Jake Berry is a former Chairman of the Conservative Party, and is MP for Rossendale and Darwen.
The state has always been a tax junkie, addicted to your money, and until 1997 successive Conservative Governments believed it was their job to break, not feed, this habit. Since Tony Blair’s victory that year, taxes have continuously risen in what seems like a never-ending cycle of left-wing economic policy. In Government circles, there is no problem too big or too small to which increasing taxes isn’t the answer.
This type of politics has completely infiltrated our party, to put it simply, we have been captured by ‘Blobonomics’. The purveyors of Blobonomics, the blob, are those in our political and civil service circles that believe in tax rises not growth, and in increasing their own power rather than empowering the individual.
People want low taxes, and polling shows that, right now, it’s Labour, not the Conservatives that the public believes will lower their taxes. You don’t have to look at polling to understand that, after 13 years of Conservative Government, there is a little too much month and not enough pay-check to cover it.
We call ourselves the party of low tax, however after 13 years, we are the Government of the highest taxes in history.
If you accept, that tax is a disincentive for certain types of behaviour, it makes sense to increase taxes on sugar and to increase taxes on cigarettes to tackle obesity and cancer. Why would you then increase corporation tax by six per cent? Blobonomics is bad politics and bad economics.
Last week saw two bruising losses in Tamworth and Mid-Bedfordshire. If we are going to have any hope of winning the next election, we need to learn the lessons from these defeats.
However, since the results were announced, instead of learning the lessons, all we have done since is blame Conservative voters for not voting. The message from CCHQ has been, we must continue our current trajectory, and those voters will come straight back at the next election and deliver another stonking majority.
There has been no acceptance of my counter-argument that, if you want people to feel motivated to go out and vote Conservative, delivering some Conservative policies would be a good start.
When we had our last tranche of by-elections, we started with three seats, lost two, won one and acted like it was a success. Just as we must learn lessons from losses, we must also do so from victories such as Uxbridge.
The ‘Uxbridge by-election’ would be better characterised as the ‘ULEZ by-election’, given the huge significance that one policy had on the result. Following the win in Uxbridge, the Government went on to ditch several of the overbearing Net Zero policies that they believe made the difference in Uxbridge.
Whilst this has been a popular move (and one I strongly support), it misunderstands the reason people dislike ULEZ. People hate ULEZ, not because they dislike the idea of Net Zero (which on the whole polls positively), but because they don’t want to pay another tax. At its most simple, ULEZ is a new tax on drivers.
Sadiq Khan’s implementation of ULEZ meant there was a clear dividing line between the Conservatives and Labour. That dividing line is tax, not the environment.
As Conservatives we believe in personal responsibility and freedom of the individual.
People should be free to make their own choices in life over what they do and how they spend their money. Instead, in recent times, we’ve had this compulsion to ban things and enlarge the state.
I’m a Conservative because I want to improve the status quo and not accept a managed decline of Britain and her people. Positive change happens through disruption and growth. This can only be delivered by lowering taxes and reducing the burden of the state. In short, by our Government and our Party pursuing Conservative policies.
This is why I and a group of 36 MPs and Peers have come together to sign the Tax Pledge.
We have pledged to our constituents that we will not vote for any policies that see the overall tax burden increase. This pledge aims to, over this and the next parliament, create a Conservative blocking majority to prevent any further tax rises.
This doesn’t mean taxes will go down and indeed we have not pledged to cut them. However, it does mean the blobs groupthink of ‘the answer to all problems is tax raises’ cannot continue. They know, like us, that taxes can only increase if Members of Parliament vote for it. That means that if enough Conservative MPs and candidates sign the pledge that increased spending by the state can only be funded through debt, delivering savings or by growing the economy.
The existence of the Tax Pledge changes the relationship between the government and the civil service. It means that the public sector itself must find such savings or strain every sinew to grow the economy to satisfy its insatiable addiction to other peoples’ money.
The Tax Pledge must be the Conservatives’ line in the sand that enough is enough. That is why I hope readers will press their MP to sign the pledge, only select a candidate for the next general election who has signed the Tax Pledge and ask existing candidates to commit pen to paper.
You can find more information on the Tax Pledge, along with those who have signed it, on @TaxPledge on X (formally Twitter).