This has been a very actively contested and fought election, partly brought on by the many more media channels being used to disperse the information from all the major parties. People have widely discussed the issues and expressed opinions in many different forums on the omnipresent internet through the variety of gadgets and devices at our disposal. I must also point out that I did not carry out major research for this article or have a degree in economics to have a mastery of the all the correct terms; this is purely based on my experiences and gut feel of how people around me feel about the great debate on who should form the next government. Comments to fill any holes in the arguments below would be very welcome!
People in the country have formed their allegiances based on so many different aspects of their own lives and experiences under the current Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition government. Labour on the other hand had left a legacy after 3 terms in parliament of extreme borrowing and ‘bulging at the seams’ welfare bill and a section of the population in an ever increasing downward spiral of unemployment and life time of benefits. It had lost all control on the financial markets , the media, the energy sector and its policies were all over the place. Infact, socialism had died under ‘New Labour’. Conservatives have worked hard to make some bold changes to the Education System, benefits and welfare system, employment laws and also some variations brought on in the financial markets. The biggest thorn in their backside has been the European Union membership, which has caused them enormous headaches because of the right wing talk of its effect on the labour market in the UK and also the pressures put on our social services and NHS by the huge influx of people from the EU countries.
I am pretty confident that very large proportion of our population uses social media tools like FaceBook in their daily lives to interact with their peers and other social groups. This platform has also offered people the opportunity to express their opinions and views vociferously and in copiousness during the 2015 General Elections.
I, personally, have been very encouraged by the Govian pursuit to make some bold reforms to the constantly dumbed-down education system we have in this country. He has been heavily criticised for his efforts, but that is human nature – change is never ‘liked’, even though it may have been necessary. Sadly, his reign as Education Secretary was cut short to save the party’s face from never-ending criticism. The last straw may have been the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ effect in midlands, which was later ruled as ‘one that never was’. I personally disagree with that final verdict as I believe that such actions by the maligned community have existed even in schools in London. It was a clear cover-up to put an end to that chapter in the continuing English tradition of appeasement. There was no change to previously promised bonuses and caps on salaries for banking executives. After all, how could Cameron and Clegg cut the income of their own family members? This did not go down well with the public. It is a well-known fact that welfare system in this country has been due a major reform for decades, but no politician in the past has dared gone down that route for fear of draining down their vote bank. I will put my neck on the line and state that a significant proportion of the ‘net immigration into the UK’ will disappear if we have stricter controls on our benefits system! Under the guise of austerity and reducing the borrowing, there was a major culling exercise on benefit claims. This was, unfortunately, done with an air of condescension and no recognition that it may hit those who rely on the system the most or those most vulnerable. You cannot expect the population which has relied on benefits for generations to suddenly accept that they will have to do without them, with no alternatives in place – no additional employment opportunities, etc. My personal belief is that there needs to be more investment into technology that assists in management of the benefits systems and detects fraud, because that is where a large chunk of the welfare bill gets wasted – going into the pockets of those unscrupulous ones who know how to beat the system. I have never understood why social housing is provided ‘for life’ to people on reasonable salaries , along with all the other benefits they get like exemption from Council Tax, free NHS prescriptions, etc. etc. This has to stop – rather than continuing with the coalition’s current policies. The innocent ones who really need the funds are the ones who end up taking the brunt of this cull. This, rather inhumane approach may have cost the conservatives some support. Despite, their earlier suggestions that the whole society will bear the pain of austerity, it felt as though the super-rich had been spared again by altering the top rate tax bands and offering them other concessions and tax-breaks to larger corporates. This has been the traditional outlook under conservative governments; anyway to favour the rich – but blatant favours when there has been so much squeeze on the lower income groups has been shockingly cruel. This government also made several changes to the employment law making it harder for ordinary employees to take their cases to employment tribunals and other regulations like ‘zero hour contracts’, which were originally brought in to assist the voluntary sector were adopted as the norm by larger corporates with blatant shamelessness to reduce their own expenses and with no pressure from the government to desist from such practices. Further reforms to curb union activities also undermine the few bodies which tend to be the only voice of the working classes. The socialist in me believes that the coalition government has worked hard to ensure that the powers granted to the workers over the last few decades are eroded as fast as possible to ensure that the large corporates have a free reign on the workforce and full control to exploit them with impunity. One of the major deciding factors for me has been the TTIP regulation which is being bandied about secretly by the European and US conservatives. This has the potential to absolutely crush any powers the public bodies have over most aspects of our lives and hand over all control to the mega rich conglomerates of this world. To find out more about TTIP see this link (http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/ttip). Both the major parties in the UK have shown their support to this treaty, which has single handedly lost my support to these parties. There is no indication of an iota of social responsibility being exhibited by these two parties which is very worrying for the future of our world. The blatant sale of NHS functions to major private suppliers is well known. Despite all Tory claims, it is clear that they want their friends in the medical service providers group to benefit from the well-established and well-loved health care system in the UK. It is understood that the NHS cannot continue with the state funding it as it has done for many decades – so why allow the super-rich from foreign lands to come to the UK and have expensive surgeries through this system – it is such practices of abuse which need to be curtailed. Even small contributions from regular users of the service can be considered as a source of income. There are many other wastage channels, which need to be plugged, like the large transfers of funds to opticians and dentists, etc. which are, I am sure, regularly abused.
It is the above reasons which form the core of my arguments against or for the political parties in the UK.
In forums where there is a majority of business owners (even small businesses) or skilled employees on relatively larger salaries, there seems to be praises and support for the coalition for their stance on entrepreneurship and tax breaks, etc. Also, the conservatives are generally against putting in place restrictions on the wealth generating activities (e.g. rent controls for landlords proposed by labour and resisted by the conservatives). Such peers and members of the population group would be hoping for the conservatives to return to power. They fear that the Labour will mismanage the economy again with no controls on their borrowing leading to increased taxes, etc.
On the other hand, my peer forums with those in employment in the unskilled sector and also those with more of a socialist mindset refer to the inhumane approach to cut down the benefits for those who need them most, cuts to other social services including Arts, attack on employment laws and rights, restriction of Union activities – are definitely hoping to see the back of the conservative led government.
My small personal wish list for a future government policies would be:
- Very strict definition of ‘Vulnerable’ members of the public who should be eligible for social housing and related benefits (regularly reviewed!)
- No benefits unless several years of contributions into the system
- Encourage jobs growth by true incentives to employers, with measured output
- Contracts with large financial organisations to contribute to the social enhancement in return for permission to operate in the country with their investment and insurance activities
- Ring-fenced and defined public funding to NHS and education (including decent pay structures for employees in these sectors)
- Have effective controls on private organisations receiving government funding to provide public services like transport, energy production and supply, Medical and Care Services
- One I would like to see the most – reduce defence budget to ‘Zero’. Do we need more weapons and ammunition manufacturing to sell to countries where they end up being traded to wrong groups who end up using them against us, eventually!
This has been an outpouring of my feelings having seen and read so much in the media.