Earlier this week, journalists were sent a helpful email note from a Government special adviser highlighting the Conservative Party’s “shocking attack” on pension provision.
It included a pretty dramatic quote from Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper referring to the implementation of auto-enrolment and Nest and explaining that “now we know the Tories want to kick people in the teeth and take that pension promise away”.
The SpAd also allows Pensions minister Angela Eagle the chance to put her boot in describing the “breathtaking irresponsibility” of a Conservative Party that is being “disingenuous and hypocritical by talking in favour of the consensus but voting against giving millions of people access to a workplace pension”.
The thrust of the email suggests the Conservative Party will tear apart the upcoming pension reforms as the “Tories vote against pensions for millions”.
Of course, the truth is slightly less dramatic.
The Conservatives did indeed vote against the reforms this week as the regulations for auto-enrolment were passed through Parliament. But it was a protest vote registered with no hope or intention of blocking the reforms.
They are still hopping mad about the delays to the scheme announced by the Government last year and the way they believe the Nest administration contract has been rushed through before the general election.
The Tories say they were led to believe any contract would not be signed until June, although the contract has been split into two parts with the first part ending in October, allowing for a reassessment of the rest of the contract.
The Conservatives’ recent list of economic commitments included introducing auto-enrolment and Shadow pension minister Nigel Waterson’s main complaint about the introduction of the reforms is that they are becoming “a marathon not a sprint”.
Hardly the kick in the teeth to savers described by Cooper. The Government should be careful throwing around such statements considering the way it has treated pension savers since 1997.
This is not to say the Conservatives will be behaving any better as the general election gets nearer. The spin employed to attack Labour proposals to reform social care for the elderly was misleading and over-simplified an important topic that none of the parties seem to be able to get to grips with.
As the general election approaches you can be sure the spinners will get busier and important issues will continue to be distorted.