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Sunak dreams of tax cuts while Britain collapses around him. He just doesn’t get it

The PM’s new plan is benefit cuts for people who use food banks to fund tax cuts for people who own banks

Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Fear not, Rishi Sunak has a plan to win the forthcoming general election. He is going to fund tax cuts by cutting benefits and slashing spending, yet again.
What a visionary! It seems all the UK needs are tax cuts funded by taking money from people who are already using food banks and giving it to people who own banks.

The vacuous nature of the PM’s attempt to seize the political initiative will however come up against two small problems.

The first is that it is the same policy that the Conservative government has been following for the last 14 years; one that has totally failed.

The second is that people are finally waking up to the fact that it has failed. When you cut state spending you don’t end up with a lean mean state, you end up with a crumbling country where nothing works and where strangely enough the tax burden is at a post-world war two high.

That double whammy is possible because 14 years of low growth mean the government has to raise the money it needs from a smaller economy than it was expecting. One of the principal reasons that growth is low is because the government has failed to make the country run properly.

A court system that is backlogged, an understaffed tax collection system, more crime, worse roads, a collapsing NHS, a crumbling rail network, bad infrastructure, worse education, fewer apprentices, no industrial strategy, skills shortages, worker shortages, a disappearing safety net, housing shortages and collapsing local government.

None of these help growth, all are due to government spending decisions and the current government is pledging more of the same.

The PM’s latest line that “we are heading in the right direction. The choice now is whether we stick with the plan that is starting to deliver the long-term change that this country needs” is a lie and a fantasy. There is no long-term change happening unless you include permanent decline, which is hardly the “right direction”.

His plea for just a little more time is also going to be sorely tested by the fact that his plan obviously has not worked, is not working, nor does it stand a chance of working. It really means a slowing economy, higher taxes – which the chancellor has already guaranteed for years to come – and a crumbling state.

As the PM laid out his pathetic plans for the year ahead on the Laura Kuenssberg show last Sunday, it only took a few words from Dame Louise Casey, perhaps the country’s best expert on the consequences of the state’s failure, to destroy the PM’s credibility.

As she said quite rightly, he was “selling nonsense”, producing “dangerous” spin and claiming things were facts when they weren’t. But most tellingly Baroness Casey, who has just presented a Radio Four series on Broken Britain explained, our own PM has failed to grasp the state the country is in.
This is obviously true. Rishi Sunak has swanned effortlessly from public school, to Oxford, made millions in the City and then drifted into politics, marrying into a billionaire’s family along the way. He is hardly likely to know anything about struggling families and he isn’t going to improve his knowledge by swanning around the country in borrowed helicopters. He has also supported Brexit from the get-go, which alone has cost the country more than 4% of its wealth, or enough to treble defence spending.
So let us just look at a few of the issues in the country that need fixing and how they got into their current mess.

Flooding: The government is fighting climate change by delaying the introduction of electric vehicles, mismanaging the development of wind power, and pumping more oil and gas. Not only has it therefore lost the moral high ground, its huge cuts to capital expenditure when it first got into power are now flooding the country’s lowlands. Large areas that were going to be protected by new defences now find they are flooding several times a year. Just the predictable scenario that the flood barriers were designed to prevent when they were planned 14 or more years ago and now inevitable after the Tories cancelled them to save money. Ask the good citizens of Shrewsbury whether that was a real saving and see what they say.

Insulation: Ever wondered why we have some of the highest heating costs in Europe? It is partly because we have just about the worst insulated homes in Europe. We literally let heat which has been generated at huge cost escape. Not only is this financially ruinous for millions of households it is environmentally damaging and yet easy to solve. What you need is a nationwide scheme to insulate homes, which to be fair we did have. Until the Tory government cancelled it to save money. If it had continued, millions of us would be snug as a bug in a rug and with manageable fuel bills too.

Benefit cuts: It seems that there are millions of idle, work-shy shirkers out there, yet again. The Conservatives never notice that every time they cause another recession the number of “lazy” people soars, although they always think the way to get them back to work is to cut benefits. Not only is this morally reprehensible but the Tories shamelessly plan to go further and fund tax cuts by slashing benefits again. Since tax cuts almost inevitably benefit the wealthy, this is funding millionaires’ lifestyles by forcing the poor to the wall. It is hardly surprising that there has been a huge surge in food and heat banks, nor that the cases of rickets, and other malnutrition-based illnesses are rising. So do please spend your tax cut money quickly, the poor desperately need it to trickle back down to them, because their money is being used to pay for it.

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