By Anasudhin Azeez
The ruling Conservatives, opposition Labour and Liberal Democrats have unveiled their manifestos for the 2017 general elections. Whoever comes to power on June 8 will follow the manifesto commitments and they are the blueprints for the creation of post-Brexit Britain. The contents in the manifestos indicate the life wont be same for an average Britain after the elections.
The 21st century Britain is now heading for an era of Mayism. Thatcherism in the 1980s was decimated by poll tax and the fall-out of the Iraq War cast its shadows over Blairism in the 1990s. Mayism will be one of the short-lived political experiences because May is not Thatcher or Blair and she lacks the political manoeuvrability to keep the team under her fold.
Breaking the manifesto commitments will make British politicians unelectable and May, 60, making some cardinal sins in politics by dividing the party over non-popular commitments like withdrawing fuel allowance for elderly and dropping the triple-lock commitment on pensions. About 10 million elderly voters will be affected by these decisions. Most of them are traditional Tory voters. That may reflect on the fate of Tory candidates in some marginal seats. Nobody is saying anything now. But it will come to the fore after the results. Labour promises of withdrawing tuitions fees and cap on energy prices are already eroding the Tory support.
May is re-positioning her party to the centre-left. She is now in the Labour territory. By doing that, she is burning the bridges built by David Cameron and the party. Under May, the party is nowhere visible, except a team of advsiors. The inability of the prime minister to take the party along with the government will create more problems. Party Chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin, a former miner turned politician was projected as a working class role-model Tory, is missing from the campaign trail. It shows No 10s new style of functioning. The man on next door, Chancellor Philp Hammond at No 11 Downing Street, has expressed his displeasure over the interference of ‘May advsiors’ in the treasury affairs. History repeats itself at Downing Street.
The rising star of the Conservative Party, Scottish leader Ruth Davidson dropped May’s fuel allowance from her manifesto. The party beyond the English border is keeping the fuel allowance promise, claiming the Scotland is more colder than England!
The Tory austerity drive since 2010 under Cameron and George Osborne already pushed thousands to food banks and charity centres across the country. Pensioners are now an unwanted segment for Tories. It’s a triple whammy for pensioners. There is no triple lock on pensions, there won’t be any more Winter Fuel Allowance and most of them have to pay for their social care. People worth more than £100,000 would have to pay for their care – but could defer payment until after their death. The calculation for people who need care at home will take into account the value of their property. Pensioners are now an unwanted segment in the electoral jigsaw puzzle. Strangely, they are the one fuelled Brexit drive. Without them, Brexiteers won’t secure 52 per cent votes in the referendum. They want their country back and now paying the price for that.
The Prime Minister said there were five priorities for the government: A strong economy; Facing up to the consequences of Brexit and a changing world; Tackling “enduring” social divisions; Responding to the challenges of an ageing society and harnessing the power of fast-changing technology.
“This election is the most important this country has faced in my lifetime,” said May in the foreword of her manifesto. “Our future prosperity, our place in the world, our standard of living, and the opportunities we want for our children – and our children’s children – all depend on getting the next five years right… if we succeed, the opportunities ahead of us are great.”
May is talking about post-Brexit Britain. The free fall of the pound just after the Brexit referendum and the rise of inflation will make life miserable in Britain. The public sector workers are struggling with their one per cent cap on salary hike when the inflation crosses 2.5 per cent. Nurses, teachers, fire services and even police forces are planning strikes. Nobody will feel great in these miserable conditions. Is there any alternative? In the absence of TINA (There is No Alternative) factor, Mayism will thrive till March 19, 2019 when Britain formally exits from the European Union. After that, she will struggle to maintain her seat at No 10. Probably, she will go the Thatcher way.
The high poll ratings are providing a free hand for May to implement her Brexit agenda. The plight of Labour is not good democracy. It is not good for the immigrant communities too. Their manifesto shows a deficit of 58 billion pounds and they promise to nationalise rail, mail and water besides a cap on power tariffs. If Labour wins, they will take the country back to the 80s where trade unions call the shots. Nobody wants a return to that chaotic years. May also dropped the earlier Tory plan to balance the book by 2020, or by 2022. She already angered the businesses by promising to grant one year unpaid leave for workers to take care of their loved ones. The Tory move on migrant workers will affect businesses badly. The Liberal Democrats said the move against skilled migrant workers is an “economically illiterate idea.”
Without any additional investment in skill development, May is closing the door for skilled migrants and punishing businesses through doubling the levy for hiring a foreign workers. Financial giants like HSBC are moving their staff to Ireland and other EU states to avoid the fall outs of Brexit. Anyway President Emmanuel Macron is waiting at the end of the Channel Tunnel to welcome the city folks to Paris. Bonjour Macron! Viva Republic! Britain’s loss will be France’s gain.
(Anasudhin Azeez is Editor of London-based Asian Lite. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)