Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A Nice Big Election

Sorry for the 'ooo, missus' nature of the title, but I had to get your attention with something that wasn't too serious, given what follows.  So here we go, the Top 10 Things That Matter To Me And What I Think Politicians Should Be Addressing And What I Will Be Voting On:

  1. The Deficit & Overall Debt Levels - they're still hideous. They're still lumbering future generations with massive debt repayments, if, or rather, when interest rates return to historic norms. It needs sorting, even if that means taking unpopular decisions, e.g. abandoning the triple lock for pensioners, of whom there are many perfectly well-off ones getting unrequired money off the state.
  2. Housing - the current market is scandalous. It's a failed market, with real prices at all time highs through failure to match demand with supply, both private and public. There's plenty more governments could be doing to ensure that owning a home is not a pipedream for the majority of under 35s. "Use it or lose it" granting of planning permission to housebuilding firms to stop them creating land banks would be a start.
  3. NHS - it's not a national marvel, it's not the envy of the world, our doctors and nurses don't have a global monopoly on compassion, the model shouldn't be sacrosanct. Many, many countries get significantly better health outcomes with comparable levels of spend. It's a combination of arrogance, nostalgia and timidity that stops us learning from the much better systems that exist across the world. Time for this sacred cow to be slaughtered.
  4. Overseas aid budget - partly, see 1. above. Partly, see 8. below. Partly, too much of it is squandered. Repeal the ludicrous Act of Parliament that commits us to spending 0.7% of GDP on it (that was just Cameron grandstanding), target aid where it's not going to disappear down a plughole of fraud and appropriation.
  5. Brexit - it's got to be done, so do it properly. Do everything possible to ensure we have an open and co-operative trading relationship with as many nations as possible, we have a decent immigration mix of the people we need and the people that genuinely need us (i.e. war-driven refugees), and match infrastructure planning to the resulting levels of population growth.
  6. Social care generally, and for the elderly in particular - the current situation gums up the NHS, and provides wildly differing standards of care at wildly differing cost. This, more than the triple lock on pensioner benefits, is the key to ensuring we look after the infirm and the elderly properly. It needs some imagination, and maybe some more money.
  7. Physical infrastructure - too much of our transport system operates so closely to its capacity that minor problems create disproportionate disruption and misery. Or it's just in a terrible state. I'm not sure the £50bn on HS2 is the best use of that cash - review it, do it quickly, and get projects started elsewhere
  8. Defence & intelligence - beef them up. We face a range of threats. Defence cuts have gone too far, and intelligence is the key to ensuring as few innocent policemen, tourists and ordinary citizens are murdered as possible. Oh, that and...
  9. Prisons - which are a disgrace from everything I read. Prisoners need to be segregated properly, whether that's violent offenders from everyone else, or those at risk of Islamic radicalisation from the people who'll radicalise them. Rehabilitation needs to be a real thing, rather than just a word on a mission statement. Security needs to be effective so that drugs and phones can't get in. If we don't do this, and soon, I fear more trouble in prisons themselves, and out on the streets from those who are released
  10. Public health - this one is my little quirk, and covers a multitude of things. I'm not in favour of tokenistic things like a fizzy drinks tax. I want people, starting in schools, educated in the basics of nutrition, exercise and looking after themselves. I want it safer and easier to make healthy choices around cycling, running, walking.
So there we are. Those are the things that matter to me. You'll be different. But I will be voting, and for the party that I think provides the best set of answers to my priorities.
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