Policies to agree on


As the bargaining gathers pace between the possible coalition partners, both are looking for possible areas of agreement. Of more importance are the areas they disagree on, and on which neither would wish to compromise. The Conservatives are unlikely to modify their support for Trident, or the Liberal-Democrats their endorsement of voting reform.

There are two policies, however, both advocated by the Adam Smith Institute, on which agreement might be reached almost immediately. The first is for a lifting of the starting threshold for income tax to £12,000. The thinking behind it is that those earning the minimum wage or less than half the average wage should not be charged income tax at all – they have enough problems making ends meet as it is.

This runs totally counter to Gordon Brown’s view that he should decide how much tax everyone pays, combining high taxes on low earners with tax credits to reimburse then. It is a system that makes everyone a state dependent, with welfare even going to those earning 50 percent more than the average income.

The ASI has advocated a high threshold for years, long before the Liberal-Democrats came out for a somewhat lower threshold of £10,000. This would be a good time for the Conservatives to accept what we have told them many times: poor people should not be paying tax.

The second ASI policy they could both agree on is to set up a one-year judicial review of the state of civil liberties in Britain. Following years of legislation inimical to the freedoms we once took for granted, and thought enshrined in our unwritten constitution, a thorough review is needed.

A senior law officer, sitting for a year, taking evidence in public, would identify the areas of concern and make recommendations accordingly. Proceedings would be televised, giving expert evidence night after night on TV about what recent legislation has done to our legal protections.

Although the government would not be bound by the review’s recommendations, there would be powerful moral pressure for them to be enacted, going some way to restoring our lost liberties.

These are two policies to help the next government, both easy to agree upon. In the coming weeks, the ASI will be putting forward many more proposals which can similarly secure wide support, and help turn Britain back from its recent ruinous course.