Conservative Manifesto Run Through

This is the first of 3 Manifesto Run Throughs that I will be penning before the election, as ever I will endeavour to stay unbiased as to give a representative and balanced view of each Manifesto, to give credit where credit is due and to pinpoint inaccuracies in them. I shall begin with the Tories as they’re the governing party at this moment in time.

Their first main point is Strong and Stable leadership, as I’m sure you’ll have heard this slogan by now. This has received plenty of negative press so I shall give a balanced outlook, what I think they’re trying to get across is that in this massive transitional period for our country, we need stability and certainty, this would only be achieved (in their eyes) by keeping the status quo and re-electing the Conservatives, so that the negotiating team in place can get to work as soon as possible in securing an amicable split from the European Union.

The next points they make are the big challenges that face them. The first being a strong economy, which to be fair the Conservatives have done a fairly good job at creating. Unemployment figures are down, economic forecasts are positive and investment post Brexit looks to boom. This is not to say that massive cuts have had to occur and hit some demographics hard and increased the need for food banks, but on balance the public spending of Labour was unsustainable and needed cutting as the Tories were left in a ridiculous amount of debt.

Their second point is about Brexit and the need for a smooth and orderly exit from the union. Also to try and create a deep and strong rooted relationship with the remaining EU nations, which personally I think there has been a massive irreparable rift caused, this spawning from our own interests and the jealousy of the other nations who secretly crave self determination. They also make a good point of stating we need to stay strong and united, aimed at the United Kingdom as a whole, in contrast to the Republican views of Corbyn who would like to see the split of the UK. Now is definitely the time to stay together and I like to see this message staged in this point.

The third point they make is to fight enduring social divisions. This is mainly made out to be about social mobility and making sure people aren’t held back by where they come from or where they’re born. I think it’s also aimed at second generation immigrant votes, the Tories try to include them as historically they don’t pick up those votes. I also think it’s aimed at people who will be here post Brexit and saying that as long as you work hard you have a place here. Even though they haven’t given a guarantee on it yet, I think this will be one of the easiest bargaining chips we have in the negotiations.

The fourth point acknowledges the ageing population and people with long term health conditions, expressing the need to find a solution and accepting the reality of it.

The final big point is looking at innovative technology and being at the forefront of the technological wave. I think this is wise as there’s a lot of wealth to be created from this industry and is still in its infancy (relatively) in the grand scale of things. It points out the need to staying safe and secure in regards to privacy, which is quite contradictory, being that civil liberties and privacy in regards to technology have slowly eroded under the Tories and so much privacy has been lost online. This was overseen by the Tories and it’s a slight slap in the face to include that.

The Manifesto then goes onto separate sub headings outlining viewpoints and the direction of the party and what they expect to achieve. They start by stating they want to govern from the mainstream, they believe they can be the central party and govern on behalf of the majority of the electorate, by making decisions in the interests of everybody, which in itself gives off a conflicted viewpoint. You can’t please everybody and not everyone will agree on things, I understand we live in a divided nation currently and maybe this is their way of trying to combat this but by contradicting yourself is not a good start. They believe they can bridge the gap between left and right, which is a risky statement as you can end up alienating your core supporters, whilst losing the undecided voters by sounding wishy-washy. They say they’ll reduce and control immigration, which yet again is a risky pledge considering Cameron made the same one and failed on a monumental scale. They want to defend our nation from terrorist threats which is a double edged sword, as on the one hand yes I fully believe them but on the other, funding has steadily been cut to our police over the period of Tory rule. Yet they were cuts that needed to be made, I return to my earlier point of labour’s massive budget of public spending (and borrowing) and having no way of paying it back. Whilst I understand the police forces of this country are stretched, you can only spread out the funding you have. Yes they could free up extra capital by scrapping the foreign aid budget but lefties won’t accept that or the notion that in order to pay for something you have to take money away from something else. Our budget is finite. Unless you borrow money like Labour and then you get stuck in the cycle all over again.

