General Election 2017: Why Theresa May’s manifesto leaves libertarians out in the cold

Tim Focas
What does the Conservative manifesto mean for libertarians? (Source: Getty)

Public spending increases the country can barely afford, coupled with a taste for market intervention and kicking deficit reduction into the long grass. This Tory manifesto is, to quote the Prime Minister in her Birmingham conference speech back in October, a clear “rejection of libertarian right”.

It is enough to make our first woman PM spin in her grave. And it is not like this has not been coming. Take the countless rejections to quantitative easing and public spending cuts since she walked into Number 10. You would be struggle to find any other European leader that doesn't think that QE was anything but a necessity post the global financial crisis.

As for spending cuts, the debt markets would have hardly looked upon the UK favourably unless the previous government, which she was a part of, had not taken the steps it did. In fact, there is a strong argument to suggest Cameron and co did not go far enough. To top it all, the Tories are planning to enforce a safeguard energy tariff cap for those on the poorest value tariffs, a cap which will also hit small businesses.

Read in full: The Conservative manifesto for General Election 2017

Sadly, May has well and truly abandoned fiscal prudence and the core free market principles that has historically defined the party, for populist policies. She wishes to reassure low-income people that she understands their feeling of having lost control of their lives, and that her “strong and stable” leadership will give it back to them. This, of course, means “bringing net immigration down to tens of thousands a year”, which is nothing more than a shameless attempt to drum up support in particular areas with the sole intention of stealing Labour votes.

While this may prove to be a successful short-to-medium term policy, history tells us that this approach is doomed to failure. Previously, the country turned to Thatcherism in order to recover from state interference in enterprise. Now, it seems May wants to reverse this all in the interest of hard working people on low incomes.

And here in lies the contradiction. How exactly does scrapping plans not to raise income tax or national insurance help working people? Sure, the level at which people start paying tax has risen to £12,500, but how about trying to lessen the tax burden across the board without implementing policies to influence the market this or that way? This would seem a rather obvious direction of travel for true conservatives. But for this Tory PM on the cusp of a winning a large majority, her manifesto suggests not.

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