Misconstruing David Cameron

The release of the interview last night with David Cameron on Radio 4 was an important development. In it David quite clearly stated that the Health department, like all others, will need to make economies. Health is not exempt form the necessary pressure which needs to be introduced into every department to do more for less, and to raise quality.

Today, Labour’s spin doctors are no doubt in overdrive to try to tempt the unwary or the few remaining Labour loyalist journalists into writing stories of horrendous cuts in health services. Why do they bother to lie so? No-one sensible believes it any more. Most people know we need to rein in public borrowing, and most know huge sums are being wasted in parts of the public sector. Are we , the taxpayers, paying for any of this spin?

David made it crystal clear that he did does not want cuts in front line services. There is no question of seeking closures of wards or hospitals, or mass sackings of nurses. That is all Labour’s wild and wicked imaginings. He also realistically said that as health care is getting dearer and there will be more demand, the budget would go up.

It is high time we moved on from the idiot soundbite of “Labour investment, Tory cuts” to a grown up discuission of why public sector productivity has done so much worse than private sector productivity. The soundbites we need include “Let’s make every pound of public money to stretch further” and “Conservative efficiency versus Labour’s waste”. People cannot afford more tax hikes. There’s been enough of those in the last few years. They just want to know that what they do pay goes on the core public services they value. They are fed up with all the spending on the spin society, the surveillance society, the regulated out of existence sociaety and the political correctness society.

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24 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    See from the Press today that we (the Government) are now giving out more in Benefits payments, than the entire tax take from Income Tax and Corporation Tax combined.

    As said many times before, The system has to change, its too complicated, and few (both claimants and administration staff) seem to understand its workings.

    As for the Health Service, important though it is of course, it cannot be immune from examination.

  2. Simon D
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I agree. Politics now seems to be little more than spinning. The Conservatives must face up to NuLabour disinformation and tackle the issue head on.

    The Conservate message must be (1) cuts will be needed only because NuLabour has wrecked the economy (2) the Conservatives will protect real front line services and (3) the choice is between cuts in non-essential public spending and tax rises.

    Conservative Central Office needs to go into overdrive to produce world class sound bites. The most obvious message to get over is that NuLabour has wrecked the economy and, if allowed another term, are likely to induce intervention from the IMF as they did in 1979. The level of unemployment and the diminished value of the pound are obvious symptoms of their failure to manage the economy effectively.

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I didn’t hear David Cameron’s interview last night. What little press attention this has attracted seems to concentrate on his desire to follow the example of the supermarkets in striving for better customer service at less cost. This, at last, shows that he is attempting to articulate an alternative to the discredited Labour slogan that more spending is good and that cuts are bad. I just hope that he will know how to deliver this and will be determined to do so in government.

  4. John
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Another important development would be if David Cameron stated his plans to privatise the provision of healthcare. Your previous post was about wayward nationalised industries which is precisely what the NHS is, its primary aims to fulfil socialist ideology and the needs of those working within it – nothing about the needs and wishes of the people who pay for it.

    Since only those who still dwell in the Old Labour dungeons do not agree that the State cannot and should not run any business (ie something which provides goods and/or services) and since the Conservatives started the process of liberation of businesses from the clutches of the State, why have you stopped at health, or for that matter education?

    It is still possible for the State to provide access to healthcare without actually providing or paying for the service exclusively – Continental countries do this with excellent results.

    The benefits are not only a cash windfall from selling the assets, but removal of running costs, particularly payroll, from the PSBR. Profit motive works wonders for efficiency, and the freedom of patients to take their custom to which ever doctor, hospital or service meets their needs and wishes, will vastly improve the general provision of healthcare.

    I worked within the NHS in the 70s and then spent over 20 years in the supply industry. Little has changed and the notion that spending a bit more, or spending it better and bringing back Matron will fix the NHS is laughable. It cannot be reformed: replace it.

    The Conservatives have become a “me too” party – just insisting they can do it all better than Labour. This is why we have no true choice and Governments are selected on the Buggins’s Turn principle when boredom sets in.

    Privatise provision of healthcare and education.
    Leave the EU and return government to Britain
    Close ALL quangos and fire 40% of the civil service – it will be amazing how well things can be run with fewer people.
    Shut down the Globalwarmist nonsense.
    Limit immigration.
    Stop all welfare for those receiving it for more than 12 months.
    Introduce national service for 16-21 agegroup not in full-time continuous educations/apprenticeship/training or work.

    Then there would be an Opposition and choice. The People won’t vote for it? OK that is democracy and so let them get on with more of the same – they must prefer that.

  5. Javelin
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    The bond traders mantra at the moment is 10 years of austerity. Not because they are leaders but because tehy are followers. Followers of Government spending and debt.

