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The singles vote

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Jennifer Tracey | 17:00 UK time, Saturday, 24 April 2010

Schoolchildren

One listener, Catherine Stagg-Macey, says she doesn't fit into any of the demographics for which the political parties have a targeted message. She feels some initiatives such as tax breaks for married couples, job creation, and childcare programmes are done at her expense with her taxes.

This week on iPM we ask the political parties if they have policies directed at middle-aged, single, working voters who don't have children?

Listen to Catherine going through their responses

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And we brought together the Chief Executive of Working Families, Sarah Jackson and the Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Mark Littlewood. He thinks the politicians have got it wrong.

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If you've anything to add - comment below or email us ipm [at] bbc.co.uk

Comments

  • 1. At 5:34pm on 24 Apr 2010, DiY wrote:

    Nice one!

    I expect none of those standing in this election had thought of that one.

    And here is me with two single sons aged 23 & 27.

    So neither di i!

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  • 2. At 5:40pm on 24 Apr 2010, Sid wrote:


    Raising the personal tax allowance to £10,000 benefits everyone who's in work ... scrapping Trident will save us all taxes in the future ... green jobs will benefit the economy for all of us ... better educated children also benefit all of us in the end ...

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  • 3. At 5:43pm on 24 Apr 2010, JoSammy wrote:

    Firstly, this is nonsense (up to a point). Society needs children and it's makes perfect sense to give some support to those who are bringing them up - some support, not money for savings, I don't think. Everybody has chance to do this during their lives, though obviously some - by choice or misfortune - may not.

    Secondly, it would have been more persuasive to have somebody English-sounding to make this point. It smacks too much of an untypical individual wanting it all her way.

    Society = sharing.

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  • 4. At 5:53pm on 24 Apr 2010, verano wrote:

    Oh thank you, thank you, PM and iPM, for mentioning this phenomeon of politics since 1997. At last somebody is focussing on the fact that single/childless middle-aged people have been completely ignored by Government, politicians, and talking heads for over a decade.

    Why is this? This is because since 1995, the pendulum swing of society towards neo-conservatism has concentrated its resources entirely on the function of child-raising. This was the ultimate point of the backlash against Sixties liberalism.

    So meanwhile we have endured for example, Blair's preaching about "Education, Education, Education", while nobody, nobody, nobody, has remembered shaping society through Adults, Adults, Adults. This has been amazing and disastrous. Adults, whether they have children or not, are responsible for setting an example for all children, and Adults are ultimately in charge of the care of all children. Remember the saying Look after the Pounds, and the Pennies will look after themselves? Well look after the Adults, and the Children will look after themselves.

    No, it's not just about whether they win the votes of the single or childless. This issue is about whether politicians pull themselves out of the primitive and backward twentieth century, and remember that society is never just shaped by the next generation. Indeed, concentrating on the "children" without attending to the adults results in a clash in generations, such as was manifested in extremist youth radicalisation in the Noughties.

    In other words, in the late twentieth century, having irreversibly created a Global civilisation that nobody could hide from, society could only be amalgamated by attending to the needs and problems that existed in adults as well as children. It was never enough to dream that if the children were molly-coddled, that when they became the next generation, they would cure all the ills of our society.

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  • 5. At 5:58pm on 24 Apr 2010, Big Jim wrote:

    Society needs kids?

    Don't worry, there are somewhat over 200,000 more folk today than yesterday, and over 360,000 brand new kiddies!


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  • 6. At 6:04pm on 24 Apr 2010, JoSammy wrote:

    No - look after the PENNIES and the pounds will look after themselves.....

    No molly-coddling! Vote for that!!

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  • 7. At 6:12pm on 24 Apr 2010, Eleanor Jonesw wrote:

    We were all children, who were educated (those pre New Labour were able to attend university without having to pay tuition fees and take out student loans)at the taxpayers' expense. And most of us will be pensioners one day.
    Surely it is a good idea for any government to look after those who are too young, too old or unable to work. The rest can look after themselves and should be grateful that they do not need any help today- who knows about tomorrow

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  • 8. At 6:36pm on 24 Apr 2010, elcej wrote:

    "The wrong type of people are having children"!! "People on welfare are being paid to have children" says Mark Littlewood (I paraphrase)

    So what does he suggest. People need prior approval from the state before they are permitted to get pregnant? Take away newborn babies from people who don't have approval? Not pay welfare to non-approved families and let them live in poverty?

    Childless people don't realise just how damn hard it is having children. When they are young (as mine are) they suck the energy out of you. As they get older they suck less energy out of you and start sucking money out of you.

    I was single and childless until I was 39. Life was easy and I had plenty of disposable income. However, I never regretted paying taxes society to raise children.

    Surely it is better for babies and young children to have a non-working parent. It makes sense to me for couples (married or not) with pre-school children to be able to transfer unused tax allowance of the non-working parent to that of the working parent (with caps/limits where necessary).
    Surely it is better for the children if their parents can work flexible hours so they are available to their children when they finish school.
    Surely it is better for a parent to look after a sick child.
    Surely society as a whole has the responsibility for the wellbeing of the next generation.

    All of the "preferential treatment for families" is not focussed on the parents; it is focussed on the children. The children that will eventually get jobs in various fields that make up a whole society. These ‘single, childless people’ don’t just need doctors to look after them when they are old. They need everyone from dustbin men, police officers, nurses, gardeners, builders,…. and even journalists and MPs.

