is a village of some 1000 souls on the North Norfolk coast, between Sheringham and West Runton. The latest and arguably the most epochal event in its long history is that it has recently been deluged by me and Crox Minor, who have leafleted almost all its 500 properties on behalf of Mr Trevor Ivory, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for our constituency, North Norfolk. Although it had been a Tory seat since Boudicca was a girl, it was won for the Liberal Democrats by Mr Norman Lamb, a nice chap and all round good egg – in 2001 (when the Tories couldn’t get arrested, let alone elected). Mr Lamb now has a majority of more than 10,000. Clearly, Mr Ivory and his team (which now includes the Croxii) have a tough job.
I’ve never been especially politically active. Throughout my life I’ve voted for all three main political parties (I might once even have voted Green) and thought that if I were to stand as an MP, it would be for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, attracted by forward-looking manifesto pledges such as the one to reduce class sizes in schools by making the children sit closer together. As one gets older, however, one finds oneself bumping into real life more and more often, and although Mr Lamb is undoubtedly a nice man, so is Mr Ivory – and voting for the latter is more likely to effect change in a country that desperately needs it.
Mrs Crox and I find ourselves in the position of the disenfranchised Middle Classes. We have no spare disposable income to speak of. We claim no tax credits or extra help from the Government. And yet we find ourselves working harder and harder for less and less, and required to pay for everyone elses’ indulgences.. Several things, recently, have brought the dire state of the nation home to us.
* We live in an ex-Council house on the outskirts of Cromer. Not through any desire to See How The Other Half Lives, but because it was a house we could afford. Many of our friends and neighbours are Council tenants, and say things to us like ‘The Council is coming tomorrow to give us a new kitchen’. Now, nobody begrudges people new kitchens, but our friends and neighbours seem to have no conception whatsoever of who pays for these kitchens – it is as if such benisons rain down from heaven. The fact is that we pay for these kitchens. Yet we cannot afford such things ourselves – our kitchen is largely a kludge of shelving built at home by me and Crox Minima. There is something wrong here – I think it has something to do with dependency, a sense of entitlement so ingrained that it is axiomatic. And worse – that there are many people who see the government as a responsible adult, and themselves as children, who accept what the adults give them without questioning how the adults might be in such a position, to begin with, to provide such things as kitchens, unemployment benefit and so on. As Mr Cameron, the Conservative leader, said very memorably, we live in a society that treats children like adults, and adults like children.
* I used to have a very nice occupational pension scheme, managed with great skill by my Company’s trustees so that it has avoided running into deficit. Yet thanks to Mr Gordon Brown’s raiding of pension funds, I shall now be required to pay an almost unsustainably large proportion of my salary into the plan, to receive proportionately lower benefits when I retire, should I live so long. Yet during the tenure of the current government, the number of public-sector employees has expanded vastly, and their pension provisions are much nicer than mine. There is something wrong here, too.
* I learn that by 2014, the national debt will stand at 1.4 trillion pounds. Yes, that’s £1,400,000,000,000. When Labour came to power, Britain’s finances were fairly healthy – and now they’re in such a state that were we in the Eurozone, we’d be a Greek Tragedy. Britain may or may not be Broken, but it’s certainly Broke. As Mr Cameron, the Conservative leader has said, ‘we cannot go on like this’. To which I should add, that were one an investor in an enterprise that was so cavalier with money (and investors we surely are), then would we really want to throw good money after bad?
I could go on and on in this vein, but I shall spare you, my readers (both of you) from any more. Suffice it to say that I support the Conservative policies of smaller, more effective government, which rewards people for working hard rather than taxing them and then throwing the money away. Actually, I don’t think the Conservatives have gone nearly far enough in their manifesto commitments, which seem pretty lily-livered to me. If they really wanted to jump-start the economy and attract votes, they should adopt a policy of aggressive tax cuts. A flat income tax of 25% for everyone earning more than £10,000 per year would be a good start. Abolish all tax bands, all means tests – keep it simple.
Finally, it’s a matter of principle. Somewhere or other Mr Boris Johnson, whom posterity will record as having been the greatest statesman of this or any other age, noted the fundamental difference between Labour and Conservative states of mind. The first prohibits everything that isn’t specifically allowed. The second allows everything that isn’t specifically prohibited.
I know which I prefer. Do you?