It may not be what normal people think of first on a damp grey November Sunday morning, but I wondered to myself
“what’s Owen Paterson up to?”
I’ll phone my therapist later.
Paterson has launched a “think tank” called UK 2020, but I think it would be more suited to be called UKIP2020, given Paterson is so close to UKIP on so many things. I say things rather than policies, as I hesitate to use the words policy and UKIP in the same sentence, for the obvious reason that they have almost none.
Paterson has apparently already raised a six figure amount to fund his thinktank; that sounds like a lot but I can tell you £100,000 will not get you terribly far if you want to be influential.
I have already written about Paterson’s plans to run Britain on power from nuclear submarines , but what about the economy?
In his speech launching UKIP 2020, OPatz said he wants to raise the threshold for paying 40% income tax – to perhaps as high as £75000. He wants to reduce taxes for corporations, and reduce inheritance tax and stamp duty.
And in a typical neocon magic trick, he will reduce the deficit and compensate for this loss of tax income, by slashing public spending. He is calling for £170 billion of public spending cuts. UK public spending this year is £720 billion. Can you imagine what public services would be like with a further 25% cut. And all to reduce taxation on corporations and the wealthy.
He wants to get rid of the business department BIS (bizarrely, as they are there to support business), DfID, presumably because he doesn’t think we should support other countries much poorer than ourselves, DECC because he doesn’t believe in climate change and DCMS, because he isn’t interested in culture or heritage.
He didnt mention axing Defra. I can only assume this is because he is content Defra is doing the bidding of his chums at the NFU.
Paterson, in typical neocon fashion, wants a low tax, low spending economy. In his speech launching UKIP 2020 he cited that astroturf corporate mouthpiece The Taxpayers Alliance, more than any other organisation. He also quoted that great statesman and thinker Ronald Reagan. If ever there was a sign of Paterson’s neocon principles, there it was. Paterson is another Atlanticist, pushing for greater links with the US and leaving Europe behind. He wants us to forge closer links with the “Anglosphere” ie Canada, New Zealand and Australia too; the Old Empire friends – and, apart from the US, where Climate Denial is at its most pernicious.
Paterson’ other main theme was Climate Change. He wants the UK to drop its commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because he doesn’t believe that human activities produce climate change. And he wants a Shale Gas boom, especially in poor, remote parts of England.
And just in case you thought the High Priest of Badger Cult had forgotten about the countryside, he’s joined the call to repeal the Hunting Act. He argues that the Act was more about class war than animal welfare. As the man dubbed the founder of the UK Tea Party, he should know all about class war.
Paterson has been very quiet on the bacbenches since he was sacked. He has only made one intervention in the Commons, and that related to his time in Northern Ireland. He has been praised by Global Warming Policy Foundation founder and arch climate denier in chief Lord Nigel Lawson, and was lauded by another climate denier the bizarre Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, in a debate about the Somerset Levels. He has asked no questions on behalf of either his constituents or groups who may have approached him. In comparison, former Biodiversity minister Richard Benyon has asked six questions since September.
Is Paterson a threat? Does anyone care? He may believe he is carrying the torch for true conservatism, which he sees as neoconservatism. He may well believe he has a chance to run the Tory party, once Cameron has retired to his estates. And he may well be keeping a very close eye on what’s happening at UKIP party HQ, preparing to be invited to a coronation if Farage stumbles, or is stabbed in the back.
I will be keeping an eye on him and provide updates now and then. If anyone sees Paterson on manoeuvres, please let me know.