Cameron’s double bluff on pensioner benefits.

Back in April of this year, David Cameron made an empassioned speech accusing Labour of lying about his position on benefits for pensioners, particularly the Winter Fuel Allowance, free television liscenses, pension credit and the free bus pass – he also pledged his full support for the policies!

We will keep the free television licence, we will keep the pension credit, we’ll keep the winter fuel allowance, we’ll keep the free bus pass. Those leaflets you have been getting from Labour, the letters you have been getting from Labour are pure and simple lies.

As far as I was aware, Cameron had not committed to these measures, but he didn’t say they’d be cut either (I didn’t expect him to, it’d be electoral suicide). However, on Sky News he gave an angry rant about “Labour’s lies”.

Now who couldn’t believe that, with all the anger, bluster and banging of the desk? Why surely it was obvious that Labour were wrong and Cameron really did care strongly about pensioners. The Labour lies had been exposed.

Fine, except we are not liars. The Telegraph reports today that the age at which the Winter Fuel Allowance can be claimed will be raised from 60 to 66. The Lib Dems are pushing for a higher age of 75, although this is unlikely to happen. In addition, the help received will be cut by £50 for the youngest qualifying and by £100 for the oldest.

And this all comes after Cameron made an empassioned promise to “keep what they [the future government] inherited?”

Whist I am aware that all too often payments are made to well off pensioners when they are more suited to the poorest (whom the policy was originally for, I might add). But surely it would be better to ensure that the payments are fair than to cut them altogether? The Winter Fuel Allowance has been vital for many pensioners who otherwise couldn’t heat their homes. And surely Cameron with his anger at Labour lies would protect it?

Of course I am expecting the usual parroted line about us “not understanding the scale of the deficit” and the “tough decisions” that have to be made. But there are ways of dealing with this that don’t involve cuts to one of the most vital benefits people depend on. Especially when the Tory leader has pledged to keep these very same benefits!

So how about an apology then? We weren’t lying, we expected this to happen. Maybe it’s time to heed the words of Neil Kinnock back in the Wilderness Years: “I warn you not to grow old” – very apt for now, I think.

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Gordon Brown’s Speech to Citizens UK

Hypothetical outcomes of the General Election.

We’re three days away from the General Election and I’ve been analysing the possible outcomes at the ballot box.

The majority outcome:

The Conservative Party win a majority and form government. Labour form the official opposition. The polls show that this is an unlikely prospect, but what truly matters is what happens at the ballot box. So, say the Conservatives win and hold a huge champagne party in Whitehall – and set about forming a government the next day. Britain now lives under them for the first time in 13 years. They set to work on their vision of Big Society and sweeping away Big Government. David Cameron paces around Downing Street jubilant that he’s finally Prime Minister and George Osborne sets to work tackling the deficit – which could problematic as he wishes to enact radical cuts. Cameron knows that this would be political suicide. Labour return to opposition and deliberate about where to go from here – there may be some disruption by the party fringes. I’ve heard the phrase “civil war” mentioned several times but I don’t know if it’ll amount to anything.
The Labour Party remain in Government with a sizeable majority. The Conservatives. Labour celebrates in Whitehall and at party HQ and set out the new agenda for the new government. The Conservatives are left trying to figure out what went wrong and a swift removal of Cameron may occur (going by their history of dealing with failed leaders). Labour are well aware that there was a lot of anti-Labour feeling in this election but the country has given them another mandate. Labour promoted economic recovery in their manifesto so this will be their main focus. It’s a heady promise so they have to deliver.
The Liberal Democrats win an outright majority and form government. A few months ago, this would have seemed laughable. But if the surge in Lib Dem support continues, then hypothetically a Lib Dem government is plausible. So for the sake of argument – let’s say it happens. They are aware that they have hyped themselves to be the true “change” in British politics – now they’ve got to prove it. There are a lot of radical commitments in their manifesto (including taxation, policy on Europe and green issues) but that doesn’t mean to say they can’t be enacted. Question is, in an environment where recovery is vital and reducing the deficit is something that unites all parties, how can the Lib Dems pursue their more radical plans?
Further to the above scenario, either Labour or the Conservatives form opposition. Say it’s the former. Labour may be in opposition, but they have a lot of common ground with the Lib Dems on many issues (namely electoral reform, abolishing the hereditary principle in the House of Lords and votes at 16). Therefore, wide-scale reforms are guaranteed. There may be disagreements over the finer details of policy, but any strong opposition from the Tories will be sidelined. If it’s the latter, then I can see a consensus from the Tories on the “decentralising” element of the Lib Dems plans – but strong opposition to constitutional reform.
Or, say none of the three main parties wins an outright majority. We’re left with a hung parliament situation and consensus is inevitable:

