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All good points, but let's boil it down to one or two phrases and repeat it ad nauseum on every TV and radio show.

Labour will sum up our tax cut plans thus:

- They don't add up
- They will lead to massive cuts in vital services.

We need to simplify our message accordingly.

I have just been hearing on the radio that in his New Year's Message Gordon Brown is likely to say that the British People have got to show the character which got them through World War Two. Difference is of course our Leader then was the Great Churchill - not Mr Brown!

Yes, Sally - for Gordon Brown to proclaim that the recession he created is a test of character for the British people is an echo of an old Private Eye cartoon, where a mugger looks down at his bruised and battered victim, rifles through his wallet and tells him "Just look upon it as part of life's rich tapestry".

Excellent news, but I think it's more that their comments coincide rather than they are explicitly agreeing with Cameron.

My Lord the Bishop of Durham is not led by party politics!

Brown is certainly right to raise the spectra of WWII, because that's the amount of debt he's just taken out to save his personal career in our names.

However Brown is more Hitler than Churchill.

Of course Stefan. I agree with your comment. I hadn't meant to imply coordination.

""It is ironic that under a Labour government we have the poor feeling they have been betrayed and the gap is getting ever greater."

That's hardly a pro-conservative statement. Lest we forget, not only did the gap between rich and poor grow under the last Tory governement, the Maggon positively bragged about it in her leaving statement to the house of commons.

I keep trying to find an online video clip of that, without success. :(

Are you seriously suggesting, Tim, that narrowing the gap between rich and poor will be the policy of an incoming Tory government?

Their Graces may not be led by party politics, but they are sufficiently well-versed in applied theology to understand that party politics is the nexus of democracy, and that full participation in that democracy is the key to its proper functioning. The bishops' comments may 'coincide' with those of David Cameron because they have been 'coordinated' by a higher power - be it God or the Barclay brothers.

Brown is far more like Chamberlain than Churchill because he caused the problems and wants the chance to solve them even though he is totally clueless. His Norway moment will come soon.

Someone should tell him- "Mr Brown, you are no Churchill"

Comstock said: "Are you seriously suggesting, Tim, that narrowing the gap between rich and poor will be the policy of an incoming Tory government?"

Well, we know for sure that narrowing the gap between rich and poor is not a Labour policy - we have 11 years of evidence!

Yes it should be the aim of the next tory government to reduce the gap between rich and poor.This is wholly consistent to my mind with a reinvorated one nation Conservatism.We must recognise what it is that raises people from the mire is self reliance and community.The support for marriage and family is not just an old fashioned notion it is best for any society wishing to avoid all the pitfalls that plunge people into poverty.

The reengineering of our benefit system is another necessary reform if we are to raise up the poor.Social Justice is economic sense it will promote a civic culture ,raise the poor and reinvigorate our democracy.

The fact that church leaders have turned against Labour is a significant moment in Labour's moral bankruptcy.

I like it m wood. Can we get one of the Churchills or the Soameses on the TV to deliver a "Lloyd Bentsen moment" to Brown?

Conservatives have always been a major part of volunteer organisations and charitable fund raising. Whilst we are out there really doing something, the left is constantly busy with outdated dogma and class warfare.
Time to recognise, as appears to be happening, this message is the one to cry out loud. Debt equals poverty, ergo, socialism makes poor.

Over at LabourHome, the outrage has commenced. How dare the bishops question The Party!! The Gulag is too good for those sons-of-privilege, grace and favour.

I am not sure any sensible party should promise to narrow the gap between rich and poor. It ignors the definition of both and it is all too easy to achieve by just reducing the rich. Even just improving the wealth of the poor merely encourages welfare dependency. To be fair the Bishops said the poor "thought" the gap was getting wider, presumably because of the way Labour cosied up to the rich.

It would appear that our Marxist Church leaders do not believe that Brown's Benefit Client State paying out massive freebies has not done enough to damage the British economy - they demand more and more largess regardless; no other PM has given away so much cash to his supporters in order that his party remains in power. The bishops and Cameron have little in common regarding the perennial claims of the Left of poverty and the “rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer” - rubbish.
Those that have managed their financial affairs with forethought and restraint and have put away savings (they would be regarded as "rich" by our retarded bishops) are the ones bearing the brunt of Brown's gerrymandering

The bishops would have done far better if they had quoted the former US president, John Kennedy: " Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country".

The bishops are approaching our problems from the Left, as is their usually want and folly; Cameron should be approaching from the right

"Conservatives have always been a major part of volunteer organisations and charitable fund raising. Whilst we are out there really doing something, the left is constantly busy with outdated dogma and class warfare."

