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This site does no favours for the Consevative Party.

On the contrary, it offers a vibrant forum for the real grassroots. This is a fabulous site of which the webmasters can feel truly proud.

No wonder people incapable of debate would like to see it shut down and replaced by the truly pitiful Platform 10.

I reckon I could have knocked up Platform 10 myself using one of those DIY free web-builders.

Thanks Cleo. I agree Schools, NHS and Crime. I struggle with the environment as a top 4 issue because although I agree everyone is aware of the environmental debate, I am not sure that they would make a voting decision today to vote Conservative rather than Labour based on either party's environmental position. Both will claim to be green. However, everyone I talk to has at least one grumble which can be directly traced back to Labour's handling of the economy since '97. In my view this is where voter's are crying out for someone to take a stand, recognise their concerns, and take on the government. So my 4th is the economy. (to include pensions, the real cost of inflation, stealth tax, etc etc)

As an aside Cleo, the other topic which everyone I come into contact with is concerned about is Labour's record and reputation on immigration - most agree that Labour have lost control and the recent border force is largely spin. We must be seen to be committed to regaining control of who comes in, who stays, and who is here now who shouldn't be.

Ok, that's my top 5 - my 6th would be Europe. And we should campaign hard on all 6.

Thoughts?

Patriot: I agree with your five. I'd add Defence as my sixth. Increase spending or cut our commitments but don't continue the over-stretch.

Bill, yes defence is a good call. We've been asking too much from too few for too long...and giving them too little to do it with. Keep Europe as 6th and make it our 7th?

Patriot

Agreed and of course some of them are contingent on each other.

Patriot I do think that environment is a growing concern and it undoubtedly requires global action and the support of the likes of China and India. It makes sense to me then that a party aspiring to government should have this as a key issue. It starts locally and is a quality of life issue. Politics can shape perceptions and encourage people to live sustainably. Immigration is a difficult topic I think and yes the party has to have clear policies but the same mistakes can't be made as in 2005 when the party had policies on lots of things but the other parties portrayed it as being negative on immigration. The economy is also important yes but it should not be all about tax cuts because that destroys the policies on schools and hospitals. Be committed to low tax economy yes but not to the detriment of services or stability of the economy. Pensions are a timebomb and housing has to figure in there too. Europe for me should not be a top campaigning issue because though it may be very important to Conservatives it is not a big issue for voters. Voters say they want a referendum yes but could that not be because they don't trust politicians of any party or any country on Europe because it means something different to each politician and they regularly change their tune?

One-liner Carry on Cleo is strictly on message, so no surprise at all that 'she' doesn't mention the two real hot potatoes - Immigration and Europe.

But I'm guessing that Cameron will have plenty to say about both when the General Election approaches.

However this will be one 'lurch to the right' which certainly won't pay off.

We didn't come down with the last shower of rain.

Be committed to low tax economy yes but not to the detriment of services or stability of the economy.

The economy is not stable - it is completely unbalanced. Consumption is 70% GDP instead of 60%. Investment is low but official figures include M&A as "Investment" so each takeover of a British company by foreigners appears as "investment".

British banks fund takeovers and expand credit M3 and M4 so money supply expands. The trade deficit is huge and personal borrowing is increasing to compensate for collapsing real incomes and high taxes.

The economy is totally unstable at present....and Trichet warns today that the ECB will raise interest rates next month - so you can guarantee the B of E will

You cannot say whether tax cuts are good or bad - it depends which taxes....Council Tax is regressive

Cleo. Good post. I agree we need to have a position on the environment which demonstrates that we respect it and will not sacrifice it for gains elsewhere. That said I think that this is such a basic requirement that it comes under the heading of ground rules rather than being a specific issue. I don't believe we should be going with policies on additional carbon taxation or carbon allowances, which some have promoted. There are, I believe, sound reasons for not doing this but perhaps for another thread.

On immigration I think if we don't make it clear that we have policies that put clear blue water between us and Labour we will send a message that we intend to be as inept and incompetent as the electorate already perceive them to be. I also think we have to accept that Labour would attack any policy on immigration as negative, because they would have to. But isn't that the nature of politics? We can't afford not to campaign on something which is both a key issue with the electorate, and one of Labours biggest failings, just because they would attack us. Why? Because the electorate want an opposition party to campaign on things that are important to them, and because to appear to have no policy at all will be seen by the electorate as a sign of incompetence and weakness, and possibly fear if they realise we are avoiding the subject because we can't handle Labour's response. Voters do not vote for parties which they sense will be weak and fearful once in government - probably a Darwinian instinct.

