The wind of political change

Ballot BoxThe ink on the General Election  ballot paper is barely dry, yet the die for the next five years is already well and truly cast. As the individual politicians either celebrate their victories or lick their wounds with various party leaders already falling on their proverbial swords, thoughts must turn to what the next five years will mean.

Surprising as it may seems, in the longer term and by that I mean after the next five years and the next General Election, the outlook for working people could be far better than it has been for a long time provided the Labour Party quickly learn their lesson. In the short-term, provided there is no political trickery, it should also mean that finally the electorate will  have its say on Europe which they have been denied by politicians for the last 40 years.

No one can say if the majority of the electorate will eventually vote to stay in the EU or not but there can be no doubt of the hue and cry from the electorate over the years that people want their say on the matter. With the leader of the Labour Party saying  a EU Referendum is unlikely  to take place if Labour won the next General Election and another Labour politician suggesting that British people could not be ‘trusted’ to decide if they wanted to stay in the EU or not, caused resentment amongst many voters.

Equally ignoring issues like over immigration and the real consequences it has caused in employment,  housing, education and health did nothing to curry any favour between the electorate and those they perceived dismissive of the problem in the past.

Although I do not support them, the SNP has won a massive victory in Scotland and must be congratulated for that as clearly that is how Scottish voters feel. However although they will now form a sizeable minority party in Parliament, their political teeth have been pulled in terms of hopes of ruling the whole of the country through a coalition. The SNP victory also shows how dependent Labour had become over the years on their Scottish politicians at the expense of other and less urbanised areas of the country. With that support taken away overnight, the numbers simply did not add up in terms of parliamentary seats of them ever hoping to form a government on their own.

And there lies the nub of Labour’s problem, one of trust or more accurately lack of trust in them by many of the electorate. Lack of trust or faith is something that did not happen overnight, it has been building for years and Labour did not appear to have the foresight to see it coming, understanding it, or countering it.

The electorate is not a single entity that can be taken for granted and used as a rite of passage into Parliament,  it is millions of decent hard working individuals each with their own independent thoughts and aspirations most whom loathe being lectured at by elitist politicians. Many working people now feel they have no political party to represent their views. For many it was once the principles of Keir Hardie they supported, strong principles which sometimes seem more recently to have become clouded or evaporated.. For a great many people it is not a case of them having moved away from the Labour Party, to them it feels more of a case that the Labour Party has moved away from them.

The Labour Party is now begun the process of choosing a new leader and it is likely unless they choose a person that voters can believe in, that any future policies Labour develop will be seen as anything other than words on paper. This point on the choice the right leader has already been expressed by some Labour politicians fearful Labour may once again be sleepwalk into the same mistakes of the past.

Something I often hear in conversations is peoples distrust in careerist politicians who they feel  lack the contact, experience and understanding of everyday folk and their hopes, fears and aspirations. Nothing makes many peoples blood boil faster than politicians they perceive as “champagne socialists” glibly deciding what is best for them rather than asking or understanding them.

At the end of the day, it is those same people who are going to put their X on a future ballot paper against a particular politician’s name or not. Politicians who appear to alienate people  are only alienating themselves.

Choice of their new leader is a matter for Labour alone although some bloodletting over their General Election defeat has already begun. Even if they choose the right person, Labour still face the monumental task of rebuilding its trust and faith with the electorate. Choose the wrong person and they face many more years in the wilderness.

The Great State Pension Fiasco


 

There is a saying that a week in politics is a long time meaning that often events and circumstances can change so rapidly that it can be difficult to predict longer term trends. The UK still has a relatively new coalition Government busy slashing costs to the bone and then coming back for the bone itself. Trying to predict who is likely to win the next general election which could still be another four years away may seem like an impossible crystal ball gazing task. This coupled with a poor choice of political parties, none of which at the moment appear fit for purpose.

However it would appear that in the last few days, the coalition government has already sown the seeds of its own destruction by announcing the creation of a new two-tier old age state pension system. The new pensions to be introduced in 2015 or 2016 will only apply to those individuals that retire after the introduction of the new scheme. Anyone retiring even 24 hours prior to the introduction of the new scheme will not be eligible. The problem being that new retirees will get about 50% more pension a week that existing pensioners many of who are desperate need now. Apart from saying that existing retirees will not be eligible, no other announcement has been made about their already paltry pensions.

It  is not be difficult to see this will create massive resentment from those already retired and living on state pensions that woefully lag behind most other European countries. With its usual blinkered approach, the Government appears to underestimated the massive voting power of the “Grey-vote”, and it is the grey-vote that is likely to decide the outcome of the next election whenever it may be.

It is more than likely the Government will find itself faced with an ever-increasing dilemma the nearer the next election approaches. It does not take a soothe-sayer to forecast that the political party that promises to extend the new state pension scheme to all will be the party that will win the next election.

The Conservative Party will be in great difficulty promising this as they are the ones proposing the two-tier system. They have already done many U-turns in their less than a year in power, however to do a U-turn on state pensions would be an admission they were completely wrong. The Liberal Party would also be in great difficulty promising the same state pension for all following the University fees debacle. Having made an election pledge which their leader even signed only to break it within a few weeks of coming to power is likely to mean the electorate will never believe any Liberal Party promise again. This only effectively leaves the Labour Party who at the moment have remained silent on equal new state pensions for all.

My guess is none of these blinkered politicians have not yet foreseen anything past their next week in politics and their forthcoming extensive holiday break, but my guess is the penny will soon drop on this election winning promise with the Labour Party soon climbing on the band-wagon.

 

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