George Osborne’s got it right – we need wealth creation

I tell you it’s enough to shake a chap’s confidence in Her Majesty’s Press. It was barely a month ago that my trembling fingers reached for a Sunday paper proclaiming in huge type, all over the front page, that Gordon Brown was “on course” to win the election. So imagine my feelings of bewilderment yesterday morning when I went to the same newsagent to buy the very same newspaper. And there – on the same front page, in the same supersized font – was the news that David Cameron was “set to claim victory” in the very same general election.

George Osborne's policy has the additional merit of being completely the right thing to do

George Osborne's policy has the additional merit of being completely the right thing to do

What is going on with these headline-writers? Isn’t there some law against this kind of thing? One or other of these headlines must be false, and you would have thought that we innocent consumers were protected from such blatant deceptions. The reality is that Gordon Brown was never on course to win the election, as I pointed out at the time, any more than he is on course to win a gold medal for rhythmic gymnastics in the 2012 Olympics. Gordon Brown remains where he has been for the past two years, firmly on course to lose the general election, and lose it big.

What we have in yesterday’s paper is the belated recognition that the Conservatives are going to win, and that in so far as there has been a Wobble, that Wobble is over. The quivering has gone from the Tories’ ample frame, and rock-like confidence has returned. What was the pectin, what was the coagulant that helped to restore our rigidity? Was it the saucy snaps of SamCam? Was it Dave’s blouson? Was it the promise of some sort of extra dosh for married couples? Interesting though all of those things are, I don’t think they were decisive.

It was a big, broad statement of economic principle and priority – and it was the work of the shadow chancellor. One day, George Osborne’s children will climb his knee, and say, “What did you do in the Wobble, Daddy?” And George will tell them how some of his colleagues did indeed oscillate with apprehension at the apparent narrowing of the polls, while he, George, sat down and ran the numbers. He came up with a policy that not only encapsulates the difference between Labour and Tories, but also has the additional merit of being completely the right thing to do.

There was a particularly cretinous cartoon in one of the Sunday papers, in which the Tories’ proposed cut in National Insurance was presented as some kind of gift to the fat cats. Looking at that image, of corpulent cigar-smoking felines, you might think that cutting NI would promote boardroom greed or bankers’ bonuses.

What tosh. Labour’s decision to hike National Insurance is a direct attack on employment in all firms, large or small. It is sugar in the tank of the British economy; it is paraquat on the seedlings of recovery, and the Tories are right to cut that tax because, in the end, governments cannot end recessions, and chancellors cannot end recessions. It is businesses that end recessions when they have the confidence to take on more people and expand – and they will have that confidence only if they are not going to be hit with extortionate payroll taxes.

In the final month before polling day, the Tories are reminding the electorate that they may have changed under the Cameroons. They may have become altogether kinder, gentler, more eco-friendly and huskie-propelled, but they fundamentally understand and support the wealth creators of society, the people who have an idea, who see an opportunity, and who then get up at 5am every day to turn that dream into a reality – and into a profit.

And how does Labour respond? They accuse the Tories of wanting to turn the clock back to the abominated Thatcherite 1980s, and the grinning Miliband brothers step forward to unveil one of the most ludicrous advertisements in modern political history, and one that shows how completely the modern Labour Party has lost the plot. No, we don’t want to go back to Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good”, and we don’t believe in devil-take-the-hindmost.

But nor do we want to be stuck in the rut created by Labour, and the debilitating anaesthesia they offer the British bourgeoisie. We’ll take your taxes, says Labour, and we will create a colossal army of state-funded employees, and in return for your votes we will ensure that poverty, illiteracy and the growing wealth gap are fundamentally Someone Else’s Problem. You won’t have to care about it, you won’t have to think about it, you won’t even notice it – because it’s all going to be taken care of by The State.

And the modern Tory party says, no, that’s not good enough. We will cut NI and encourage wealth creation because we believe that is the best way to boost jobs and to generate the tax base we need
for a strong and indispensable welfare state.

But we need to go further, and to recognise that it is not only 1980s-style turbo-Thatcherism that is responsible for a culture of materialism and atomism. I am afraid that these vices are also encouraged by Labour’s addiction to welfarism, because Brown’s return to tax-and-spend not only fosters a sense of dependency and entitlement among the poor; even worse, state socialism encourages the better-off to think – selfishly – that the problems of the rest of the society are nothing to do with them; and that is why the system leads to irresponsibility and alienation at all levels, and that, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with the country today.

That is why we need to move to a new age in which we encourage wealth-creation (not least because that is how to rake in the taxes) but also a sense of duty to society. We should see far more giving, of money and time, and I would like a Britain where everyone with enough money felt it was positively shameful not to be doing something – mentoring kids, reading in primary schools – to help. The message is simple. You can’t have wealth creation without a social mission, and you can’t have a social mission without wealth creation.


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