    The Government must also look to ways of cutting the cost of getting genetic drugs to trial. There are new drugs like oligonuclueotides that pin point DNA these are massively more precise than the archaic small molecule drugs that we use today. As such they need massively less clinical trials. Individual medicine would mean we could switch the bodies DNA on and off.

    The NHS also needs to stop being blamed (by removing silly. compenSation claims) it instead needs to be able to sack the bad doctors. I believe a 3 strikes and you’re out would remove the bad doctors. The NHS also needs to be more blaming against it’s patients. If tha patient is an adult who is overweight, a smoker or an alchoholic the NHS should refuse to treat them. Full stop.

    The NHS should draw the line at physical and mental health. They should not give treatment, such as fertility treatment, breast implants, Or sex changes because patients really, really want them. T

  6. Josh
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    In 2005, the Tories won more votes in England than Labour, despite the investment vs cuts line. Now it looks like the Tories will take 4-7 seats in Scotland and around 10 in Wales, plus Labour’s vote has completely collapsed in England, and the Tories’ vote will increase come election time. The rise of the SNP in Scotland is challenging Labour’s hegemony there. This investment vs cuts line didn’t work last time. Labour only sustained its position because of its hegemony in Scotland and Wales. If we see 16% swings to the Tories across the country, Labour will become the party of the North East and Southern Scotland.

    I really hope you get offered a Cabinet job Mr Redwood, the country needs someone with business and economics experience.

  7. mike fallan
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    That says it all really – and you might add we’re fed up with labour unreasonably rewarding their client group cronies in unelected state funded quangos and so called advisory boards.

  8. Colin D.
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The Conservative soundbite should be ‘Taxpayer value for money’.
    Any fool can spend someone else’s money like crazy and claim something has been achieved. But the ‘something’ that Labour bray about often bears no relation to the money invested.
    Labour has gone on and on about NHS investment as if that makes them ‘the good guys’. The Conservatives have gone along with this rubbish for years and given the impression that NHS funding was somehow sacrosanct. Well, it ain’t and the Conservatives have fallen into a trap of their own making.

  9. Demetrius
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The essential problem is that for all the spin, the government has lost control, and is mired in its own complications. At the moment it is not clear who is in control, I have my opinions. If there is a new government in 2010, assuming that the present one will not attempt to rule on in spite of an election defeat, as conditions deteriorate it will be ever harder to come to terms with the situation.

  10. Mark M
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    With regard to public sector waste, there was a wonderful report last week from the ONS – “The effects of taxes and benefits on household income 2007/08” which showed, as Leftie bloggers delighted in pointing out, that the top 20% paid less tax as % of gross income as the bottom 20% (forgetting the obvious that they also pay tax on the benefit income they spend, which is inclued in the numerator but not the denominator).

    The data that interests me the most is that after all our complicated tax and benefits laws, the net result of the system is practically the same the as a Friedman Negative Income Tax i.e. a fixed government payment and a flat tax paid on all earnings. This is true whether you look at post-tax income or final income including benefits in kind (i.e. NHS, education).

    So my question is, if the net effect of our tax and benefits system is a Negative Income Tax, why don’t we simply replace our tax and benefits system with a Negative Income Tax? It is far simpler and would reduce much of the waste currently associated with our tax credits sysyem.

    • StevenL
      Posted August 3, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      My back of a fag packet calculations on NIT reckoned that if we replaced the entire social security budget (including pensions) and the 0% tax allowance with NIT it would equal about fifty-four quid a week for every man woman and child.

      Do you think this would work? I have my reservations – especially regarding state pensioners and more money going to middle-class families with children. If you don’t make any provision for children how would a single parent with say two kids survive on £54 a week?

      You would have to bring in some form of means testing. For a start, what about the genuinely disabled?

      • Mark M
        Posted August 4, 2009 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        There’s a lot of ifs a buts about such a system. My point was that in general our system of taxes and benefits, as complicated as it is, mimics a NIT. If you class children the same as we currently do (only qualifying for out-of-work benefits once they reach a certain age) my calculations come out to around £63 pw for each man and woman, and a flat 45% tax on each penny earned.

        One thing that much be considered about a NIT though is that it replaces ALL taxes and benefits. So, while £63 pw/pp might not sound a lot, it would be in a world where a litre of petrol cost less than 40p/ltr. We saw last year the inflationary effect of high petrol prices. In a world of low petrol prices we would see the cost of living come down substantially.

        About the genuinely disabled, that is a tough question. One part wants to say “yes, we should cater for needs” but the other says “where do we draw the line?” and there’s the problem of who polices it. After long you end up with a system as complicated and wasteful as the one we currently have. There is a lot of help implicit in the system for the disabled as those responsible for their care are able to find work and not suffer huge marginal tax rates as they are forced to come off benefits to provide a better life.