If both Labour and Conservative fail to get an overall majority, the Lib Dems have to decide who they’ll form a coalition government with. The situation will be pretty similar to what I described above (if the Lib Dems won a majority) but there’d be more emphasis on coalition. This isn’t a bad thing, incidentally. If we are really going to see a change to the “old politics” then we have to rid ourselves of the adversarial style of government. Adversarial politics just descends into cheap point-scoring on both sides of the house. With a change to the model of large majority governments and ineffective opposition, we can actually see a breakdown of a politics based on angry argument and put sensible coalition in it’s place.
Of course, this all entirely speculative and I can’t claim to know what any of the three parties will do if they win. I daresay they don’t know either. Truth is, it’s impossible to predict anything in politics because it’s dictated by events. Politics is a reaction to situations and events, it doesn’t dictate how they happen.

In just under three weeks time it’s polling day and the excitement of Election Night to follow. I’ll be watching with a bottle of champagne and a pasta bake, as well as a lot of caffiene in order to stay awake.

So, where are you casting your X?

The BBC have confirmed that David Cameron will not be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman for the Panorama session next Monday.

Running scared are we?

This is very unlike Cameron to miss an opportunity to engage with the public. But there’s always the leaders debates…oh wait, he’s been complaining about those too…

If I had £550 million of government expenditure…

…you can bet your life that I would not be using it to promote my personal idea of idyllic family life in some sort of bizarre throwback to the 1950s. But then again, I am not a Tory.

Enough derision was poured on Cameron for promoting gimmicky crap such as this. I, as a committed feminist, athiest and lefty deplore such a gimmick on the following grounds:

1. The state has absolutely no right to dictate what it sees as the perfect family set up with economic gimmicks. People’s relationships and family set ups are not subject to favouritism or judgement by the tax system.

2. Surely the Tories can accept that this policy sends out a clear signal that marriage is better than any other type of relationship – even Cameron himself stated that he wanted to promote commitment “loud and proud.” This works on the assumption that marriage is the only form of commitment. I see that as highly judgemental.

3.In these times, surely there are far better things to direct government funding towards. This policy is frivolity we can ill afford.

Family policy should be directed at all of Britain’s families, not just the ones where the parents are married. The Tories are being a little bit elitist here in my opinion – does it really matter if the family unit is based on marriage or cohabitation? Surely the immediate concern is that the parents have stable jobs, a good quality of life and the children are getting the best education possible?

Try as I might, I cannot fathom how the Tory leader thinks that marriage needs to be promoted by the tax system. £550 million could be spent improving the lives of many, not just those who choose to be married. In fact, I believe that only 4 million married couples out of the 12.3 million marriages in the UK will actually benefit?

Commitment is so much more than an official ceremony, a ring, a legal agreement and tax breaks. But it shouldn’t be dictated by economic means.

Video: The Road Ahead (Election Broadcast)

For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet:

Labour peer Lord Paul waives non domicile status.

As the Cashcroft question rumbles on, the Tories keep on wobbling. The Independent reports that MPs are to investigate the terms and creation of Lord Ashcrofts’ tax deal and today, the latest Times-Populus poll has Labour and the Tories neck and neck in marginal seats.

To make matters worse for the Tories, their usual line of defence is that Labour receives donations from another non-domicile peer, Lord Paul. However, Lord Paul announced this morning that he is ending his non-domicile status and become a full UK taxpayer. I see no such intention from Lord Ashcroft, just bleated defence from the Tory ranks.”Well, Labour have a non-dom donor too!” Er, we don’t actually. Attack is not the best form of defence Tories.

The wheels are well and truely coming off the Tory bicycle.

Let’s see them crawl out of this one.