Debate Magazine

The New Indian Bicycle Meme: Doing X to Fund Y

Posted on the 28 April 2015 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

The Tories have taken this pre-election silliness to new levels today:
A Conservative government would use fines imposed on Deutsche Bank for its involvement in rigging interest rates to fund 50,000 apprenticeships, David Cameron has announced.
This reminded me of Labour's last desperate attempt to bribe Scottish voters:
Jim Murphy claims UK mansion tax will pay for extra nurses in Scotland
This is quite a popular meme actually, so I did a quick trawl. Here's a selection of all the silly "doing X to fund Y" proposals they have dreamed up over the past year.
First, they all had their ideas about scaling back subsidies for the City of London pension tax breaks:
The Liberal Democrat party "claims around £1 bn [extra NHS] funding for the following year (2016-17) could be found in a pension tax relief for the wealthiest and a dividend tax squeeze on those earning more than £150,000. Ending the Conservative "shares for rights" policy would also bring in extra revenue."

The Tories
"have just announced that if they win the May election, main family homes worth up to £1million would escape inheritance tax if they were left to children or grandchildren. But the policy would be paid for by cutting back the amount higher earners are able to pay annually into their pension and still qualify for tax relief."

Labour leader Ed Miliband
"has announced plans to take £2.7 billion from pension savers in order to fund a cut in student fees, if he wins the general election."
Greens and UKIP went a bit left field:
The Green Party "would introduce a new wealth tax, rigorously clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion and introduce a financial transaction tax - a Robin Hood Tax, and we are not ashamed to say that those on incomes above £100,000 should pay more income tax. Providing free social care for the over-65's means security and freedom from fear, suffering and loneliness for many, and it means 200,000 new jobs and training places."
UKIP of course have promised to spend the savings from leaving the EU and slashing the aid budget ten times over in various pre-election promises/giveaways.
One exception to the rule that these "doing X to fund Y" proposals have to be totally plucked out of the air and not in any way intellectually coherent is this one:
UKIP "is preparing a manifesto pledge to slash billions of pounds from Scotland’s budget to help to pay for tax cuts for English voters."
And as a nice book-end to the first one, here's how the Tories said they would fund all those extra apprenticeships last year:
The Conservatives "would cap benefits further to fund three million apprenticeships if they win the general election, the prime minister has said."

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