Tuesday, 2 February 2010

8 Benchmarks and what the Tories should be saying

I've been looking at Osbourne's 8 "Benchmarks for Britain" in this speech.

Well, first I had to actually find them, there was a lot of waffle in the speech and I'm still not sure I've got the right bits. I was always taught that when public speaking to use lists, rather than some ambiguous bollocks with an occasional point.

Anyway, as I understand them, here are the "Benchmarks", they're all taken as quotes from Georgie's speech with most of the waffle removed.

1: Cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain's credit rating.
2: Higher exports, higher business investment and higher saving as a share of GDP.
3: Lower youth unemployment.
4: Improve Britain's global rankings for tax competitiveness and business regulation
5: We will raise the private sector's share of the economy in all regions of the country.
6: Higher public sector productivity and better value for money.
7: Create a safer banking system that serves the needs of the economy.
8: We will see lower emissions and a rising global market share for low carbon technologies.

Lets go through them one by one and see what use they are.

1. "Cut the deficit more quickly" - what does he mean that 'more' quickly. Quicker than Labour, Quicker than it's been cut over the past few years? Whilst I applaud the intent to protect Britain's Credit Rating (which I've talked about here) and I'm sure that cutting the Deficit is the way to go, a little more detail would be nice.

2. Higher exports - good. Higher Business investment - good, but from whom? Higher Saving - Well, perhaps people might be saving if interest rates weren't unprecedentedly low? Again, these are all lovely ideas, but are somewhat lacking in substance. Also, all of these are pretty much at record lows at the moment, and any improvement will be "Higher". Again, where is the detail? Why not "Increase exports as a percentage of GDP by 15% over 5 years"? Still, on the bright side, if the Tories cut Government spending (currently 44% of GDP) by 10%, all of these will increase without any work done. Easy, but somewhat pointless.

3. Well, it's at a record high at the moment, can't see this one being too tricky. Just got to give one 18 year old girl a job and you've "lowered" youth unemployment.

4. This one I actually quite like. Sure, there's no detail and under Labour we've slide from 4th to about 85th on both these counts. Logically the only way is up but the intent is decent.

5. Raising the private sectors share of the economy in all regions is another good one. Areas such as Gordon Brown's constituency where 75% of households are partially or totally dependant on the state are a sign of a failed administration. Roughly two thirds of the whole of the North East are in the same boat. It's about time those situations are changed. A smaller public sector can only help the country as a whole.

6. Higher public sector productivity is a lovely idea. It's also fairly easy to achieve. Even Labour increased public sector productivity by 2% over the last decade or so. Of course, you have to compare that to the 30% increase in productivity the Private sector managed. An increase is easy! Some detail would be great, like: "Increase productivity by a minimum of 75% of private sector productivity improvement"!

7. Safer Banking System - well, it's meaningless bollocks that sounds good, I suppose.

8. Ah, the good old Low Emissions and Low Carbon Economy and Exports game. The Tories had better seriously hope we're not heading for another Dalton Minimum. If we do, they're going to look fucking stupid, hitching their election bandwagon to Climate Change. Their problem is that whilst their mates in Notting Hill all passionately believe in the religion of AGW, the rest of the country, particularly in areas where they need a serious swing, are far less certain. I'd bet nearly any sum of money that a policy of "We need to wait and see before committing Billions to fight a problem" will drive many more votes than spunking money on an increasingly ropey looking theory (for Christ's Sake, even the bloody Guardian is slagging off Climate "Scientists" these days!)

Overall rating - meh.

These points are the right ones, but the lack of detail makes the whole thing rather pointless. I'm guessing the Tories don't want to be nailed to a promise they can't keep, but it never hurt New Labour to miss pretty much every target they set themselves.

Over the last few weeks the Tories seem intent on throwing away this election. I don't quite understand why. All they need to be doing is building on some simple solid policies (none of this crappy Policy a Day bollocks, I mean Prison Ships, who cares?).

Why don't the Tories say something like these:

"We will encourage the economy to grow by reducing taxation and regulation on Businesses"

"We will be careful with your money, cutting government spending and improving Public Sector Productivity, and driving economic growth through our private sector policies"
"We will slow Labour's immigration, to focus public spending on our current population"

"We will fight for the rights of the Victim, not the criminal"

"We will put Teaching back in the hands of Teachers and Headteachers, not bureaucrats with clipboards"

These would probably do far more to drive confidence that they're actually trying to win this bloody election. It would provide a simple message for Ministers, MPs, PPCs and all the rest to say whenever they're interviewed. If you're worried about people going off-message, then your message is either way too complicated, or wrong.

Come on Tories, drop all the bollocks and start trying to win this election!

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