A fair criticism, The counter argument would be that charity can only be a sticking plaster. Do you work to help the victims of the system, or do you try to change the system so there are fewer victims?

A difficult one to answer, because realistically some form capitalism is here to stay, no matter what some of my Trotskyist/Anarchist friends may wish for.

Reducing the gap between rich and poor is impossible if you think about it.

In one year person A earns £1 while person B earns £100. There is a £99 gap. After two years that gap will be £198. Progressive taxation will reduce the amount the gap increases by but it won't stop the gap from growing year on year.

David Seargeant. So your saying we should not seek to make the poor less poor. What utter rubbish. All parties should have a priority to help its citizens in need.The Conservative Party from Churchill downwards as always had a fine tradition of helping the worse off and the day the party wipes its hands of the poor is the day it will rightly become unelectable.

The ONLY way to "help" the poor is to get the state out of their faces.

That well-known leftie Bill Clinton arranged social in the US so that out of work benefits lasted only 2 years. The wicked , evil man.

Amazingly, worklessness decreased dramatically once people were not "earning" from it.

Personal allowances against tax should be increased to take the lowest 20 % or 30 % right out of the tax system - I suspect the state would actually be better off without the huge costs of administering all the paperwork for such minimal gains.

That even someone working 16 hours on minimum wages has to pay tax is beyond belief ! The above figure is a guess, it would not be hard to calculate where the break points are.

Alan Douglas

Alan Douglas

David Seargeant. So your saying we should not seek to make the poor less poor.

Posted by: Jack Stone | December 28, 2008 at 20:59

No, I am sure someone as smart as you Jack realise that closing the gap is not as simple as it looks. We need to recognise the complications otherwise the poor arn't helped much

In the Sunday Telegraph, we have 5 Church of England Bishops attacking government policy as "scandalous" and "morally suspect". The Bishop of Manchester accused Labour of being “beguiled by money” and “morally corrupt”. The Bishop of Hulme said they were “morally suspect” and the Bishop of Durham said they had reneged on their promises. The Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, condemned Labour for encouraging people to get further into debt. “The Government has acted scandalously. This is not just an economic issue, but a moral one. It’s about what we value,” he said.

In the same issue, David Cameron has accused Gordon Brown of leading Britain to the “brink of bankruptcy”.

George Osborne meanwhile has indicated in an interview for today's Sunday Times,“Now I reflect on how similar things are – a bankrupt country on the verge of becoming the sick man of Europe again, with high unemployment”, and he poses a moral question himself when he says “There is a moral argument.” “Is it fair to burden future generations with the higher taxes and debts that you are not prepared to shoulder yourself?” He also compares Brown's VAT cut to "sins of the fathers".

Undoubtedly, there is a moral question being raised by many intelligent thinkers in our society, as to whether a return to borrowing and an economy run on credit, bailouts for some but not for all, and an upholding of the delusion of credit, is moral when you consider many people who may have saved to provide income are feeling a worsening effect as a result of Brown's plan that people faced with threat of repossession, job loss and bankruptcy should simply borrow us out of a recession.

If the Conservative Party wants to tackle the moral question and gain the political initiative over our economy, then the messages given by George Osborne have to make clearer the distinction between Labour and Tory policies. It's fine to "hint" at tax cuts, and it's fine to state the moral suspicions he feels, but he should be saying why and also saying how it will change under a Conservative Government if he wants to win the hearts and minds of people up and down the country who need belief, hope and trust in the ability of their political leaders to bring us to better times. He must seize the moral high ground and claim it clearly with his policies.

The first moral point I'd make is to ask whether poverty could not be better addressed simply by removing low paid from a tax burden altogether, or by increasing the starting point and returning to the interim 10% tax band for low income earners. Plainly, the recent reduction of tax for middle earners from 22% to 20% was also unaffordable, so it should be reversed. Tax loopholes should be closed whilst also levying a slightly higher level of tax to top earners. Pay and pension differentials between private and public sectors must be tackled if the yawning gap between these two sectors is not to widen further to the extent where it creates obvious divisions in society where you're seen as 'well off' simply because you have a 'job' at the Job Centre.

Residential house purchases should require deposits of no less than 10% as well as a period of savings of between 3 and 6 months which establish a buyers ability to meet mortgage payments. Stamp Duty should not be incumbent upon the buyer but should instead be placed on the seller, as what amounts to a 'purchase tax' on a home rather than a 'sales tax' on a profitable gain is morally repugnant and is also bad economics when trying to lift families into their first home. That tax should be 5% and would effectively be an increase in revenue and also less of a bureaucratic job to collect than the present system of tapered charges which presently require mostly people on low incomes gaining their first home to have to save just to hand over to the government.

