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Again, I'm in the minority (-:

Am I barmy?

If conservatism does not mean reigning in the state and lower taxes then quite possibly I am.

Next time, how about offering a choice between:
(a) public spending growing in line with the economy, at between 2.5% and 3% a year
(b) public spending growing at 2%, requiring cuts relative to the economy, enabling borrowing to be reduced or taxes to be cut
(c) public spending growing at less than 2%

You wouldn't want to give the impression that your argument is so weak that you have to slant your own surveys, would you!

I don't wish public spending to grow at all, I wish it to rapidly diminish.

I don't wish anyone to be paid from my taxes to tell me how much fruit to eat each day, nor how to educate my children; I don't wish anyone to give my money to other countries that are either economically booming or irredeemably mired in Stone Age tribalism; Ia don't want my money thrown away to either the UN or the EU.

I would like to pay enough taxes so that we have properly equipped Defence Forces, an honest and accessible system of Justice, and trustworthy and competent Police Force.

Then I will be left with enough money to properly care for my dependents, to save for my old age and to give to the charities of my choice.

Offering a guarantee undermines Labour's sole remaining campaign slogan "Tories=Cuts". It was Tony's idea and we should learn from someone who can actually win a general election.

Sensible debate must be about the extent of the guarantee. Politically it only needs to be about overall health and education spending and that gives endless scope for real changes. It only needs to be for two years, as Blair's was.

But even that spikes Brown's last remaining guns.

Then sjm, you will have to make clear where savings and cuts should be made. It has been one of the failures of the Conservatives in opposition to make the case for cuts in certain areas which is why our commitment to lower taxes have not been believed by the electorate at election time.
The fact is that Brown/Darling have committed to much lower growth in spending over the next three years than has been the case for the past 10 years. This is going to involve some pain in the public services as it is which is going to make Darling an unpopular chancellor.
We agree that Defence spending has to increase (in my opinion very significantly) where would you suggest we make heavy cuts?

At a time of economic downturn it is vital that business, the people who produce jobs, is given support over unnecessary public services. That means cutting public services that provide no end product and shifting the emphasis onto supporting business with tax cuts. Look to Reagan in 1980! He inherited a raft of cluttered up expensive public programmes and set to task in getting rid of what was wasteful while maintaining vital services. Reagan was able to support the supply-side and rebuild the American economy. Just think what would have happened in Reagan hadn't cut back public spending? The Conservative party needs to start setting the agenda in British politics rather than following Labour's lead. An economic downturn now means that public spending has to undergo a complete audit and those 'services' that have no real end product must go.

Does Philip Hammond believe that opposing Labour policy is barmy?

''Public spending has to prove itself to be worth not only the dollars involved but also the human waste, the disincentive involved in maintaining higher tax rates,'' said Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist who was President Reagan's chief economic adviser in the early 1980's.

Philip Hammond describes us (Con Home survey respondents) as "barmy". He is entitled to to do so but we are also entitled to speak out. This is yet another example of senior Conservatives abandoning conservativism. Voters who want a smaller state and lower taxes are in danger of being disenfranchised.

Mr Hammond hasn't learnt anything from the grammars school row. Mr Cameron didn't help matters when he attacked the grassroots as delusional. Now we're barmy!

I know Philip Hammond- he is my MP and I thought, an intelligent chap. His "barmy" remark about the idea of tax cuts is, well, barmy! If there is an economic downturn government income from taxes will be reduced, so where will the money for this public spending come from? More taxes- from a future Tory government?

Wake up Philip.

Whilst I agree with the suggestion that George Osborne should reduce public spending growth, I would like to suggest that conservativehome's campaign is actually counterproductive.

The original pledge was very clear - maintain Labour's spending plans until 2011. If we are playing the long game, then this commitment is not all that significant: we all hope that Cameron will enter Downing St after a likely election in 2010, at which point there is only a year left to run for these spending plans. It is my impression that the policy was created out of the perceived need to reassure voters that there would not be 'Tory cuts' in public services and in this it has by and large served its purpose. However, I think it is also significant that GO gave the pledge a time limit which, although it seems a long time away at the moment, in fact is only just around the corner electorally. Osborne has said repeatedly he would approach each budget asking how he could lower taxation, and I do not think it likely that he wanted to extend the commitment to 2% growth in public spending further.

However (and this is my main point), by campaigning so strongly on this issue, being the subject of articles in national newspapers, and supplying quotations which seem to lay down a challenge to the leadership, conservativehome is making it a whole lot harder for Osborne to shift his position. There is absolutely no doubt that if the leadership now choose to commit to lower spending growth than Labour, they will be accused of "caving in to the Right". The BBC and the Times will say Cameron is weak and has been forced into a U-turn. And that is exactly how it will look, despite being, in my view, the plan all along.

I am all in favour of lower spending and lower taxes, I would probably even prefer the third of your options in an ideal world. However I also trust the Conservative instincts of the Party leaders. I trust Osborne when he says he will 'under-promise and over-deliver', and I trust David Cameron's judgment, splendidly displayed in recent days, too. By setting up divisions, over the spending argument, or 'hares vs tortoises' etc, we merely lay down the gauntlet for the leadership in an extremely unhelpful way. I fear that the leadership has now been boxed into its position by pressure here and elsewhere, and is now a whole lot less likely to give the revised commitment that I, and conservativehome, would have liked to see.

