Based on doorstep conversations recently, and visits to speak to Conservative Associations, I encounter the following attitudes. Many Conservatives now see the Coaliti0n government as heavily Lib Dem influenced. They tell me they want changes in policy, to reflect the poor financial condition of the country and the preponderance of Conservative votes and MPs behind the government.
They do not think it a good idea to increase taxes on hard work and enterprise. They want to see tax rates on income and capital gains that maximise revenues, rather than high rates which will deter effort and success and lower the tax collected. They prefer Tony Blair’s rates of tax on incomes and gains to this government’s and think lower rates would collect more revenue.
They do not think public spending should go up every year in this Parliament. They would like spending to be cut now and increased later when the crisis is behind us. In particular they think we should decline to lend money to Euro countries in trouble, we should cut out all overseas aid to nuclear weapons countries, saving that money, have another go at cutting the UK’s contributions to the EU, we should make stronger use of natural wastage rates to bring government overhead spending down, we should return to the quango cull and abolish more, and should have a big repeal bill to cut regulation and regulatory costs.
They are apprehensive about the continuing Afghan and Libyan military interventions, and think it is time other UN countries did more and we did less. They would like the Ark Royal and the Harriers to be saved during the next few years of defence spending cuts. They are sceptical about large expensive projects like the HS2 railway and think this should be sacrificed to keep costs down.
The Conservatives are fully on board to tackle the deficit. All agree it is too high and needs urgent attention. Many think this does have to be the sole priority of the government, as success with this will determine what kind of economic recovery we have and how successful the government is at keeping interest rates and other costs down. That is why Conservatives want tax rates that stimuilate recovery and generate more revenues, and spending plans that are more realistic in the next year than the 2011-11 ones have proved.
They would like powers back from the EU and are unhappy about the passage of further powers to Brussels under this government. Given the frequent Lib Dem criticisms of the tax, spending and health reform policies of the government they think they need to speak out more to provide some counter weight.