On the economy I agree totally that we should not lead with tax cuts. We should lead with Labour mismanagement, and here the ammunition is huge. The electorate will punish fiscal incompetence, providing they feel that the alternative on offer is better, has demonstrably staffed out offerings, and some financial gravitas. I do think we should make it clear that we will ease the tax burden as soon as we can. We should commit to clear out enough waste and frivolous spending by the end of the first 24 months to enable this to begin, with manifesto commitments to continue to roll back more of the last 10 years tax increases over the balance of the first term. To take in Bill's point, pulling the forces back from Iraq and Afghanistan sometime in the first two years would help.

In my view we need to go with a crystal clear policy on Europe that says this far but no further. We should take the case of the metric martyrs as an example of something we would never allow to happen on our watch. For a government to allow a man to be hounded to death because he sold goods in pounds and ounces to customers who wanted to buy them in pounds and ounces is beyond disgust. We should commit to gaining Steve Thorburn a Royal pardon - the poor man still has a criminal record. Yes I know that Europe has U turned and now said that it will permit this, but it won't bring Steve Thorburn back. I mention this because it is symptomatic of the loss of sovereignty we have already experienced, it is a clear example of an issue which everyone can empathise with, and it demonstrates the real Labour party in government, the one which behind the spin cares nothing for the fate of individuals like Thorburn. We must remain committed to a referendum on the new treaty - as you say, voters want it. I could think of lots of other reasons why we should have a referendum, but that alone should be enough.

One last thing that I neglected in my earlier post. We should have a commitment to a full, wide ranging public enquiry into the decision to invade Iraq, and the intelligence and legal advice which was available at the time, to begin immediately after the election.


I agree that Council Tax is regressive. It needs to be reformed, just putting off re-evaluations until the distant future does not deal with the problem.

Good discussion here on the top issues. My six would be (in this order): Crime and social breakdown; education; health; the economy; immigration and Europe; defence.

It's impossible for us to separate immigration and Europe. I'd like to see some sort of Australian style system, but that is completely futile if Thomas, Ricardo and Henry can just float in and out whenever they like.

Ash, point well made on Europe and immigration. The Australians recognise they have finite resources and work very hard to control who comes, who goes, and who stays.

Cleo:

'Voters say they want a referendum yes but could that not be because they don't trust politicians of any party or any country on Europe because it means something different to each politician and they regularly change their tune?'

I would turn this round to say that one of the key reasons that people do not trust politicians is because of the EU/EEC.

Here are a few reasons why people might oppose the EU in no particular order:

1) It increasingly influences virtually every other area of Government and undermines our sovereignty
2) It constrains our politicians from acting in the best interests of the country.
3) It tends to be undemocratic
4) It dilutes our ability to influence policy
5) It threatens our national identity
6) I do not believe that the other major countries in Europe have similar views to our our and that this will never change
7) I have never had the opportunity to vote on whether I want to be European
8) I have less trust of European politicians than I do our own
9) European politicians are less accessible
10) I oppose federalism and I doubt the EU will change its position.
11) There has never been a rational discussion of this topic in this country.
12) We have been lied to about the EEC since 1975.
13) We get little out of it and put a lot in.
14) I am sceptical of the trustworthiness of all politicians.
15) It restricts our trading options and promotes protectionism

I suspect if you gave people this list and asked them to pick which they thought were true many would pick more than one of these.

The fact is that since we joined the EEC it has received nothing but bad press. It is one of the political issues that rarely raises itself to prominence but will continue to leave a bad taste in the voters mouths until it is resolved.

The EU is now more unpopular in this country according to the polls than it has ever been. The Government is not providing an answer.

In addition, after 10 years of Labour Government we have a second similar issue in the West Lothian Question/ Written Constitution/ Devolution issue. This will increasingly leave a bad taste in the mouth of English based voters as well.

Here English voters want a solution and again the Government is not providing an answer.

On their own, solutions to these issues will not win an election but if a Party offers the right solutions to these it will enhance their overall credibility significantly.

Therefore these issues should be given a sufficient profile so that the party's position on the EU is clearly understood by the electorate. However, it should not be the dominant policy.

Whilst the party seems to be heading in the right direction on these, in neither case do I believe that the party has sufficiently outlined their position yet for it to be attractive to the voter. Furthermore, I see flaws which if not addressed will also undermine the policies in question.

At the time when Margaret Thatcher came to power there was an underlying feeling that people wanted Britain to demonstrate its national identity again after years of Labour misery. The EEC was a significant factor in this. That demonstration came in the form of the electorates support of the Falklands war and the Conservative Government at subsequent elections. At that time, the Unions, Unemployment, Inflation and the Economy were among the primary concerns.