        If this were an easy system to implement, someone would have done it by now.

        • StevenL
          Posted August 4, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          So £3,276 NIT then 45% tax on eveything? Hardly a vote winner is it?

        • Mark M
          Posted August 4, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

          Not when you look at it in the context of our current prices, but as NIT replaces all taxes, as I said, we’ll be living in a world where petrol would cost at least 65ppl less than it currently does (and these are of course very rough calculations based on how our current system works)

          Thus, a person who earns £24k and drives 20,000 miles per year (@40 MPG) would end up would end up £167.30 a month worse off in his pay packet, but would save £123 a month in petrol, as well as massive amounts on food, energy, alcohol etc.

          The likelihood would be though that the government payment could be far higher as we don’t need to fund the wages of however many people work means testing benefits.

    • ManicBeancounter
      Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      The Family Tax Credit is a form of negative income tax. It does work as well as Friedman’s ideas, because the minimum guaranteed income is much much higher than Friedman invisaged. The consequence is the marginal rates of credit and benefit loss faced by people as they move up the income scale are still exceed 100%. If we are to avoid the poverty trap, we must accept a much lower minimum income. A non-starter I think.

  11. Neil Craig
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The basic fact which the Conservatives should hammer back is that Labour have increased government spending by £200 billion above the rate of inflation without much concommitant improvement. That exceeeds, though not by much, their deficit so it is undeniable that economies, though some will be tough, need not cut the basics. It is also undeniable that if that money, about £1.2 trillion, had been available for the productive economy, we would now be very far from recession indeed.

  12. Peter Turner
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Could it be that the Goverment’s dead hand of bureaucracy actually harms the provision of health care services? We have to remeber that the real expertise in health care provision is found in the hospitals, clinics and GP services throughout the country, not in a Whitehall Office.

    Could it also be that the NHS as we know it is just too big? I would suggest that the very size of the NHS hinders innovation, flexibility and rapid response to much neede change.

    And lastly, could it be that we have lost our way? Heath care is vastly expensive yet we have encouraged the belief that it is free. Expectations now are at a level we cannot sustain so should we be examinig our service in an attempt to determine what is sutainable?

  13. oldrightie
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Good, solid Conservatism. Can’t fail!

  14. Rippedoff
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Hi John

    This is music to my ears. Why then do Dave’s comments about the economy always sound mealymouthed and unconvincing? He does not have the conviction associated with someone who has developed a programme of sound, solid policies for a recovery in the economy.

    • Paul
      Posted August 3, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Because Dave Blair isn’t really a Tory

  15. David Logan
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I agree with rippedoff. Tory economic policy is very much a work in progress with little by way of a clear message. I think Osbo and an instinctive caution when comfortably ahead in the Opinion Polls is to blame for this. It is very important that we do not fall into the nulabour trap: winning elections is not an end itself but a means to an end. This means the new Government needs an unequivocal mandate to carry out radical change. This requires clarity of objectives not only at election time but by entering and winning the debate now. I think John’s comments on the departments here recently should be a part of that.

  16. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Mr Cameron is someone who has has an excellent upbringing and he mixes, naturally, with other people of the same sort of upbringing. this means, of course, that he sounds civilized and polite.
    To the Labour, however, he sounds just like Lord Snooty (remember him?) or little Lord Fauntleroy. And so do his Bullinger chums.
    To Labour people “Tory cuts” is a folk memory with real resonance. It is what holds them together and allows them to put up with real numpties who, as often as not, were Trotties/CND at their redbrick Unis. (Conservatives, too, remember the Labour appeal to the IMF with equal derision.)
    I didn’t see any report of Mr Cameron’s important speech this morning in the Telegraph, but I probably missed it.

    The fact remains: if someone doesn’t quickly save our plunging national bank balance, we are all twatted!
    And, do you know what? I don’t care if they are Communists!

  17. Marksany
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    John, have you heard or read any John Seddon. Chasing savings doesn’t work, you need to focus on the design of the system.

  18. Adrian Peirson
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Why exactly do we need the UN, the EU, why exactly do we have to be a nation in Debt, why couldn’t we be in credit, with hundreds of Billions in Gold reserves, sovereign fishing grounds, National Industries like car manufacturing, steel and ship building, electronics and traditional western education.
    A return to Traditional Christian family values.

    Oh yes, and for the Rule of Law to be adhered to, we don’t need thousands of Communist dictats from the UN or EU, our Constitutional Laws are really very simple, cause none harm nor loss, nor commit fraud nor mischeif in your dealings with others.
    That’s it, no other laws are necessary.

    That’s what this country needs Komrad Kameron.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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