What can UK voters expect from Tory majority govt?
In the opening days of parliament, all eyes will be locked on the Conservatives’ budgetary review, set to outline the government’s strategy for reducing the deficit. As the last votes were counted on Friday, PM David Cameron confirmed the government will focus on pushing ahead with a £30bn program of cuts.
Cameron’s pledge to plough ahead with further austerity will anger campaigners, trade unionists and academics who warn of the resurgence of Victorian levels of poverty in Britain. In a climate of zero-hours contracts, social cleansing, and drastic welfare reforms, they argue further austerity will crush the welfare state and impact heavily on vulnerable members of society.
Recent analysis of the Conservatives’ austerity agenda suggests it could be more stringent than anticipated.
The Conservatives’ promise to maintain health spending implies deeper cuts in other government departments, including a £12bn black hole of yet-to-be clarified cuts.
In the run up to polling day, the Office of Budget Responsibility said the Conservatives’ spending plans suggest cuts of 5 percent more than had been implied for 2016-2018. This figure amounts to twice the number of cuts implemented in any given year since the coalition came to power.
Reflecting on the scale of austerity Britons can expect, the Office of Budget Responsibility said the Tories’ proposed cuts would propel the nation on a “roller-coaster ride.”
Nobel Laureate and global economist Paul Krugman denounced Conservative plans to unleash further austerity on Britain’s electorate earlier this month, stressing such a move will hamper the state’s economic recovery.
The US economist, who has long argued austerity is “intellectually bankrupt,” made the remarks in a letter published in the Guardian.
Krugman warned the Conservative Party used “the alleged dangers of debt and deficits as clubs with which to beat the welfare state” during its previous term in government.He said the party is doomed to repeat the same mistakes if it enters government for a second term.
Scrapping the Human Rights act
Concern is also rife amid human rights lawyers and campaigners over the Tories’ plans to scrap Britain’s Human Rights Act and replace it with a Conservative-styled British Bill of Rights. The Conservatives are poised to push for this legislative shift as swiftly as possible.
Privacy rights activists are particularly concerned about the government’s plans to resurrect Britain’s scrapped data communications bill, and place it back on the nation’s policy agenda.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Home Secretary Theresa May told the BBC that a majority Tory government would do precisely that. The announcement will rile activists who have long campaigned against Conservative-backed mass surveillance.
Referendum on Europe
Concerns have also been raised over Britain’s EU membership status. Speaking to the electorate from the helm of Number 10 on Friday, Cameron said an EU referendum bill is a priority for the newly elected government. He also insisted the government plans to negotiate welfare policy changes at European level to curb the flow of migrants to Britain.
Cameron has repeatedly vowed to hold the referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2017, following a period of negotiation with EU leaders. Central to his strategy, is the objective of limiting EU migrants’ access to state benefits for their first four years in Britain.
Cameron will strive to push forward with these plans swiftly to stave off internal party tensions amid the Conservatives’ Euroskeptic and pro-EU factions. A majority government will aid the party in pushing the bill through parliament, despite a potentially frosty reception from the House of Lords.
Addressing Britons on Friday, Cameron said he believes Britain is on the “brink of something special.”
But swathes of Britain’s electorate remain unconvinced.
A chorus of critics nationwide maintain the PM must demonstrate increased vision and a greater appreciation for the common good if the government is to cultivate the unified, just society he anticipates.