They wish to protect workers rights and develop industrial strategy to work better in favour of the economy. Finally in this section they state that they won’t drift to the right and make decisions based on what works, which is refreshingly realistic.

Their next point is the age old adage of governing in the interests of ordinary, hard working families which has become a catchphrase for all political parties as trying to project an air of caring for Joe bloggs and his family, and aiming themselves at a majority of the electorate. Boring, NEXT! The next passage just rearranges and reiterates all of the previous points to try and drum it into the reader, which is understandable if you want to learn what they actually stand for as most people you ask on the street wouldn’t be able to tell you the differences of what the major parties even stand for anymore.

The next section is entitled Our Principles, where they try and rebrand what it means to be a Tory, which is a massive turn off for people with traditional conservative views. They establish a notion that people owe a debt to the community and society which I’m at odds with, whilst I understand they’re trying to convey an expectation of a strong work ethic, I don’t think we’re born into debt with our nation. We’re born free.

They then set out how they’re going to achieve these goals in greater detail which I have no desire to deconstruct as I’m currently on my honeymoon, so I shall simply bulletpoint these with a brief explanation and whether it’s a pro or con for voting.

Keeping taxes as low as possible – freezing VAT (pro – goods and products won’t increase in price for consumers), increase personal allowance to £12500 (pro – relieving £2500 taxable income for lower earners), local residents can opt out of high increases of Council Tax via a referendum (con – too vague, if they slowly increase it, it won’t be classed as high increase so no basis for referendum), Corporation Tax to fall to 17% (pro – actively seeking inward investment from overseas post Brexit is a good think ahead however, Con – Labour have applied pressure to big corporations and called them out for not paying their fair share, so won’t sit well with low earners or students who don’t understand basic economics).

Increasing Trade – Lodging new schedules for the UK with WTO (pro – looking ahead post Brexit we’re going to need trade schedules in place to ensure a smooth exit and to strike free trade deals around the world and become a stronger trading nation BIG PRO), Creating a network of 9 trade commissioners to promote trade abroad and increase trade between the members of the UK (pro – self explanatory), push forward with UK export finance (pro – ensuring that no viable UK export fails due to lack of finance or insurance).

Wages – Increasing the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 (Con – this will back fire massively, as wages increase so will the number of redundancies as companies can’t afford to employ as many people, which in turn increases workload for workers, unsustainable).

Modern Business Strategy – Freeing up funds for research and development in fields of future technology e.g batteries for electric cars (pro – this will keep people on side who believe in renewable energy, Con – we don’t know where these funds will come from, most likely through Green levies or taxing the current motorist more. Which I can’t get behind!), A modern technical education for everyone (pro – any education made available can create social mobility, Con – being traditional I’d prefer that people are still taught in the old school way, as we can’t be reliant on technology for everything).

National Productivity Investment Fund – £23bn set aside to enhance certain infrastructures, £740m on digital infrastructure, big increase in spending on railways (no figure attached provably because of HS2) £1.1bn on local transport and £250m on productivity skills enhancement (pro – I believe that the money is well spent in this venture as the Tories are trying to keep with the times, you can guarantee part of the digital infrastructure includes rolling out super fast broadband everywhere in the UK).

Future Britain Fund – holding investments of the British people to go towards future funding of infrastructure and the economy, made up of profits of shale gas extraction, dormant assets and the sale of some public assets (Pro – if they can research shale gas and it doesn’t harm the environment then good, Con – selling off public assets automatically makes you think of parts of the NHS like buildings and equipment).

Support for industy – After Sir John Parker’s review of shipbuilding there will be a push for modernising and revitalising the shipbuilding industry (massive pro – we used to be world leaders in shipbuilding, creation of jobs all over the country E.g Clyde, Barrow, Portsmouth).