'Mr Hammond argued on Monday night it made no economic sense to advocate cutting public spending when the economic cycle was in a downturn'

It makes perfect economic sense if the downturn is at least partly caused by the State's propensity to tax and spend an ever-increasing share of the national wealth at the expense of the wealth-creating sector. Without lower taxes and lower public spending there may not be an 'economic cycle' at all, but a continual downward slide.

Tories will vote Tory. Their opinions on taxation are far less relevant than those of potential Tory voters who don't want swathing reductions in public expenditure.

Oh, and that's nations "such as" France.

How to cut public spending?

Well, let's see - promise to close 50% of all quangos within 12 months of getting elected.

Promise to reduce Foreign Aid by 50% within 12 months of getting elected.

Close down the myriad groupings within the NHS that have vastly more to do with keeping officials happy than patients healthy.

Close the offices of the Ministers for London, Wales and Scotland.

Ban the use of consultants in Whitehall.

Etc, etc, etc.

Do you see where I'm going, Mr Dunn?

Whch Quangoes SJM? Which bits of Foreign Aid? Which NHS groupings?
I suspect that savings will need to be made along some of these lines anyway but if we are going to be credible we need to see the detail. It's quite difficult to do when in gov't as Mrs Thatcher found, much more so when in opposition. Oh and it has to be politically sellable, so 'cuts' in the budget to amongst other things the NHS,London,Scotland &Wales (playing devils advocate here) might only save peanuts but also cost us valuable votes.See where I'm going?

Malcolm Dunn at 17.11, I fully agree with sjm
at 17.00, but, as I don't have access to the workings of government, I don't know in detail what to cut. I have heard from a relative who worked there about the innefficiency, ineptitude and waste in what was the DES, we all know about the huge annual fraud arising from tax credits, the ID scheme etc.
Are you really suggesting that all these quangos are necessary? Of course, they aren't, nor are layers of bureaucracy. Why are so many consultants necessary? All the ministries are overstaffed; why are they not doing the work that the consultants are brought in to do? Why not leave government to the government the civil service? If we have much smaller government, we would save a fortune.

Fraser Nelson on the Coffee House blog has an excellent post on this topic which debunks the Liberal-Conservative's specious line on public expenditure.

With the state of the economy as it is with stagnating incomes, rising prices and a credit squeeze the insistance on cleaving to notional Labour expenditure is not just barmy, its a betrayal of the nation.

Where will we be by the Party Conference I wonder?

The fact is that Brown/Darling have committed to much lower growth in spending over the next three years than has been the case for the past 10 years. This is going to involve some pain in the public services as it is which is going to make Darling an unpopular chancellor.
We agree that Defence spending has to increase (in my opinion very significantly) where would you suggest we make heavy cuts?

Lower growth in relative increases in spending, that still leaves overall spending going up, personally I do not see why this country needs to spend 8% of GDP on Health - it spent 4.5% of GDP in 1948 and that was well up on what it had been, people were in absolute terms far poorer then and living conditions far harsher - people were sicker mostly; Social Security Spending in 1948 was only about 4.5% of GDP and that was a lot more than it had been, unemployment was actually quite high at many times in the late 1940s and there had just been a major war, people managed though; Education spending was a lot less despite the 1944 Act having gone through and it being a far younger population than it is now and spending on Defence was a lot higher proportionally - really more what it should be.

And yet in the past there was far more pride in public service, a far more utilitarian attitude - good transport, water and telecommunications actually improve public health and education far more than big spending on the NHS and pouring money into education and cost far less. There is a mistaken belief that the NHS is the safeguard of the health of the nation, in fact the great improvements in national health are down to people having better access to food, improvements in air quality and water & sewerage treatment and availability of clean water for drinking and washing.

The problem is not neccisarily with "services" provided by government it is in the endless pen pushers and target monitorers.

Get rid of the quangos and funded "charities" and you could reduce the burden on the working classes to cough up for it all

Where should tax cuts come from? From cutting unnecessary public "service" jobs and functions. The people who interfere with your dustbin contents and now intend to inspect your garden and invent new regulations that we never needed and have got on perfectly well without, people in local government, national government, quangoes and in the EU administration. "I have a little list... They'll none of them be missed!"

Why do I say it? Because one time, I was one of them. I was very good at producing paper. More than 90% was probably never read. But it kept me in a job. It got me an assistant - but then my boss was building up his empire..... I was unnecessary. I should have been sacked.

It was different when I ran my own business. Costs and staff were cut to the bone. Unnecessary functions were not carried out. Only essential tasks were completed by a little team fighting to survive and, hopefully, to make a profit eventually. No room for empires.

Which is one reason why government should be as small as possible, why productive functions should be contracted out. That opens the door to corruption so contact management must be audited and the person who lets and manages the contract held PERSONALLY to account. Only when public money is spent as carefully as if it were spent by an individual citizen, should the public be satisfied.

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