I get the same sort of feeling now, the main issues may have changed, but again I get the feeling there is a need to re-impose our national identity. The EU and WLQ/Constitution are the sort of issues where the party could once again lead the country in re-establishing this. If the party takes a solid stance on these issues I believe it can only enhance the public's view of them.

One problem I see with the referendum is that a lot of what in it, such as the primacy of EU law over national law and majority voting, has been enshrined in previous treaties. I think it was in the Single European Act. Maastricht called for 'ever closer union' and the pillars of social and judicial affairs. Conservatives might shout for a referendum now on the current treaty/constitution but the years when it was in government signing treaty after treaty it used to say there was no need and arguably the treaties of the 1980s and 1990s pooled soverignty far more than the current proposals.

I think many Conservatives Cleo would look back on the '80's and 90's and admit that we made a lot of mistakes regarding the EEC/EU. We should be honest enough to admit that had we had our time again Mrs Thatvher and John Major should have called for referendums on such major transfers of sovereignty.
I hope we can take the opportunity to force the government to keep the promise they made in 2005 and give the British people a referendum on the current constitutional treaty.

On one point of fact, ConservativeHome has never received payment for a poll finding we have given to a national newspaper.

Actually it would seem that the lack of desire for a change of leader is principally born of one of three motivations:

1) Those who truly agree with and back what Cameron is doing.

2) Those who expect him to fail electorally and in doing so destroy the "modernisation/ centre ground" agenda.

3)Those who can't see who better there is to replace him.

I'd be interested to see how that 87% breaks down between these three motivations, I know which one I favoured when I ticked the no change of leader now box.

Perdix wrote - 'Labour bloggers are already gloating over the air of despair on ConHome.'

They're the bastards writing the stuff - Traditional Tory etc!

Just read Reagan somethings comments. I have stopped crying now. But THINK! do you honelstly think the UK public want a leader surrounded by his chummies from his OLD PUBLIC SCHOOL?

One problem I see with the referendum is that a lot of what in it, such as the primacy of EU law over national law and majority voting, has been enshrined in previous treaties.

NO. The One Big Problem is that this is The Last Treaty. From this Constitution onwards the EU is free of treaties and IGCs. It can amend and update itself without treaties.

It is rather like letting Labour continue to run the country irrespective of election results using The Parliament Act to legislate.

The EU will be a self-updating, self-innovating legal entity just as valid as any national government but superior to them and with the Supreme Court in Brussels and Central Bank in Frankfurt.

Perdix wrote - 'Labour bloggers are already gloating over the air of despair on ConHome.'

I wonder how many bloggers here come from Labour Blogs, es tu Perdix ?

Malcolm is right. The Tories should have held referenda in the 80s and 90s over changes in our relationship with the EU. How europhile MPs (aided by the FO) got their way is still a mystery to me. We were conned. And BTW, it is oxymoronic to talk of "pooled sovereignty".

TomTom, Cleo: Council Tax is regressive. I think any tax based on house value has to be viewed as a wealth tax by another name, and we should never be in a situation where we are supporting the taxation of assets based on value - once tax is paid on income the government should keep their hands off, IMO. (Same argument against inheritance tax).

I accept this was a Conservative error in the wake of the 'little difficulty' with Poll Tax, but we shouldn't let that stop us from committing to put right our mistake.

As I recall the original 'rates' were based on floor area, which it seems to me would be a much more tolerable, acceptable and measureable way to calculate the required contribution. (And much less of a hot potato than local income tax, which is the other alternative)

It's also much, much easier to administer once set up, because measurements only increase if houses are extended, and the rate per square foot (or square metre if we must) can be decided completely divorced from the turbulence of house price inflation, (or crashes).

The existing value based tax is causing substantial distress to older voters as they move from salary income to pension
income. There will be many of the 9 million voters over 65 who will have gone without for 25 years or more to pay for their house, only to see that the dramatic increase in value is raising their council taxes to distressing levels at just the time they are having to cope with reduced incomes, particularly in the light of the pensions damage inflicted by Browns £5bn a year tax raid. As well as comitting to move back from a council tax based on market value to one based on floor area we should go with a committment to introduce zero council tax for over 65's (restricted to houses below a specific floor area). This will help compensate for the appalling way Britain's pension provision has fallen behind in the last 10 years.

Council tax becomes much less emotive, much easier to understand, and much easier to accept once it's based on fixed, measureable dimensions rather than value.

Patriot

Glad to see someone else opposed I assume to a tax based on a property's capital value i.e. a wealth tax as you so rightly state.

