Sunday, June 23, 2024
HomeLaura PerrinsWhy won’t you ‘do whatever it takes’ now, Mr Johnson?

Why won’t you ‘do whatever it takes’ now, Mr Johnson?


BORIS Johnson seems to have found his conservative funny bone again. On April 6 he said there is a ‘limit to the amount of taxpayers’ money’ that can be used to address rising energy bills. 

The PM added: ‘We will do everything we can to help people with the energy price spikes, which are a global thing, they are being exacerbated by what Putin is doing in Ukraine. We’ll have to see how long that goes on for. But, as we did during Covid, we will make sure we look after people to the best of our ability.’

So, you can only imagine the disaster that awaits us if the government response to Covid is being used an example of how they ‘look after people’. Does he mean how the Department of Health looked after the elderly in care homes – the only group of people that were actually vulnerable to Covid? If so, Lord help us all. Or does he mean how the government behaved towards children – wrecking their education and health?

Or perhaps it was those who were waiting for cancer treatment – another disaster. Pointing out the government’s action in responding to Covid, does not improve their position. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the annual CBI dinner on Wednesday: ‘Our role in government is to help cut costs for families. I cannot pretend this will be easy. As I told the House of Commons yesterday, there is no measure that any government could take, no law we could pass, that can make these global forces disappear overnight. The next few months will be tough. But where we can act, we will.’ 

This is a very different tune to the one the Tories were singing when they tried to stop a virus spreading. No government before had tried to control a virus without proven pharmaceutical interventions but the Conservatives thought it would be a great idea to destroy our liberties and intentionally shut down the economy in a ridiculous attempt to ‘flatten the curve’. Now the economy is shutting itself down and it’s all – well, nothing we can do, folks. Blame the Russians. 

During The Covid it was all ‘whatever it takes’ and ‘we are ruling nothing out’. I objected to this absolute insanity at the time. I said, ‘I’m not saying the elderly, those most likely to die from this illness, should be left to die. We have a duty to care for them and we should do so. But we also have a duty to the next generation. That duty includes educating them and not trashing their future. Government policy should never be “whatever it takes”. There must be limits.’ 

No one listened and Johnson went nuclear ordering lockdown not once, not twice but three times (the third being particularly brutal on the hospitality industry). Now that Economic Armageddon has hit, it’s all don’t blame me, I didn’t do, it was the other guy. It was Putin. 

No, it was government response to Covid and government response to the Russian invasion that caused this. It wasn’t inevitable; it was a choice. 

My point is that Johnson can hardly expect the public to understand that there are limits to government power when for the last two years his government has wielded unprecedented draconian powers on our liberties never before used in peacetime. If you have used immense government power before, it makes it impossible for you to say ‘Things are out of my control now. I’ve changed my mind.’ This makes you look inconsistent, foolish and the gives rise to the usual charge levelled at conservative governments, that they are ‘mean and nasty’. 

Now, dear reader, as you know I am a conservative. I am, in general, against tax hikes, which are simply transfer payments by another name. I am not in favour of taxing business as it does indeed limit investment. I can be convinced otherwise, but that is my broad stance. However, as government is so out of control now, and has been for years, these arguments are not only harder to make but to win, and this is after 12 years of Conservative-led government.

Let’s take a look at the figures involved in lockdown, which are almost impossible to believe. The National Audit Office estimated that by the end of September last year it had cost £370billion, and that will almost certainly have gone well beyond £400billion by now. That is £400,000,000,000. There’s one figure that I will never forget: the useless, pointless Test and Trace, which cost £37billion. Keeping this in mind, I have taken a look at some solutions to the Cost of Lockdown Crisis from the lefties, and we can see why the Conservatives are taking such a hammering on this issue. 

For instance, uplifting universal credit by £25 a week, which would cost the government £1.35billion for six months, between May and October, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). 

So, £1.35billion compared with £37billion is nothing. It is a measure the government clearly could take if it was so minded. But Laura, I hear you say, that £37billion is already spent. I know that, dear reader, what I am pointing out to the lockdown fanatics is that you could have spent that money elsewhere if you hadn’t blown it on these criminal schemes. 

Don’t tell me lockdown hasn’t got anything to do with this crisis, because it has – the £10billion blown on furlough will have contributed to inflation. The £37billion wasted on T&T we will never see again and makes other public spending more difficult. 

Another suggestion is a one-off cash payment of £250 for energy bills that would go towards the 11.3million households in the bottom half of the income distribution, and would cost £2.85billion, according to the NIESR. Again, this is a drop in the ocean compared with what the government burnt through with T&T. 

The third suggestion is the windfall tax, which will happen. That is inevitable, it’s only a matter of time. 

In sum, dear reader, it is too late now for the Conservatives to start banging on about the virtues of small government. That ship has well and truly sailed. Their actions during lockdown demonstrated that they don’t believe in limited government. 

The Conservatives believe in ‘whatever it takes, and we rule nothing out’. Their handling of the public finances during lockdown is evidence of the fact that they are reckless, imprudent cowboys when it comes to public spending. If you can get through £37billion on T&T then I am done with you. Johnson has no credibility; his time is up. Unfortunately, it will mean time is up for a lot of our family finances too. 

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