I thought the process of the Tories and Lib Dems going their separate ways ahead of the 2015 General Election would start about a year out. Now it looks as if the Coalition Government is going to grind to a halt much sooner as the Tories and Lib Dems bid for votes.
David Cameron has risked this happening with the launch of his idea to scrap housing benefit for under 25s. He made no secret of this being a true Tory policy free from the coalition agreement that so irritates his right wing backbenchers. Its effect is to begin a process that can only weaken the forward movement of the government.
Apart from the fact that most of the key legislation was rammed into the first two years of the parliament, Tory and Lib Dem MPs will now be focused on shaping up for the next election rather than making the concept of coalition government work.
It is true that Cameron has been true to his word to introduce a bill for Lords reform this week. But few Tories have any commitment to it, most are indifferent or are actively plotting to defeat it. They don’t want the measure and they don’t want to put any feathers in the cap of the Lib Dems. So the next election is underway.
TIDE TURNING ON THE OLD?
By and large the old vote and youngsters don’t. Therefore politicians meddle with elderly people’s allowances with the greatest care. Tuition fees of £9000 a year fine but free TV licences and winter fuel allowances for the grey brigade….untouchable, until now.
Although the government is committed to the concessions in this parliament, there are indications that after 2015 the better off elderly are going to start feeing the pain of the younger generation.
And so we should! I was born under the National Health Service in 1948. I did not do national service or fight in a war. University education was free. There were plenty of jobs afterwards and, for some, good pensions to retire on.
Compare that to the stressed generation of youngsters now. Big debts, no jobs and the prospect of paying for our profligate public spending throughout their lives.
The Chancellor made the first move when he chopped the age related tax relief I was expecting next year, but this could only be the start of a seismic move by politicians to be more even handed between the generations.
It will be fascinating to see how the electorate reacts. Will young people start to vote in large numbers to influence politicians or will the 1940s baby boomers mobilise to insist that the good times must continue to roll for them?
NATION OR PREMIER LEAGUE?
There won’t be a long inquest into our latest failure to land the European Nations Cup. (I prefer the old titles, League Cup, European Cup, and Division 1).
We have made our choice. We are happy to pay Sky high subscriptions to watch the world’s best footballers in the First Division (ok, Premier League).
Even more foreign stars will be attracted to our shores with the latest extraordinary hike in television rights. Even fewer talented English players will get a chance to perform at the highest club level, so there will be even fewer able to pass and hold the ball in international tournaments.
The new FA youth centre will help a bit, but as my late father said to me as we watched England winning in 1966, “It could be a long time before you see this happen again.”