Support for Farming Industry – Grow more, sell more and export more post Brexit (Pro – on the face of it the notion is great as I live in the countryside and support our farmers, Con – yet they expect more but state they’ll give the same amount of cash to aid development, you can’t expect more for the same amount of investment, it’s unrealistic).

A Free Vote on Fox Hunting (Pro and Con).

Clearly setting out to leave the Common Fisheries Policy and exercise our control of our sovereign waters (Biggest Pro on here! No legal uncertainty will be made during negotiations, this is not up for debate! Preserving and increasing the fish stock which has been overfished under the EU’s common fishing policy, which introduced quotas and have depleted our fish stock, massively looking forward to our thriving fishing industry in the future).

Completely ruling out a divisive Scottish referendum and pointing out that regardless of the devolved powers given to Scotland, they’ve squandered growth potential and have lagged behind (Pro – nothing else needs to be added!).

As part of infrastructure investment, bringing Welsh railways up to speed (Pro – massively overdue, Con – Plaid Cymru will say money better spent on Welsh NHS, which is a fair observation).

Look to re-brokering a power sharing deal in Northern Ireland as soon as possible (Pro).

UK Shared Prosperity Fund – Replaces the funding sent from EU (which was our money in the first place) and redistributes it accordingly with consultation between Westminster and other devolved powers (Big Pro – shuts up all the Remainers moaning about ‘lost EU money’).

The Great Repeal Bill – EU law will be enshrined into UK law, so no rights are lost overnight, yet it gives parliament the right to amend, repeal or improve any piece of these laws. It also gets rid of the ball ache of sorting out 41 years worth of laws, we can slowly over time strip all the unsavoury laws out of our law. (Pro – get overall power of our legislature back and Human Rights Act will be reconstructed after formally leaving the EU, Cons – it’s a time consuming exercise, we’d still be signed up to ECHR for the next parliament, which I oppose massively but it’ll be reviewed in 2022).

In conjunction with our Overseas Territories, create a Blue Belt and aid conservation by creating the largest marine sanctuaries in the world (Pro for anyone in the world).

Continue commitment of 2% of GDP to defense as part of NATO obligations (Pro – normal humans like to be safe, Con – if you’re a Stop The War supporter or pacifist), (lol).

£178bn spread over a decade on strengthening our depleted Royal Navy, by building new vessels in conjunction with rejuvenated shipyards up and down the country (Pro – Brittania rules the waves).

An introduction of no payment of employers contributions of National Insurance for a year, if they take on an Ex-serviceman/woman (Pro – finally beginning to look after our serviceman upon leaving the forces, Con – too little too late).

Reducing the number of MPs to 600 (Pro – the chamber is far too crowded, Con – this lends itself more to the FPTP ‘first past the post’ system).

They promise to retain FPTP (Con – Proportional Representation is a more realistic and representative system and ensures as many people’s views are heard, it would also end the monopoly of the two party system, which is why the Tories and Labour will never back it, as it’s not in their interests).

The reintroduction of Grammar Schools (Pro – increases social mobility immensely so that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds get a better education based on their skills and attainment, Con – funding for the education system is already poor so it begs the question where is the money coming from, it also leaves behind the children in state schools of mixed abilities, where they won’t mix with smarter children who boost attainment figures of state schools, meaning a drop in ofsted standards nationwide).

Cutting student loan repayments for teachers in their first year to encourage them to stay in the profession (Pro – it’s a start, however looking at the research, teachers in general can find easier jobs for more money elsewhere so aren’t incentivised to stay anyway).

Centralising all teaching jobs to a single jobs portal much like NHS jobs (Pro – it increases the effectiveness of getting current teachers into vacancies, Con – there is already a teacher shortage and I reiterate my previous point about teachers finding jobs elsewhere).

Cutting of free school lunches to most children in the first three years of primary school (Pro – they will receive free breakfast instead and low income students still receive free lunches, Con – very reminiscent of the ‘milk snatcher’ Thatcher!).

