Tag Archives: lock

Lords defeat Tory plan to remove pensions triple lock

Pensions: it seems this time the Tories have been prevented from stabbing our senior citizens in the back.

This is excellent news – and a welcome surprise after Labour Baron Prem Sikka signalled that the Lords had failed to support his amendment to save the triple lock.

It seems they then supported a cross-party amendment to keep the pensions triple lock in place.

Peers by 280 votes to 178 backed a cross-party motion to keep retirement payouts linked to earnings – a large majority of 102.

Under the amendment the so-called “triple lock” would stay in place but adjustments would be allowed to be made for the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The defeat means the government will either have to accept the amendment, or send its original plan back to the Lords again and risk prolonging the political row.

The Tories are now whining that they have only suspended the triple lock for a single year – but Baron Sikka demonstrated yesterday that this would result in a loss of more than £30 billion to pensioners by 2027:

Under the triple lock, the state pension rises every year by the general rate of increase in earnings, the rate of inflation, or 2.5 per cent – whichever is the highest.

Because earnings fell dramatically during the first part of the pandemic and then rebounded quickly, an unmodified version of the pension triple lock would see a sharp rise in the state pension of around 8 per cent. The government wants to pass legislation that would stop this from happening automatically, and says it will reinstate the policy after the pandemic.

Source: Boris Johnson suffers heavy defeat in House of Lords over pensions triple lock | The Independent

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MP says he never intended to make people colder and poorer – while doing just that

Craig Mackinlay: busy making his constituents colder and poorer.

Check out the complete failure of self-understanding displayed by Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay in this clip from the BBC’s Politics Live:

He said he didn’t become a Conservative – I think he means a Tory MP – to make his constituents colder and poorer.

But he should know perfectly well that being a Conservative MP means doing both of those things.

Consider the decision to end the triple lock on pensions for a year because the Covid-19-related fall and rise in earnings had created an anomalously large percentage wage increase that had not been anticipated when the idea had been enshrined in law.

That single change will mean a massive fall in pensioners’ incomes, that has already been mapped out as far as five years into the future:

An attempt by Baron Sikka to save the triple lock, during a debate in the House of Lords, was foiled when other peers shouted over his call for a vote:

So we see that by voting to abandon the pensions triple lock (as you can see by checking Hansard here), Mackinlay did indeed – deliberately and knowingly – make his constituents poorer.

Remember that, even though pensions are still being uprated, inflation is higher than it has been in many years; the cost of things like heating will outstrip pensioners’ ability to pay for them.

And that brings me to Mackinlay’s claim about making his constituents colder. If they can’t afford to heat their homes then they will be colder. It’s as simple as that.

And his government’s refusal to accept Insulate Britain’s call for social housing to be properly insulated (rather than left to be leaky, as they are now) mean any heat generated in these dwellings dissipates into the atmosphere, increasing climate change.

And that brings us back to Mackinlay’s argument – that he doesn’t think the investment in fighting climate change is worthwhile.

Either he has not realised that ensuring that people are warm, by spending on insulation, would help to fight climate change – or he’s disingenuously trying to convince you of that.

That’s just a simple chain of logic involving two sets of people. Feel free to work out ways the Tories are impoverishing and freezing other sections of society.

And if you ever meet Craig Mackinlay, feel free to point out the faults in his logic.

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Did Starmer sabotage Brexit talks to aid his own – and Boris Johnson’s – leadership ambitions?

All in it together: with Keir Starmer backing him up and blocking opposition, Boris Johnson can do whatever he likes. And are they both lining their pockets at our expense?

Boris Johnson was only able to force Theresa May out of Downing Street and become prime minister himself because Keir Starmer sabotaged Brexit talks, a biography of the Labour leader claims.

Lord (Michael) Ashcroft’s book Red Knight: The Unauthorised Biography of Keir Starmer alleges that Starmer blocked a deal with Theresa May’s government that could have resulted in a ‘soft’ Brexit.

We should be grateful to the blog Colonel Despard’s Radical Comment for teasing out the important details:

Ashcroft’s book notes that May had invited Jeremy Corbyn to take part in cross-party talks in an attempt to agree a unified approach to Brexit. Starmer led the Labour delegation. According to an extract published in the Daily Mail, “The meetings opened with some optimism. The Government team quickly discerned, however, that some of those in the Labour camp were more willing to compromise than others. While those in Corbyn’s close team ‘were sending out signals that they wanted a deal’, Starmer was insistent that an agreement had to include a second referendum.”

