5 May 2010

Tory Manifesto: a curate's egg

Pleasantly surprised by the wry wit at the end of Cameron's introduction to the remarkably detailed party manifesto:
Together we can even make politics and politicians work better. And if we can do that, we can do anything. Yes, together we can do anything.
One warms to someone capable of taking such a self-deprecatory risk in a close-fought campaign. For the rest, the 'contract with the voters' may seem a gimmick, but it does offer up a hostage to fortune that deserves to be taken seriously. When the US Republicans campaigned against Clinton under the banner of 'A Contract with America', they were competing for legislative seats, not promising an executive programme.

As far as I am concerned, the following is the key undertaking (my italics):
We will scrap ID cards, the National Identity Register and the Contactpoint database. To protect our freedoms from state encroachment and encourage greater social responsibility, we will replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights. We will review and reform libel laws to protect freedom of speech, reduce costs and discourage [weasel word, that - it could easily be prevented] libel tourism. Wherever possible, we believe that personal data should be controlled by individual citizens themselves. We will strengthen the powers of the Information Commissioner to penalise any public body found guilty of mismanaging data. We will take further steps to protect people from unwarranted intrusion by the state, including:
  • cutting back intrusive powers of entry into homes, which have been massively extended under Labour;
  • curtailing the surveillance powers that allow some councils to use anti-terrorism laws to spy on people making trivial mistakes or minor breaches of the rules;
  • requiring Privacy Impact Assessments of any proposal that involves data collection or sharing;
  • ensuring proper Parliamentary scrutiny of any new powers of data-sharing
Against which there is this absurdity:
We will increase the proportion of tax revenues accounted for by environmental taxes, ensuring that any additional revenues from new green taxes that are principally designed as an environmental measure to change behaviour are used to reduce the burden of taxation elsewhere.
Actually the whole section on 'Building a Green Economy', based as it is on an exploded pseudo-scientific scam, is arrant nonsense. And that's where the notion of a contract becomes a major hurdle, because one cannot dismiss this obstinate wrong-headedness as a soon-to-be-forgotten electoral platitude.

Raising energy costs does indeed change behaviour: it makes everything more expensive, to the savage detriment of those on small fixed incomes.

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