As part of the most recent survey of the ConservativeHome Members' Panel we asked how the Conservative Party might tackle Gordon Brown. Throughout this Budget week we will be reflecting on the observations you made...
We start with economic competitiveness. Here were some of the things you said:
"Take a current copy of Tolley's tax guide and throw it at him! Seriously - compare the latest guide with one ten years old and try to get across the damage this idiot is doing to business and jobs."
"Nail the lie that he has given us an economy to be proud of."
"Highlight the private pensions fiasco, and the decline in growth rates over the past 7 years."
"He has only one strength - the economy - if we can undermine his name on it he is broken. Compare with Kerry's central campaign plank - his Vietnam service."
"Gordon Brown, the man who has given us higher taxes than Germany and made us poorer than Ireland. The man who has overseen our slide down the table of competitive nations, who sold half our gold reserves when the price was at an all-time low, who destroyed the best private pension funds in Europe etc. etc. etc."
"Comparisons with more successful nations such as Ireland."
"He inherited a flourishing economy but is now tens of billions in the red."
"Labour are strangling the economy. They are burdening business to the point they are destroying businesses before they get off the ground."
"Gordon Brown is an economic disaster to all who do not have financial income from the government. This applies to business and government contracts more than help to the individual."
"Continually point out the short term boost that Gordon Brown has been giving to the economy is to the detriment of the longer term good. Huge amounts of expenditure - both private and public are being brought forward. It is unsustainable."
The facts (taken from a CCHQ briefing) certainly back up Panel Members' concerns over declining competitiveness:
- Business taxes have gone from 10th lowest to 10th highest in the developed world.
- We have fallen in competitiveness from 4th to 13th in the world.
- We have a record trade deficit of £47bn . Our deficit with China rose by 20% last year
- Business investment, at 9.7% of GDP, its lowest level since records began in 1965
- The saving ratio almost halved from 9.7% 1992-7 to 5.5% today and pension crisis
- Economic growth last year was 1.8%, below the G7 , OECD and the global average
- Forecast growth for next year, of 2-2.5%, remains below trend.
Tomorrow we'll look at Gordon Brown's stealth taxes. Then we'll look at the Chancellor's poverty-fighting, wastefulness, his 'roadblock to reform' status, his closeness to Tony Blair, and then his personal history (including the fact he represents a Scottish seat - a fact which exercised a huge number of ConservativeHome readers). On Sunday - to conclude the series - we'll see if we can agree on an internet-based campaign to bring much wider attention to the Chancellor's faults.