I have argued in the first part of this article that there is urgent need to reconsider the point at which the boundary is drawn between what government is responsible for and what is the responsibility of individuals. Why is this necessary? Every government responsibility must be paid for by the taxpayer. Government borrowing just mortgages future tax rates. Increases in taxation and the ever upward march of government responsibility erodes the freedom of the individual and increases dependency on government.
Politicians love having the power to run our lives and make us dependent on them. This keeps them in power. However, as they compete to demonstrate how much more beneficent they will be than any other party if only they are voted in, the result is the ever upward spiral of taxation and government borrowing to pay for these. The cry goes out that the rich must pay as this would be fairer taxation. Well, nearly 50% of the population pay no income tax and the top 1% of earners pay nearly 28% of the entire income tax bill. How can that be fair? Our Chancellor has a problem. As a result of his and previous governments’ need to finance their largesse at our expense they have run out of things to tax. Hence, the ridiculous approach to increasing self employed taxation because they have been given more benefits so that they are the same as employees. If ever there was demonstration of the need to reduce benefits across the board to affordable levels this was it.
The principle that all governments should follow is that the individual should be sovereign over their own lives and the governments powers of taxation, after all really only theft authorised by statute, are exercised to the minimum. All right minded members of society agree that a level of taxation is right and necessary. The aim is to produce a society in which we can live safely and achieve our aspirations. This must include that those who suffer from genuine mental and physical affliction to the point they cannot care for themselves are cared for by all of us.
Sovereignty of the individual goes hand in hand with the sovereignty of our nation. It is this that was at the heart of the BREXIT vote. The fundamental disease of the EU is the transfer of sovereignty to an unelected body. Uncontrolled immigration was just one of the symptoms of this disease. Just as the nation has got its sovereignty back so the government here must transfer powers and responsibilities back to individuals to reduce the increasingly intolerable burden of taxation and restriction of freedom for all of us.
Human nature is such that if we are offered something that is apparently free then we will tend to leap to take it with both hands. Successive governments and politicians of all persuasions are quick to characterise themselves as champions of the rights of individuals. This of course looks and sounds great until we realise that the consequence is ever deeper reliance on the hand outs of government.
We have the Human Rights Act, which again sounds great until you look at the distortions that have been achieved through it such that common sense has fled from being a sound basis on which to make decisions. The problem is that as ‘rights’ have been pushed to the centre of the political stage by governments and by many charities pursuing political lobbying, so responsibilities of the individual have been marginalised. When did you last hear a debate about the responsibility that an individual owes to society for which, if discharged properly, they earn rights? We all accept a right to a fair trial but I think most people regard the string of successful argument of ‘the right to a family life’ defence by criminals to escape common sense justice as abhorrent.
If this analysis resonates with you then the consequence is that there must be a fundamental review of all government expenditure that is aimed at providing benefits at the the level of the individual. The starting point is that the individual must take responsibility for their own lives and the situations in which they find themselves as a result of their own actions.
The major categories would be welfare payments of all types whether cash, housing, disability, unemployment and indeed health. It is not that all of these should be eliminated but we must examine how these can be reduced to achieve a sustainable and affordable framework for the future. One example would be child benefit. There is no very good argument for any benefit to arise just because people have children. These days it is indeed a choice and certainly there is even less of an argument that the more children you have the more benefit you get. It is probably time to eliminate this or at least to restrict it to the first two children of any couple, regardless of whether they remarry.
The first responsibility of government is to ensure the safety and security of the nation and its people. This is primarily achieved by maintaining a credible military capability together with security services and a domestic police force. We have witnessed a continual undermining of each of these services by expenditure reductions over decades. There has been much debate over the renewal of Trident. I am a supporter of the nuclear deterrent this provides but importantly this always was characterised as a weapon of last resort once conventional warfare had failed. The woeful lack of conventional forces is such that we could never hope to carry off any conventional conflict for more than hours. A fleet cannot put to sea as it has no aircraft carrier capability, our air force is small and our army is small and arguably under equipped. Our nuclear option therefore is raised in reality to a weapon of near first resort. The question arises as to why we are in this parlous state when the lessons of history, sadly so terribly experienced by our parents and grandparents, is that we have adopted a foolish and high risk position? Well the answer is that if you are a government intent on providing ever increasing handouts to the electorate to buy votes then you want to pull the trick of apparently doing this for nothing. Cutting defence has no apparent impact on the individual and the government can trumpet it is taking a peace dividend and gloss over the risk it is taking on behalf of a free people.
We must achieve a fundamental re-balancing of government expenditure away from subsidisation of individuals other than those with real need (the ‘there but for the grace of God’ test) and in favour of expenditure to create the framework of opportunity for the individual that is then their responsibility to grasp. Alongside this there must be sufficient expenditure to secure the long term safety, security and defence of our nation internally and externally. If our economy is to be successful then its people must become wealthier to provide the economic fuel for success. We will not get wealthy by ever upward handouts and taxation to pay for them.
Is this going to be popular with everybody? No
Is this radical ? Yes
Is this common sense? Yes
Is it an imperative? Yes.
Is it the right thing to do? Yes
It is this agenda that should drive UKIP’s future policies and I believe will appeal to a large cross section of our community and secure UKIP as a political force that provides the only credible alternative to the current Tory, Labour or Liberal brand of politics that are all just different shades of so called ‘liberal progressive’ thinking.