Election 19: Promises, Incentives, Taxes & Bills

I have now received election leaflets from all candidates of the main three parties standing in my constituency. This blog is not the place to support any party in particular, nor to criticise unduly. But I offer my thoughts on each one’s grandiose promises and claims.

The Conservatives have been in power for nine years now, so why are they stating that they’ll crack down on crime if elected? If the crime rate is so high, have they not already demonstrated their inability to reduce is? IF it isn’t so high, why the extra spending? The leaflet boasts ‘an extra £33 billion for the NHS’, while elsewhere claiming taxes won’t rise. Where’s this money coming from? It’s harder to defend a government than it is to attack it, but our candidate Mr Stephenson says, under the heading ‘Defending our Countryside’, that he ‘worked with the government to halve the housing targets for Pendle, easing the pressure on our countryside’. Isn’t this an admission that the government of which he was part got this wrong? Shouldn’t we ask further questions about this?

The Labour candidate, Mr Ali, boasts that if elected, he ‘will be our first truly local MP’. He offers free prescriptions, scrapping tuition fees, increasingly the minimum wage to £10 per hour, scrapping universal credit (and presumably replacing it, but with what he says nothing) and scrapping hospital parking charges. Again, it sounds good, but where’s the money coming from? He claims to ‘fight’ for ‘free personal care’. It’s not clear what this means, nor the identity of this care’s lucky recipients. A vague promise, with even vaguer costings. 

The Lib Dem candidate, Mr Lishman, has produced a very wordy document containing any number of interesting statements. He will spend a £50 billion ‘remain bonus’ on public services and ‘tackling inequality’ whatever that means. Presumably, this is money we already have but won’t lose when the post-Brexit economy crashes. One wonders how it is being spent right now, seeing as we already have it. I totalled up his additional spending, which came to £130 billion (plus another £100 billion coming from ‘extra private climate investment’). He was honest enough to admit that this money must be found somewhere, but rather weakly explained ‘It’s time for government to have a grown-up conversation with people about tax’. On the section decrying the Leave victory in the Brexit referendum, he says it was the wrong decision and that he ‘understands why people voted that way’. In the next breath, and without any trace of irony, he warns against ‘giving up power to the World Trade Organisation’. His party doesn’t want another referendum, while saying he wants ‘the people [to] decide’.

Three politicians and aspirant members of the next Parliament. Up and down the land, tempting promises are being made, additional monies have been found (or assumed), solutions to fresh problems identified. We must all vote for who we see fit, but we should remember than each one of these promises will be paid for by someone. We in the West have rather smugly exported our democratic traditions around the world, looking askance at any nation unwilling to adopt them. Of course, the alternatives are usually worse, but a quick flick through the rubbish pushed through our doors at this time might have us question these assumptions.

The more elections I endure in this country, the more I long for the autocratic and absolute government of heaven. This is not a cry for some fundamentalist nut-jobs to take over the state, but a longing for the Lord Jesus’ return, on whose shoulders perfect government sits.