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New language, but for Labour an old dilemma

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Paul Mason | 13:23 UK time, Tuesday, 8 September 2009

It's a big day for politicians to craft their evasions about what public services they're going to cut. Conservative leader David Cameron has just made a speech promising to cut £120m from the cost of politics - slashing MPs' pay and allowances, quangos and the like. He admitted it was a pinprick though in relation to the £175bn deficit we expect by the end of financial year 2009-10.

Chacellor Alistair Darling has just delivered a 5,000-word lecture about the future of public services. The word "cutting" is used 11 times - mainly in the context of "cutting costs" but not services.

Mr Darling's speech is a signal that Labour is moving to a new line of defence over public spending cuts. Until the summer its line was that the Tories will cut, Labour will invest through the downturn.

But there has been an argument inside the government that this just was not washing - the Labour party could attack the Conservatives better if they admit there need to be cuts, but paint the Conservatives as enthusiastic cutters and themselves as the human face of cuts.

Now the language has changed - not towards concreteness, but towards "cutting costs". To me that means cutting spending and in political terms, as nice as they try to put it, it is fraught with danger for Labour's leaders.

From Mr Darling's speech it is clear what that human face will be - the smiling mousachioed visage of Clement Attlee was called to mind on numerous occasions. The "humanity" of James Callaghan, himself forced to slash spending after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailed out the British government in 1976, was repeatedly invoked.

Even Nye Bevan ("a Welsh hero" according to Mr Darling who did not evoke Nye by name to the South Wales Chamber of Commerce) got a look in.

Naturally there are going to be a lot of Callaghan namechecks in a Callaghan Lecture, but for some reason Mr Darling did not choose to make any great exploration of what actually happened when Callaghan and Dennis Healey slashed public spending.

History records the Winter of Discontent as the denouement - but there were three years of strife, decay and decline between the two events. Those of us who were around at the time remember that it tore the heart out of the Labour party and its affiliated unions.

To get a flavour of the time have a look at Denis Healey's Budget White Paper speech from 1976:

"I do not pretend that the process of agreeing how the necessary reduction in previously planned expenditure would be achieved was a pleasant or an easy one. It never is. But I would claim that the government have done all that can be done to observe the priorities to which they committed themselves at the last General Election," he said.

There's a lot in the argument similar to the way Labour is talking now. Mr Healey talks a lot about "levelling off" public spending - that is a nominal freeze and a real terms cut because of inflation. He speaks too about a philosophical difference with the Conservatives over the cuts. Labour, Mr Healey assured backbenchers, would do the least damage to public services and act more in line with the party's core principles.

Later, in his autobiography, Mr Healy explained what happened in practice:

"Politically, by far the most difficult part of my ordeal was the continual reduction of public spending; almost all of the spending cuts ran against the Labour Party's principles, and many also ran against our campaign promises."

This is the problem you have if you are Labour chancellor and you have to cut spending. Up to now most of the commentary has tended to focus on what it would do to Britain's triple-A credit rating if Mr Darling fails to make the cuts.

Now, as Labour signals a mixture of cuts, privatisation and "public service reform" it is worth asking what it would do to the party itself. What will Labour's rank and file activists make of its leaders if they ever get around to concretising this into a series of actions in government? As I recall, in the late 1970s, it was close to mincemeat.


  • Comment number 1.

    If Darling is able to cut costs without cutting services, he is both a genius for being able to do what no other goverment has been able to do, and an idiot for not doing so sooner.

  • Comment number 2.

    "...That means making choices and setting priorities - shifting resources to the front line." alistair darling

    This speaks volumes for me, it shows that until now, front line resources have not been a priority.

    I wonder if any polictical party would commission a study into how much of each single pound given to a public service (ie, a hospital or a school) actually gets to the front line.
    Id wager that out of a pound, less than 30p makes it to where it should be being spent.

    like the old "drop a penny" machines in the arcades, where the aim is to reach the hole at the bottom (in this case the service its being given to) and be rewarded, this would show just how bad things have become.

  • Comment number 3.

