Monthly Archives: May 2017

THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY MANIFESTO 

SOCIAL  ‘NON-CARE’  !!          

AMMUNITION FOR THE OPPOSITION

MAY AND HAMMOND AWARDED FIRST PRIZE FOR POLITICAL NAÏVETÉ 

In an otherwise commendable election manifesto, and leaving the Winter Fuel Allowance aside for the time being, many Conservative Party supporters and others thinking of voting for that party for the first time, particularly the elderly, are extremely disappointed with Mrs May’s complete desertion of the previous Conservative proposals for funding long term care.

Described by the Bow Group, the oldest Conservative think tank and representing all strands of conservative opinion, as the biggest stealth tax in history, the Tory manifesto today advocated an increase in the means-tested threshold above which people are liable for their full care costs to £100,000- .

BUT significantly, and in a sweeping new move, the full value of the family home owned by the person needing care, will be taken into account in future in determining that person’s assets. So on the basis that the average home in Britain is valued at approx £215000 – , care costs could reduce this asset base to the £100000 – threshold in just under 3 years. At least 70% of us will require some form of care in our old age. 75% of over-65’s in the UK own their own homes. Few have substantial cash holdings.

This proposed new policy is not only unfair but in essence against all accepted Conservative Party values, particularly the incentive to accumulate wealth for the family. It means that we will be leaving most of our estate to the Government. Once people realize that most of their estate will pass to the Government, and not their families, the Tories stand to lose much electoral support.

This is a tax on death and each family’s inheritance. It can do nothing for middle and working class families who save all their lives to live in a decent home, the value of which can be passed on to their children. 

As bombaychatterbox has argued before, Theresa May and Philip Hammond’s priority should be the funding of an alternative insurance system which will cover people’s residential and nursing care in their old age. 

This blog has pushed for a ‘Social Care Fund’ which could be covered by a modest increase in taxation and initially funded by the Chancellor selling the taxpayer’s stake in Royal Bank of Scotland. Apparently he’s prepared to sell this disaster now at a loss and its estimated that this would bring in some £20bn. Rather than plough all of it into the NHS as has been argued by some, part could be used to put Social Care on a properly funded basis, with part going towards the funding of a ‘State Mortgage Corporation’. The latter would provide loans for first time buyers with modest means, and also finance developers in the building of low cost homes. The electoral benefits are obvious.

Theresa May is undoubtedly the best person to take this country into the Brexit negotiations and the difficult period afterwards, whatever the outcome. A great pity she and her Chancellor have not seen the electoral dangers in what really amounts to a no doubt unintended, but thoughtless,  attack on the needs of the individual.

Mrs May you must reverse this death tax now !!   It can only benefit the Conservatives’ political opponents. Let us return to the previously accepted Dilnot formula as the basis for the urgent development of policy on social care. Otherwise risk losing a large part of the grey vote!

PRESIDENT – ELECT MACRON

DONE AND DUSTED ?

No, just the easy bit. Emmanuel Macron may have won the French Presidency but his victory celebrations are likely to be short-lived.

The 3rd round of the French elections will be held on the 11 and 18 June to elect the 577 members of ‘the 15th National Assembly of the French Fifth Republic’.

Arguably, these elections will be the most important in modern French political history.

On the face of it, Macron’s win has been convincing. However, only around 25% of his electoral support is estimated to have come from committed En Marche supporters with the rest going to him from voters who supported various other first round candidates and who were determined to keep Marine Le Pen of the extremist Front National out of the Elysee Palace.

As an independent, and unless his movement wins a significant number of seats in parliament, Macron will find it an uphill struggle or near impossible to legislate his proposed reforms. Youth unemployment of 25% and some 60% of income being derived from the public sector, are only two of the major economic problems with which he will have to contend.

With his election, badly needed restructuring in the Labour market, the problem of immigration, lack of investment , and the general French hostility to globalisation, do not disappear. He has also promised radical reforms to the pension system which will bring fierce worker opposition, and a 60bn Euros cut in public spending.

France could very quickly return to the days of unstable government, despite the peculiarly French practice of ‘cohabitation’ which may come to exist between Macron and the French Parliament. Macron has threatened to overcome parliamentary opposition by ruling by decree. However, the danger for him in going this route is to send the people into the streets, something he will obviously seek to avoid at all costs.

