People up and down the UK claim there's no real difference between the Conservative and Labour parties. However, at May's General Election there is one clear choice for those who cherish their own liberty. The Conservative Party demonstrates a real commitment to the notion that individuals are those best placed to manage their own affairs. Margaret Thatcher once said "there can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty". There can be no question that civil liberty is important. However, the right to earn your own money and spend it how your please is a liberty that permeates every part of our lives like few others.
Conservatives in Government have played a leading role in promoting economic liberty and have pledged to go further if reelected in May. In 2012 George Osborne reduced the top end income tax rate from 50% to 45%, claiming the increase to 50% made under Labour in 2009 had raised next to no additional income. The Conservative message is simple: Conservatives want you to keep more of your money. Despite bringing in higher income tax revenues Labour have pledged to reinstate the 50% top end tax rate if elected later this year. Their message is clear: although wages are only just beginning to recover after their recession, despite the evidence suggesting a 50% tax rate brings in no more revenue than a 45% rate, if you've done well for yourself Eds Miliband and Balls want your money. After May 2015 the Conservatives aim to increase the threshold for the 40% tax rate from £41,000 to £50,000, again keeping more of your money in your pocket. Playing catch up, Labour have pledged to reintroduce a starting rate of income tax at 10%. The Conservatives have a far better pledge, increasing the tax free personal allowance to £12,500. Instead of taxing a small amount of individuals' income at 10%, why not effectively tax it at 0%?
Manifesto pledges aside, if you want to see what Labour really think about your right to your money you need look no further than Wales, managed by a Labour Welsh Government. Since 2011 the Welsh Government has presided over a 25% increase in council tax throughout Wales, whilst Conservatives provided assistance for council tax freezes throughout England. Labour might try and convince you that these council tax hikes have a benefit, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Owen Smith recently claiming that taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilised society. But these taxes hikes have accompanied widespread cuts in public services, as Welsh education, Welsh local government administration and the Welsh NHS face meltdown.
Conservative policies are about leaving more of your money in your pocket because you know how to spend your money better than those in government. Meanwhile Labour are determined to take more of your money, because Ed Miliband knows how to satisfy your wants and your needs more than you do. When George Osborne announced that from April 2015 pensioners would be granted unfettered access to their pension savings Labour was stunned - "how do we oppose this without declaring in our infinite wisdom that the state has to dictate how people run their affairs" must have been running through the minds of Labour politicians. This concern obviously went right over the head of Tom Watson MP who argues "the government has every right, therefore, to... [demand] that you spend... [your pension] in the manner" it wants. Tom's argument essentially rests on one simple premise: Labour don't trust you with your own money. Criticising Osborne's initiative long term Labour cheer leader Polly Toynbee recently wrote "the old don't, in my experience, grow much wiser" and that "there's no fool like an old fool". Perhaps at the ripe old age of sixty-eight someone should tell Polly to stop spouting her tired, clapped out, socialist clap-trap? But of course, like all good leftists, she obviously knows better than you. As well as claiming the elderly can't be trusted with their own affairs because they're especially foolish, Polly makes the point "As most people are clueless about pensions and investments, never have so many lambs been so ripe for fleecing." Indeed, financial products leave many people confused, regardless of age. Up until now the Government has forced pensioners to purchase annuities, meaning access to pensions savings has been dictated by the financial sector, out to make it's own profit. Now pensioners will be given the choice over whether or not to be fleeced by legally trained, glorified crooks, rather than just being ushered in that direction anyway.
The Conservative mission isn't just about protecting your money from the state. When a conservative from the other side of the Atlantic, Dwight D. Eisenhower said "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex" he was talking about large corporate interests more generally. Ed Miliband has been keen to promote dual images of himself as a bulwark against vested interests and the Conservatives as pawns of big businesses and the financial sector - nothing could be more wrong. In parliament, through Select Committees, All Party Parliamentary Groups and through other lobbying activities Conservative MPs such as Guto Bebb, Andrew Tyrie, Robin Walker, Mark Garnier and Simon Hart have lead the way in calling for the UK's banks to put an end to widespread wrongdoing and implement more ethical practices. Their work has had a real impact on the livelihoods of individuals throughout the UK.
When voting this May remember, if you want a mature government, that treats you as a mature individual, vote Conservative. If you believe you're better placed than government officials in London to know what's best for you and your family, vote Conservative. If you believe liberty really is a cause to get behind, vote Conservative.