    ANOTHER in a long line of meaningless drivel - this country is BROKE and the Govt are printing more money - talk about lunatics and asylums -GOD HELP US ALL.

  • Comment number 4.

    The public are not stupid.

    Cameron is being more concrete than Darling.
    Cameron and the Conservatives sound like professionals working to a plan.

    Darling, Brown and Labour sound like politicians who are more interested in partisan issues and less interested in the country and the electorate.

  • Comment number 5.

    concretising - Come on Paul

  • Comment number 6.

    Can someone explain to me what Cameron is being more "concrete" about? Labour are of course toiling desperately but I'm not gaining any confidence in Cameron and his (lack of) policies!

  • Comment number 7.

    How would you like to be killed sir? Being shot or being hanged? With the two main parties settling on a campaign which will focus on the detail of economic management rather than a vision of the society we want it’s hardly a choice at all. Both want to cut public spending, will not tackle the out of control banks and their bonuses, are not serious about the growing divide between the richest and poorest in society and have good climate change rhetoric but fall short when it comes to decisive action. And neither will put forward a serious programme for parliamentary reform and democratic renewal. It's all rather disappointing.

  • Comment number 8.

    Do Labour really think we take can them seriously ? -

    - Sold off Gold reserves at $200.00 an ounce
    - Promised to ring-fence ALL pensions when they came to power in '97
    - Ignored a looming Financial Crisis because of huge Tax revenues
    - Sent us to a questionsble war
    - Allowed immagration to run rife
    - Put NO MONEY WHATSOEVER aside for the inevitable rainy day, that we will now pay for over the next 20 years
    - Made themselves the 3rd largest empoyer in the country

    And now they want to try and convince us they they are the 'human face' of spending cuts ?

    Roll on the election...

  • Comment number 9.

    In the name of anything sacred please go - This morally, intellectually and now financially bankrupt government must go rather than hang around to 'poison the well'. Short termism, partisan thinking, self centred and self delusory please, please just go quietly into the good night

  • Comment number 10.

    Good: it looks like politics has become rational again. Looks like the Campaign for Real Politics has been successful at long last!

    There have to be cuts and these have to substantial. I am glad that Labour has followed the advice I suggested earlier in the year; accept the reality that cuts are going to be needed but focus away from the provision of services onto the apparat.

    The problem that Labour has is that it is from the apparat that they draw their main electoral support. This is going to get very dirty as no turkey votes for Christmas.

    The simple fact is that the state is too big, too inefficient, in many cases utterly incompetent, too prone to interfere where it is not needed but indifferent when it needs to get involved.

  • Comment number 11.

    Cameron is betrying his roots as a PR man, what he said today sounded ok but what is he really going to cut if he wins power and he has to claw back billions instead of millions? What he said was high on MP bashing headlines but low on real cost cutting substance. Increasingly the more he says the less he seems to be telling us! Its starting to become a bad habit Dave!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Labour as a party was bankrupt years ago! What made anyone think they would fair any better running our country's finances?

    When we have a Tory government next year the truth will out in the autumn of how much deeper the financial mire that this country is truly in. Will the do any better? Probably yes, but by how much is the million dollar question.

    I've told my 16 year old daughter to finish her education (she wants to be a Barrister), and then flee this country, unless she wants to end up paying for our generations political incompetence!

    It's not just the migrant workers that our leaving this country, it's the Brits too (and they have been for over a decade). I'm off soon, saddened by living through the destruction of this once great country, but I know that I can find a better life in other climes!

  • Comment number 13.

    ...what public services they're going to cut....

    the sentences are never finished. that sentence should end 'what public services they're going to cut because of the financial mismanagement of the city and ideological market fundamentalism of the govt.

    we are not victims of 'a downturn' but of greed and financial incompetence.

    is it not curious that rather than have a 70% tax on all finance profits as long as that industry depends upon massive public debt to survive everyone seems to talking about cuts. the tories because they like to and labour because they still believe in market fundamentalism and the privatise the profit and socialise the loss money.

    this cuts talk is part of 'socialising the loss'.

