The coalition government of 2010-2015 must have been a frustrating time for the Conservative party. While they managed to get many of their proposals through (raising university tuition fees, for example), their Liberal Democrat coalition partners blocked a number of others.
Mark Pack has put together a list of “21 extreme Tory policies the Lib Dems blocked“. However, that article was written in 2015, so here I’ve commented on seven areas where the Conservatives have finally got their own way. (OK, so technically its six that they’ve actually done, and one big one they’re still trying to get round to doing.)
1) The Snoopers’ Charter (aka the Investigatory Powers Act)
Described as providing “totalitarian-style surveillance powers – the most intrusive system of any democracy in history”, this law requires (amongst other things) that internet service providers to keep a record of your internet browsing history for 12 months, and share it with a host of government agencies if requested.
2) Ditching the Human Rights Act
This is the one which technically hasn’t happened yet (partly because of the need to sort out Brexit, and partly because of significant opposition), but it is still very much on the agenda. A major reason for getting rid of the Human Rights Act is the desire to get rid of the link between the European Court of Human Rights and British courts.
3) Removing help with housing costs for young people
Since 1 April 2017, 18- to 21-year-olds making new claims for universal credit have not been able to claim for the cost of housing (with certain exceptions). This change has less scope than that originally proposed (covering 16- to 24-year-olds), but has still raised serious concern from homelessness charities.
4) Cutting inheritance tax
In the first budget after the 2015 General Election, a £175,000 “family home allowance” was announced, in addition to the existing £325,000 allowance before 40% inheritance tax is payable. Married couples and civil partners can “pool” their allowance, so this means couples with a combined wealth of up to £1 million will no longer have to pay anything. Note that only around 3.5% of deaths were liable for inheritance tax in 2013-14, and so only the wealthiest will benefit from this change.
5) Requiring landlords nation-wide to carry out immigration checks on all new tenants and lodgers
Since 1 February 2016, landlords have been required to act as immigration enforcers, checking that anyone to whom they let is in the country lawfully. Landlords can receive penalties of up to £3000 for every adult without right to rent living in their property.
6) Renewing Trident
In July 2016, MPs voted to renew the UK’s Trident system of nuclear missiles, at an estimated cost of £31 billion. The Conservatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of renewal, and the Liberal Democrats and SNP voted against. Labour were split, with approximately three times as many voting for as against. Furthermore, Teresa May has said that she would, if necessary, “press the button” to use the nuclear weapons.
7) Cutting investment in green energy
Since its formation in 2012 the Green Investment Bank has provided £3.4 billion to 99 green energy projects. Â There is no guarantee that the buyer will continue to use it to fund eco-friendly projects.
For something more positive, take a look at this infographic, also by Mark Pack, showing what the Liberal Democrats achieved while in government.
- Pack, M. 21 extreme Tory policies the Lib Dems blocked. [online] Mark Pack. Available at: http://www.markpack.org.uk/129190/what-the-lib-dems-have-stopped-the-tories-doing/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Carlo, S. (2016). The Government just passed the most extreme surveillance law in history – say goodbye to your privacy. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/snoopers-charter-theresa-may-online-privacy-investigatory-powers-act-a7426461.html [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Investigatory Powers Act 2016. (2016). [pdf] Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/25/pdfs/ukpga_20160025_en.pdf [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- The Week UK. (2017). Will the Human Rights Act be scrapped?. [online] Available at: http://www.theweek.co.uk/63635/will-the-human-rights-act-be-scrapped [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Wilson, W., Keen, R. and Barton, C. (2017). Housing cost element of Universal Credit: withdrawing entitlement from 18-21 year olds. [online] Researchbriefings.parliament.uk. Available at: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06473 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Inheritance Tax: main residence nil-rate band and the existing nil-rate band – GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inheritance-tax-main-residence-nil-rate-band-and-the-existing-nil-rate-band/inheritance-tax-main-residence-nil-rate-band-and-the-existing-nil-rate-band [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Inheritance Tax Statistics 2013-14. (2016). p.7. [pdf] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/541725/IHTNationalStatisticsCommentary.pdf [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Citizensadvice.org.uk. Immigration checks by landlords. [online] Available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/renting-a-home/immigration-checks-by-landlords/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- BBC News. (2016). MPs vote to renew Trident weapons system – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36830923 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Greeninvestmentbank.com. (2017). Our investments | UK Green Investment Bank. [online] Available at: http://www.greeninvestmentbank.com/our-investments/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
- Pratley, N. (2017). Green Investment Bank sell-off: only time will tell how green it is | Nils Pratley. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/nils-pratley-on-finance/2017/apr/20/green-investment-bank-sell-off-only-time-will-tell-how-green-it-is [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].