BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom – There is perhaps no more of a popular Conservative politicians in Britain, and today Boris Johnson confirmed his status as the ultimate conference darling. But today’s speech was further evidence that just below the jokes is a man with very little real handle on the philosophy of conservatism.
The problem with the speech was that every single “conservative” achievement appeared to be taxpayer funded. Apparently, we created 250,000 apprenticeships. It was unclear whether he meant the Conservative Party, the government, or the taxpayer. Either way he was wrong. The private sector created the apprenticeships and rightly or wrongly they were taxpayer funded.
He crowed about speeding up the tube, all funded by the taxpayer once again. It was 3 miles an hour here and 4 miles an hour there. I am sure the good people of London will welcome this improvement but where is the private sector involvement? True conservatives believe that will deliver even bigger improvements.
We also heard about 100,000 new taxpayer funded homes, no mention of helping the private sector eliminate the housing crisis. And let’s not forget it is government policies – from every party – that are restricting the market.
The truth about Boris is that he is very adept at managing a scenario in which the state is king. He is not going to put up taxes massively and he will run things better than Labour. But where is the real conservatism here? Thatcher would have sought to cut tax levied by City Hall, giving people their hard earned money back.
Boris did not muse about whether young families would have been more able to afford homes in London if they were not weighed down by the very taxes being used to ‘deal with the problem’.
In August we pointed out that Boris had not taken any steps since becoming Mayor deal with the lack of private sector involvement in City Hall.
At the time we said: “The truth is that Greater London Authority, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the Fire Service are broadly continuing on the path Ken set for them. Boris’s successes have been projects started under Ken and his failings have been to accept that status quo.”
The speech today failed to answer that charge. Of course we heard free market rhetoric and lots of jokes, all of which was welcome after a couple of heavy nights of politicking. However, the real examples of Mayoral achievements were all public sector.
Boris needs to realise this is not about more bus subsidies, government funded homes or taxpayer job creation, we need government to get out of the way so that people can win for themselves.