  • Comment number 14.

    At 6:02pm on 08 Sep 2009, stanilic wrote:

    "The simple fact is that the state is too big, too inefficient, in many cases utterly incompetent"

    And the solution that the both Labour & the Tories will suggest:
    1) Paying even more money to already bloated external consultants to advise on how to slim down the civil service (i.e. more profit to line the pockets of the politicians' real paymasters - the irony is priceless)
    2) Outsourcing as much as possible to private sector firms, rendering public sector jobs to be even more battery-chicken like than they have become in the last 10 years

    Both of these will create even higher pay differentials, lower the quality of service, add waste and further bureaucracy, and ultimately render most of the nation as dissaffected, disillusioned "individuals".

  • Comment number 15.

    I have said this before. Labour need to be very specific about what cuts they are going to make. They should base them on projections which they should make public. These projections should not be particularly optimistic ones. What they are aiming for is believability. When they have the courage to do that then they will start putting the Tories on the spot.

    Do they say the projections are still too positive and be accused of talking down the economy? Lots of people may be hurting, but judging by the numbers shopping and spending there are lots who still do not feel too bad. Do they try to make harder cuts? Perhaps the country is expecting cuts and will be disappointed if they are not hard enough.

    Labour's duty to themselves and the country is to force specifics out of the Tory party. At the moment we are sleep walking into a Tory administration with a massive majority, which may seem fine and is certainly the way David Cameron would like it to happen. I don't think Labour is right for the country, but I would prefer it if we voted for a party and what it says it will do rather than against the other one. If Labour get specific then we may just learn what the Tories intend to do or the jibe of 'the do nothing party' could return to haunt them

  • Comment number 16.

    "concretising", is that the same as cementing? Maybe the cabinet should be concretised, i.e. buried in the foundations of a motorway bridge.

  • Comment number 17.

    I love being lectured on belt-tightening austerity measures by a man whose personal fortune is £30 million, but who still asks the taxpayer to subsidise his mortgage.

  • Comment number 18.

    The problem is that Labour is a party of language be it old or new, it is essentially the same. They have nothing to offer but sound-bites which leads to contradictory policies which underpin the mess the country is in. Namely, high public spending as this will get the voters in, modest and stealth rises in tax. Thus, they can claim the Lib Dems will tax you to death, the Tories will kill you by cutting public spending - especially in the NHS. This was the basis of their last electoral campaign. The problem is that any increase in public spending must be off-set by either a rise in taxation or cuts elsewhere. Labour have done neither and tried to offer the best of both worlds. Consequently, we were in debt long before the recession, it is just the quantity that has increased. Any future government will need to do the twin evils of raising spending and cutting spending on public services if the huge deficit Labour have run up (£24000 per person) is to be brought under control. Then will follow the usually Labour rhetoric of 'we told you so'. The sooner Labour goes and abandons itself to the political wilderness the better.

  • Comment number 19.

    Everyone, especially the media keep asking the opposition parties of their plans for the future. I seem to remember one ACL Blair and his cronies were asked the same questions in 1996/97. The answer was always the same: “Wait until the election and then we will tell you.” I believe it’s known as, ‘keeping one’s powder dry’.

    If the opposition parties expand on their policies now, it gives the government a change to either use them or – as is more usual for this present mob – deliberately misrepresent them. Remember JG Brown’s; “do nothing Tories”? He then decided that some of what they came up with was a jolly good idea and used them, (after of course, saying in was a total load of dung and would never work).

    If I was Cameron or Clegg I would keep schtum until JG Brown plucks up the courage to call an election.

    Perhaps I should post this on Nick’s blog as well...

    Sláinte Mhath

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh no, please no more privatisation, there's already been too much. Who on earth wants to shop around and change their electricity and gas every 12 months? - that's assuming you're computer literate and can use the Internet - as it's only the comparison website robots that can compare - noone else has any idea what they're paying for a kilowatt hour of electric. I hate to imagine the horrors that could replace the simplicity of buying a first class postage stamp.

  • Comment number 21.

