Thursday, April 09, 2015

Ah, the election and all the fun of the fair!

Do we really have four more weeks of electioneering to go! Perhaps it should be only four more weeks given that this campaign seems to have been running for a year now. I thought yesterday was a fairly low point as the day began with a government spokesperson failing to correct the misrepresentation of SATS as exams that must be passed rather than assessments to support progress. All the talk about resits just goes to reinforce the idea that it's possible to fail the assessment. As I understood it SATs were never intended to do that, but politicking requires a stick with which to beat the educators and SATS are as good a stick as any.

Later in the day, having switched from TV news to the radio, I heard a vox pops about the new requirement to check passports for people leaving the country via ferry and international railway termini. Apparently, according to many of the people interviewed, getting the wrong end of the stick is also a national pastime. How exactly checking a passport as you leave the country is going to stop "all these immigrants" entering the country has me confused, but that seemed to be the popular view. Perhaps we've become so confused over the whole immigration issue that we really don't know whether we're coming or going.

And then today I wake up to Conservative claims that the Labour party will be forced to do a deal with the SNP to remove Trident in order to form a government if they have to form a coalition with them, and that is somehow a stab in the back to nation. In all the confusion I'd clearly forgotten that to be antinuclear weaponry was to be unpatriotic! How sad that it's impossible to love your nation unless it has the capability of annihilating another country and doing significant long-term damage to the ecosystem in the process.

The reason this makes me angry and frustrated is because I think there's a fundamental issue being ignored in the kick-about of the debates and interviews. It's difficult to argue with the facts and figures that are presented about how well the economy seems to be doing now compared to 5 years ago. I know the numbers get massaged to show things in the best possible light, but even I would accept that things are in better shape as a whole. But someone needs to ask about the price that has been paid and by whom it has been paid to get us to this point.

I believe that the poorest in our communities have paid the biggest price. It's hard to argue against that when you have falling tax rates for the very richest and politicians who seem to run scared of the financial sector and big business. Unpaid corporation tax still outstrips benefit fraud by an enormous margin. Minimal wage rises in both the public and private sector have left many workers in a worse position than they were 5 years ago whereas little seems to have changed for CEO's of large companies. Bonuses are still paid while staff are made redundant.

Those on the right of politics would have us believe that paying tax is a bad thing. At least that's the way it looks when we hear rumours of reducing higher rate tax. Increasing the personal allowance to £12000 sounds good when you can put a figure on the number of people who won't be paying tax because of that. But it still means that some people are earning less than £12k a year. Dropping 5% of the highest rate of tax might only affect a small number of people, but I'm willing to bet it means more than £8 a week going into their pockets compared to the low end of the income scale.

Voting for me has always been about ideology and not personal gain. If paying more tax lifts more people out of poverty, provides a better healthcare system, and a better education system, then why would you not want to do that?

I'm sure there will be much more irritating and annoying posturing before polling day. I just hope enough people will see through it and not be swayed by those campaigners who want to make the election only about a referendum on Europe or immigration and not about the next 5 years of government.

Enough said!

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