Saturday, April 07, 2018

Why can't the Tories PR?

Though they are not a party that your humble Devil whole-heartedly endorses, the various Tory governments since 2010 have not been entirely shit. They have, on the whole, taken actions that support their aims supporting people into work—and that allow more low-paid people to keep more of their own money.

Philip Hammond's recent article in the Telegraph spells some of this out very clearly—especially as regards income tax.
Today’s increase in the personal allowance means that everyone will pay less income tax. A basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,075 less income tax than they did in 2010.

And the benefits aren’t just for those of working age: from today, pensioners on the full basic state pension will receive an extra £180 a year; the threshold at which young adults start paying back their student loan will increase to £25,000.

And we are taking the next step to deliver our commitment that by 2020 parents will be able to pass on a home worth up to £1 million to their children without paying any inheritance tax.

But part of the problem that the Tories have had—not least in gaining a majority in the Commons—is that they are utterly crap at PR. They simply do not seem to be able to trumpet their achievements, whilst they encourage certain media outlets to focus only on perceived failures.

The cause of this is very easily understood once you have read Hammond's full article: three of last four paragraphs (in an article of only 19—that's nearly 16%) are dedicated to bashing Labour.

What idiot decided that was a good idea?

One assumes that it is someone who has never worked in the private sector. Let me explain why this approach is so stupid...

In the private sector, you never bash your competitors by name. Why?

Because if you name your competitors you not only acknowledge that you have competitors (rather than being the absolute best), but you also give your potential customers a name to search for—to see if they have a better offer.

Yes, you can downplay concepts: I work for a company that makes proprietary software, so we happily point out the downsides of Open Source—but we never cite specific companies who are deploying those solutions.*

So, the last four offending paragraphs are as follows:
In this way, we will build an economy that works for everyone – but it would all be at risk under Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, have announced plans that would see debt spiral to more than 100 per cent of GDP, leaving our economy vulnerable to shocks, forcing us to waste billions more on debt interest and handing the next generation an unmanageable burden.

Taxes on families and businesses would rise to their highest level in peacetime history – with ordinary working families left to pay the price.

Contrast that with the Conservative commitment to building an economy fit for the future based on sustainably rising living standards, low taxes, falling debt and investment in a future we can be proud of.

The last paragraph is fine, but the preceding ones are terrible. So, in the spirit of Open Source, let me rewrite these sections as I would do it and give it to any Conservatives reading...
In this way, we will build an economy that works for everyone—but not every political party takes the same view that we do.

It is a sad fact that previous governments’ over-spending means that simply paying the interest on our National Debt costs over £40 billion per year. This is more than the entire Defence budget, and almost as much as it costs to educate every child in the country.

We know that this debt has to be paid off. But there are many ways in which we can find the money to do so.

As Conservatives, we have chosen to concentrate on our core belief that hard work should be rewarded: that is why we have targeted our tax cuts to benefit the most needy and deserving in our society.

Many argue that recent Conservative governments do not care about the poor, but the actions that we have taken at the Treasury simply do not bear this out.

The simple fact is that this Conservative government is committed to building an economy fit for the future based on sustainably rising living standards, low taxes, falling debt and investment in the type of society that you have told us you want to see.

All of the main issues are addressed: the government strategy, the emphasis on work rather than benefits, the achievements of the government in taking less money from the poor, and addressing the democratic issue—brought into sharp focus by Brexit—that it is the voters' issues that matter.

At the same time, the phrase "previous governments" allows this government to take issue not only with Labour, but also the Coalition and the Cameron/Osborne government if it wished to do so.

And, I believe, that fundamentally the article is more positive—without mentioning the Labour Party once.

But, hey—I have no professional degree or qualification in PR: I would be interested in your thoughts...

* This is not dirty tricks: if we didn't believe that our own software was better, we wouldn't bother with the expense of a development team.


Lord Blagger said...

It is a sad fact that previous governments’ over-spending means that simply paying the interest on our National Debt costs over £40 billion

Fake news.

First debt. Why have you assumed that the only debt is the borrowing?

53 bn a year goes on the interest payments.

Then there's another 165 bn on the pension debts.

218 bn on debts. 30% of taxes going on debts.

Hence you get pensioner poverty, wealth inequality, personal austerity [you take home less], state austerity [the money doesn't go on services]

You need to fact check what Hammond etc are telling you

John Mounsey said...

I'm sorry, I don't understand Lord Blagger's comments. What are these pension debts? Are you classifying all pension payments as debts?

Lord Blagger said...

It's very simple.

Take BHS. BHS workers paid, in the past into the BHS pension system. They are owed a pension to be paid in the future.

So it works like this.

If you received something of economic value [goods, services, money] in the past, and are obliged to pay something of economic value in the future you have a debt.

Two legs, connected, one in the past one in the future makes it a debt.

So the state's borrowing.

it received money in the past and is obligated to pay money in the future, its a debt.

So the state's pensions.

it received money in the past and is obligated to pay money in the future, its a debt.

There's no difference.

So to prempt things.

1. How you earn your money doesn't mean you don't have a debt. Try that one with your bank manager. e.g I'm an MP I don't have to pay my mortgage.

2. Default. You can default on debts. Even the government can and will. Doesn't mean it doesn't owe money.

ie. Tell your bank manager you aren't paying your mortgage because the law says you could go bankrupt.

3. Other countries are in a worse position, and by implication the UK must be solvent. Yeah, there's no such thing as economic karma.

Then we have your payments not the same thing as debts.

Pension payments are the current cost of the debt. Just as your mortgage may be £500 a month, your debt is far higher.

4. If you don't believe me try it on with your bank manager. Make one month's payment, then stop. That's the end of the debt you can claim.

So are NHS workers owed a pension?

Are BHS workers owed a pension?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Ex-Treasury accountant Was Tyler used to write quite a lot, over at Burning Our Money, about the government's true liabilities, e.g.

His estimate was that the true debt—including pensions, etc.—was of the order of £7–£9 trillion.


Lord Blagger said...

It's higher.

2005, the pension debts were £1,354 bn

2010, the debts had increased to 5,010 bn

That's 8 years ago. In just 5 years, the pensions debts increased 400%. The main reason the manipulation of the discount rate to hide the extent of pension debts was removed. It's still fiddled. One part of the state says the risk free discount rate is -0.75% [Negative]. The other assumes that the pensions are invested [no assets in practice] in AA corporate bonds and that they never default.

A higher discount rate makes the debts look smaller. They are off the books.

Turns out the current pension debt is 10,000 bn.

Then there is the borrowing.

1,600 bn

PFI, present value, 100-150 bn.

The EU, it puts the UK share of its debts at 100 bn EUR. See their accounts. To their benefit, they do publish their pension debts in their accounts.

Nuclear clean up, 2-300 bn. Paid for up front by the Nuclear levy.

Unpaid wages

Unpaid invoices


We're talking real money.

So what needs to change?

One thing. Informed explicit consent, and that means you can peacefully say no without the state resorting to violence to get its way.

So at 18, everyone is given a bill for their £430,000 share. They then sign up to to or they say no.

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