    #1 Well said Tom P Willis: if Alistair Darling knew how to cut costs without affecting services why on earth didn't he do it before?
    #15 Boilerbill: "I would prefer it if we voted for a party and what it says it will do rather than against the other one"
    I'm with your comments most of the way but, as a bit of a cynic, I've always voted for the least worst option rather than felt I was enthusiastically endorsing a party's "brave new world". At least that way I haven't felt the disappointment that most converts to Blair have felt since '97.
    Who was it that said "There is no problem so bad that government intervention cannot make it worse"?

  • Comment number 22.

    Concrete is widely misunderstood as a crude building material when in fact it is a vast and subtle science. Invented by the Romans we are still learning about it. In fact it is so chemically complex it has been referred by some engineers as a form of witchcraft.

    Cement however is the binder used to make concrete.

  • Comment number 23.

    The problem is largely that there are so many public sector workers in non-jobs that it would be political suicide to try and tackle their existence. Yet tackle them we must.

    When private enterprise is expected to pay for the recruitment of thousands upon thousands of regulators who add no value yet make life difficult for those very same enterprises, something is wrong. We've got more and more regulations with less and less effect, except that the productive parts of the economy get saddled with the costs of compliance. Needless to say there are an army of public sector jobsworths to pounce if any one of the forms isn't exactly right.

    The creation of these jobs may have removed thousands of people from the unemployment register but at the cost of even greater unemployment down the line. Already I know people who aren't bothering to work any harder than they need to in order to get by - what's the point when the government is trying to seize more and more of what we produce?

  • Comment number 24.

    Dennis Healey faced inflation running at 26% and unemployment running at 1.5 million. 1975 Government financial deficit as a proportion of GNP = 5.75%. Riots and strikes. The aftermath was reaction to the left, Michael Foot's humiliation in 1983 and Kinnock's long rewind of socialist dogma. 18 years of Tory power until Blair brought New Labour to power. Three election victories later and here they are. Inflation under 2% but unemployment at 2.38 million.Government financial deficit as a proportion of GDP heading towards 12%.175 billion qe money being poured in to banks' black holes. No riots, few strikes.


  • Comment number 25.

    Oh no , not more PPI . Its just high interest , fixed term , inflexible borrowing by another name

  • Comment number 26.

    The comments seem to be mainly from Tories, who like the Bourbons returning to France after Napoleon had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Labour is moving the agenda at last onto practical politics. Cameron needs to think hard about the detail, which he hasn't done so far. His supporters on this site (seatpitch, rtdcolonel) seem to be still in 'disgusted of sevenoaks' mode. He's got to stop playing to them and start talking to the rest of the electorate, or this one could still run away from him.

  • Comment number 27.

    Learnt nothing?

    Bodies of the dead unburied and bereaved families left distraught?

    Tonnes of uncollected rubbish piled in the streets?

    Some shop-steward deciding if you child was sick enough to be allowed through their picket-lines to reach A&E, or if you were worthy of visiting a sick relative?

    And many other examples of TU inhumanity to man if they didn’t get what they wanted.

    That was under a Labour Government. I do not want to live through that again thanks.

    I could go further back, endless strikes, where the Trade Unions cared only about their members and the rest of the country could go to the dogs for all they cared. Where TU bosses told the Labour & Conservative governments that unless they got what they wanted they were quite prepared to bring their industry and indeed the country to ruin.
    Is that what you want? Do you really want to go back to those days? If you prefer socialism try China or North Korea.

    Sláinte Mhath

  • Comment number 28.

    #23: Well said! Britain has become a nation of regulators and snoopers, each adding little to the effectiveness of society, but much to the cost of maintaining it.

    I have lived through three Labour administrations. Each was destructive, leaving the country in a far worse state than it had been prior to arrival. Each brought social unrest and economic failure.

    Socialism is a wicked and perverse philosophy which seeks to coerce people into doing what the Government wants instead of supporting people in the pursuit of their individual talents.

