Battle lines for May 2015 are already being drawn. Labour announced at their conference last year heavily socialist policies to freeze energy prices, whilst yesterday the Prime Minister announced that the state pension will be protected against inflation until 2020 if the Conservatives win.
These policies are intended to draw and maintain support from the grey vote, a sensible move given that older people are more likely to vote, and that the pounds in your pocket are a potent and tangible electioneering tool. So what should UKIP’s response be?
UKIP’s support is strong amongst older people, so here we have two parties encroaching into what we might consider our ‘natural territory’. If we’re to see off the attackers, we must mount a robust counterinsurgency.
Plans to raise a Sovereign wealth Fund from the tax proceeds of shale gas and oil are an excellent start, but remain a long term objective. Tackling the cost of living crisis by reducing transaction costs and increasing productivity by leaving the European Union, too remains at least two years hence, presuming we invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. We therefore need a viable short term plan to fill the gap.
To me, the solution is quite clear: UKIP should pledge to roll back the state and radically slash its £740 billion annual budget. By doing so, we too can realistically pledge to uphold the pensioners’ payments. There are some obvious and easy targets before the real cutting begins:
In my opinion, UKIP should look to make immediate savings. The suicidal Help to Buy scheme has got to be stopped before it costs us the £20 odd billion put aside for its budget, and the countless billions that will have to be picked up again as this bubble is burst, as it surely will.
All but closing the Department for International Development saves us upwards of £12 billion.
£6 billion each by closing the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and trimming back the budget for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (after all what business is it of Government to decide what the market wants or needs?).
Another £5 billion could be saved immediately by stopping benefits to households with incomes in excess of £100,000 pa.
Closing the Green Investment Bank saves the budget £3 billion.
Closing the ‘Climate Change’ aspects of the Department of Energy and Climate Change would save around another £500 million.
£400 million can be saved by abolishing the Greater London Authority (its powers are adequately covered by the Department of Transport, the Police Force and the Fire and Emergency services).
Just under £100 million can be cut by abolishing the Money Advisory Service, whose activities are covered by the Citizens Advice Bureau and other charities.
This ought to give us a head start before we start to get to grips with the rampant profligacy and inefficiency that is embedded in the NHS, the Department for Education, the Home Office and so on that will save us billions in unnecessary spend, overspend, pensions inequalities, and so on. Merging the management of state websites will bring massive savings year on year, as will restricting all public sector job advertising to state run websites.
Quite simply, by stopping the bleed we can honour Cameron’s pledges.
Looking forward to the longer term recovery, I would expect that Laffer-based tax economics, the abolition of Stamp Duty and Business Rates, the multi-billion pound opportunity presented by jumping off the sinking ship that is the EU, and the sale of unnecessary state enterprises like the Met Office and the BBC amongst many others, will leave us all, young and old, healthier, wealthier and happier for generations to come.