While on the surface conducting himself professionally, behind the scenes it appeared that Starmer himself was giving negative briefings to the media that undermined the talks. May’s former director of communications, Sir Robbie Gibb, believes that Starmer was responsible for leaks that contradicted the joint reports agreed with Seumas Milne, Gibb’s Labour counterpart.

Gibb told Ashcroft: “there were briefings to the BBC’s Today programme saying that the cross-party talks are going nowhere. I’d get a call from the BBC saying, ‘I believe the talks are on the verge of collapse.’ ‘Well, who have you spoken to?’, I’d say. ‘Can’t say. It’s official sources’. He is convinced the negative briefings came from Starmer or his team, and that the mixed messages highlighted conflicting attitudes within the Labour delegation.”

According to Labour sources quoted by Ashcroft, Starmer was the most deal-resistant of the Labour negotiators, and worked to undermine those in Corbyn’s team who were in favour of a deal.

The book further alleges that Starmer did this in order to get support from the People’s Vote campaign that would translate into votes for him in a Labour leadership election.

The failure of the talks also led to May’s resignation and a Conservative leadership election that ended with Boris Johnson’s ascension to the leadership – and the role of UK prime minister – because of Keir Starmer’s interference.

But did Starmer’s treachery go further than that? Was he in fact supporting hard-Brexit Tories all along?

It has been argued that the only reason Labour’s Brexit policy at the 2019 general election was confused, leading to the party’s historically major loss was… Keir Starmer.

He had made a major intervention at the party’s 2018 conference responding to clear anti-Brexit sentiment among delegates by unilaterally introducing the idea that there would be a Remain option in a second referendum.

According to the blog article, this led to a policy change that would

accentuate the divisions between remain supporters and MPs from leave-voting Labour constituencies in the north who warned at the time that the policy would lose the party votes in a new election – which is in fact what happened.

So it seems Keir Starmer deliberately engineered Labour’s 2019 election loss.

This evidence strongly suggests not only that Starmer had worked to undermine Labour’s policy in order to further his own career, but also that he deliberately supported Boris Johnson’s – and continues to do so, to this day.

Starmer dropped his support for remaining in the European Union like a hot potato as soon as he was elected Labour leader.

The disasters caused by Brexit, that have led to the collapse of the UK’s transport infrastructure and shortages of products that we previously took for granted, have created golden opportunities for a Remain-supporting Starmer to criticise the Tory Brexit.

But he has been silent.

Not only that, but he has also supported Johnson on other matters.

The Tory response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a national tragedy, with hundreds of thousands of deaths* and millions of people likely to suffer the debilitating effects of Long Covid.

But Starmer has been silent. Indeed, he has only raised his voice to support government policies like the catastrophic decision to reopen schools last year, allowing the virus to access a superhighway into homes across the UK that created the winter surge at the end of 2020 and beginning of this year.

That is just one prominent example. You can probably pick out your own favourites from any number of Tory policies that Starmer has either overtly or tacitly supported, or failed to oppose in any meaningful way.

Now he has whipped Labour MPs to abstain on the scrapping of the triple-lock on pensions that, until now, protected what little value the UK state pension provided to our senior citizens.

The loss of the increase that would have been provided this year will now become structural, meaning future pensioners will be disadvantaged in perpetuity by this betrayal.

You may find it hard to accept.

But there is a clear argument that Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson are “all in it together”, as the former Tory slogan has it – and in it for themselves.

With Johnson as prime minister and Starmer blocking any possibility of strong opposition, they can line their pockets while the rest of us suffer.

*Remember, the official figures only record deaths within 28 days of a diagnosis, in order to reduce public feeling against the government’s failed policies.

Source: Starmer sabotaged soft Brexit talks to aid his leadership ambitions | Colonel Despard’s Radical Comment

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Pension triple lock scrapped for a year. But will the Tories stop there?

This Site predicted the suspension of the pensions triple lock, so it’s no surprise here.

The problem with the commitment to increase pensions every year by the highest of pensions, earnings or 2.5 per cent is that it did not anticipate a huge fall in earnings like that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by a similarly whopping rise when everybody went back to work and pay packets re-balanced.

It meant the highest of the three benchmarks – this year – is a massive eight per cent increase. And the Tories don’t want to pay it.

Back in July, I suggested the Tories were making a big fuss about nothing because they could impose a stop-gap increase that reflects the increase in the cost of living (which is what the triple lock is supposed to do).

It turns out that the Tories are doing something similar. Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that – for this year only – pensions would rise by inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is higher. The earnings increase will be restored to the calculation next year.

The decision has caused bitter resentment in some quarters, because people are upset that the Tories have broken a manifesto promise.

But this misses the point completely.