    Equality is a prime example. Equality to Socialists means removing any chance of success so that all can attain to the same dismal level of underachievement. Never do socialists support or encourage. They only ever oppress and persecute anyone who displays the potential to achieve something worthwhile.

    Socialism is a system whereby those who produce the least get the greatest rewards. It encourages laziness, profligacy, and immorality. To my mind, Socialism is the greatest evil of our generation.

  • Comment number 29.

    BlackDubhglaes #27

    On the assumption that you're continuing to take the tablets, I have a straightforward solution to your problems: stop reading the Daily Mail.

  • Comment number 30.

    The necessary shifts concern revising how money is being spent - particularly on PFI, and on agency workers.

    What must be questioned is the prioritising of private profits out of all these services.

    Which political party is going to do that?

    And who in the media is going to do the maths and challenge them with it.

    Dexter Whitfield and Allyson Pollack are good people to start with

  • Comment number 31.

    Much more useful than just gettting dragged along with their argy bargy

  • Comment number 32.

    It seems the Achilles heel of Labour Governments is that party members end up ripping off the country. Perhaps the Labour Party should be banned.

  • Comment number 33.

    Brown/Darling cutting costs?

    I wonder how many Inland Revenue jobs were actually cut when Brown announced a target of 5,000 reduction a couple of years ago, in his big drive for efficiency and productivity.

    I would hazard a guess at a minus number........

    Brown has previous, he can't meet any target.
    Goodnight and gawd-bless Gordo.

  • Comment number 34.

    May I kindly point the contributers here in the direction of post no. 25 (the last post) on Paul's previous posting. i suspect most regulars here may have missed it.

    It obviously comes straight from direct experience and is expressed with passion and is certainly part of 'labours Dilemma' in terms of how labour now almost exclusively represent those on benefits and those who work for government. It is quite a shocking snapshot of the depth of labours failing.

    Dera Paul, if you are listening (and we know you do)''shinybluethings' post must surely be worth a bit of Newsnight attension in terms of an in depth look at this issue using the pointers 'shinybluething' provides in his post.

    It looks like a great journalistic opportunity and i can think of no other journalist better to look into it than you, combining the 'common touch' and understanding of economics and the social system would be needed to pull it off. Thats you Paul!

    Off you go, I will look forward to your article on it!!


  • Comment number 35.

    verymuchso #29.

    “Taking the tablets”? If you mean that rather nice milk tablet my wife makes, I am still taking often as possible.

    I do not read the Daily Mail. I have a very nice lawn I can watch grow instead.

    What I cannot understand from your post is why you seem to feel that I should not remember what previous Labour governments have done. People like yourself who read the Morning Star, and probably thought that Stalin was a “pretty straight-forward kinda guy” seem to have a knowledge of the history of this country that goes no further back than 1979.

    James Callaghan: 1976-1979 Nice guy but not a very good PM.

    Harold Wilson: 1974-1976 Neither a nice guy or good PM, scared stiff of TUs. Why did he resign?

    Edward Heath: 1970-1974 Least said the better. EEC, miners’ strikes etc.

    Harold Wilson: 1964-1970 I refer you to the answer above. (This is when I started to vote).

    I am that type of person the parties hate...the one who decides on the last day. I have voted, Liberal (that was a long time ago); Liberal Democrat; Conservative and Scottish Nationalist. Notice who is missing from that list? The group of people who want to make us all one ill-educated, homogenous mass, except themselves of course. I thought for a while that ACL Blair might be different so despite not voting for him, (it was LD that year), I thought I would give him 5 years to prove himself. It took 18 months for the disillusionment to set in. It was LD again in 2001 and 2005.

    2010? I have no idea. Perhaps it will be for someone who is honest with me, tells it as it is, not spin, and obfuscation. Someone who puts the United Kingdom before any other consideration. Someone who will restore my faith in, and the power of, Parliament. No too much to ask is it?

    Sláinte Mhath

  • Comment number 36.

    Oh yes...And someone who will let me live my life as I want to: not the way they want me to!

    Sláinte Mhath

  • Comment number 37.

