30 June 2009

Simple Things For A Simple Government

In the absense of anything radical coming from this government in its final few months, there are a few simple things it could do, that would make a huge impact.

1. End Compulsory Retirement Nobody should be forced to retire at 65 or 60. If they are fit, well and able to do the job, then employers should be obliged to continue their employment if the employee so wishes. This would be another important piece to add to Labour civil liberties record (Freedom of Information, Gay Rights, Human Rights Law etc.) It would make a massive difference to those who want to continue working, but are stopped by a mad law.

2. Votes At 16 The clincher for me is not that 16 year olds pay taxes, fight wars and legally have sex. The clincher for me is about increasing turnout in those OVER 16. By reducing the age to vote to 16, we make sure the oldest anyone will be when they FIRST get to vote in a general election is 21 rather than 23. It is these lost years that reduce turnout. The 1992 election was a five year wait for those who turned 18 just after the 1987 election - in this group you will find a significant drop in those who vote. We cannot afford to discriminate against so many over 18s - for this reason I say reduce it to 16.

Of course, there are many others - any suggestions of something simple and fairly non-controversial.

I still border hopes of Gordon Brown being deposed and it is promising to see LabourHome so hostile to Brown - 69% saying he must go now. I also hope that I will see a fair electoral system in the next 10 years as Vernon Bogdanor claims will happen, but I won't hold my breath.

After 13 years in power, Labour members will kick themselves for not insisting on a fair electoral system as Cameron is elected for a third term on 35% or less of the vote and inflicts hard-right Thatcherite economics on an increasingly frustrated populace.


  1. Compulsary retirement is an area where I agree with you provided that employers only face a reasonable burden of proof when they retire people because they are no longer capable, (something that will obviously vary from job to job and person to person).

    I'm less convinced by the argument for lowering the voting age and I speak as one who was first able to vote the day before I turned 23. We don't want to treat the adult populus as children but there are some areas that are adult responsibilities and I belive choosing our government falls into that catagory.

  2. "an increasingly frustrated populace"

    Frustrated by whom and relative to what? Labour have been in to bat for 12 years and all they did was ride the property bubble, which leaves the people at the bottom not one penny better off, and probably tens of thousands or pounds worse off.

    Not that the Tories will be much better, but they can't be worse, can they?

  3. Mark, unfortunately I think the Tories will be much worse - just you wait. The worst aspects of this Labour government have come about because they have tried to please the Tory press by acting like the Tories.

  4. Jonathan Miller1/7/09 10:06 am

    Lowering the voting age to 16 will just mean that more kids who have been indoctrinated by their schools into thinking 'Thatcher = bad' and particularly 'green = good', will get to vote. Heaven help us.
    The best reasons for lowering the age are the ones you dismiss as not important. I don't think many 16-year-olds yearn to vote - I was hacked off when I missed the chance to vote in 1992 by a mere month, but it certainly did not put me off voting - politics and lying politicians did that.

    ... and Labour inherited an economy that was not in too bad a shape, and drove it into the ground with profligate public spending. The recent crash has merely revealed the Emperor's new clothes.
    The Tories will likely take the economy and put it back on an even keel before getting turfed out by a populace who are annoyed at the measures it took to do it.
    If only Labour HAD acted more like the Tories we would not have to face a future of decades of trying to pay off public debt. (and I am not a fan of the Tories)

    Lastly, your header yearns for PR. Labour will become a fan of PR when it becomes obvious that it is the 3rd party in politics. Then Labour's fundamental desire for power and control of other people's lives will cause it to adopt any policy that might get it back into power (may that time be many many many years of, please God).

  5. JM, remember that even if we lower the age to 16, only between a quarter and a fifth (depending on gap between elections) of 16 year olds (over a 4-5 year period) will get to vote in a general election, most will have to wait until they are nearly 19 possibly 21, at present most people have to wait until 21 and possibly 23. Amongst this group of late first-time voters turnout is severely affected. This is why lowering the age will help 18-23 years old have more say as well.

    16 year olds will represent a very small part of the electorate and make little impact on the overall result - but it will mean their concerns will have to be listened to. No taxation without representation.

  6. "No taxation without representation"

    Then stop taxing them.

  7. I agree on compulsory retirement and there is a very strong argument that we should be raising the pension ages to nearer 80 given the increases in life expectancy (see last wekk's Economist). Why someone should be getting even a meagre pension for 20 years is beyond me.

    I'll accept the voting age of 16 as long as that becomes the age of majority. Let them drink, smoke and go to sex clubs if they wish. Also no special treatment when it comes to crime, training or other benefits