Thursday, 30 April 2015

More than the usual amount of bewilderment....

What's bewildering me this week then? The general election, the potential result, and the things that are occupying the headlines, or rather, aren't.

First, Scotland, and the SNP. Now, I love Scotland, and some of best friends have even been there. Joke - I worked for Bank of Scotland for several years, I have Scottish family, and I know Edinburgh as well as any other British city. However, it seems to me that the canny bairns are getting away with political murder at the moment, and political mass murder potentially after the election. Last year, they had an open referendum, and decided by quite a reasonable margin to stay part of the UK; fair enough, though if can't say I was particularly arsed whether they stayed or went. Now, however, it looks like they'll send a bunch of MPs to Westminster who overwhelmingly will be intent on holding a likely Labour minority government to ransom for their support, demanding yet more cash than they already get under the Barnett Formula, cash that isn't deserved, and certainly isn't earned. All this, however, is not the bewildering part - it's a great scam on their part. What's bewildering me is that England and the English are not alive to this possibility, and are seriously considering electing a sufficient number of Labour MPs to make this scenario possible. If there weren't already enough reasons not to vote Labour, here's the decider, surely?

Before I go any further, let me re-balance things. I've just suggested that people shouldn't be voting Labour. The alternatives aren't that edifying however. Unless you genuinely want to see the UK's standard of living go backwards through economic stagnation and decline, voting Green is just mad. And neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats are properly serious about tackling two of the biggest issues that concern me - debt and housing.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like to take a rounded view of what's best for everyone when I vote, not just me. This is where I get bewildered again. Let's take the debt issue - the debate currently is all about the speed at which the various parties will eliminate the deficit. Not the debt, the deficit. There is no mention of the staggering £1.5 trillion we'll owe as the national debt, nor the £48 billion (minimum) interest bill we'll pay annually for the privilege of having that debt. The Tories' pledge not to increase taxes in the face of those numbers is just bonkers, and I don't truly believe any other party gives a stuff anyway; it's just about promising stuff now to get elected now. But debt levels like that (and what percentage of the electorate I wonder understands the difference between debt and deficit?), will really hurt us all in future years, young more than the old, especially if interest rates start back on an upward track at some point. It's time to stop increasing the overdraft and start paying off our loans, else today's school leavers will look back at claims that 2010 to 2015 were years of 'austerity' with a bitter laugh.

And so to housing. Again, I'm bewildered at both the big parties. So the Tories extend Right to Buy; great - but the problem is the lack of supply of houses, causing prices to be at historic multiples of average price to salary, in turn causing countless people not to be able to buy a home, even with interest rates where they are. The true market solution here would be to ensure that supply and demand were more in tune with each other, but I see few signs of that in what the Tories say. As for Labour, rent controls, really? Have you ever actually opened a history book any of you, or looked at overseas examples? Rent controls are a sure fire way to destroy the housing stock of a city, and a damn sight faster than you might imagine. Another insane policy, but countless inner city dwellers, the exact people who will be most harmed by that policy, will vote Labour nevertheless.

So as I say, I'm bewildered. I could go on, but I won't. I fear for what will happen after next Thursday. I may have to emigrate. ;)


  1. Stuart

    I'm with you on this..... I 'ought' to be natural Tory voter (50-something, small businessman, home owner, live in a nice 'shire' village).... they just don't do it for me. I've always been 1 or 2 policies from being a LibDem and the local MP is a star. Plus the Labour & Green parties both have at least one policy I can support.

    But I 'do' numbers for a living and I despair at the way the politcos of all stripes lie about the deficit/debt thing - people either don't see it, or if they do, have their head in the sand.

    My other issue is I can't stand the illiberal hectoring from all of the politcos - they seem to want to interfere in peoples lives in a way that just doesn't sit easily with me. I guess I'm a classical liberal, which is very unfashionable, and therefore nobody represents my world view. OK I recognise that most parties are an internal 'coalition' and you can't get everything you want but the current crop have left me nowhere to go.

    I did, however, do something I've never done which is to join a political party - these guys are about the closest to my views, but they're small and localised, so joining seemed a way of registering my support since I can't vote for them - £12 seemed a small price to pay to be able to say I tried to influence things for the better when my kids are having a pop at me in 20 years time!


  2. Interesting Martyn - I'm with you too on the illiberal hectoring point, and the fact that none of the parties truly represent me. I will vote next week because I think it's our duty to do so, but rarely will it have been with less enthusiasm. Stuart


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