    In the 70's the trades unions ruled. We had ridiculous wage claims restrictive practices and companies who were up against the wall threatened by wild cat strikes.

    Uncompetitive industries like coal steel and shipbuilding which could not be modernised to compete with Korea and Japan because of the power of the trades unions. The beginning of the end for these industries and the power of the unions when the country had to turn to the IMF.

    This time it is public services ruled by what is left of the trades
    unions who also fund the labour government.
    Huge increases in the numbers employed over the last 12 years in the sector make it even more difficult to control than all the industries of the 70's.

    So we are back to the 70's with a different format. Huge index linked pensions which are totally unaffordable quangos reaching out like a hydra where one might go but another two spring up. Completely out of control and draining away the last of the country's resources.
    No-one wants to discuss how to bring it back under control for fear of the strikes and discontent as experienced in the 70's. Just keep printing and borrowing and hope it goes away seems to be the only action we see.

    So if the politicians haven't the guts to sort it we go back to where we started and call the IMF in. The impact on this country at this time would be what could have been an avoidable disaster.

    The people themselves can only sit and watch such a disaster unfold.

  • Comment number 38.

    The government needs to look at the benefit system in this country. I work and pay taxes as does my wife, so far this month we have paid out approx £1200 in tax and NI thats 35% of our joint income so far and we will get nothing back. My wife has a client who is on benefits, she has 7 children and claims £3208 every month in benefits, not bad £38496 per yaer for watching day time tv! If I need to go into a nursing home in my old age I hope I don't end up living next to this women because I will still be paying and she will still be getting looked after by the government for her loyal service in keeping day time tv alive for free. This needs to be highlighted and protested against, it's simply not fair being punished for working....

  • Comment number 39.

    ~ 38

    So give up your jobs, have loads of kids, fill in some forms and live in luxury watching daytime TV and reading Heat magazine - you have a choice.

  • Comment number 40.

    All mister Darling really needs to do is to evaluate how much he would need to cut from the public budget to balance his budget. Once a figure is decided, he can simply go and extract it from the profits of the Financial Sector of the economy. The Financial Industries created the situation that we find ourselves in and were duly baled out by prudent taxpayers. It is now the moment for reciprocation and not further corporate welfare. Anything less would demonstrate a lack of representation by our elected representatives.

    The comfort of familiar policies is exactly what both Labour and Tories are proposing: a return to the grim Monetarism of the 1980's with its attendant antisocial behaviour from the state against the electorate. Having given the Financial Sector of the economy massive, sustained assistance at the expense of the electorate, any Politician contemplating "rationalisation", "cuts" or any other euphemism for taking assets away from the electorate should make sure the Unemployment Benefits System recognises "Former MP" as a job title.

  • Comment number 41.

    #27 -#37 are proving my point (at #26). Too much bile. It's 2009, not 1979.

  • Comment number 42.

    "38. At 8:02pm on 09 Sep 2009, totalgrafter wrote:
    The government needs to look at the benefit system in this country. I work and pay taxes as does my wife, so far this month we have paid out approx £1200 in tax and NI thats 35% of our joint income so far and we will get nothing back. My wife has a client who is on benefits, she has 7 children and claims £3208 every month in benefits, not bad £38496 per yaer for watching day time tv! If I need to go into a nursing home in my old age I hope I don't end up living next to this women because I will still be paying and she will still be getting looked after by the government for her loyal service in keeping day time tv alive for free. This needs to be highlighted and protested against, it's simply not fair being punished for working.... "

    Its a LOT worse than 38496!

    If she was working in order to get 38.5K AFTER NI and Tax she wound need a salary in eccess of 65K! So there is NO way she will ever come off benefits.

  • Comment number 43.

    Opps I forgot... 38.5K benefits, given that the average tax payer pays under 5k tax, she is living off at least 8 average Tax Payers!

  • Comment number 44.

    "17. At 7:14pm on 08 Sep 2009, victoriavandal wrote:
    I love being lectured on belt-tightening austerity measures by a man whose personal fortune is £30 million, but who still asks the taxpayer to subsidise his mortgage."

