Our new Prime Minister, who took over from Tony Blair today, has announced his new sparkling idea:
I like that fact he is saying this, it shows his continuation of Blair policy and that he is anti-conservative; He believes his feifdom is not currently on a stable footing and needs change.
But who has been in charge for the last 10 years to cause all these problems?
And of the changes he personally has made, what of their success, below are a few highlights of Brown's tenure as Chancellor which may give a clue as to what happens next:
Bank of England - Brown famously made the Bank of England independent. This was a good change for the country as it stopped politicians playing politics with the interest rate. Also it keeps us out of the Euro effectively by demonstrating independently how different our economy is and what interest rates it requires for optimum efficiency. Brown today though has said he will open up the process of appointments, another change that is a good thing. Nice that he did not leave this to his new Chancellor; so no sign of him being overbearing then.
Government Spending - At first Brown was very cautious, following the Conservative spending plans that left the country sitting pretty in 2001. After the second Labour victory the taps were turned on and now we are heavily in the red on public spending, which continues to be well in excess of the tax base. There is no real sign of this altering. This is very a much a change for the worse, whether we want more people on the public pay roll or not, the country's finances are in poor shape to face the coming crash. No serious economist or company sees anything but a bust within the next two years; how will the government cope with the falling tax receipts and increased needs of those soon to be on benefits? Not easily, this is definitely a change for the worse and Brown should never be associated with the word prudence.
Minimum Wage- Introduced in a fanfare, what has this really done? I think the jury is still out. Yes the lowest paid get some benefit, but many of these jobs now go to on the black market to unregistered immigrants. IN economic theory, of which Brown is allegedly so steeped, there is no case for this at all. A change for changes sake.
Tax Rises and Tax Credits - A big change, putting a much higher part of the population in receipt of government payments. But also very costly and poorly administered, to the tune of several billion pounds. Brown hails them as having been targeted at the poorest, but then he has increased the starting thresholds for tax. There has been a lot of change here and a lot of tinkering. Much complexity has been added to the tax code, to the joy of tax accountants. Taxes have gone up, but higher percentage of people now rely on the state for some form of income. This has been a change for the worse. Being cynical, this is a very clear strategy of increasing Labour voting share of the vote by encouraging reliance on state benefits.
Big Business - Brown has cosied up to big business. He loves the captains of industry. This is a big change for the Labour party and a disastrous policy. For by doing it he has allowed the big companies to sow up their markets with new regulations that prevent new entrants. Regulation has grown aplenty and small business start-ups, the long-term lifeblood of the economy are falling away. Big business and small business are more often than not enemies. Brown does not like small business; after all, small business, small donations to the Party.
Treasury Power - Brown, through his deal with Blair, made the Treasury a huge part of the government, interfering everywhere. What has this achieved? I would argue very little, it has not stopped reckless spending and has instead hurt some needy resources. Where is the money for flood defences today? This is a change for the worse; no government should be run by entirely by the beancounters in the same way as no company does well if the accountants try to do everything. It requires a broader set of talents. Perhaps now he is in No10 Brown will 'change' this!
Pensions - What is there to say that has not been said? Brown ruined our pension system, robbing the middle class and causing companies to shut final salary pension schemes. In another 10 -15 years he will be even more reviled for this as it ruins the country financially. There are some remedies, such as raising the retirement age even more; but all this has been done in the name of short-termist politics. Is it clever to have moved to short-term solutions and bequeath long-term problems? I can't see this is a positive change.
Overall, what do you think of all his effort at change? I know I am scared of the terror to come with this record....