Sunday, 12 May 2013

Dangers for the parties in government

In my opinion, the danger to the Conservatives' electoral prospects does not come from immigration or from continental Europe. These fears will recede as prosperity increases. It may not be prosperity on the scale of the false boom of 2006/7, but people will feel better by comparison with the last few years. What the two governing parties must not do is to overreact to the UKIP bubble by enacting more authoritarian and xenophobic legislation. This is particularly important for Liberal Democrats, who would lose members as well as votes by turning more reactionary.

My real fear is that as the economy becomes more active, the Treasury and the Bank of England will lose control of inflation. There is already a threat to the well-being of the most disadvantaged families with the deliberate pitching the annual uprating of many benefits at no more than 1%, well below the current CPI inflation of 2.5%. (Shopping-basket inflation may well exceed this.) We are told that if it had not been for Liberal Democrats in government, there would be no increase at all. I trust that this unfairness, which is far more iniquitous than the freezing of the higher age allowance or the room-restrictions of housing benefit, will be addressed in the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the next election. Labour have been headlining the "granny tax" and the "bedroom tax" rather than the more disadvantaged benefit recipients   either because they fear being lampooned as being on the side of scroungers or calculating that better-off pensioners are more likely to vote.

Now we have a warning that the income of mortgage-holders will be straitened over the next five years. The negative equity of the late 1980s shook the then Conservative government. It will not be long before Labour rediscovers Mondeo Man - and of course forgets its enthusiasm for printing money when in office.

Waiting in the wings is a possible increase in crime rates. We have benefited from a reduction in reported crime across the western world but this decline can surely not go on for ever. As economic activity increases, so other social activity, including the illegal variety, is likely to increase also. Even a small increase across the board in reported crime is going to fuel a Labour campaign, especially as the imposition of police and crime commissioners by the coalition can readily be cited as a cause.

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