Essential to his plans for serious structural reform to the EU together with his ideas for deeper French integration within that entity, is Macron’s repeated criticism of German trade surpluses. The latter will win him no favours in Berlin. Let’s see how long he and Merkel remain in the mutual admiration club.

Indeed, we do live in interesting times.
 

ELECTION 2017

EU DIRTY TRICKS – WE COULD WALK AWAY!!

True to form, the British Bolshevik Corporation has enthusiastically embraced with almost unbridled glee, the fake news coming out of Brussels on what was allegedly said at the PM’s dinner last week at Downing Street for Mr Juncker, the President of the European Commission .

However, all credit to Mrs May who has chosen to react in a calm and dignified manner to the BBC’s almost hysterical news reports, and their attempt to influence minds during this vital campaign. Whatever happened to fair and objective reporting??

Fake or real news, Mrs May can be trusted to stick to her guns by entering the discussions on Brexit with the power brokers of the EU in a cordial but determined effort to get a comprehensive free trade agreement with Europe, as much in their interests as well as ours, and to guarantee the future of both EU and British citizens living and working in each other’s countries.

It will quickly become apparent whether the strategy to be adopted by the EU negotiators at the Brexit talks is to be constructive and whether they are honestly looking for an outcome fair to all. Anything less will strengthen the hand of those of us who firmly believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for Britain. 

In the past week there has been a perceived shift by the principle EU power brokers to a more aggressive hard ball position. Should the other 27 EU nations prove to be deliberately obstructive and obtuse in the talks, little time should be wasted in giving them verbal notice that we intend to walk away unless they change their tune.

In the meantime, current polls in Scotland put the Unionist parties on track to regain some 13/14 seats from the dominant SNP, the Conservatives taking 10/11. This really would be one in the eye for Mrs Sturgeon who could then no longer claim she has a mandate to hold a 2nd Independence referendum. Bombaychatterbox might be really sorry to see one SNP member at Westminster lose his seat, as he doesn’t know anyone else who can frequently speak rubbish on TV for a full 5 minutes without taking a single breath! Except some others in the same party, that is.

Pending the release of the Conservative election manifesto, Mrs May has committed to not raising taxes as a general principle of Tory policy, and that in particular there will be no increase in VAT. Excellent news, but instead, why doesn’t the Government  consider an actual reduction in VAT?

Such a step would provide a stimulus to the UK economy in the run up to Brexit, resulting in higher consumer demand and extra jobs. A reduction from 20% to 10% in housing renovation and repair, for example, could provide a £7Bn stimulus to the wider UK economy in the short to medium term.

The pressing issue of Social Care, and how to pay for it, is also under scrutiny by the Government. Valuable work on this critical topic has been done by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and others. Much of the research has been based on the release of equity in peoples’ homes to pay for long term care. However, it is reckoned that some 30% of the population will need this at some point in their lives. Not all of these people will own their own homes.

Is it too much to expect the much vaunted insurance and financial sectors in the City to find a social conscience? Its not asking much of them. Why don’t they come up with an alternative care insurance plan which Government could implement in the medium term? Of course, insurance cover would need to be arranged on the basis of the individual paying say, 70% costs by way of regular premiums going into a scheme from an early age, and the Government doing its part in say, providing 30%. If it happens in other countries, why cant we find the means here?                                                                       

Bombaychatterbox has argued previously that the Chancellor should now sell off the public stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland. The sale of this disaster according to some estimates, would bring in some £20Bn. Rather than see all the proceeds being sunk into the NHS, part could be used to initially fund such a care insurance scheme, with the rest going towards establishing a “State Mortgage Lending Corporation’.

The advantage with the latter is that the funds raised would remain in the lending sector and could be utilised by first time borrowers and others to secure housing loans on softer terms than they could from a High Street lender. Developers could also be considered for loans on preferred terms to build social housing.

No doubt the ruling Conservatives will prioritise in their manifesto what they see as electorally attractive. However, I for one will be most disappointed if they do not address, and preferably ban, the disgrace of zero-hour contracts. No 21st century worker should be subjected to this form of employer domination, and from what we hear, sometimes intimidation.