Analysis by Edward Sumner, Chief Operations Officer at Centre for Welsh Studies:
This general election is one that will be remembered for Brexit and an all-time high of spending promises. With tax and state cutting proposals falling by the wayside for ever growing spending promises that cannot be done without further borrowing. This article will lay out some of the better policies being proposed in this election amid all the state expanding, debt borrowing policies being proposed. However there have been some proposals that will increase prosperity, jobs, business and trade in Wales.
The most obvious and pleasing policy to come from this campaign came from The Conservative Party who have promised a “triple tax lock”, ruling out increases in the headline rate of income tax and National Insurance, as well as VAT, for five years. With the tax burden at it’s highest it has been for decades, now is the right time to make sure we aren’t asking people to pay even more into the government coffers[i].
This links into another great proposal by The Conservative Party which is raising the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 in 2020, with an ambition to raise it further to £12,500[ii]. This would benefit the poorest paid in society the most, meaning they have more free money to spend on the essentials in life without having to give more to the tax man. It’s fundamentally important to society that its people have the economic freedom to spend their money as they wish and any further rises would only mean more hardship, less spare money and a bigger, more bloated government wasting hard earned money.
Another policy that will help unlock the potential of the Welsh economy that is being proposed is the implementation of freeports, which would help bring much needed investment and jobs to Wales[iii].
Defence and Security
On defence and policing we are delighted to see that the Conservatives are pledging 20,000 more police officers across England and Wales which, providing they are put on the front line, will be a huge boost to the safety to our Cities, towns and villages. On defence we are relieved to see that Labour have followed the Conservatives in promising in a minimum of 2% of GDP on defence spending but a concern has been that Jeremy Corbyn has personally not committed to renewing trident when asked about it on the campaign trail[iv].
If Labour were to gain power and Corbyn was in no10 and refused to sanction the renewal, this would lead the whole of the United Kingdom becoming a far less safe country and would lose it’s only deterrent against those nations who wish us harm and have nuclear capability themselves.
We are delighted to see that the Conservatives would, with no qualms, renew our deterrent against evil in the world thus keeping us safer and more secure.
On Brexit, all the parties are divided. The Conservative Party are offering to get Brexit done by the 31st of October with Boris Johnson’s deal, which would then lead on to the next stage of negotiations and hopefully securing a trade deal that doesn’t stop us from reaping the rewards of Brexit[v]. The Brexit Party are advocating a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which would then mean no further negotiations with the European Union but also no trading arrangement in place, this would be the ‘purest’ version of Brexit.
However, the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru are carrying on with their campaign to stop Brexit and ignore the will of the people. Labour are offering a referendum with two different versions of remain on the ballot paper and the Liberal Democrats wanting to revoke Brexit without even having a second referendum, both are an insult to those put voted to leave in 2016 and put their faith in the political system to deliver upon their wishes[vi][vii][viii].
This election should have had all parties offering to deliver on the referendum result, yet we see more parties than the last election trying to overturn the referendum result without even implementing the result of the original referendum. We can only hope that democracy and morals win in this election otherwise we could see millions disenfranchised from politics for a long time, if not forever.
On immigration we see varying policies from all the parties, but the Conservative have proposed a limit on unskilled migration, something which we at the Centre for Welsh Studies have been calling for since 2017, along side this they are proposing the implementation of an Australian style points-based system. This would still allow Wales and the United Kingdom to have the most skilled workers come and fill in missing spaces in the skilled job market but would mean it would be properly controlled unlike now[ix].
This would be a positive next step and mean the strain on public services from uncontrolled immigration would be eased. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are proposing an open-door immigration policy, this is a dangerous and ill thought out policy that doesn’t address the concerns of many people in the United Kingdom, especially in Wales[x].
We need proper controls on immigration that allows us to pick and choose when and if we need skilled immigration but not unlimited immigration that floods the jobs market and drives down wages for hard working people.
Unfortunately, this election has produced bigger and more dangerous spending promises than ever before. The Labour Party have been at the forefront of these economy wrecking policies that the country and Wales can ill afford, with a swathe of nationalisation promises on thing from the railways to broadband, alongside such promises as a 4-day working week and tax rises for everyone[xi].
Their campaign has been built on a politics of envy for those with aspiration and those that have had some success in life and now employ people aka the backbone of our economy. Seeing these kind of tax rises, spending and poorly thought out policies would only lead to higher unemployment, less money for voters and more government debt than ever before, which would have to be paid off by future generations to come, which are ironically the kind of voters Labour are trying to win over and pitch to in this election[xii].
It’s not just Labour wanting to raise taxes, the Liberal Democrats have promised to raise income tax should they come to power, however unlikely that is. The Conservative Party have also promised an increase in spending but to a far less extent, but they have got dragged into the spending election theme we have seen over the past 5 weeks.
We would like to see government be less wasteful and spend money more accurately, rather than just promise to throw more and more money at certain issues without having new ideas or new ways of making the current money spent more effective.
So, this election comes down to what voters’ priorities are,
do they want Brexit or not, do they want further referendums or not and do they
want to pay more tax or not. This is a critical election for Wales and the
United Kingdom, we would have liked to have seen more free market, tax lowering
and enterprise inspiring policies but there are a select few policies that
promote this and voters will have to decide if this is the future they want for
the next five years or if they want to pay more in tax to fund
renationalisation and age old failed socialist policies.
[i] (p7) https://assets-global.website-files.com/5da42e2cae7ebd3f8bde353c/5dda924905da587992a064ba_Conservative%202019%20Manifesto.pdf
[iii] (p32) https://assets-global.website-files.com/5da42e2cae7ebd3f8bde353c/5dda924905da587992a064ba_Conservative%202019%20Manifesto.pdf
[iv] (p53) https://assets-global.website-files.com/5da42e2cae7ebd3f8bde353c/5dda924905da587992a064ba_Conservative%202019%20Manifesto.pdf
[v] (p5) https://assets-global.website-files.com/5da42e2cae7ebd3f8bde353c/5dda924905da587992a064ba_Conservative%202019%20Manifesto.pdf
[vii] (p87) https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Real-Change-Labour-Manifesto-2019.pdf
[ix] (p27) https://assets-global.website-files.com/5da42e2cae7ebd3f8bde353c/5dda924905da587992a064ba_Conservative%202019%20Manifesto.pdf