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Blue Bitesize #001: Party Leadership

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

Blue Bitesize is a weekly article written by our members, for our members, and looks to explain complex political concepts from both the left and right wings of our party. This week's bitesize has been written by one of our very policy analysts, Kurtis Prosser.

The Telegraph recently held a panel event that brought together some of the up and coming stars within the Conservative Party, including potential leadership candidates Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, and James Cleverly.

Those taking part had the chance to talk about the future of the Conservative Party post-Brexit, but inevitably, with a leadership election being imminent, they were eventually asked on their policies.

May is set to announce her full departure in a matter of weeks, having already agreed on a template with the 1922 Committee, the backbench committee in parliament for the Conservative Party. The event was the first time that those present, as well as members of the Party, were able to compare the policies of the prospective candidates, with Truss and Raab being the two that were focused on the most. Raab sought to set up his stall early, bringing in a number of different policy ideas which were squarely aimed at a domestic agenda.

Raab proposed a radical tax-cutting plan to “give working Britain a fairer deal.” One move to achieve this was revisiting a policy that was last used by Nigel Lawson during the Thatcher premiership, proposing a cut in the basic rate of income tax by a penny each year.

As is stands, the basic rate stands at twenty pence, and the proposed cut that Raab has put forward would see it drop to 15p over the five year parliament term, which would be the lowest rate in modern history, with the Telegraph stating those on the average wage per year (£29,600) would save £854 per year, and those on £50,000 saving a sum to the tune of £2,000.

Raab, continuing on the economic argument also postulated an increase in the employee contribution threshold for National Insurance to £12,500, which would bring it into line with the personal allowance for income tax, once again looking to reduce the amount of tax workers pay. Raab also hinted at a streamlining of Whitehall departments, with the Department for International Trade and the Department for International Development being merged into the Foreign Office.

Truss also pivoted toward an economic argument, arguing that “we have been far too timid. We haven’t been bold enough. Whatever you say about Donald Trump he’s got a deregulatory agenda, a tax-cutting agenda, and the American economy is growing by three percent. Truss also hinted at potential changes to social care, proposing an insurance scheme to help people cover the cost of care in later life.

Truss also commented on the need to build more houses, an area the party has consistently struggled with for a number of reasons, and came out in support of enterprise and entrepreneurship, seemingly in an attempt to counter John McDonell.

Truss, as expected, defended of free choice for people, and that the party should be cautious of the apparent tendency to ‘ban and regulate things’, stating “I believe in freedom, I want to have control of my own life.”

Other areas were also discussed, with the MPs having their say on projects such as HS2, with them all having differing opinions, with only Liz Truss hinting that she may be willing to invest the money elsewhere.

Matt Hancock called for the promise of Brexit to be delivered otherwise the Tory Party would be ‘toast’, whilst also urging the Tories to start utilising social media in an attempt to communicate with voters. Hancock also argued that the Tories must be a party that is recast “for the modern age”, potentially hinting at a Cameron-esque modernisation of the Conservative Party.

It is fair to say that, especially for Raab and Truss, this was an opportunity for them to flex their muscles so to speak, and it ultimately allowed them to put forward their ideas for the Conservative Party post-Brexit.

Both put forward an interesting economic argument that would see average workers keep more of their annual income with reductions in tax, and both looking beyond the current impasse to where we can start to develop domestic agendas that will work for everyone and begin to work on helping those who Theresa May helped to promise when she took office.

Kurtis Prosser

- Kurtis Prosser