Tuesday, 8 September 2009

He gets it...do any other MPs?

Hat-tip to Ben Brogan at the Daily Telegraph for bringing this to my attention. I missed David Cameron's speech buth through Brogan and Conservativehome I've been able to get the details of what he said. Hopefully Conhome will get a link to the full video of the speech up soon. (I've seen some brief clips on the bbc's site, including an excellent gag at the libdem's expense).

What Cameron has done is outlined how the conservatives plan to reduce the burden of politics to the taxpayer by weilding the spending axe in the house of commons. Here's a list of the pledges that I've taken from Conhome :-

* Ministerial salaries will be cut by an immediate five percent, but on top of that, those salaries will be frozen for the lifetime of the next Parliament - "That means a further pay cut when inflation is taken into account and a saving of over a quarter of a million pounds a year for the taxpayer".
* Taxpayers’ cash will no longer subsidise politicians' food and drink, with the cost of food and drink in Parliament "being increased to match the prices normal people pay in cafes, restaurants and bars around the country". That will, he said, save £5.5 million.
* The budget for official government cars will be cut by a third. He said: "There are times when having a car to hand which gets a minister to a certain place on time is absolutely vital to our democratic process – for example, to make a vote in the House of Commons, or to meet a foreign dignitary or open a school. But there is no need for 171 of these cars to be on hand for every government minister, whip – and indeed, myself."
* Public sector bodies will be stopped from hiring consultants to lobby politicians, to save £10 million a year.
* He also demanded that the Electoral Commission must be run more efficiently, saying it had overreached its role "with advertising campaigns and wasteful marketing initiatives" and that under the proposed quango review, "we will identify all the unnecessary functions it has assumed and see what savings we can make for the taxpayer".
* A Conservative Government would also demand that the Parliamentary authorities must cut costs by ten per cent, banking the taxpayer £50 million.

Now this would save millions, which may seem like small-fry compared to our £200 billion plus deficit but it's a start and if he takes this approach with other avenues of public sector spending, those billions will rapidly add up. And to make a start on that he also pledged :-

* each and every quango having to justify its existence
* every item of government spending over £25,000 to be published online
* all public sector salaries over £150,000 to be published online
* opposing new MPs getting a final salary pension scheme
* getting rid of the £10,000 yearly ‘Communications Allowance’ that every MP gets
* abolishing Regional Assemblies
* scrapping the Standards Board for England
* reducing the number of MPs by 10%

Now the savings made by slashing the quangocracy alone will make a healthy dent in public sector expenditure and will also make ministers have more responsibility on their own shoulders. It is an excellent statement of intent, but also puts some meat on the bones of what he actually would do in power. If Labour had any sense they would attempt to get these suggestions implemented over the next parliament and I'm sure Cameron would welcome that.

But what this has demonstrated most for me is that Cameron gets it, he understands what has gone wrong with Westminster and in the public sector at large. And he's also shown he's got the gumption to sort it out. He's not going to be poular with quangocrats and public sector empire builders but he'll sort out the mess. He may not be the neo-thatcherite many on the right of his party craves, but he is someone who sees a problem for what it is and is prepared to go to the heart of the problem and solve it without too much bullshit...and of that Lady T would most certainly approve.

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