I’ve always been a sucker for the underdog; maybe that’s why I joined the Labour Party at 17. Underperforming in the polls and with a leadership that was the running joke of the red tops, there nonetheless remained a morsel of moral reassurance- I was on the right side. I was fighting the noble fight.
The resurgence of “hell yeah” Ed has therefore been problematic on a number of fronts: the Tories much feted surge ahead hasn’t materialised, whilst the right wing press’ ‘Labour pantomime’ gag is getting a bit hollow. At the end of the day, he’s just not that weird. My moral authority of inferiority has been fatally undermined.
Sentimentality aside…. part of the reason behind the Labour Party’s renaissance has been its championing a vision of sustainable, credible change. For young people – further to the cutting of university fees to £6000, the Party has presented a number of admirable priorities, such as guaranteeing an apprenticeship to every school leaver if they get the grades and reinstating the requirement that school teachers be qualified to be in the classroom.
Neither of these examples of Labour policy are particularly ideologically charged. I would even go as far as to say, that for a party in opposition the Labour Party hasn’t done enough to win the votes of young people. That 6 of the 8 policies listed on the ‘Young People’ section of the website’s manifesto are copy and paste jobs from the ‘Education’ sector, isn’t good enough.
In the face of this, the Liberal Democrat’s announcing of a £1500 “help to rent” scheme for the ‘clipped wing generation’ seemed suspiciously innovative, progressive even. The subsequent Tory announcement of a plan to abolish inheritance tax on all properties under £1 million may have been read by some filicidal youths as one last means to scramble onto the property ladder. ‘Right to buy’ on housing association homes- the icing on the cake?
Yet beneath thin façade of benevolence there may be exposed the brazen ignorance or even malevolence of a political elite detached. The Liberal Democrats pledging of scarce little in financial terms is not a solution to the housing crisis, whilst its offering credit for rent will do more to line the pockets of already prosperous private sector landlords, than any youngsters credit rating.
Equally, the Conservative Party’s enabling housing association tenants to buy their own homes on the (relative) cheap is a nice idea –Leftist ideologues aside, who doesn’t want to own the roof over their heads? Yet the current, growing, hundreds of thousands of families long waiting lists for social housing expose the utter stupidity of the idea, all the worse for the stark lack of affordable housing in the pipeline.
But surely it’s the Conservative Party’s planning to abolish inheritance tax, completely, on any properties up to a million pounds, that truly stinks For right or wrong, inheritance tax collection is the kind of cash cow, which in a context of urgent deficit reduction, the Treasury can ill afford to do away with. Instead, perhaps a starting point would be to actually start building some homes to address the chronic national shortage? Even better, stop making uncosted spending commitments and actually get down the national debt my generation, through no fault of their own, stand to inherit.
Yet I’ll reserve my incredulity for the Green Party. The Establishment’s lack of vision is unfortunately predictable, but the Green Party’s blind incompetence having billed itself as a bold alternative voice is depressing. Their gizmos and gimmicks are financial fiction precisely because they know they can get away with it: they’ll never see office and so they can promise the undeliverable. Now that’s a more familiar, cynical politics, isn’t it?
I may no longer be backing the underdog but that’s alright. I’m backing the Party with (some sort of) vision for tomorrow. ‘I’m standing up for the many, not the few’. Come May 7th will you do too?