The point is that the UK state pension is one of the worst pension deals in the whole world.

On retirement, our pensioners will receive, on average, 29 per cent of their former earnings. This compares with an increase of 0.6 per cent in the Netherlands, more than 90 per cent of former earnings in Portugal, Italy and Austria, and an OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) nations’ average of nearly 63 per cent.

In fact, the UK’s pensions deal comes in at slightly worse than that provided in… Mexico.

This was a chance to level up the UK pension with some of our closest neighbours – but the Tories didn’t want to. That’s why people should be angry.

Of course, with the national insurance increase that the Tories say will pay for social care (eventually), pensioners will be worse off than ever – because pensioners who are still earning an income will pay towards it.

And there’s another aspect to this.

It is the rivalry between the old and the young over state benefits, the perception that pensioners get more than their fair share, and that they should lose some in order to correct a perceived imbalance.

This is utter piffle.

As Craig Berry states in The Guardian,

We can and should spend more on social security for young and old people alike.

To believe that a Conservative government would invest what it saves by removing the triple lock on today’s young people requires some magical thinking.

In practice, by reducing the state pension accrual rate (the entitlements we build up in return for paying national insurance), scrapping the triple lock would effectively amount to a significant tax hike on young people.

That’s because the tax they pay now would entitle them to a lower income in retirement than previously anticipated.

So it is ridiculous to suggest that we need to cut pension increases in order to help the young. It simply won’t happen.

Let’s face it – it simply hasn’t happened.

The (alleged) social care-related increase to National Insurance will affect young people and pensioners alike.

Because that’s what Tories are like.

They don’t take away from one group that needs help, in order to give to another.

They take from both, in order to give to themselves – as you can see with Boris Johnson’s National Insurance hike.

My only question is, do we believe them when they say they’re going to bring the triple lock back?

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A quick thought about the Conservative ‘tax lock’ silliness

Anyone who thinks David Cameron’s promise of a five-year ‘tax lock’ is a good idea must need psychiatric help.

Cameron promised to introduce a law banning income tax, VAT or national insurance increases in the next parliament if the Conservative Party is elected back into office, clearly in the belief that anybody on average wages or less is too stupid to know what this means.

We know better, don’t we?

We know that taxes are set according to each income group’s ability to pay. This means that people in the lowest taxable bracket pay the lowest amount, as they need most of the money they earn in order to pay their way. The amount of tax then increases by increments up to the highest earners – who take home considerably more than they need to survive, and who can therefore afford to contribute a much larger amount with no impact on their quality of life.

We also know that a five-year ‘tax lock’ will not affect the lowest-earning people at all. Nobody earning up to £10,600 pays any tax at the moment, so a freeze on nothing is still nothing.

What will it do to the people in the highest tax bracket? Well, it depends what they earn and how fast their pay increases, doesn’t it? Let’s have a look at the handy guide to average UK pay rises, created by fellow blogger Tom Pride last November:

141112average-uk-pay-risesTomPride

So the director of a FTSE 100 company, paid the average amount of a mere £2.4 million, would have contributed 45 per cent in tax, or £1.08 million in the 2014-15 tax year. Over a five-year period, if that person’s income continued to rise at 14 per cent, then by 2020 – at a 45 per cent tax rate – they would pay a total of £8,138,360 in tax over the years until 2020. That’s certainly a respectable figure.

But Labour has proposed an increase in the top rate of tax, back to 50 per cent. Under the same conditions, this would mean FTSE 100 directors earning £2.4 million in the tax year 2014-15 would pay £9,042,623.

That’s a difference of £904,263; nearly a million pounds each.

This writer doesn’t have current figures for banker salaries and cannot, therefore, work out how much tax they would pay – but you can see for yourself that the difference between the two scenarios is likely to come to several million pounds per top banker.

Those people don’t need that amount of money in order to survive. The cost of living in the UK is less than 1/50 of what the FTSE directors take home, let alone the bankers. But David Cameron wants them to keep that money.

Meanwhile the UK Treasury goes without millions of pounds that could be used to help balance the national deficit, pay off the national debt, and boost the economy.

We’re back to ‘Starve the Beast’ economics again. The nation’s finances can go to Hell, as far as Cameron is concerned. He wants to starve the Treasury with tax cuts for the rich – either actual cuts or de facto cuts like his ‘tax lock’ – and then claim that public services cost too much and will have to be scrapped or sold off to rich corporations in return for donations to the Conservative Party – as we have seen in the years of the Coalition Government (most obviously in the case of the NHS).

Unless you are a banker, an FTSE100 director, or a member of Parliament, you would be mad to support such a wasteful and selfish plan.

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