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Mini policies lack the long-term outlook

May 6, it seems, is the favoured day for the general election. That is only 11 weeks away. Once we have got through the Six Nations and Cheltenham Week, we will be well into campaigning territory, so while I may still be on a high following West Bromwich Albion winning the Championship on May 2, the rest of Britain will be mulling over who to elect as its next Government.

I feel that this could well be the most hotly contested campaign for a generation, with the economy, heath, education and crime all vying to top the agenda with the public.

What are the parties offering in the way of the financial sector to tempt us with their vote? I will set my stall out at the beginning in that I have no political bias and that I start at the point that they are all ineffective.

The current incumbents are a little shy of promoting their election pledges at present. We do know that they would continue with the mortgage protection schemes after the election and the continued support of the banks that are under their full or part control.

The rest is a little sketchy, with Labour’s website only showing its achievements in the last few years.

The Conservatives have committed to disbanding the FSA but surely, in the main, it will be the same people, so what change of style and approach can we envisage?

They will abolish home information packs and also stamp duty for all homes under £250,000, which will be nine out of 10 homes according to their research. They want to bring in a national loan guarantee scheme to underpin the market and amend planning legislation for new homes.

The Liberal Democrats seem to offer the most radical reforms. Is this because they are the most forward-thinking or because they know they cannot win so can offer more blue-sky thoughts?

Vince Cable is proposing that, as Chancellor, he would split the banks into distinct savings and investment banks to mitigate the risk to the ordinary consumer’s money.

He also wants to increase the availability of affordable housing by releasing public sector land into the hands of the community.

All sides are offering vote-winning mini policies but do any of them have any long-term substance when whoever wins is going to have to tackle the mountain of debt that we are currently saddled with?

As I came of voting age during the peak of Spitting Image, it is still hard to break the thought of the caricatures of the two David’s at the SDP, Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley at Labour and Maggie Thatcher for the Conservatives.

What fun would they have had today in the run-up to this election and would they have helped clarify some of theissues the voters will face this year?

Martin Reynolds is development director at PMS

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