Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A short round up....

Returning to work is making it tricky to keep the blog as up to date as originally planned, but I am hoping that I can find more time as I settle into the new routine! It is a shame as there have been plenty of issues to discuss over the past few weeks....
The big one is of course child benefit and this is the policy that Ed Miliband decided to tackle during his first PMQ's opposite David Cameron today. My feelings on this are mixed; my own family are affected but we are in the very lucky minority where it is a 'nice to have' as opposed to something we rely on. However, I do feel that the plan was ill thought through and cannot understand why the government did not ensure the single parent families weren't affected or base the calculations on total household income. The crude statistics that tell us a family earning £83kpa will still receive the benefit tells me something is not right. Hearing Justine Greening justify the decision not to means test the benefit because it was 'too expensive' will have done very little to appease those who are now going to lose a key part of their income. The idea that a married person's tax break (c£150pa) would somehow ease the pressure seems laughable, especially after reading that this would cost £1.6bn to implement compared to the £1bn that will be saved by the child benefit cuts. On a slightly more emotional note, it does feel like the end of an era. The idea that family allowance, latterly child benefit was truly universal is somehow romantic and something that I have grown up with. Perhaps naively I did think it would always be there for my own family; as it was for my mothers' generation.

The other big news last week was the appointment of Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor. There was mixed reaction to the news; with some commentators suggesting it was a move to appease Blairites or more precisely Miliband, D supporters whilst others thought it was a brave move to ignore the pressure to appoint either Mr or Mrs Balls to the post, despite their clear depth of economic understanding. I believe though that Mr Johnson's appointment was a shrewd move. He is popular with voters, he has an experienced 'man of the people' approach, he is plain speaking and an excellent communicator. Compare this with George Osborne who is seen as an aristocratic, uncharismatic and privileged 'toff' and certainly has not charmed the general public since the election; despite public empathy to the idea of widespread cuts. Economic policy means more to the man on the street at the moment than it has done for a generation. We are far removed from the days where the budget was the only economic announcement that the general public listened to, we are hearing daily updates that affect our wallets and people are sitting up and taking notice. Who better to decipher, communicate and attack these decisionss in the common, press and on the television than Alan Johnson?

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