Introduction of T-levels, a technical qualification equivalent to A-levels will most likely replace BTEC, which includes three month work placement as part of the course (Pro).

Breaking down barriers to public sector jobs based on attainment E.g teaching assistants can become teachers through an apprenticeship degree, healthcare professionals can do the same to become nurses (Pro – it eliviates the shortage of teachers and nurses, Con – have you ever had to live off apprentice wages?).

Reintroduction of pledge to decrease immigration to tens of thousands (Pro – After Brexit we should have full control of immigration and should for once be achievable, Con – Cameron made this pledge and failed massively with net migration ballooning, troublesome waters for Tories).

Further cultural integration through schools (Pro – forcing schools with one predominant race, culture or religion to teach basic British values regardless, to ease social cohesion, Con – too little too late, why hasn’t this been the pre existing building block to interracial cohesion for the last 60 years, since mass immigration started?).

There is a section regarding combating Islamic extremism which doesn’t outline how to root out and defeat it (Con).

Audit of gender and racial pay gaps in the workplace (Pro/Con – can lead to disharmony in the workplace and start on down the slippery slope of quotas rather than merit based advancement, which doesn’t help anyone).

Over the next parliament extend funding to mental health by an extra £1bn (Pro/Con – throwing money at things doesn’t automatically fix them, they need to improve diagnosis and speed of people being seen and treated, too many people suffer in silence in fear of not being believed, I have seen this first hand).

Ban letting agents fees (Pro).

Increase in NHS spending by £8bn over next 5 years (Pro).

In negotiations with EU try and ensure the 140,000 NHS workers from the EU can stay post Brexit to continue their essential work (Pro).

Government building new homes on its own property as part of its plan to build 1 million homes by 2020 (Pro/Con – it’s good they’re addressing the issue but it could include building on NHS land, the sooner they can address the real root cause which is immigration, the better).

30 hours of free childcare for every 3 and 4 year old (Pro – it’s a start, Con – we’re so behind other nations in this aspect, looking forward at the ageing population and the eventual need to replenish the population, the government need to be making childcare almost free until school age, we need to reward the people adding to our society by making having children affordable, they wonder why birth rates are so low!).

By the end of the year, 19 out of 20 premises will have access to super fast broadband in conjunction with their detailed digital plan (Pro – I’m still waiting at home for this, one of the last areas on the list I’m guessing!).

Introduction of comprehensive relationship and sex education to primary and secondary school students to include cyber bullying and online grooming (Pro – a realistic and important step in protecting our children online and in the real world, Con – weirdly still a hotly contested subject, some parents still don’t feel comfortable with their primary school age children learning about sex and needing to protect their innocence, maybe a minimum age should be introduced maybe 8 or 9?).

A random one but one with great potential, the digital amalgamation of HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, Valuation Office Agency, Hydrographic Office and Geological Survey to provide the most comprehensive map of the UK (Pro – can be used for more efficient planning of housing and creating digital maps of our land, this also creates an innovative tool for video games developers in making real world UK games, GTA London remake anyone?! Big Pro).

Overall I rate this Manifesto a very modest 8 out of 10. Very comprehensive and set out a detailed plan for governing our country. I felt it could have been shorter than 88 pages, as on more than one occasion it felt like they were repeating the same points. I also felt that on balance their Cons were easily avoidable but like I said, you can’t please everybody!

I hope this cuts through media bias and gives you the basic outline of what the Tories wish to achieve, parallel to this I will now write up the run through for the Labour party. Thank you for reading!

 

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Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent : Should it stay or should it go?

