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Alistair Thompson: The next Conservative Government should issue shares in the nationalised banks to every UK taxpayer

Alistair Thompson Alistair Thompson is a councillor in Portsmouth and part of the City Seats Initiative in West Bromwich. He also runs Media Intelligence Partners with business partner Nick Wood, the former press secretary to Conservative leaders William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith.

No one should underestimate the scale of the economic crisis still facing the UK, because it is truly horrific.

Government borrowing looks increasingly set to top £100 billion this year as tax revenues collapse faster than any at any time since the great depression. National debt is ballooning and even the ONS believes that it will hit the eye watering figure of £1.5 trillion and that does not even take into account personal debt that adds another £1.5 trillion to this figure.

One MP told me recently that the economy is "f***ed" and that whoever wins the next election will be the most unpopular post-war Government after just 12 months as it is forced to make cuts and take the tough decisions that have been avoided by the current Government.

Gordon Brown’s irresponsible spending and economic stewardship has wrecked the economy and highlights how psychologically flawed he is, exposing his lack of ability to change tack when the situation demands it.

Of course there are those who have suggested that this complete mess is part of a wider Labour "scorched earth strategy" aimed at limiting the Tories to just one term; but while I believe Labour to be completely incompetent, I do believe that the majority of their party would not back such a damaging policy, so have to rule this out.

Anyone who thinks that there will be a quick fix should think again. It will take between ten and fifteen years before the economy is repaired, maybe longer, as America seems to on the verge of a double dip recession as its fiscal stimulus package runs out of steam.  

So against this backdrop there seems little room for the next Conservative Government to be bold, to increase ownership and give people a real stake in the economy of this country.

But there is one suggestion I would like to offer up into this debate. The next Conservative Government should forget trying to manage the banks, abolish Labour’s latest quango the UKFI, and instead issue shares worth about £3,000 per person to each taxpayer including pensioners in the UK.

Now there are those who will think this a bonkers suggestion, but hear me out.

The cost of this giveaway when set against our nation’s debt mountain is a relatively small amount, with the value of the shares down to about £24 billion.

Some taxpayers will sell their shares, but this money will then most likely be used in the real economy, buying goods or services, helping struggling businesses, while others will undoubtedly hold on to the shares for use on a rainy day or even to pay off personal debt.  

The masters of the universe who brought their banks to the brink of destruction would be answerable at last to every taxpayer, who would be given a real say in the running of the banks. And why should those of us who have been forced to bail out these banks not have a direct say?

This move would free up the next chancellor to concentrate on sorting out the regulatory system and public finances, because there is still so much to do, without the distraction of having to watch the UKFI bungle the staged sell-off of bank shares.

And issuing shares to millions would also create a whole new group of people with a vested interest in the economy, interested in the stock market, keen to see the FTSE do well, grow and make them and the country more money. No more would the City be seen as something that is slightly removed from the lives of ordinary people like you and I.

Yes, I know that to many this idea will seem like an untested and risky policy, but it could have real benefits in the long term and would reaffirm our belief that people are best placed to take decisions about their lives - not the state and certainly not Gordon Brown and his fiscal incompetence.


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