Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Women Want - More Debt For Their Children?

Alice Thomson writes in The Times today about the problems the Tories have with attracting female voters.

I have no reason to doubt that every word she writes about how current Tory promises to women are wide of the mark. She writes convincingly...

"But new curbs on internet sleaze won’t make women vote Tory, nor will having more females in the boardroom or outlawing girls’ T-shirts saying “Jail Bait”. This is all about money. Women don’t care if there are more female candidates for mayoral posts when they are struggling to pay their household bills.

Mothers may well be concerned that their children can see hard porn on the internet , but they are more worried that their graduate children will never be able to get on to the property ladder. They are not expecting the Government to help them become a non-executive director of Tesco; they are wondering whether they can afford to buy their daughter a new outfit for the Christmas school disco. Nine out of ten mothers in an Asda study said “things are tougher” than they were last year."

Being a man, obviously I have no idea what women are thinking. But I can relate to the statement above, perhaps as a parent. While most of the measures are welcome, they do not get to the core of women's (and I would argue parents of both sexes) real concerns. That the focus on reducing the deficit is in danger of reducing our children's life chances and quality of life. It's a line that Labour is playing for all it's worth.

This is where Alice Thomson's conclusion comes in, and I think it's very important that the Tories understand the point she's making and start to make it themselves with much more energy...

"In the short term we will have to keep suffering. But the Government needs to make it clear to women that in the long term the best we can do for our children is to pay off this debt. Ronald Reagan once said: “Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.” If that is to remain true we need to suffer now so our children can reap the benefits later."

Parents want what is best for their children. Even if it means making sacrifices themselves. The truth is we have been living off enormous levels of debt, both personal and state, and pay back time has arrived. Depending on what accounting rules you apply, the government is in hock to the tune of between £1 trillion and £5 trillion. This debt costs us, and will cost future generations, billions in interest payments every year. The Government is not talking about reducing this horrendous debt level. Cameron is simply looking to reduce the rate at which we add to it every year.

The moral high ground is not Labour's "keep spending" approach, but the Coalition's message that it is not fair or moral to continue to increase the debt burden on our children's and their children's generations by forever increasing tax spend on ourselves. 

Our children already have a massive burden of debt to support. If we can stop adding to it, inflation and, God forbid perhaps even a current account surplus in some distant years time, will begin to reduce that burden and ensure that more of the tax they pay will go on services they want and vote for when they are adults and less on paying our debts and interest off.

That, it seems to me, is a powerful message to women, and men, who care about their children's future.

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