Following the depressing growth figures, coalition big wigs have been keen to offer their hapoth's worth to George Osborne with a series of bizarre ideas.
Foremost among them is David Cameron’s “blue skies” thinking guru Steve Hilton, who appears to have been up in the sky with his pie in the sky idea to abolish – yes, abolish – maternity leave, and scrap consumer rights legislation for nine months. Dodgy goods? Ripped off? Missold something? Tough!
The FT reports (£):
Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s enigmatic strategy director, has startled colleagues by proposing the abolition of maternity leave and all consumer rights legislation, as part of an initiative to inject life into Britain’s sluggish economy…
“Steve asked why the PM had to obey the law,” said one Whitehall insider of a meeting in March to discuss the government’s growth strategy. “Jeremy [Heywood] had to explain that if David Cameron breaks the law he could be put in prison.”
Over the past few months, government officials have relayed to the Financial Times some of Mr Hilton’s quirkiest ideas… The 42-year-old, “Big Society” advocate’s solution to long-term unemployment was to abolish all jobcentres and to hand out money to community groups.
But perhaps his most ambitious unfulfilled plan was to scrap maternity rights. “Steve thinks that they are the biggest obstacle to women finding work, because companies know they are required by law to offer maternity leave,” said one Whitehall insider.
“He also wanted to suspend all consumer rights legislation for nine months to see what would happen. Some of his ideas are great but a lot of time is spent at an official level trying to deconstruct his maddest thoughts.”
Boris Johnson, meanwhile, ever keen to help out his fat cat chums in the City (you know, the ones whose recklessness got us into this mess), has proposed scrapping the 50p tax rate, which will help those hard pressed souls having to scrape by on a mere £150,000 a year, who have a low marginal propensity to consume anyway.
Boris’s policy is hardly going to get the economy moving again.
Finally, to Vince Cable, who wins the award for silliest silly season idea yet, with his “red tape challenge” solutions of lowering the age at which Christmas crackers and liquer can be bought, an amendment to the Wireless Telegraphy Act, and making poisons easier to buy, saying:
“All sales of acids are based on the impression that we are all Dr Crippens wanting to dispose of bodies.”
Yep, that’s really gonna reverse the damage Osborne’s done to the economy. Nope, if they want to kick start the economy they need a Plan G for Growth…
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