TO WIN, LABOUR NEEDS THE GREY VOTE?

 

Vic Parks  MOB: 07890126836                        vic-parks@hotmail.co.uk

INFLUENCING THE GREY VOTE.

Labour needs policies that will capture the imagination of the “Grey Vote” and meet their aspirations. It is a fact that most voters are mature people, whereas the young are unlikely to vote in any significant numbers. Thus, the Grey Vote could be a considerable factor in “The Marginals,” as these determine which party governs.

 

For many in the Grey Vote, there is considerable anger and frustration by the appalling destruction of the countryside, nature (wild life) and the environment by new, huge estates being built (nationwide) on green field sites. Many Tory voters, especially in rural constituencies, fight the developers with local campaigns (e.g. lambs.org.uk, in Sussex). It is Tory Government/councils’ policy to create Garden Cities and Towns in spite of local opposition (e.g. Oxfordshire). By major changes in Planning Laws, Tories let the developers (funders of the Tory Party) “off the leash.” Now, almost “anything goes.” Many of these housing developments are simply lining the pockets of the developers who get maximum profits from green field sites, usually located in prime, rural locations.

 

They do not truly help the so-called “Housing Crisis.” Apart from the sop to social housing in these developments (by Law), many are four and five bedroom houses. Most of them are bought up by foreign investors, Buy-to-Let landlords and UK investors. They do little to help the vast numbers of citizens who aspire to own their home. “Affordable homes” is just spin and not a reality. New Labour and the Tories relied on private landlords (The Market) to meet housing needs of the less well-off, instead of building social housing. Long term, this has meant high rents and instability for families.

 

The REAL need to address the “housing crisis” is a “New Agenda” which means a policy reversal. Many young people in politics believe that the more houses that are built, the prices will fall (The Market Philosophy). In current circumstances, this is a fallacy. Only direct, government action will cause house prices to fall and provide decent accommodation for those in desperate need (i.e. the Homeless), as outlined below. Nevertheless, in providing social housing, it is important to meet the concerns of the “Grey Vote” to avoid further destruction to the environment. The British countryside is a major asset for the Tourist industry and a goal of self-sufficiency in food to reduce food imports.

Immigration and population growth is a big issue as it creates a self-sustaining building programme and pressure upon Public Services.


 

There needs to be:

A moratorium of building on green field sites

A proper thought-out review on developments, to include important stakeholders: e.g. environmental charities/pressure groups.

An end to Right to Buy [which reduces the Social Housing stock],

An end to Buy to Let Mortgages [which exacerbates and distorts the Housing Market]

A ban on overseas investors buying homes (in some cases, whole estates being bought up)

The establishment of Social Housing plans for the homeless and less well off.

Encouragement of Shared Ownership and Community Land Trusts (Use of publicly owned land?).

A halt to the sell-off of our public land and assets. (A determined Tory policy, further lining developers’ pockets). When sold, councils and government lose control).

Protection of the Green Belt. (The Director of the IPPR said to me at the 2016 Labour conference, that he “would build all over the Green Belt.” This would not go down well with the Grey Vote!)

 

A TRULY, UNIVERSAL RIGHT TO ROAM.  The countryside needs to be opened up for recreation and leisure. It is very important for mental and physical health (e.g. Depression, combatting obesity). Many in the Grey Vote are walkers/ramblers and greatly value the wildlife and the countryside. Many species are facing extinction.  Left Wing Michael Meacher’s Right to Roam policy needs to be extended so that one can walk on any farm land (subject to exceptions), akin to Scotland’s 2003 legislation. Michael created the South Downs National Park which is its saviour.

 

Financial support for the farm industry, especially small farmers (part of the “deal”).

 

An end to the “War on Motorists.” Many in the Grey Vote rely on cars and are safe drivers. More credit should be given to the discretion of experienced drivers. Many towns and cities are “no go areas,” especially Labour run councils (Is it their covert policy to drive cars out of towns and cities?) To change public attitudes, a few suggestions:

 

Price controls on private car parks (this would also be popular with the younger motorists).

More provision of cheap (if not free) on-street car parking.

Generous compensation for car owners encouraged to buy diesels.

Encouragement for less polluting vehicles, especially in towns and cities.

An end to punitive insurance rates for young drivers.

An end to 20mph zones and speed bumps which do considerable damage to vehicles (They have now been found to INCREASE pollution).

