I was reasonably pleased with the Conservative Manifesto that Theresa May launched the other day because she didn’t repeat the mistake that David Cameron and George Osborne did in 2015 with promises not to raise taxes that tied their hands completely, she has left herself enough ‘wriggle room’ which makes most sense in uncertain times.
But she did something else which is just as important if not more so, she made the point that if things were going to get fairer in British society then some reallocation of resources between different groups in society is inevitable, this is truth long overdue and something that politicians of all parties should acknowledge, despite the general election.
Things That Are Relevant
And by this I mean things that are relevant to someone like me who is 71 and an OAP reliant on the State Pension. She has dismantled the “triple lock” on the State Pension and quite rightly too because it is the taxes paid by the working or taxpaying population today that pays the benefits the retired get paid so in that context, us OAPs should not be protected from the fluctuations that others have to live with. Of course the Winter Fuel Allowance should be means tested and with a massively expanding age group living into their late 80s and consuming ever greater amounts of services from the State, why should their care be entirely funded by the State ? That doesn’t make sense.
There was an article in The Economist, the Buttonwood blog which was negative and unthinking, the product of a closed mind it failed to see that something significantly different seems to be happening to the Conservative Party under Theresa May and it is a good thing. The article as follows and of course I did comment: http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2017/05/conservative-economic-programme
“The trouble with this piece is that the main “gripe” of the author has more to do with the “catechism” of The Economist that all things EU are “good”, all things not EU are “bad”. I could pull what little substance there is bit by bit but frankly life really is far too short to bother so let me focus on one thing, age. I am an OAP and totally reliant on the State Pension and welcome the direction of changes to do with care of the old. I was lucky in that I had the freedom of choice to go and live with my parents in their old age and nurse them through their final years, not everybody has that choice and anyway, may temperamentally be unsuited to the task so what then ? The State meaning other people not you pay for what you cannot do but your inheritance is not impacted ?
I grew up in the 1950s in a working class part of South London, I was an altar boy, the old boys would retire at 65 and in the majority of cases, I would be serving at their funeral 2 years later. Today I am living on ‘borrowed time’ because at the age of 71 I have had my three score years and ten and am likely to live into my 80s, neither final salary pensions, the NHS nor the principle of “today’s taxes pay today’s benefits” were ever imagined to have to cope with this.
Yes radical solutions to protect and nurture the future prospects of the young and middle aged are required, the largest drawers of social security today and for many a year in the past are OAPs, are people ready to adopt radical change or are we still in the “present company excluded” bit of the required national conversation ? My advice to Mrs May is to promise as little as possible and just do her best come the day, it is all anyone could ask of her plus, if you are honest ask yourself whether in her own party or any other, do we have a better choice for PM ? There you go, she IS the only game in town so stop with the whining.”
This elicited a response which was clearly by someone who considered themselves very clever:
“…do we have a better choice for PM ?
If this really is the case then why have the election at all ?”
I decided to reply at “face value” and as if I were explaining our system of politics to someone not at all familiar with our ‘ways’
“Currently she had a very small majority of which I think 4 seats came from Sinn Fein historically not taking their seats at Westminster. Rather like the Labour Party, the Conservative Party is a “broad tent” which means it has its “right and left wings” within it which means that she has within her own party head bangers who are staunchly pro and anti EU, with a small majority, just one or two from either camp could trip her up during the Brexit negotiations. It is therefore totally logical to go to the Country and get a big majority which then gives her a number of key benefits:
The Brexit negotiations will obviously require compromises from both sides, if she has the ability to get pretty much any agreement through the House, that will be better for the EU as well as the UK in reaching those.
The second factor is timing, it would be irresistible to the EU negotiators knowing that the next UK general election came just one year after the end of the 2 year negotiation period, not to use that as a ‘lever’ so adding 2 years to the electoral timetable is smart.
Finally, if she doesn’t have to micro manage a small majority in the Commons, she can make her period in Office about more than just Brexit, she can develop a broader range of policies.
Hope that helps.”
General elections are odd beasts, the pollsters seem too easily deceived these days but I really do hope that Theresa May gets the 80 seat or so majority she deserves and needs to drive forward not just the Brexit negotiations but also a more sensible and pragmatic range of policies to get British society into a better place than it is. I particularly liked that she apparently said that there would be “No May-ism” as far as policies and political doctrine is concerned, just practical policies to serve the British people.
It has always seemed to me that Margaret Thatcher was not best served by the idea that there was some kind of “Thatcher Policy” called Thatcherite when the reality was that at her best, she was a successful politician who rode the themes of her day and had a ‘feel’ for the mood of the public. In fact, it was when she lost her previous ‘political touch’ and became a legend in her own lunchtime that she fell victim to the assassination by the men in grey suits from the Tory Party.
To me Theresa May seems a very sensible and level headed lady and as it seems our politicians only get about a decade “at the top” before events force them to move on, my wish for her is that she is successful and when the time comes, moves on knowing that she did the best job she was capable of and is satisfied with that.