I’m going to start very early on here and disclose to the reader that i’m in favour of Britain’s nuclear deterrent and it has been brought to my attention that like I have stated in one of my earlier posts, should Scotland gain independence from the UK what effects it could have on England? One thing that would go would be the nuclear deterrent as in the form of the Trident missiles on board the Vanguard submarines, why I might hear you ask? Mainly because the four Vanguards the Royal Navy possess are based in Clyde on the West coast of Scotland, and since the Scottish have no wish to have a nuclear deterrent, one can only guess they would be dismantled or even sold off back to America. Purely on the basis that it would cost far too much to relocate/ build a capable station to encompass these four submarines, it just wouldn’t happen in our current fiscal climate. Although we don’t have to worry about Scottish Independence until 2014 it’s coming around a lot faster than you think.

Trident II D-5

We must ensure that we keep Trident for the simple factor that we need the assurance that no foreign aggressors can create a crisis the UK can’t handle. It’s also good for the peace we can administer in the international community, having that kind of deterrent is useful in critical situations where we could potentially be bullied if we didn’t have it. One thing I quickly want to add, we haven’t heard much from the Iranian’s of late other than the supply of chemical weapons to Syria of course, makes you wonder what is going on behind the scenes? I always think it’s the one region to watch out for considering only a few years ago Ahmadinejad declared that ‘Israel needs to wiped from the face of the earth’. Poor old Israel, the Jews never seem to catch a break! Hated on all sides, Hezbollah in the north and Lebanon and the Palestinians in Gaza. Not that I defend Israel as they did displace the Palestinians in the first place.

This is what he thinks of Israel.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I want to outline that just because the reason we got the deterrent in the first place has gone, the reason for keeping it is that it’s even more dangerous than it was before. At least in the cold war we knew who the enemy was and who to keep the missiles targeted at and where to have the pointed. Back in 1994 all missiles were de-targetted from Russia, due to the Soviet Union disbanding a few years earlier. Now the system is set so that the Trident missiles can be set and target a potential threat within 15 minutes, not having a specific location to target like back in the cold war.

The political climate is perceived as a lot less hostile in the current day then it once was, I personally think that’s a load of bollocks! Any number of countries still have an underlying threat and could switch at any given time. Even in some of the so called ‘safe’  countries, even UN Security Council members Russia are at risk. It wasn’t even that long ago that Chechen rebels flared up, not on the scale that you once heard about back in the 90’s but the threat is still there. Imagine if Chechen extremists  got their hands on some sort of nuclear material/ weapons? I don’t think for a second that the Russian’s wouldn’t handle it but all it takes is for one missile to be launched or a bomb to be detonated and you have an ever-lasting effect on the world, you only have to look at Yokohama and Nagasaki and imagine it in the ‘modern’ world. I don’t even need to mention the fact that the two Boston bombers are believed to have strong links to Chechnya, that is all you need to know.

Another thing to take into account is the Chinese. They have a foothold in Asia now as they are the biggest economy and driving force in the region. I understand that they are supporters of North Korea and would make it difficult to intervene should the situation escalate from the stage it’s at now. It’s weird how these massive nations continue to prop up these regimes who are clearly trying to instigate problems in the world, you could almost compare it to a child crying for attention, it’s quite pathetic if you think about it!!

India and Pakistan don’t escape this as well as yet again not long ago they were fighting over Kashmir as both lay claim to it and it only takes something major to kick off before they nuke each other and cause irreversible damage and ruin things in the region for years to come. This brings me back to the point of our importance in the EU, as we are the only NPT member other than France in the EU which is why we have the influence we do, and why we are a leading member in NATO as well. Not that we would shy away from our responsibilities within NATO or protecting nations from threat, but we will no longer be the nation they all look to. It’s also a good point to tie in with one of my previous posts of our importance to the US and our hold over Europe, if we were to lose our nuclear programme, it’s debatable the US would see much else we can offer them and would more than likely turn to France for some sort of partnership as they would become the major players in the EU and would have the influence.

Either way, even if we do manage to keep the Trident missiles they will have to be replaced in 2017 as they only have a life of 25-28 years and were made in ’92. So will be looking at a complete overhaul or whether they will even renew it, as we don’t know which government will be in power at the time!!

Where do we go from here?

I shall continue my Trident blog soon!