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Friday, 19 May 2017

A Conservative manifesto guaranteed to create divisions in our society

Theresa May accused of failing to tackle the growing crisis in NHS and social care, with a 'smoke and mirrors' manifesto.

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It is the morning after the day before and during the 24 hours or so since  "Forward, Together":, the conservative party manifesto, was revealed the media, with one or two notable exceptions, have managed to overcome their initial consternation and again fall into line behind their favourite in the election stakes. With proposals which are guaranteed to create divisions in our society, the conservative manifesto is a document produced by a party who still believes that the result of the election is a foregone conclusion and consequently can reveal their real intentions. For the elections since 2010, and some before, the conservative pre amble speeches have invariably contained words to the effect that "the country faces some challenging and difficult decisions". The election in less than three weeks time is no exception.
The conservatives plan (if they form the next government) to means test the winter fuel payments, which will result in taking away up to £300 for almost 10 million pensioners. This measure, effecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society, has been warmly welcomed by groups such as The Inter-generational Foundation who argue that, " the Winter Fuel Allowance is extremely inefficient and unfair on the younger generation". As expected, the media and television were able to find some young and middle aged voters who were quite ready to assert how they considered the benefit to be unfair and question why they should be expected to fund the older generation. The politics of divide and rule, as one section of society is set against another. In another blow to pensioners, the Prime Minister announced the the Triple lock on State Pensions would be scrapped, to be replaces by a "Double lock" linking pensions to earnings or inflation.
On the provision of Social Care, the conservatives want people to pay more towards the cost of their care, but are prepared to wait until after death before taking it from the estate. However, the value of an elderly person's property will now be included in the means test for care in their own home, meaning more people will become liable to contribute to the cost of being looked after.
However, when it comes to changes in taxation, all levels of society, the old, the young and the middle aged will be paying more. Of course that will not be the case with companies and businesses,  where corporation tax is to be reduced to 17 % from the current level of 20%.This leaves every one else to fund the tax concessions and give away hand outs for business and the rich. Income tax, National Insurance and VAT rates are all set to rise for the 95% of the British people who again bear the increased tax burden as the conservatives promise only to, "keep tax as low as possible".

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Writing in today's Independent, Dominic Rabb, the member for Esher and Walton, says that  "Labour has abandoned its voters" adding that " After today's manifesto, the Conservatives are now the party of working Britain". A conservative party which increases taxes for working people, cuts NHS funding, reduces benefits for thousands of claimants a party which is responsible for a massive increase in Food bank usage even amongst working people such as nurtures, removes winter fuel payments for all pensioners except those who may be on Pension credits, and demonizes one section of society against another. Working people against benefit claimants, young and middle aged against pensioners, able bodied against disabled, and home owners against those who rent their homes and those who will never be able to rent or buy as the housing crisis remains chronic around the country. A party who creates and perpetuates division can never describe itself as " the party of working Britain".

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Now that the publication of the manifesto's is over, we have less than three weeks to argue our case for those policies which will transform peoples lives and make this country a fairer society for all our people. I have always argued that the result of this election is not a foregone conclusion and all indications are that the conservative party and its supporters in the media and on television are admitting this, if only to themselves, as the evidence of popular support for the Labour party proposals continues to grow.
We shall witness over the remaining days of the election campaign, an even greater level of hostility and venom directed at the labour party and its leadership.In the face of this animosity from our political opponents, we must continue to seek a better society in a country for the many not for the few.