IN the last couple of weeks we have seen two major set piece speeches by Westminster cabinet ministers. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke just after the war in Ukraine began. Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, spoke earlier this week, and before anyone says that health is devolved, it was not what he said about health that concerned me: it was his vision of the state that did. 

The two ministers offered remarkably similar worldviews. Javid, for example, said that his fundamental belief is in a small state. As a consequence, he was quite clear that the growing cost of supplying healthcare across the UK could not be met, in his opinion.

Justifying this, he said "there is no such thing as public money, there is only taxpayers’ money". It was Margaret Thatcher who said that, of course. She used that claim to justify her attempts to cut state services, as has every Tory ever since. Javid was doing the same thing.

The only problem for Sajid Javid is that Thatcher was wrong. All money is, of course, created by the state. Just try making your own and see what happens.

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It does, however, suit Javid to claim the state can only do what taxes paid permit. But again, he is wrong. Over the last two years, £400 billion of state spending took place without any taxpayer or borrowed money being involved. The whole Covid crisis was paid for with money created by the Bank of England, which is part of the government. The evidence is plain to see. When it comes to what government can do, taxpayer money is not the constraint. Taxpayer money is only an excuse for inaction. Governments can create all the money required to make good things happen if we have the people and real physical resources to deliver them.

Rishi Sunak was in much the same mood as Sajid Javid. His claim was that after 43 years of continuous rule by governments in Westminster that have been dedicated to light regulation, low tax and supposed market friendly policies, what we now need to boost the UK economy is yet more of those same things. It’s as if 43 years of this have not been enough. Now we need some more.

The National: Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak showed the Tories are continuing to follow the same ineffective policies

The argument that this policy will increase our incomes, productivity and relative prosperity might have been believable when claimed by Thatcher in 1979. Some 43 years on, we are, in real terms when compared with Western European countries, just above Greece, Portugal and Spain plus Italy on most economic measures right now, and behind the rest, just as we were back in 1979. The reality is that this policy has failed. But Sunak has nothing else to offer but more failed Thatcherism.

Javid is also promoting other failed policies. More IT is meant to address the problems in the NHS. Tony Blair claimed that too. It did not work for him. Now turning the system into an app will not make the outcome any better.

And worse, Javid made another bold claim that resonates horribly with one made in Thatcher’s era. He said "there’s no small state without strong families". For those old enough to remember, this has Thatcher’s policy of "care in the community" for those with mental ill health written all over it, only this time it’s going to apply to anyone needing NHS care.

The policy objective appears to be clear. Instead of getting NHS care, your family member who has nothing else to do with their time and who has been sitting around waiting for you to be ill to get a purpose in life is now going to be your NHS carer at home, aided and abetted by an enhanced NHS app that is going to tell them all that they need to know.

This is ludicrous. Javid’s "strong families" are, of course modelled on those of old, which only now continue to exist in the fantasies of the Daily Mail. In them husbands work whilst wives stay at home looking after adoring children whilst partaking in a little charitable activity until a relative requires their soothing care.

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In the real world, few of these families exist. Instead, families are committed to the hilt to just pay the bills and keep food on the table. Many families are far-flung. Some people simply have no one to care for them. Javid said nothing about who will care for them.

That one fact represents the bankruptcy of the Tory thinking Javid and Sunak had to offer in their speeches. Demanding a small state when what we need is an effective one, they have built their policy prescriptions on outmoded understanding of society and policies that have failed time and again already, which they explain by saying we just did not try them hard enough in the past.

Unwrap the warm words that these politicians use, and they are offering austerity, hardship, services that must be paid for, and brutality from the state as essential support is denied to those who need it.

Scotland can’t avoid this forever if it stays in the UK. If the Tories keep power, and they will do their utmost to do so, these policies will arrive via the Barnett formula. There is only one way to be liberated from this callousness, and that is through independence.