    Just for information how can I get the Taxpayer to subsidise my mortgage?

    My understanding is that ONLY "buy to let mortgages" and people on benefits get txapayer help?

  • Comment number 45.

    Got to agree with #41, so much bile, and all so misdirected. With one face we screech about the culture of victimhood in this country while with the other face we lament that it's "simply not fair being punished for working".

    People have been crying out for their pound of flesh since the severity of this crisis was drip-fed into the public consciousness. Sir Fred and his familiar Hornby sailed off into the sunset, so all our impotent rage was directed against the politicians, who did what they do best and moved their lips.

    So now that we've all been manipulated into forgetting that the bankers caused the crisis, and that the politicians in power from both main parties conspired to let it happen, and we can all focus our attention on getting the real witch hunt underway. Benefit claimants, ah yes. Based on the anecdotal evidence of a few anonymous posters, why not demonise an entire section of the UK population that doesn't have lobbyists or slick PR or media empires to speak for it. Sweet justice.

  • Comment number 46.

    "8. At 4:45pm on 08 Sep 2009, CynicalBrit wrote:
    Do Labour really think we take can them seriously ? -

    - Sold off Gold reserves at $200.00 an ounce
    - Promised to ring-fence ALL pensions when they came to power in '97"


    My handfull of pension plans (all persional as I don't get a final sal or a civil service pension) and have spread the risk over the years with different pots and always investhed between 15-20% of earnings.

    Predicted pension (from my statements) in 1997 approx 35k indexed linked, fully transferable to spouce if I die first, starting at 60, and 10% tax free lunp sum on retirement.

    in 2009 approx 16k not index linked, no spouce benifits and starting at 67 and i only get that if I DONT take a lump sum on retirement! I could get an extra 2k a year if i took up smoking and drink!

    This is dispite paying 18% of sal in every year!

    So much for my "ring-fence pensions"!!!!

    I and a lot of other people with private pensions will not be able to get spouce benifits, nor tax free lump sum nor index linked payments and will have to work till are late 60's.

  • Comment number 47.


    ''So now that we've all been manipulated into forgetting that the bankers caused the crisis, and that the politicians in power from both main parties conspired to let it happen, and we can all focus our attention on getting the real witch hunt underway. Benefit claimants, ah yes. Based on the anecdotal evidence of a few anonymous posters, why not demonise an entire section of the UK population that doesn't have lobbyists or slick PR or media empires to speak for it. Sweet justice. ''

    Nobody it talking about demonising benefits claimants, it is asystemic fault in the system not a fault amongst the class it affects.

    The bottom line is benefits should be a safety net not a way of life, I dont think there is any doubt of the enormous ' unwritten conspiracy of mutual benefit' which exists with the political and banking classes which is where any 'witch hunt' should be directed at, but the situation remains, is a life on benefits the type of society we want for a class of people who will never have the opprtunity to work in a highly mechanised society?

    That is the question which is not being adressed, we need to be more imaginative in our thinking about the role they can play in society rather than, in effect, in my view, brushing a whole social class under the carpet and placating them on a life on benefits supplemented by odd jobs on the black market (e-bay trading and the like) while claiming incapacity benefit for some easily faked condition to maintain a reasonable standard of living in the context of the modern technological world. Surely as a society we should be able to offer something more positively aspirational and useful than that?

    I think we can but in so doing we seem to run into the '' enormous unwritten conspiracy of mutual benefit which exists with the political and banking, media and legal classes''. The system serves their interests very well thank you very much and I am sure they would rather (subconsciously) placate and bribe the potential 5M people with nothing to do rather than come up with a society that is genuinly inclusive and shares the ' technology and mechanisation dividend' much more reasonably amongst the populous.

    Those 5M people have the potential to cause alot of trouble if their standard of living is cut which is what the ruling elite is subconsciously afraid of and seeks to control and manage rather than positively engage with the issue and look for how a new society fit for our technological prowess can be built.

    Needless to say I am not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 48.

    Population and 'planning' is the key issue - not simply cutting services.


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