So, this Lady is for turning!

Which is the ruler and which the court jester? Nobody knows. They both seem to eb court jesters!

I am chairing a meeting today at which the Tory member of the committee has given his apologies because he has gone to the Conservative Conference. I emailed him last week saying that I would insist on him coming to the meeting if it would give him a reason for swerving the Conference. He declined my kind offer. I wonder if he regrets it now.

What an omni shambles the Tory Conference is this week. Within 24 hours of arriving in Birmingham they did a U-turn on the abolition of the 45p income tax rate. In fact, it was abandoned less than 12 hours after Truss said that it would not be when she appeared on the BBC. It is right that this policy should be dropped. It totally damaged any idea that, “we are all in it together.”

My fear is that it has been done for the wrong reasons. Will the pressure go off the Tories now that they have done this U-turn when in purely financial terms it was a small amount of money. There are still many dreadful things that need challenging in what they are trying to do. The most important of these is how they are paying for the limited relief being given to home and business owners against their inflated power bills.

What is being given is about right as a first step but not where they are getting it from. Oil and gas producers will still be laughing their way to the bank (in an offshore account where it is safe from tax) as they rake in extra cash based on a number of international problems and, of course, our own addition to the burdens of BREXIT. Instead, the Government has decided to borrow money to pay for the rebates. Money that you will need to pay back in your taxes. This will cost a lot of money because of the huge rise in interest rates.

If you have a mortgage, then it will be the case that your mortgage rate has or will double in the relatively short term. Any advantage that a new home purchaser might have because of the reduction in stamp duty rates is more than lost with the new rate for mortgages. In any case, stamp duty cuts are always a gimmick with real prices being pushed up by buyers

Food prices have gone up because of the regulatory burdens which have been forced on us because we left the single market. Freedom of Movement which was the main reason for Brexit is effectively being ended by the Government realising that we do not have enough doctors or fruit pickers and a lot more in between.

The 1.25% cut in NI will still, presumably, go ahead. Remember though that this money was earmarked for improvements to health & social care budgets. There is absolutely no guarantee that the money that this would have raised will be found elsewhere and we all know that these sectors are desperate for money.

The rise in Corporation Tax has been cancelled. This is a debateable way of stimulating growth and has never worked in the past. The idea that companies with up to five hundred staff could now be classed as a small business is laughable. This will exempt such companies from a range of regulations, especially those which control necessary actions to support staff.

Behind all these actions is an assumption that we all want to pay less tax. Well, I for one do not wish that. I believe that paying tax is a cost-effective way of buying the services that I need to live with. What is the point of paying less tax if it simply means that I must pay more for services that I currently get from the Government.

Earlier this year I had to have some dental work done. It cost me £120 which I could afford to pay. I asked the dentist what if I could not afford to pay and was told that on the NHS it would have cost £60. When I asked what would have happened if I could not afford to pay £50 there was a shrug. That is why a lot of people are turning to do-it-yourself dentistry!

Still the Tories fail to learn their lessons. Although the Office of Budget Responsibility report will be available this week it seems likely that it will not be published until November 23rd. That will continue to spook the markets because markets do not like uncertainty and buy and sell for the worst situations. Since I started writing this blog the FTSE 100 has dropped a further 1%. So much for the assurance that Kwarteng has given them.

Markets, which affect our jobs, mortgages and pensions will only improve when there are sound financial policies in place, and we will not be getting those from this lot. Is it not ironic that they ran the last election on a scare story about Corbyn and his economic policies, but even at his worst, and his policies would have been bad, they could not have been as bad as the current ones.

The Tories have lost their one clear edge over their Lib Dem and Labour opponents. They cannot claim our economic policies will not work when they have managed to trash of economic stability in ten short days.

I will end this blog as I suspect I will end many others. We need a General Election to sort all this out and we need it now!

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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