carefully designed land value tax scheme gradually replaced income tax, property prices would adjust and affordability of ownership return for the younger, lower earners, and even homeowners might see the fairness of getting their family on the housing ladder as they did for themselves decades ago See this blog Jan 30, 2018.  Does it matter that the home-owning dream is dying in the UK? Are Conservatives still the party of the home owning democracy?  Does this growing unfairness bother them?

The new government is being given advice about spending £billions on infrastructure in the midlands where their new ex-Labour voters live.  The lead time for these is many years and is not a particularly personal vote winner - so why not borrow a Labour proposal and pilot a Universal Basic Income scheme to tackle enduring poverty? What better and fairly quick way to capture and keep voters voting for you? Fairness, particularly for young, poor voters. Use UBI as a basis for Universal Credit reform. 

Incidentally, if spending £billions on infrastructure the Bank of England agrees that it is possible to create money for public spending interest-free and debt-free (no tax cost) and George Osborne (remember him?) agreed too but didn't bother, or dare, to use this monetary tool for the common good.     

And what about promoting local banks to supply credit where needed - locally? Labour were going to do so based on the Post Office network. Dr Plamen Ivanov, a leading proponent of economic benefit through local banks, argues the local case from a new study of the origin of the Bank of England. 

Is the Tory victory to be compared with Benjamin Disraeli stealing Gladstone's Liberal policy of extending the voting franchise in 1867? Not quite in the same way. Brexit as an issue will fade, bringing other election issues. If the Tories come up with 'borrowed,' policies Boris may do a full Disraeli, next time. But don't forget that in 1868 the Tories lost the next election even after 'Dishing the Whigs' having added new voters.             

Posted by Charles Bazlinton:  Author of The Free Lunch - Fairness with Freedom. Also: Promoter of Local Community Banks.  

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