David Cameron's economic priorities

After yesterday's remarks on security issues - in Leeds - David Cameron focused on the economy today during visits to Cambridge and Hertfordshire.  This is the second of his statements on the 'five big challenges facing Britain'.  Mr Cameron emphasised three economic priorities:

(1) A less regulated economy.  Acknowledging that he's not the first Conservative politician to make this promise, Mr Cameron said: “I’m not going to make simplistic promises about cutting red tape. Politicians have been saying that for years.  The truth is that we will never succeed in cutting back regulation unless we change our society’s attitude to risk. We need to treat adults as adults and change our risk-averse, compensation culture. That means a major culture change in this country, a change that I want to lead."  Oliver Letwin, an early supporter of DC, gave a big speech ('Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained') on risk some time ago and his approach might be inspiring Mr Cameron now.

(2) Competitive tax rates and first-class public infrastructure.  In a classic example of triangulation Mr Cameron positions himself between "Labour’s extreme approach, which is to take all the proceeds of economic growth and spend it themselves" and a more ambitious tax cuts policy (perhaps of the kind we expect to hear from David Davis tomorrow).  Mr Cameron's middle way is "to share the proceeds of growth between tax reduction and public service investment".  "Education and transport are," he says, "vital components of a long-term economic policy. How will we compete in the world unless we have a well-educated workforce and the best graduates?  And how will our economy work properly if we don’t solve our transport problems which make it such a hassle for people and goods to move around?  We need to invest in these areas while keeping down the burdens on the state. That’s why we have to take tough decisions like supporting tuition fees for higher education and charging for new roads."  This is Mr Cameron's co-payment idea.  He concludes on tax: "It’s just irresponsible to pretend that we can get good public services on the cheap, or that short-term tax cuts are all we need to do to build a competitive economy."

(3) The third priority is pensions.  DC: "If we don’t sort out our pensions crisis, our economy will be crippled by the additional burdens that will fall on the taxpayers of the future.  Labour are ducking this challenge, and we must not. I will launch a thorough-going review of pensions policy, based on long-term considerations rather than short-term electoral advantage. This will involve making tough decisions. We need to be sure that a Conservative Government after the next election is equipped to provide Britain with a state pension system and a framework for private pensions which, together, restore the incentive to save, eliminate unfairness for women, and give everyone a decent income in retirement."

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David Cameron highlights five top challenges (beginning with security)

Change_to_winI've just received a press release from the Cameron campaign listing the "five major challenges facing Britain" and promising that Mr Cameron will set out "a clear policy direction on each" as he tours the country over the next few weeks.  The five challenges appear to be:

  1. The challenge of terrorism and the need to protect our security whilst preserving our liberties
  2. Improving quality of life
  3. Delivering a dynamic economy
  4. Reforming public services and
  5. Strengthening families and communities.

In Leeds today, Mr Cameron addressed the first 'challenge'.  These are two extracts from the press release's report of Mr Cameron's words:

“A modern, compassionate Conservative approach combines an emphasis on upholding our shared national values - freedom under the rule of law – with an understanding that we’re all in this together; that we have a shared responsibility to tackle terrorism...

 “This Government has been casual about our security.  There are serious questions to be answered about the resources available to our security services, the effectiveness of our border controls, and the operation of our asylum system. At the same time the Government has been casual about our liberties. The Prime Minister said that when the police ask him for new powers, he says yes. That’s a failure of judgement and leadership. Fighting terrorism requires vigilance not just about security, but about our liberty.

Serious about security and our liberties.  It's the And Theory again!  Anyway, I shouldn't interrupt:

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I want us to build a stronger sense of national cohesion in this country. There’s a tremendous amount of excellent work going on at the grass roots level: I recently visited a fantastic initiative in Dewsbury which helps British Asian children learn English, a vital part of community cohesion.
 
“But there’s much more to be done.  I want the Conservative Party to get really stuck in to this agenda. There’s so much we have to offer.  We’ve always believed in personal responsibility; we must now show that when it comes to creating community cohesion, this is part of a shared responsibility – that we’re all in this together.  We’ve always believed in limited government; we must now show that community organisations, voluntary bodies and neighbourhood action are all part of our vision for renewing community cohesion and pride. We must make it clear that there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state.
 
“I’ve already begun to outline some of the specific policy ideas that follow from this approach.  More school exchanges to encourage greater social mixing. Greater emphasis on the teaching of English. A national school leaver programme, involving business, the armed forces and voluntary organisations to give young people a constructive and inspiring start to adult life...."