It surely cannot get any worse. Labour joins the give-away election with a three-year stamp duty subsidy for properties up to £300,000 instead of a proper focus on solving the problem. Free local authorities to build more houses and help fund them to do so; if the private sector cannot meet the housing shortage, stop in directly to do so. Instead of more subsidies for home buyers cut out the subsidies to buy-to-let landlords. They get tax relief on buy-to-let mortgage interest, on letting agency fees, and on buildings and contents insurance; and if they pay utility bills and council tax they get tax relief on that too! Why?
If that is hard to understand the Tories are beyond a joke. If elected they will legislate to stop themselves raising taxes. Really, is there anything to say about that? On the World at One Martha Carney even played a clip from George Osborne ridiculing the same idea when Gordon Brown was Chancellor. Her interviewee, Michael Gove didn’t turn a hair. Carney was pretty much lost for words and who can blame her?
Opportunities for satire are not entirely lost if we look at the bigger picture. The Tories promise £10bn of welfare cuts and billions more in spending pledges but can’t say, and won’t say, how either will be achieved. This is the kind of thing they used to accuse Labour of; indeed whole campaigns were dedicated to branding Labour as ‘tax and spend’. Now that Labour has learned to stick to Tory inspired scripts the Tories find themselves free to say what they like.
And they do say what they like, still repeating the big lie that the 2008 crash was caused by rising government spending and borrowing commitments.
How do they get away with it? Partly because the Tories are so brazen, partly because people are bewildered, although bewilderment is a bit of a feeble excuse. It is time someone had a sharp word with the electorate, and I am not parodying Brecht (‘the people have let us down, the government should elect a new one’). Where are the politicians that will challenge the people to stop repeating the sound bites, stop whingeing about what politicians should be doing for them, and start thinking for themselves as citizens.