2020 – Offering the benefit of doubt…
If what’s promised is delivered, 2020 ought to be a year to look forward to…
The Prime Minister promises to restore our NHS, boost our economy, resolve the social care crisis, leap towards zero carbon Britain, slash poverty and to invest in education, policing, vital infrastructure, energy efficiency and flood defences.
Most people, across the political divide, would support this. Many doubt the PM’s integrity and honesty, or point to a Conservative Party which has generally argued for or done the opposite of these things. But let’s give them the opportunity to disprove our scepticism; to give them the benefit of the doubt…
In setting targets they’ve provided us a helpful measuring stick against which we can track progress during 2020.
The Conservatives opposed the creation of the NHS and pursued policy which runs the risk of putting profit before patient care. They’ve reduced NHS funding since governing alone from 2015. So, we ought to welcome the Conservatives’ uncharacteristic enthusiasm for our NHS. They purport they’ll:
• appoint 50,000 extra registered nurses,
• 6,000 more GPs
• 6,000 more primary care professionals
• put in £34 billion extra for the NHS and
• ‘review’ the pension disincentive for doctors (within their first 30 days).
The Conservatives failed to deliver the promised White Paper setting out solutions to the current social care crisis and ignored the findings of the Dilnot review of social care commissioned under the Liberal Democrats’ in Coalition Government in 2011. But the Conservatives have nevertheless promised to grant an extra £1 bn each year for social care and introduce a system which means that “no one will have to sell their home to pay for care”.
Education and childcare™
The Conservatives slashed schools funding and put political dogma above evidence based policy making. But now they purport they’ll increase and target funding within 100 days; put an extra £3 bn into a national skills fund; and an extra £1 bn into childcare.
Environment and climate change™
Since 2015 the Conservatives reversed progress made by Liberal Democrats and Labour and with the support of the Greens – scrapping the Climate Change Dept and sustainable homes regulations, selling-off the Green Investment Bank and consistently voting against every measure to combat climate change. But now they purport to be more XR than Greta Thunberg. They promise to make giant strides towards net zero carbon emissions; put an extra £9.2 bn into insulation schemes; and plant 30 million trees.
The Conservatives massively cut police numbers and failed our over-crowded prison and privatised probation services. Now they purport they’ll recruit 20,000 extra police officers and build 10,000 more prison places. And they’ve promised they’ll prevent foreign offenders entering this country.
When in Government Liberal Democrats had to resist Tory opposition to protect and enhance the state pension system and successfully introduced a “triple-lock” around pension increases as well as to protect the winter fuel, bus pass and TV license concessions. Many have been concerned the Conservatives plans to take away these benefits. But now the Conservatives claim they’ll leave them all untouched.
Under the Conservatives foodbank use increased by over 1000% and homelessness by more than 150%. As a Party they’re renowned for believing “the poor have only themselves to blame” and for opening up beneficial tax loop-holes for their wealthy friends and supporters than for helping the poor and have described people who are not as wealthy as them as “low achievers”. After all we had to fight the Conservatives to take the poorest out of tax and to introduce the national minimum wage – two policies they now claim to be theirs! But now the Conservatives purport they’ll reduce poverty through tax and benefit changes.
Brexit & Trade™
And of course we shouldn’t forget they’ll “Get Brexit done” by the end of 2020. Which they claim will “unleash the potential of this great country”, and will “raise standards in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment”. They claim they’ll “take full control of our fishing waters” and “negotiate a trade agreement – one that will strengthen our Union”.
So the benchmark is in place. They’ll get cross-party support if they live up the objectives of their programme. Though the PM is not exactly renowned for his honesty nor for capacity to deliver, let’s give him and his Party the benefit of the doubt, …but let’s also keep a close eye on progress.
30th Dec 2019