What is Howard's Way?
Today's editorial in the Daily Telegraph gives what is, for them, something of a poke at Michael Howard's leadership of the Conservative Party.
They are keen that he puts his own stamp on the policy of the Party in preparation for the next General Election and also the mayoral, european and local elections this May. In this we agree and we both believe he will do this.
They then go on to suggest that the Party Chairman, Liam Fox yesterday 'made a strong plea for a return to Thatcherite principles, or "liberation Conservatism"' and that the only way for Mr Howard to assert his belief of 'making the people large and the state small' was to cut taxes. They suggest that Mr Howard's 'trumpet' has given an uncertain sound on this issue and that the only logical argument is to announce a fiscal policy of tax cuts. If that's what the editor thinks then I'd suggest that when the Barclays take over they realise that he is trumpeting out of his rear and move him on...very fast...but preferably not with Andrew O'Neil as a replacement(but that's another post waiting to happen!).
Howard's position has always been very clear: in the long-term, lower taxes. These are desirable, these must be the Party's aims, these accord with its beliefs. In the short-term, lower taxes than Labour and the Lib-Dem scoundrels and scoundrelesses, as the Party believes in restrictive spending for smarter and more effective spending.
However, also in the short-term, he is thankfully more than aware that there are more pressing concerns for the electorate such as university funding, improving health provision in this country, improving education in our schools, sorting out what will probably have amounted to re-nationalisation of the railways and a whole host of other public service issues which are of great concern to the political middle ground. When he is still developing policies on these it would be reckless to make specific tax-cutting pledges: the other side would just criticise all the Conservatives' new public service reform proposals as 'removing' money to try to cover unsustainable promises and to fill in black holes in their spending plans. This is especially so when these proposals are likely to require significant initial expenditure to get up and running and at a time when the national debt is exceeding even Gordon Brown's 'prudent' expectations. It is also here that he can be boldest at evincing the Party's beliefs into consistent policies to help Britain's one nation.
So, it would seem, logic could dictate an alternative to rigid tax-cuts. Long-term, lower tax. Short-term, lower tax than the squandering scoundrels and socialists. Always, more confidence in you to choose how you lead your own lives.