 

Of course, many in the Grey Vote will be increasingly reliant on the NHS, with age, and end of life care. Thus, these are key issues for them.

 

There are four million National Trust members and millions more in English Heritage, RSPB, Woodland Trust, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, etc. Convert these to Labour votes and this could make a major difference in the key, marginal Tory held seats. Labour ought to be seen as a “Champion for the Environment/Countryside.”

 

BREXIT It seems clear that immigration was a key issue. It is said that England (especially the SE) is “full.” In the 1960s/70s falling birth rates were welcomed, with zero growth at one point. In the 80s, 90s, 00s, net population increase was 100,000 or 200,000. 2010/11 saw a staggering jump to 1.2 million with approximately 500,000 per year since. Rising population has a major impact upon infrastructure and Public Services, with dire future consequences.

 

JEREMY CORBYN:   We have to make Jeremy electable. For many decades, Public Opinion towards politicians is that they are “liars, cheats and only in it for themselves.” In recent decades, one could add that “spin” and rhetoric has undermined any semblance of trust in institutions, companies, NGOs and politics. It is a paradox, therefore, that a man who is “squeaky clean,” honest and principled, with considerable integrity, is deemed to be “unelectable.” Another criticism is “weak leadership.” This is hardly surprising when many Labour MPs (Right Wing, New Labour [Blairite] young, career politicians) have been deliberately (and often publicly) undermining him and the “New Agenda” since his election as leader. In their defence, it is hard for them to adapt, having grown up in the Westminster Bubble, whose philosophy and “conventional wisdom” is The Market, Growth and Globalisation. If Labour loses badly, as the current polls predict, it will be catastrophic for the Public Sector e.g. Education, NHS, Local Government services). The ferocious enemies of Corbyn (and the membership) will be responsible, in part. If they lose their seats, it will be poetic justice.

 

After his election at the Brighton conference, I said to Jeremy: “Do what the great philosopher Norman Stanley Fletcher (Porridge) advocates: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!” He smiled and said that he wouldn’t. I knew that he would have tough times ahead. Contrary to being weak, he has considerable strength of character withstanding the personal attacks, abuse and sneering by the Tories and even members of his own party, never, seemingly, rising to the bait and losing his temper. In many ways, his qualities would bode well on an international stage, commanding respect with diplomatic skills, in contrast to the confrontational style of Teresa May.

 

QUALITIES TO CHANGE PUBLIC ATTITUDES: Honesty, integrity, principled, “squeaky clean” (scandal free), not in it for himself (least amount of expenses than all 650 MPs), strength of character. Apart from bike riding, does he have any countryside/environmental/Nature credentials? (Many young Career Politicians [especially in the Westminster Bubble] do not seem to value the countryside and have little empathy with what older members of society value.

 

TERESA MAY: Instead of attacking her, personally, identify the incompetent people she appointed, that surround her: e.g. Hunt, Grayling, Rudd, Hammond, Truss, Greening, who have implemented disastrous policies that have led to crises in education, NHS, prisons, Courts, etc.

 

Vic Parks “Champion of the Grey Vote?”!   (2017)   MOB: 07890126836  vic-parks@hotmail.co.uk

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

 

I care deeply and passionately about the countryside, nature, democracy, Co-operation, Civil Rights and Liberties and have been writing for many years. My many articles and letters have been published in a variety of publications: social, political, education, law, travel, environmental and general interest issues – with a recent book on Co-ops/Control Freak Management/bullying.

 

As an early retired Senior Lecturer in Teacher Training, I have been very active in politics and voluntary Public Service for the past twenty years – the Co-operative Movement, Labour Party, pressure groups (Compass, Progress, ERS, LCER) and national charities. I believe that I am an innovator and often “ahead of the game.” It is also said of me that I am “the person who asks the questions that others would like to ask but don’t (and paid the price!).

 

I am very active and my life experience is wide and varied having travelled a good deal. Single Parent Dad, a passionate hill/mountain walker, dancer. Often acted as a Litigant in Person from Magistrates Courts to the Court of Appeal (very rare for LIPs).

Background: Electrical Apprentice/Electrician, Merchant Navy, Royal Naval Reserve. Teaching Electrical Engineering; the last 11 years starting up and leading a Teacher Training Course. Apart from writing I still do much DIY/house renovation.

 

Vic Parks       MOB: 07890126836                              vic-parks@hotmail.co.uk

 

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