This coalition malarkey is proving to be even more consensual than we thought. It now appears that whatever immigration policy people voted for, what they are probably going to get is neither the one the Tories campaigned on, nor the Lib Dems’, but Labour’s.
Business appears to have won the argument that the Tories’ idea of a rigid cap on non-EU immigrants risks cutting off workers that the country needs and wants from abroad. Er, like wot Labur sed.
The reason we know this is because of the new approach of briefing out the deliberations of Cabinet committees chaired by Nick Clegg, presumably so that we can all be impressed at how terribly busy he is.
But it is also evidence of how keen he is to support his boss that he seems to have been the one defending the Tories’ election-time gimmick – oops, sorry, of course I meant their thought-through policy – whilst Tory ministers Michael Gove and David Willetts (three and a half brains) are doing the ‘hold on a minute’ routine we assumed was Cleggo’s role.
The shift appears to be driven by worries that banks and multinationals, among the Tories’ closer friends, need to be able to hire and fire globally if London is to remain a key financial centre.
So step forward a variation of the Australian points-based system GB never tired of mentioning during the election campaign. I don’t suppose it is much consolation to Gordon that the coalition parties, having for different reasons and with different emphasis rubbished this policy, now appear set upon embracing it. Nor will it be much consolation to Aussie PM Kevin Rudd who has gone very quickly from stratospheric ratings to the exit door marked internal putsch. At least David Cameron has never had the stratospheric ratings to worry falling from.
So as to show I am not wholly driven by loathing of all things Tory, may I express qualified support for their attempts to raise the pension age.
The French were out revolting yesterday at the idea of a rise from 60 to 62, so the Tories might have their work cut out with a long-term goal of 70.
But governments have a responsibility to adapt to changed circumstances. State pension ages were set in 1940, when the average life expectancy beyond retirement was seven years. It is decades beyond that now.
Provided the shift is matched by an anti-ageism agenda, so that older people can find the jobs in the first place, I cannot get as worked up about it as the unions appear to be.
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