100 Days: The Breakneck Coalition's radicalism
By Tim Montgomerie
Throughout this week ConHome is reflecting on the Coalition's first 100 days in power. Yesterday we looked at the Coalition's popularity. Today we examine its radicalism.
Good government is 90% perspiration and only 10% inspiration but the ambition of this government is striking. Tomorrow, in ConHome's look at the Coalition's first 100 days, we'll look at the costs of Cameron's failure to win a majority but nearly every Conservative should be able to welcome the government's ambition.
Here are the Coalition's most ambitious plans and a likely-to-be-implemented rating out of ten:ELIMINATING THE ANNUAL BORROWING REQUIREMENT BY 80% SPENDING CUTS AND 20% TAX RISES
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 5/10: Osborne will struggle to achieve this goal because his Budget lacks a 10,000 Volt growth agenda and some departments will not be able to achieve the deeper cuts necessitated by protecting the NHS, overseas aid, Britain's EU contribution and pensioner benefits. Unless world growth is stronger than expected Osborne may miss his deficit targets and tax rises will form a larger part of the adjustment. As today's FT leader says, he has no Plan B.TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 9/10: Huge strides have already been made in (a) ensuring taxpayers can see how local and national government is spending their money and (b) giving businesses the opportunity to inspect the contracts that their rivals are winning from the public sector. Transparent government - pursued most energetically by Eric Pickles so far - could become a massive ally of small government conservatives as waste and excess in the public sector is exposed.MAKING WORK PAY
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 6/10: Iain Duncan Smith's ambition to eliminate the disincentives for low income people to work has been given a big boost by the Treasury's (reported) agreement to a £3bn ringfenced pot of money for the introduction of a radical simplification of the benefits system. George Osborne is still understandably petrified, however, that this system could be introduced on the eve of the next election and losers will be much angrier than beneficiaries will be grateful.THE END OF LOCAL AUTHORITY DOMINATION OF EDUCATION
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 7/10: Michael Gove has already made a speedy start to this goal by enabling many more schools to achieve enhanced Academy status. By the time of the next election he should be on the way to securing his great aim of a new parent, charity or business-led school acting as a beacon of innovation in every major town and city.
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 8/10: This Liberal Democrat policy has already been partly-implemented since it became part of the Coalition Agreement.ELECTED POLICE CHIEFS
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 6/10: Alongside control of immigration Theresa May sees democratic accountability of the police as her top priority as Home Secretary. Assisted by police reform minister Nick Herbert she has a good chance of success but will face fierce resistance from the top police officers' union (APCO).REDUCING NET IMMIGRATION TO THE TENS OF THOUSANDS
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 7/10: Damian Green and Theresa May have made a good start by imposing a temporary cap on economic immigration from outside the EU but Vince Cable is fighting hard for an elastic cap when it becomes permanent. The target will only be met if student numbers are strictly controlled, however. Universities minister David Willetts is fighting this half of the immigration clampdown but I expect May and Cameron to prevail.ABOLISHING NHS PRIMARY CARE TRUSTS
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 8/10: Andrew Lansley's reform programme was not signalled in the Tory manifesto or the Coalition agreement but it is likely to be delivered despite the real risk that GPs will become powerful advocates for ever more NHS spending once they only have themselves to blame for budget management.A CLEANER, CHEAPER POLITICS
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 7/10: Fixed-term parliaments, a reduction in the number of MPs to by 60 and powers to recall underperforming MPs are all likely to be introduced in the next year (although Zac Goldsmith has highlighted the inadequacy of the Coalition's proposed recall measure). Harder-to-predict is the outcome of the AV referendum.A 'SOFT-POWERED' FOREIGN POLICY
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 10/10: Cameron was never a big supporter of the Afghan and Iraq wars. He has already signalled a strong determination to leave Afghanistan and has declined to protect the defence budget in the way he has protected the NHS and overseas development budgets. He and Clegg believe in soft power (not least through aid spending) and want to use the Foreign Office to promote Britain's economic interests. The most interesting battle in this area will be Liam Fox's determination to protect Trident from Liberal Democrat attacks.THE RESTORATION OF CIVIL LIBERTIES
LIKELIHOOD RATING: 9/10: ID cards have already been abolished. Theresa May's "rapid review" into other Labour era measures, including extended pre-charge detention, will lead to further liberalisation.
> TOMORROW: The price of governing with the Liberal Democrats.