It is that time of year again: The Party Conference season.
The Politicians pull rabbits out of hats and present them to the public, in the hope that the juiciest rabbits will attract us to vote for them. But who is being fooled? Are the electorate stupid enough to believe in these promises? Or are the Politicians stupid in thinking that we will fall for it?
An obvious example is the Conservative pledge to give tax breaks to married couples, (because apparently the Conservative party believes in the moral value of marriage so much that nobody in the Tory ranks has ever been unfaithful or had a divorce). The way that this policy is supposed to work is that if one partner of a married couple pays tax, and the other one doesn’t, then part of the higher earners tax can be transferred to replace the tax allowance of the other one.
On a Radio programme concerning this, a Conservative Member of Parliament was holding forth on what the Tories had done for tax payers. They have raised the tax threshold so that a large percentage of the population are not required to pay tax. But hang on, if they don’t pay tax it cannot be transferred to the other partner can it? Similarly if both partners are high earners, then there is no point in transferring it either. If you examine this carefully, the only married couples who it would benefit are those where one partner stays home and doesn’t pay tax, and the other one is a high tax payer. This sounds like the typical Tory couple from the Shires to me. It certainly wouldn’t be any benefit to the average Cornish working class couple who probably have minimum wage jobs which are below the tax threshold.
Next we come to HS2. This is going to be of such great benefit to the financial structure of the North of England, that Billions can be spent on it, instead of improving the rail network of the rest of the UK (including the Paddington Penzance service which hasn’t had any investment for years). It will apparently mean that prosperity will blossom in Manchester because the train gets there a few minutes quicker. One look at the situation will tell you that the main benefit will be to London, because it will shorten the time in the other direction. The other great reason for ripping up miles of countryside is because it will cut down the traveling time and allow more time for work. Yes I will agree that most Tories would find it very difficult and inconvenient to lug a block of granite and a hammer and chisel onto a train so that they can work in the First Class. I think the rest of us have realised that you can plug laptops into the power sockets under the seats.
Again, much emphasis has been placed on “The right to buy”. Apparently, the Government will assist first time buyers with mortgages up to £600,000. In Blackburn you could probably buy a whole street for that, but it wouldn’t matter because people don’t want to buy houses in Blackburn, they want to buy and build them all over Cornwall. If as predicted, this policy causes a hike in house prices, a converted redundant public toilet in Cornwall will cost more than £600,000, while you couldn’t give houses away where people don’t want to live.
About the only policy that caused a ripple at the Labour Party Conference was the suggested freeze on fuel prices. The Utilities threw up their hands and threatened not to invest in new generation and made comments about the lights going out, despite all continuing to declare highly increased profits. While Labour and the Utilities are posturing and pushing each other to the brink, the Saudis and the Russians just shrug and pump their oil and gas somewhere else. Energy security has not been on the agenda for a long time. Unless the UK is able to produce its own energy, price hikes and shortages will be a fact of life. Alex Salmond has got the right idea, a separate grid for Scotland powered by 100% renewables and then any energy left over, (North Sea Oil etc) export to the England at a high price. I have become so inured to the apathy of Cornwall Council that it came as a shock to learn that the Council are considering a Smart Grid for Cornwall. This will only work if money is available to set it up, and the tariff paid to wind turbine developers is reduced so that excess generation can be sold onto the grid at a profit to Cornwall, not to the landowners pockets.
Lastly, UKIP: I am quite pleased with that phrase! Well this week we have heard that Pall Engineering at Redruth is likely to close because the factory is being relocated to Eastern Europe where wages are much lower. George Eustace MP has been running around like an electric hare trying to get other Engineering firms to apply to Europe for a grant to expand so that they can take over either the factory or the redundant Pall workers. While he is on the trail, I wonder if he can find time to call on UKIP Councillors and supporters in Cornwall and ask them where the money is going to come from if we pull out of Europe. He might also ask at the same time what the UKIP policy is on Bedroom Tax, NHS, Nuclear Power and a few other things that nobody seems to know. We are, however, quite clear about the UKIP policy on Bongo Bongo Land, cleaning behind the fridge, and hitting reporters on the head with rolled conference notes.
In any case, the only National Party Conference that is really relevant to the people of Cornwall occurs on 16th November at County Hall (Lys Kernow). The Mebyon Kernow Conference of course.