I see that the Institute of Economic Affairs has published another book, "Sharper Axes, Lower Taxes", and that young Mr Littlewood has seen fit to grace the readership of Liberal Democrat Voice with another promotional piece. Now I'm not going to disagree with him entirely, although I do see that he has attracted almost total opprobrium for his rather extreme stance. However, I cannot let his use of polling go uncommented upon.
You see, claiming that the public support reducing spending by £215 billion, without actually outlining what that might mean, is a bit of a con. I take that back, it's an enormous, gold-plated, glitter-encased fib. So, perhaps we should test the theory. 70 % of those polled preferred the IEA plan to that of the Coalition, it is claimed. But, were they told that the following form part of the plan;
- the introduction of further user fees for the NHS
- the introduction of mandatory health insurance, set at £1,000 per annum
- charging parents approximately 25% of the average cost of their children's education
- scrapping 'Sure Start'
- cutting £1 billion from the funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees
- the abolition of free bus passes, free TV licences and the winter fuel allowance for the elderly, as well as their married couples' tax allowance and their higher rate of personal allowance
- abandoning the link between the state pension and earnings
- raising the state pension age to 66 in 2015
- scrapping most of the Royal Navy, including the nuclear submarines, both aircraft carriers and the fleet of Type 45 destroyers, reducing the strength from 35,000 to 20,000
- abandoning most of our battle tanks and heavy artillery
- cutting seven out of eleven Royal Engineers regiments, five out of seven REME battalions
I need go no further, methinks.
Now, you can argue that some, or all, of these things are a good idea. I suspect that many wouldn't, but that's rather a side issue. The brutal fact is, that when polled, those siding with the IEA certainly weren't told what the plan actually entailed, merely how they would benefit if it was carried out. You certainly didn't tell them that their granny would lose her winter fuel allowance, or that they would have to pay for a lot of the services that the Government currently provides from tax revenues. And that would be why, exactly?
I'm sorry, Mark, but that is deception of the worst sort, and if you want to go out and do some polling on your recommendations one by one and come back with the same results, then I'll take you seriously. Until then, keep taking the tablets (as long as you're not asking the NHS to provide them for you)...