Mrs May has taken the opportunity to capitalise on a predicted landslide ‘Brexit steered’ General Election victory to add a few surprises.
Firstly, she delayed announcing her Manifesto until after the competition. Clever, it allowed any ‘tweaking’ here and there of her Manifesto plans. Also, she realises that the Mrs May/Conservative ticket is benefitting by all the former Leave (collective/UKIP) voters transferring to her, as this is a General Election (Party MP demographic), so the main Brexit metaphorical train has added some extra coaches. Is that very clever, or will she lose some votes to Labour because of what she has loaded in those extra coaches detailed in her Manifesto?
It is like a poor man’s way of technically passing her Bills (not yet launched in the House) through Parliament, but that presupposes the previously predicted landslide victory still provides her with enough elected MPs to preclude those White Papers from being blocked en route to becoming Bills.
Will she be announcing more Conservative Peers post election to deter the Other Place (House of Lords), for demanding Amendments and returning White Paper/Bills back to the House of Commons for further debate as before? Risky therefore to include new features in her Manifesto. It might even cost her the Election at best or even smaller majority at worst.
There are those who are already referring to words like betrayal and are ‘thinking again’ about their vote which is now a case of a ‘one off’ Brexit vote vs poorer ‘living standards ongoing for a decade or more’ and social issues strategy which some are already condemning.
Mrs May launched her Manifesto around 12 noon in Halifax. One heard protestors outside her Conference Hall, loud and clear. To summarise a few key areas of her Manifesto:
Winter Fuel Allowances will not be safe for all who qualified. Currently £200-300 which only really pays for a limited quarter bill during winter months for pensioners (who have to be retired/of retirement age already).Full clarification is not yet known but presumably there will be means testing or some line drawn in the sand. Fair enough as there are pensioners who have private wealth so would not miss this allowance anyway. That said, people close to the cut-off line and on the wrong side will. So the Government will have to get this right to avoid any Fuel Poverty registered pensioners being found dead from hypothermia because they are too frightened of costs to switch on heating or lights. Sometimes having a light on in a room can be cheaper and warmer than a fire.
Also triple lock on pensions will cease. Automatic 2.5% increase linked with cost of living is out.The next item could cost Mrs May being re-elected. If an elderly person has to reside in a care home they normally have to sell their home now to pay for that. Mrs May plans the following options:
If an elderly person lives in their own home and has carers the cost is paid either by the person, or if they cannot then ‘after they die’ via sale of home and/or assets. The same rule will apply if they go into a home. The tax payers will continue to pay via Councils for caring until person dies and assets sold. I love the term tax payer as if we all receive a rebate after the person dies!
Currently, a person was only permitted a figure of £25,000 to leave from their Estate to pass on to children, grandchildren, etc, but Mrs May has increased that to £100,000.
Regarding cost of care in a person’s home, what about the fact the person stays in the home, thereby saving residential home fees, gas, electric – just the basic cost is required for the presence and skills of the carer. Caring is on a sliding scale from someone nipping in to get an elderly person a drink or a meal, to full-time serious nursing care or housework, shopping, etc. They should not all come under the same umbrella.
What about people who rent a home? Are their possessions flogged off after death, leaving no bequests – especially if they do not have family, friends or Executors? Who acts as legal and ethical intermediary? This is to appease the moans and groans of those who say the young are paying for the old, some commentators are explaining.
This older generation (when they were young), paid for the old of ‘their’ day and age, so now are losing at both ends of their life. I recall if an elderly person entered a care home then the State paid all costs but those times are long gone, as we know.
The Government are basing their calculations on the average house value of £250,000. An average suburban town in greater London has houses which value start at £400,000 and upwards. There can never be an ‘average’ value throughout the entire UK. One commentator stated that this is a message to the young that there is no virtue in working hard all their life, saving to own a home when it can be taken from them this way one day, they are best, therefore, to go and spend it all now, when they are young.
The Government would have been wiser to initiate a Bond or Insurance scheme for the young in readiness for their care when older – Index Linked. Many young of today will be old themselves one day.
Those with Parents and Grandparents – do they look after their needs as they grow older – if the reader is a Parent or Grand Parent, what values are you passing on to your Family as they become teenagers? It all stems from that and there are families who care about such structures to teach, others couldn’t care less.
Some youth might not have values, a sense of honour or backbone like the elderly of today had when they were young, but I know a lot do care about the elderly and the tension between age groups has been stressed (or created) in this issue for political purposes. Some think it does not exist at all and has been contrived!
What happens when the various Governments have no sick, disabled or elderly to claw back money from one wonders?
Those in work resent those genuinely out of work, the young resent the old it is claimed. Who will be the category of the future one wonders. Will it be you?
Schools are to pay for school meals except in respect of those children from poorer homes. Some young age groups will no longer have hot meals so that other young children can have a breakfast (cold at that, not cooked).
The NHS are to benefit slightly more and differently to Labour proposals by an overall total of up to £8bn within a 5 year span. No further specifics yet detailed.
Companies who hire overseas experts will have to pay to train local people to do the same job. Mrs May did say it is a difficult task to reduce migration as one has to keep at the task across so many areas. They claim also to build a million new homes by 2020.
Questions from Journalists across all media put to Mrs May:
A few asked her if she thought there was any similarity between herself and Mrs Thatcher as some were saying. Rather cleverly, Mrs May retorted “Mrs Thatcher was Conservative, I am a Conservative, This is a Conservative Manifesto.”
It reminded me of a classic logical term utilised whilst studying for my Philosophy degree decades ago now; ‘All men are mortal, Socrates was a man, Therefore Socrates was mortal.’
With reference to the term ‘Mayism’, there is no ‘Mayism’ just good solid Conservative. One Journalist from the Sun newspaper (Labour) remarked she was referred to as a ‘Red Tory’ (red for Labour blue for Tory), the inference being she had some left of centre views. A few today went further and said Mrs May has encroached on some of Mr Milliband’s ideologies.
The question was asked about a hard or soft Brexit. Mrs May was quick to respond that she was after the right deal for Britain – and does not talk in terms of a hard or soft Brexit.
It was funny later to see a Journalist being interviewed whilst standing on a lawn in front of Parliament with Big Ben chiming the hour in the background, with a lighter ‘ping’ chime joining in from somewhere else. The Journalist deftly folded his hand under the cuff of the other sleeve, obviously switching off an IT watch. One wonders if it was a call coming through then whom it may be from, though it could also have been an hour chime. It provided a wonderfully surreal moment to what was a surreal Manifesto presentation.
The Government front bench Ministers sitting in rows applauding their Leader was a bit OTT, especially when one Journalist remarked that they might have their own private thoughts!
Mrs May, as usual, did not allow a flicker of thought to cover her countenance. Looking at the Ministers sitting in rows like that is a bit creepy and reminiscent of war movies when I see that type of gathering.
One wonders if the social care package of Mrs May’s Manifesto will indeed have cost her the Election or less of a victory. That ‘may’ be her own bridge too far! Even some of her own back benchers could revolt when these issues are put through Parliament.
A brief reference was in the Manifesto according to TV scrolling news, that there will be no Scottish Referendum until Brexit has been worked out (though this writer has yet to see further phraseology regarding clarification thereof).
Mrs May was a bit cheeky at best to try and add such radical changes with her on the anticipated Brexit ticket but at worst she may be pushing her luck too far this time.
We will know on June 8th – the day of the vote itself. Full results will be collated the next day, but news bulletins throughout the night will be indicators thereof.
Somehow one senses an uncomfortable shift and not necessarily for the better. Mrs May will probably win the General Election but with it will come enormous resentment.
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine