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Lies, Damned Lies, And Party Manifesto Promises

19/05/2017 11:42

To use a well-worn cliche, even more well-worn than the suit Michael Foot used to sport, you can trust a politician about as far as you can throw them.

Therefore, we should count our lucky stars that Eric Pickles has decided to stand down and John Prescott hasn't chosen to do a Vince (Cable) and seek to rejoin the Westminster fray. After all, trying to lob these two portly gents any distance might result in some very nasty injuries.

The amount of hernias the NHS could be left dealing with would be horrendous. Not to mention, budget busting. No matter though because all the parties are promising to pump loads more cash into our beleaguered health service. To be precise, £8 billion extra a year until 2022 from the Tories. While Labour have come out saying that they'll top that with £30 trillion of extra funding over the term of the next Parliament, which if it's as short as the last parliamentary term will certainly end up costing a pretty penny per annum.

Hold on a minute, before nurses start doing their weekly shop at Fortum and Mason instead of their local food bank, it seems that I may have got my trillions mixed up with my billions. Likewise, it appears that Corbyn's promise to immediately ditch the monarchy and turn Sandringham and Balmoral into adventure holiday parks for under privileged kids may have been all in my mind. Shame, they'd have almost got my vote with that one.

Labour and for that matter the Lib Dems can of course stand up in front of their trite slogans and say whatever the heck they want. It doesn't matter because they're not going to get in anyway. So when Tim Farron declares that his party plans to legalise cannabis, well, why not? It's not a bad idea, particularly with the young. At least, Liberal Democrat voters will, thanks to memory loss, quickly forget all those failed electoral pledges such as when Nick Clegg and his power hungry cronies infamously stated that they would scrap tuition fees and then spectacularly decided that they wouldn't.

Party manifestos are by their very nature to be taken with a pinch of salt or a pinch of snuff. Oh Lord, another promise, this time from the Tories, that I totally misheard.

All the same, unless the polls are so wildly out - in which case that £50 I'm contemplating putting on the Greens to win could result in the opening of my own wind farm - the Conservatives are cruising to another victory. This time with an increased majority and Theresa May at the helm.

It's therefore not surprising that their manifesto is the most realistic and relatively reigned in. Balancing the budget by 2025. Net migration being cut to below 100,000. Scrapping winter fuel payments to better off pensioners. If you're Richard Branson residing on your own Caribbean Island, it's debatable whether you actually deserve an extra £300.

By comparison to what the other parties are promising, all of their proposals are a little dull. The stand out initiative, if there is one, is the raising of the cost of the care threshold from £23,000 to £100,000. It's unquestionably the most interesting to me.

My mother, like the parents of tens of thousands of others, is in a care home. She lies there in a bed 24 hours a day, unable to converse, unable to eat for herself, unable to wash herself, unable, in fact, to do anything apart from staring up at the ceiling waiting to die.

As the Deputy in charge of her affairs, I dutifully transfer £4,500 a month out of her bank account to the facility in question. I long ago sold her house to pay for the care she receives. I wasn't upset and distressed that my brother and I wouldn't see a penny of any inheritance.

Now though the money is dwindling fast. Give or take a few months and it'll be down to the £23,000 level. Then what? There's not another house to sell. But do I for one moment think that the Conservatives will follow through on their assurance? Unfortunately, I don't. No more than they did a few years ago when they promised to cap care home costs at £72,000.

Forget Brexit. Forget immigration. Forget benefits or anything else politicians pretend to care about. If there's a single thing this election should and must be about, it is the future care of the elderly.

Is there a solution? Many argue not. If anyone's listening or reading, I'd like to propose an Old Age Care Tax - a fixed percentage of wages that all citizens pay from the moment they start gainful employment. Not popular, that's for sure. But desperately needed. Anyway, it's definitely something to ponder.

In the meantime folks, happy voting, if you can be bothered to. Just remember, the truth is out there somewhere. It, however, isn't to be found in any party manifesto.

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