If I were Prime Minister ... No 1: I’d be a free-market version of Natalie Bennett

In the 100 days leading up to the General Election we’re inviting 100 contributors to tell us what they would do as Prime Minister. The only rule? No politicians

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The Independent Online

I would be a bit like a free-market version of Natalie Bennett, the Green Party leader, but without the disastrous interviews with Andrew Neil, obviously.

I went through the Greens’ policies the other day, and while most of them are naive, impractical or just wrong, I was surprised to find lots of things with which I agree.

No more runways. We don’t need them. People travel about too much as it is.

Green taxes. Very good idea. That means putting VAT on gas and electricity and then a carbon tax on top.

Free-range meat. We need a green tax on animal cruelty as well.

Less use of prison. Prison doesn’t work. It hardens criminals. Unfortunately effective alternatives to prison that give non-violent offenders a sense of purpose in their lives would be much more expensive.

Smaller schools. Many secondary schools are far too big. We should have more smaller schools offering different kinds of education for different kinds of pupil. I would get Andrew Adonis in and get him to complete his academy revolution.

If I were prime minister, I would do lots of geeky things that real prime ministers can’t do because they would create winners and losers. Real prime ministers want to be re-elected, which is harder if there are lots of vocal losers (and ungrateful winners) around.

For a start, I would be the most anti-motorist government ever. All cars would be banned from National Parks.

I would abolish stamp duty and increase council tax by about a quarter to pay for it. I would reassess council tax so it reflects current house prices. That would encourage people to move house, to houses that were the right size for their families. It would improve labour mobility and create jobs in the soft furnishings industry. I would end the tax breaks on owning more than one residential property, to tilt the market away from buy-to-lets and second homes.

I would extend VAT to everything that’s exempt or lower-rated – and increase state pensions and benefits to cover the higher cost of food and children’s clothes, and those higher energy bills.

But most of all I would tell people that the Government can’t and shouldn’t do everything for them, that it often doesn’t have the answers. But it can make a lot of other things possible if it focuses on three things – education, education, education. And sticks to them.