However I am not sure rates are now the answer. Wouldn't a local income tax be fairer?

Bill, yes I think it might be, but here's why I think it would be a challenge to go with local income tax as a manifesto committment.

Many voters are still not house owners, or in any other way liable to council tax. If we go to the electorate with a proposal to replace council tax with local income tax we instantly alienate all the voters who will pay more overnight because of the new local income tax, but probably not attract enough additional votes from houseowners to even compensate, still less win an election. For some house owners it would also be a tax increase. For others there will be no change, except they will know that if they earn more they will pay more tax than they currently do. Would you vote for that?

By comparison, changing the basis for council tax on houses from value to size ought to be seen by most as fairer, and easier to administer. And it takes the 'house price' emotion out of the issue providing the transfer is done sensibly so that the actual taxes currently paid do not change to any great extent.

That then leaves the zero rate for houses smaller than an agreed size for homes occupied by pensioners (whether as owners or renters) as an offering for the many among the 9 million potential voters who would benefit, which would be fairer, it's hard to see how it wouldn't have voter appeal, and those who do not benefit from it today would still find it hard to make a case against it.

A sensible, pragmatic, caring and decidely non 'nasty party' offering...

Thoughts?

Patriot

Your analysis seems sound, especially on the electoral side.

I guess the local income tax could be mitigated through thresholds (but yes I know it still leaves scope for poll tax type objections). Also since 75% (?) of local government spending comes via the block grant its all a bit of an around the houses exercise anyway. Another option would of course be a local sales tax but as we are stuffed with 17.5% VAT thanks to
the EU and the last Tory government, I guess
that is out of the question anyway.

So I guess your sticking with as near to the status quo as possible makes your idea the more attractive. Wasn't the old rate valuation based on the nominal rental value
of your property based on square footage, i.e. not much different from your idea?

Bill, ""Wasn't the old rate valuation based on the nominal rental value of your property based on square footage?""

I think it was Bill, but this time round I'd leave out the valuation bit and directly link square footage to the council rate charge. Keeps it simple and unemotional and removes any scope for subjective opinions. Anyone could do the sums themselves without the benefit of a local authority valuation expert. Square footage multiplied by rate per square foot = charge.

I think any tax based on house value has to be viewed as a wealth tax by another name, and we should never be in a situation where we are supporting the taxation of assets based on value

I think you are wrong. Either you impose CGT on house sales or charge 1% Sale Price as Council Tax annually with a 75% exemption for Owner-Occupation........but Council Tax is already regressive as Heseltine designed it to be...then the shortfall was made up by raising VAT from 15% to 17.5%

If Charles Dunstone lives in an £18 million home I think he can pay more Council Tax than someone living in a £320,000 home

I'd leave out the valuation bit and directly link square footage to the council rate charge.

Hilarious. Then it should be illegal to charge more for a house in Mayfair over one in Bridlington. Both should sell at the same price per square foot in future transactions....any capital loss to be borne by the owner.

After all there is no shortage of teachers, firemen, policemen in London and they want The Olympics for free....or do you think London should have a City Income Tax like New York ?

""Wasn't the old rate valuation based on the nominal rental value of your property based on square footage?""

That's how it was calculated The Valuation Office had accurate measurements of every house in the country.

Supposedly 'secret' scales varied according to 'age group' This could cause problems. A sought-after c1700 thatched cottage might end up having a lower Rateable Value (in those days there was Gross Value Net Annual Calue and Rateable Value, but forget about that)than a 1930s terraced house in a back street.

You don't want that happening again. A man who owns a house of 150 sq metres worth £500,000 because of its requested location can afford to pay a higher rate/tax than one who owns a house of similar size worth, say, £200,000, in a much less fasionable area,

Evidence of rental values, even these days, is less extensive and conclusive than evidence of capital values.

TomTom. What's your reasoning behind charging CGT on house sales? (I'm assuming you mean on sales of homes which are the main residence of the owner, I believe CGT is alreaady liable on sales of homes bought and sold for reasons of business development)

TomTom, Traditional Tory - Points well made, but I'm not proposing a country wide rate which is the same - the charge rate would vary by area, council by council, just as it does now. The council charge for 1 square foot in Mayfair could be a hundred times more than Bridlington (or whatever the appropriate ratio would be).

I was amazed that the telegraph were treating a website survey pretty much as they would a you gov poll. The results should come with the health warning that there is no requirement to be a member of the party to take part in the survey.

