27 June 2007

New Government Priorities

Changed priorities aheadStanding on the steps of Number Ten, the new Prime Minister promised "a new government with new priorities." He would do well to heed the latest report from Reform, Key policy lessons of the "Blair years" for future governments. Damningly, it concludes:

"Left untouched, the Blairite policy legacy would not lead to economic collapse. But it would lead to slower growth and deeper social division. Better-off people would take a stronger grip on private schools and good state schools. Social mobility would fall. The tax burden on young people would rise. The regional divide would worsen. The Government’s basic objective – economic efficiency and social justice – would recede."
Among the reforms necessary, it recommends:
  • Aiming to reduce public-spending-to-GDP from the current level of 43 per cent of GDP to the levels of Ireland and Australia (around 35 per cent) in two Parliaments;
  • Introducing a phased programme of tax reductions to increase incentives, to give individuals room to invest in themselves and to foster the economic contribution of young people.
One of the report's authors, Reform's Director Andrew Haldenby, observed, "Perhaps the key lesson of the 'Blair years' is that the personal force of a Prime Minister with landslide majorities and unrivalled communication skills is no substitute for structural reform. It now falls to his successors to make the necessary, fundamental changes to public services; their task is unfortunately harder because of the huge cost and spending increases of the last decade. They must also reverse the rising tax burden because, above all else, it is private initiative that has driven the country's advance in the last ten years."

Given that Gordon Brown has been the principal man responsible for raising our tax burden so high, I fear that we will have to wait until yet another party leader has been invited to form a new government before we really see the fundamental changes that the country needs. Nevertheless, like all those in the country who hope for better days ahead, I eagerly look for the new Prime Minister to deliver on his promise of "change in our NHS, change in our schools, change with affordable housing, change to build trust in government, change to protect and extend the British way of life."