Surviving the cost-of-living crisis the Tory way

Pasta is ready” by Kyle T. is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Let’s have no more whingeing about poverty. Price rises should present no difficulty to anyone prepared to take some tips from the thrifty habits and entrepreneurial flair of Conservative MPs, writes Tom Scott.

A tweet by Tory supporter Kevin Edger sneering at a nurse who skips meals in order to afford food for her children has prompted general outrage. Edger suggested that a family can be nourished perfectly satisfactorily on a 50p bag of dried pasta.

The food campaigner Jack Monroe immediately challenged Edger to try surviving on the 155 vitamin-free calories per meal that such a diet would entail – a challenge that has so far not been taken up.

Perhaps Edger is compiling a more comprehensive guide to surviving the extreme poverty that now faces millions of people in this country. I would suggest he consult Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, published in 1729 as a savage satire on the callousness of the English ruling class towards the suffering of the Catholic peasantry in Ireland.

Its full title, A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick, chimes with the austerity policies followed by Conservative governments of the last 12 years and now redoubled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Swift, deadpanning masterfully, suggests that the simplest and most economical solution to the problem of grinding poverty is to treat the children of the ‘feckless poor’ as commodities to be sold to the tables of the wealthy:

“I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.”

This scheme, Swift explains, would have the added advantage of inculcating entrepreneurial habits among the destitute:

“I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar’s child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend, or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants, the mother will have eight shillings neat profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.”

But in case Swift’s proposal seems outdated for a modern audience, I have some suggestions that might fit better with the ‘levelling up’ approach of today’s Conservative Party.

Become a non-dom

Yes, this will involve an initial outlay of £30,000, but this will be more than adequately recouped by tax savings on foreign income – particularly if you are sensible enough to take advantage of a trust in the British Virgin Islands. Not only will this ensure a more than adequate supply of food for you and your family – it could also help pay for those little extras that make life worth living, such as a swimming pool or tennis court for your home.

Find an oligarch sponsor

This has worked well for many Conservative MPs who find that their income does not match their outgoings, and is also an excellent long-term approach that can pay dividends in later life. If you are faced with redundancy, for instance, a well-chosen kleptocrat sugar-daddy can always give you a lucrative seat on the board of one of their companies – as Putin’s crony Oleg Deripaska did for the former Tory MP Greg Barker.

Of course, your sponsor may expect certain favours in return – but nothing in life is for free. Greg has been able to supplement his meagre income as a member of the House of Lords with multi-million pound bonuses. Just think how much pasta he and his family can now enjoy!

Send your children to work

You’ve fed and clothed them for years, so why should your children not start chipping in to to the family budget? This can work especially well if you are able to employ them yourself using money from the public purse, as Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has done. If you have sons or daughters at a loose end, there are bound to be some little jobs that urgently need doing, perhaps as your secretary or marketing assistant – and you’d be surprised how much extra cash this can bring in!

But remember, this is not charity. Thrifty Nadine has voted consistently to cut extravagant Universal Credit handouts and to stop pay increases for greedy nurses and other public-sector parasites.

Take a second job with an oil company

Fuel prices rises are facing many families with unpayable bills. And, cruelly, some have been hit with a double whammy. Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi, for instance, was horrified to find that he could no longer claim the costs of heating his stables on his parliamentary expenses. But there’s a silver lining to every cloud. Enterprising Nadhim found himself a second job with an oil company that netted him a cool £1.3 million!

Don’t worry if you can’t land an actual job. Oil industry profits have been rocketing in much the same way as gas bills, and if you play your cards right – perhaps by resisting higher taxes on oil companies or measures to tackle the climate emergency – you may just find generous donations coming your way, as Home Secretary Priti Patel did recently.

Don’t take loans except from your own offshore companies

The problem with most loans is that they have to be repaid later, and interest is often charged at extortionate rates. Happily, there is a better way of raising money if you’re in a pinch – if your manor house in Somerset or your Mayfair mansion urgently needs a refurb, for instance.

Take a tip from Jacob Rees-Mogg and make yourself a loan from your own company – even better if your company is based in the Cayman Islands. You can then decide how much interest you pay and – even better – this money is not classed as income so you don’t need to declare it!

Jacob was able to raise about £6 million this way. Not possible for all of us, of course, but at least we can all enjoy a couple of hundred quid off this year’s energy bills thanks to Rishi Sunak’s ingenious ‘discount’ scheme.. Although you will have to pay this money back, it’s important to remember that this is not a loan, as Energy Minister Greg Hands explains.

So you see, it’s time to stop whingeing about the cost of living crisis. When the going gets tough, the tough get grifting – and when it comes to grifting, the Conservative Party provides many exemplary role models.