    Don't get me wrong. I fully respect the life choices they have made and indeed I am envious of their choice at times!
    However, I say again, society as a whole has the responsibility for the wellbeing of the next generation.

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  • 9. At 9:59pm on 24 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    So I sez to im, I sez; "It's no use going on about how I should renovate an entire flamin' mountain-range when all I really need is some help dredgin' me boating-lake."

    And you know what he has the nerve to turn around and say to me?

    "Look after the Pennines and the ponds will look after themselves".

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  • 10. At 10:14pm on 24 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    Put me in mind of when I was living in Zulu territory. Copper comes into the kraal and goes to me, "excuse me sir but I have reason to believe you are keeping a Zulu ceremonial seat in your hut".

    I went like "yes I have, it's mine, what's wrong with that like?"

    And the copper says "it's illegal, sir - people who live in grass houses shouldn't stow thrones".

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  • 11. At 10:19pm on 24 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    Met these two Chinese boy-scouts the other night - out in a field, middle of nowhere. So I go, alright lads, what's up then?

    One of them says; "we're out looking for our mate's house cos he's having a party - we thought we saw a burglar just now so we thought we'd try to catch him".

    The other chips in, "yeah, we're righting a wrong on the quest of a rave".

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  • 12. At 02:00am on 25 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    "This was the ultimate point of the backlash against Sixties liberalism."

    He's not wrong.

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  • 13. At 5:16pm on 25 Apr 2010, DiY wrote:

    redheylin, v good pal!

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  • 14. At 04:02am on 26 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    Look at the exposed connectors on that school loudspeaker. I'm going to sue. BTW thanks for raising this, PM and C S-M.

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  • 15. At 04:49am on 26 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    Thanks PNutt. btw the photo just reminded me of BBC "Music and Movement". You know what? Ann Driver and her merry pals seem to have been expunged from the BBC website. No doubt they fill the liberal intelligentia with anti-nzi horror! All those children doing THE SAME THING ALL IN A LINE! Innit awful? Trouble is;

    1) Little kids love it

    2) benefits http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_and_movement

    Has the BBC still got a school music dept.? Policy? Naaa. Twits.

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  • 16. At 04:57am on 26 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    15 (Blimey, I'm part of the backlash against 60s liberalism. But I've got a Piagetian riposte. I'm saying quasi-totalitarian activities are good for little kids. I don't want to be ruled by little kids though, nor treated as one. The baby - the bathwater.... thassall.

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  • 17. At 1:30pm on 26 Apr 2010, mittfh wrote:

    @15 - I don't remember the programme itself, but as Mum used to be a primary school teacher, I occasionally listened to the spin-off tapes. It was such a brilliant concept - and made extensive use of the (now also deceased) Radiophonic Workshop.

    -oOo-

    One group politicians never seem able to target effectively are low-income families - often living in low-income communities. Sure, you can plough money into extra-curricular activities outside school time and SureStart centres, but if you can't motivate the parents to actually take the children to these sessions...
    Besides which, many of the adults in these communities have low educational attainment themselves, and as they were never encouraged to seek academic excellence themselves, they don't encourage their children either (besides which, I suppose the concept of their children outperforming them academically may be hard for them to accept). Of course, in previous generations this wasn't an issue - they would often fill low income jobs, e.g. farm / factory worker. However over the past 30 years or so, manufacturing has declined, with a resulting loss in unskilled jobs. Even if they had the inclination to re-skill, can they afford (in both time and money) to attend a college course?

    -oOo-

    Middle-aged, single, working voters? What about 30-something singletons - we seem to fall into that gap between "Young Adult" (usually rigidly defined as 18-24) and "Middle Aged" (no precise definition, I'd guess 40+). I'm reasonably comfortable, but when my rent is approximately half my net salary and my average monthly 'profit' is about £100, it's hard to save up for anything significant. And since property prices in my area start at around £100,000, I don't stand a chance of getting anywhere near the property ladder (and local shared ownership schemes give priority to those on the Housing List - being male and single would probably put me right at the back of the queue!)

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  • 18. At 3:54pm on 26 Apr 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    "as they were never encouraged to seek academic excellence themselves, they don't encourage their children either (besides which, I suppose the concept of their children outperforming them academically may be hard for them to accept). Of course, in previous generations this wasn't an issue - they would often fill low income jobs, e.g. farm / factory worker. However over the past 30 years or so, manufacturing has declined, with a resulting loss in unskilled jobs."

    All this and more. The state school programme, preparing kids for non-existent careers in neglected regions, does not only feed into perceptions of out-of-touch politicians and mickey-mouse PC make-believe - it supports more anti-social tendencies, sets up teachers, alongside social workers, courts, police, even health professionals, as the representatives of a "system" that seeks to relegate poorer people to a disenfranchised, welfare-dependent underclass. The gulf has been opened so wide that even the well-intentioned cannot reach across it - and it is their responsibility, as it is the BBC's responsibility, to reach across it since those on the other side are not empowered to do so and have clear and obvious reasons to be disinclined to do so and to raise their children with the same basic suspicion that, in the absence of real prospects and genuine understanding - and of the kind of "self-developmental" educational goals that "Music and Movement" once demonstrated - becomes the dominant perception of the very initiatives that set out to ameliorate the situation.

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