However if for the moment we take these results at face value, they tell us firstly that there is very little support for changing leader and secondly that after weeks of negative press coverage about a brown bounce, by-elections and a few random people criticising the leadership confidence in a conservative general election victory has fallen. I'd suggest that is hardly surprising.

The council charge for 1 square foot in Mayfair could be a hundred times more than Bridlington (or whatever the appropriate ratio would be)

Yes but the present system inherently takes accounts of differences in value within the areas covered by charging authorities. Not all properties within the City of Westminster are as valuable as those in Mayfair and no doubt the same is true in Bridlington.

The old rating system always *claimed* to be representative of real values but for a number of reasons we won't discuss now, this was a travesty of the truth. Incidentally some of the values still being used in the 1970s were based on a multiple of the 1939 list!

What you are proposing seems to me to have no merit at all. Stick with the current system, which at least has the advantage of a certain transparency in that everybody can produce actual evidence of capital values.

Traditional Tory. If prices were stable I would agree with you, if only on the grounds of not trying to fix what isn't broken, however that's not the case. House prices are moving at a rate which has become disconnected with most people's experience of inflation, whichever government measure you might choose to use. Equally it's possible that we will also experience a price crash at some time in the future - these variations are disconnecting council tax from most peoples perception of the reason they pay it - to cover the cost of the services they recieve.

Replacing the existing system with a charge rate based on square footage and set by area (do it by postcode, street, zone) allows the system to be implemented in a way which would be change neutral at the time of implementation - the charges would continue in the immediate future at broadly the same charge per building as they are now. The difference is that the charge would then be disconnected from the dramatic rises and potential crashes which we may see in the future. Rate of increase would be controlled by a manual change in the rate per square foot, and based on the need to cover the increase in costs for which they are charged, not a change in the house value.

I can see no reason why anyone should accept that their council tax should increase by say 20% simply because the value of their house has increased by the same percentage. How on earth are they supposed to find that extra money? It isn't cash in hand, and they cannot realise the gain without selling and downsizing, or borrowing against the house and incurring an interest liability. Equally local costs, which people understand council tax as being required to meet, will not have increased by this amount, so why increase the contribution? You could make the same argument if there is ever a dramatic decrease in house prices.

A similar argument exists against charging CGT, in any form, on owner occupied house sales. To buy a similar house in the same area the vendor is going to need to pay broadly the same amount, and the treasury will already take a substantial sum in stamp duty. In any case, most voters would struggle to understand what right the government has to take money from a houseowner based soley on the fact that it has value.

The problem with the current system is that
it is in essence a wealth tax based on capital values which as we all know have been inflated relative to the rest of the economy I a bit like the council tax take itself). I do not think Tories should support capital taxes particularly those which are regressive.

Patriot

You beat me to it. I often agree with Trad Tory's views but on this unTory take of things I do not.

Well Bill, I'm afraid that goes with my territory as a former officer of the Inland Revenue.

Watch it! ;)

There wasn't enough options in the last survey.

It was a choice between more government or more government.

Where's the LESS government option?

There is no 'fair' form of property tax. We all see the position in a different way. Local Income Tax would be seen as 'fair' by a majority of people on middle and low incomes. A tax on capital values looks fair to people in cheap houses or cheap areas. A tax based on floor area does not look to me to be 'fair' to anyone at all; as many old properties have large rooms and wasted space in large corridors, halls and landings. We just have to face the fact that Maggie was right yet again with the Poll Tax. It really was fair and charged that vocal minority for the services that they do not pay for under property tax. We should have intoduced the Community Charge in a different manner; perhaps on the basis that if any council wished to exceed last year's rates plus the rate of inflation, say less 1%; then that would be taken as an addition to the Community Charge. That would have moved the onus and the animus to each individual high-spending council; and over a period of years it would have transferred most of the charge to that Community Charge mode as well. We should have used more political guile and far better tactics. Panic and stupidity led us to drop the whole system, thus throwing out the baby and the future with the bathwater. No surprise there; it was the start of the 'modernisers', 'Bluelabs' and 'Roons'. Spiral decline ever since she was forced out.

While anonymous contributors here lob insults at David Cameron, he has been going round the country visiting every major area affected by floods - where thousands of people's lives have been shaken because of the climate change which he was the first party leader to identify as a major new issue.

In my constituency Cameron's visit was much appreciated by Conservatives who've been working their socks off in voluntary work for their communities during this crisis.

We now face another huge potential crisis (foot and mouth), and while the Shadow Cabinet and countryside tories everywhere are dealing with the new challenge no doubt some armchair critics will carry on taking pot shots via this website.

Easy to snipe; harder to get on with the work needed to win the general election. But far more satisfying.


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