Tories put ID cards, Contactpoint on manifesto hit list
Decentralised techie state is the aim
The Conservative Party Manifesto, published today, is a slap in the face for all those who have been claiming that there is very little difference between the two major parties when it comes to policy.
There are clearly major differences in what a Conservative government would do: for instance, they would scrap ID cards, the National Identity Register and the Contactpoint database – although we knew that already.
First off, the economy. There is far less detail than in the Labour manifesto: a return, perhaps, to government by first principles, rather than micro-management. However, the big principles that shine through suggest that the Tories are not afraid to follow the example of the Canadian government some 15 years back: to cut government spending drastically, return power and responsibility to businesses – and to grow our way out of recession through the power of entrepreneurial success.
Thus, their manifesto talks of the need for decentralisation and stopping "government trying to direct everything from the centre". There will be an emergency budget, followed by cuts to government waste now – as opposed to next year. The aim is to eliminate the bulk of the structural current budget deficit over the life of this Parliament.
The motor for prosperity will be small business. To that end, there will be concessions to start-ups hiring new employees in their first year, small business rate relief will be automatic, and they will aim to deliver 25 per cent of government research and procurement contracts through SMEs.
Lower spending is the name of the game, rather than higher taxes: so initially, the headline rate of corporation tax will be reduced to 25p and the small companies’ rate to 20p, with far fewer complex reliefs and allowances. Research and development tax credits will be improved and refocused on hi-tech companies, small businesses and new start-ups.
Good and bad news for the ICT sector, with a freeze on major new Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) spending, and immediate negotiations to achieve cost reductions from major suppliers. However, they plan to open up the £200bn government procurement budget far further by publishing online all government tender documents for contracts worth over £10,000, and breaking up large ICT projects into smaller components.
The hi-tech focus is further emphasised by a nod in the direction of Sir James Dyson’s review into making Britain Europe’s leading hi-tech exporter – with a far higher emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects in schools and a new prize for engineering. There is praise for Silicon Valley and Japan.
An immediate start to the high-speed rail network is pencilled in: like Labour, Tories want a superfast broadband network throughout the UK – and they will scrap the 50p phone tax.
Green credentials include an end to the third runway at Heathrow, better carbon emissions management, and a Green Investment Bank.
Back to ICT: the message is, on the one hand, an end to government intrusion into our private lives: first, as has been announced previously, there will be far fewer centralised databases. At last count, the Tories are set to scrap around 11 major database projects – and they will scale back the vetting database project to “common sense” dimensions.
re Getting old? #
Sorry but holding your nose and voting labour just isnt a good idea.
Firstly, so its clear I've no agenda, I grew up in Liverpool and only left in 1986. I saw what it went through and I know the Tories were in power. BUT only a yoghurt could argue that the the tories left the UK in a worse position than they inheritied. yes, I know about the ERM, I also know that in 1997 I had the beginings of a good consultancy business and 8 years private pension building up. Under browns clunking fist I saw the market dry up, massive legislation that made it massively preferable to be a PAYE cubical plant than be a consulatnt and saw my pension hammered to a dgree that it still wont have recovered by the end of the next parliament.
Add to that huge intrusion into my life, the fact I wouldnt trust a policeman unless he was behind 19 feet of plexiglass and being scared witless of looking into the requirements to renew my passport incase I have to undergo biometric disintegration (thats a joke by the way) add total unequivicable economic meltdown, a housing market that expects the ecomic equivalent of both kidneys and at least one limb and labour cannot, ever, be trusted.
Are the tories still nasty, I dont think so but they at least deserve one term to show us some ability and put humility and perspective back into labour, They'll either deliver or they wont but continually maxing out the uk credit card with the inevitable wiltshire sized bill dropping onto the mat at the start of the next parliamentary term for labour is not the answer!
There's very little to distinguish Labour from Tories on the old, dead left-right apolitical axis.
What we might see here, is the opening up of some very clear differences between the two on the ever more important Libertarian - Authoritarian axis. Labour want everything regulated and controlled by the dead hand of government. Perhaps the Tories really don't.
I'm not cynical enough to dismiss these ideas out od hand as just more politicians promises. Even if they let us down on some specifics, they'll have my qualified support just as long as they really do act to get government off our backs.
Who am I?
Honestly, BigRed: the clue to my identity lies in the last name. I have been writing for el Reg for some while now as John Ozimek but, as some readers may already have twigged, i started the process of gender re-assignment late last year and am well on my way. el Reg was one of the last places where i still happened to be using my old name.
(If you want the day to day intimate details...there is a blog out there)
As to bias in this piece...I hope not. My job for this and yesterday's Labour manifesto (and tomorrow's Lib Dem one) was to boil down pages and pages of self-serving political verbosity into about 800 words, thereby allowing you, the reader, to get some idea of what each party claims they intend to do.
The Tories are decentralist (not a plus if you are a centraliser yourself): want to cancel Heathrow's third runway; and intend to scrap a load of databases. Since Labour would say the exact opposite, reporting those facts is hardly skewing the debate. However, my sense is that when it comes to overall position and tone, the current Tory manifesto is closer to the heart of many readers than the Labour one.
Doesn't mean you should vote for them: doesn't mean you should believe them. But just because you find the Tories claims vaguely likeable doesn't make a piece biased.
Interestingly, some of the policies espoused by UKIP and the BNP might turn out to be fairly close to the heart of some readers - but i doubt that that alone would make them vote for them.
P.S Tomorrow tis the Lib Dem manifesto...and after that, who knows...