General Election Fever

Election BinWhether we like it or not, for the next month the media will be filled with General Election news from the hustings as to which political party has promised this or that, which ones have dropped a gaffe, (and there has been a few already), and their grandiose visions for the future of Britain.

It does seem to me that one thing that is certain, lessor political parties can promise the world knowing that as they unlikely to achieve sufficient votes to form a government, their promises will never come to anything.

Because the current snap General Election caught all political parties by surprise, most have feverishly been cobbling together their election manifestoes over the last two weeks and dependent on how active or moribund those parties are in your local area, those manifestoes will soon be dropping through our letter boxes. As can be see from my cover picture, I am well prepared for them.

Already on a number of occasions when asked in news interviews about salient political points, the response has been that it will be covered in the parties manifesto. That rather begs the questions why they do not know now and what have they been doing for the last couple of years if important issues are only now being rapidly discussed simply because a snap election is forthcoming?

The one thing I am always wary about any politician at election time is those that use the words ‘pledge, promise or commitment’. Such words are already being bandied about in terms of the ‘triple-lock’ on pensions and I cannot help but recall the Lib/Dems pledge on no increases in university tuition fees, which must be on record as one of the most short lived pledges ever. Tax the rich to pay for various election promises is another old idea also doing the rounds at the moment. However that always sounds like the accumulation of wealth is a crime to be heavily penalised apart from it being a disincentive for accumulating wealth in the first place. I always wonder when politicians decide to slice up the financial cake how they end up with more slices that actually exist than the totality of the cake itself. Well that’s politics for you.

Every political party will have the question of housing in their manifestoes usually in the form of promises of how many homes they will build if they come to power. All this always ignores the fact that housing is a issue that can never be solved as the population is growing faster than houses can be built. There is also a limit to how much land is available or desirable to build on in such a small island.

Brexit which is a relatively new thing in elections will form a large part of election speeches, ranging from those politicians determined the will of the people will be upheld, to those who will be trying to save the British public from themselves as they claim they did not know what they were voting for. Perhaps those same politicians will want a re-run of the General Election if they lose for the same reason.

There does come a point where many people will simply become desensitised to all the political rhetoric that is bound to come and will treat it like background traffic noise. That is to say it is something that is always there but nothing can really be done to stop it. However after a period of time, no one hears it anymore. For anyone suffering from insomnia, perhaps listening to politicians pledges, commitments and promises might be a good cure.

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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