What if the forthcoming General Election wasn’t simply a one-policy campaign? What if one of the major political parties was bold enough to change the agenda?
By Tom Jamison
It has already been a strange start to the General Election campaign. The Sun newspaper reports that on ‘quizzing’ Prime minister, Theresa May, she would not dismiss scrapping the ‘Triple Lock’ on pensions. This policy, guarded, seemingly to the last, by David Cameron has caused the pensions bill to skyrocket of late and all whilst other benefits have been severely reduced. It assures pensioners that their old age benefit is protected and yet, suddenly, all bets are off. It’s strange because pensioners love to vote – and as such, are an important force to be reckoned with.
“You’ll have to wait, and read the manifesto when it comes, won’t you?” Said May.
Anyway, here’s how to win a General Election. It’s much easier than you might think. Firstly, the leader of the party stands up in Parliament and says, loud and proud, that as the ‘party of inclusion, we’re going to support vulnerable people properly and without threat or coercion’. Then they outline a policy regarding how groups such as pensioners and disabled people would be properly assessed as individuals and appropriately supported. Then they sit back down in the Chamber of the House and enjoy a rapturous applause and watch as the estimated 18 million disabled people and all of the one in five of us who are pensioners (from an electorate, based on a figure of 46.4million in the 2015 election) prepare to place an ‘X’ beside their name and confirm them as their choice as the next Prime Minister.
Why has this never happened? Well, actually, it has happened before, in 1945. Despite leading the country to victory in the Second World War, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his Conservative party lost in a landslide defeat to Clement Attlee’s Labour party, a mere two months after VE Day.
The promise of the Labour party was simple, although ambitious: to create full employment, design a ‘cradle-to-grave’ welfare state and within that, introduce a tax-funded National Health Service (NHS).
It can be done but the policies need to be put in place before anyone can consider voting for them – and seriously, who wouldn’t vote for them besides the most ‘pull up the ladder’ types among us? The question is, could it happen again?
The next question is, what if the current policies to emerge are all, but in name, designed to dismantle the beloved NHS in plain sight? Who’d vote for that?
It doesn’t matter which party says it first? Brexit shouldn’t be the priority, it should come second to exactly how we intend to live in this country of ours and with which values. Only at that point, with a clarified identity and a plan for how we want to live, can we go to Brussels or anywhere else, including America or China and the like and try to achieve it.