The other question I'd pose to George Osborne is for him to consider the moral aspects of allowing residential homes to be bought up by speculators which fabricate the value of a property in order to acquire a mortgage, simply to inflate the value and dampen availability of housing stocks which in turn makes it more difficult for a couple starting out to buy a home. Personally, I think speculation in this market should be outlawed or at least made less lucrative by imposing a requirement of a minimum deposit of between 30% and 50% on BTL buyers along with a higher level of interest which would help to support the lenders ability to meet the needs of mortgages for residential buyers. A BTL is after all 'commercial lending', and does not fall under residential lending.

If George Osborne adopted these changes, then he'd be giving a clear message that the Conservative Party intended to lift people out of poverty, make it easier for people to own their own homes, strengthen banking, and bring about an end to Brown's policies which irrefutably lack any moral virtue, and have thus far led to a divided and broken Britain whilst he has attempted to give us a belief that more debt is the solution to our problems and that the continuation of a society built on greed is "good".

He should also get a list of cuts into the public domain which people can identify with and which they'll likely support. Things such as many have written about, ID Cards, EU Rebate, Quangos, etc., and he should give a figure of savings which he can show will be used to meet the needs of existing services not new one's dreamt up by a Labour Party which seeks to immorally impose the costs on our future generations!

As a confirmed member of the Church of England for even longer than I have been a member of the Conservative Party (both now well over 30 years), and a supporter of a strong position in national life for both, I confess some unease at the Bishops' intervention. Fully to articulate the reasons for the unease would take a long essay on the correct relationship between church and state matters, and this is not the place.

But consider how you would feel about this if you were a strong member of the Church of England, and also a Brown enthusiast. This will not strengthen the position of the Church of England with such people and, further, it might fuel their nascent desire to disestablish the Church. Then consider how you would feel as an anti-Church Conservative-inclined voter - it might make you indignant at the cheek of these churchmen intervening on party political matters, and possibly conclude, by association, that the Conservatives are just a bunch of moralisers. It is not clear to me that either body will be greatly enhanced by the association. Surely there are lots of you on this site old enough to remember how much harm the Church of England did itself when it last got into a moral lather about a Government - Mrs Thatcher's in the early 80s - and how little harm its statements did to that Government?

It is right and proper, and always has been, for senior Churchmen to speak out on moral issues. It is not right and proper, and never has been, for them to speak on political differences between the mainstream political parties. Whilst the warnings on debt (and materialism), such as made by the Archbishop originally, come within the former category, none of these recent pronouncements entirely do.

Therefore the best thing is to hope that they may do the Government some harm, but certainly for Conservatives not to crow about it (not least because there's lots they've said which comes from a left of centre, not a conservative angle), whilst (for those of us who wish the Church well) hoping that it is not part of a trend whereby the Church is encouraged to spout on every political issue. The Church should restrain itself from devising its own economic policy. That is not what it is for and will only harm it. Ultimately it is also as likely to lead to a falling out with the Conservative Party as with Labour, as the average churchman does not see politics, certainly economics, as most Conservatives do. So - beware Bishops; beware Conservative Party.

"Reducing the gap between rich and poor is impossible if you think about it.

In one year person A earns £1 while person B earns £100. There is a £99 gap. After two years that gap will be £198. Progressive taxation will reduce the amount the gap increases by but it won't stop the gap from growing year on year."

I agree there will always be a gap and the truth is that it tends to grow wider with each generation. Rather than getting stressed out about this we should do our very best to ensure that all people (as far as possible) get a good weeks wages for a fair weeks work. So all working people should enjoy a dignified existence. All families should be able to enjoy a decent standard of living. The only exception to this rule should be the lazy and feckless who should of course get nothing for nothing. So unlike many Conservatives I am in favor of a minimum wage and I do believe that employers who pay poorly should be forced out of business. I also do not agree with the state picking up the tab for bad employers. In this respect I am against Tax credits as it subsidizes bad employers and costs the tax payer far to much. We need good benefits for those who truly have needs.
However there will always be rich and poor people and money is only one of the factors in this. As an example some people earn a lot of money but waste it on gambling, drinking etc etc. Some people manage a high standard of living on modest means (as I do) by wisely using their talents to make their money go further. We should not try to force the rich to subsidize the poor but we should retain a minimum level of reward and insist on it being livable. Rather than bringing everyone down to the same level we should encourage people to improve their lot. As a well known if suspect politician once said wisely the answer is “Education, Education, Education” Maybe that was the only honest thing he did say.

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