“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” George Orwell "1984"
So, this week, we’ve had the publication of a number of manifestos and a “leader’s debate”. In between we have the multiple soundbites and three word couplets that have become the party leader mantras. Theresa May has a single couplet, while Jeremy Corbyn has two; strong and stable, as opposed to for the many not the few. It seems premised on the proposition that if said enough it will be the single thing people remember.
The personality cults that have replaced party politics is worrying, in that I thought we were electing a parliament. It can appear as if we are being asked to elect voting fodder for (President/Supreme Leader?) Theresa May, so that she, and her allies can do absolutely anything they wish.
Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Politics has become to resemble a form of overt, supposedly silent, auction, with ever grander, often very unspecific promises, that appear to be for the common good, but which, when looked at from a slight angle resemble something else entirely.
We have a number of conflicting agendas running. Everyone acknowledges that the “baby boomer” generation is coming towards the end of a productive work life, with a significant proportion in public service roles. That does mean promotional opportunities for others, but it also means that, at the early career stage, there needs to be a stock of youngsters available to take early career roles in their turn. There may not be sufficient young people, with appropriate baseline training, to replace the older retirees. There will be a skills shortage. We need immigration to provide a proportion of these roles, but, at the same time, blame immigration for a multitude of ills. This begins to feel like distraction at best and destructive, at worst, as some attitudes alter towards an essential group.
The politics of blame, with an undercurrent of fear. We have a so-called “politician”, Nigel Farage, still earning quite well as a Member of the European Parliament, apparently threatening to take up a gun if Brexit is not as he wants it; Oswold Mosely, black shirts?
Social care relies on immigrants for a stock of low-paid care assistants, prepared to do the less than savoury jobs that come from looking after their charges. Recently, my first wife’s mother went into a nursing home for the last month of her life, having had an extended period in hospital. A large proportion of the NHS staff were from oversees, while a majority of the nursing home staff were non British. They were a mix of EU and non-EU.
These are essential staff, especially with an aging population.
And then, we have the Conservative solution to social care costs; we’ll all have to pay for our own, until our personal wealth drops to £100K. The looks like an attractive deal for the Government, as it “blames” those with some “wealth” for “taking” a share of the national pot put aside for social care from National Insurance; remember that? It’s one of the taxes that we pay, along with income tax, stamp duty on house VAT and a number of stealth taxes, all ostensibly to ensure that the fabric of life can be maintained. The Government takes the money in and then, uses it for vanity projects, often before maintenance; spotted a pothole recently? Oh yes, car tax and petrol duty. I’ll need a glass of wine soon; alcohol duty…
We are supposedly either the fifth or seventh, and dropping slightly, wealthiest country in the world. It’s one of our USPs, we are rich; we like rich, we like rich people even more, especially if they promise to do things for us, like spend their money here.
I digress. We are apparently not rich enough, nor sufficiently long sighted, to notice that, when people get older, they might begin to have different needs. I forgot, politics works on a five year, or fewer, cycle; you don’t actually have to achieve anything, just promise to do things and say “trust me, I’m a better bet that him/her”.
I began when two war-damaged people got together; dad was in the medical corps, picking up bodies and mum was in munitions. After 12 years, they didn’t get on and divorced messily. When I got married, for the first time, I pawned my camera and other bits, to pay for the ring and a short, simple “honeymoon”. A small bit of help from D’s parents and both working as teachers, started the long slog to pay for a house. Some twenty seven years later this was the eventual outcome; from nothing, I was a house-holder in reality, having paid off a relatively modest mortgage. It had meant periods of real hardship and much scrimping and saving, especially when interest rates hit 15%, with dietary change, maintaining very old cars and short camping holidays, rather than luxuries. Whenever possible, saving was the default position; much easier when the mortgage finished.
In a few months, after 45 years of paying all my taxes, I should get my old age pension. I am actually beginning to feel guilty for this. I’m not worried about the winter fuel bit; I’ve always been happy to put on a jumper or a fleece if I’ve been cold.
I’ve also enjoyed a feeling of belonging and being of worth.
I look at current house prices and see a generation unable to get onto the ladder, even if the bank of mum and dad is able to help. Multiples of relatively low wages don’t get anywhere near the need, which is dispiriting, to say the least. I think that it will be a necessary aspect of the near future that, if house prices are not to fall, the ability to help inter-generationally will become an essential part of most housing transactions.
If one generation can’t help the next, house prices will fall, buying will slow as a result of worry, and if interest rates were to rise, we have a couple of generations that have not really known austerity in it’s hardest form…
Did people really vote to get poorer?
Given the current crop of politicians, I keep thinking “Lions led by donkeys”, or of the carthorse in Animal Farm, striving against the odds, while the pigs have their snout in the trough. Politicians create “mock battles”, or just expect everyone else to pull their weight.
If things really do go pear-shaped, in the next few years, who will benefit? Not younger people seeking a house, not older people, trying to eke out their savings, it’ll be those whose real wealth allows them to lose some and still have more than enough to spare; usually called the rich. The rich will get richer, the rest of us will get poorer and we’ll have to know our place.
The rich will buy up the earth… and the rest of us will pay them for their largesse… get back to the workhouse…
Who’s pulling the strings behind Theresa May? Politics could be seen as the ultimate in insider dealing.