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Andrew Ian Dodge: Normal people just care about paying their bills

Andrew Ian Dodge finds that people are more concerned with the cost of living, including the tax burden, than issues like the environment.

One of the side affects of getting married is an expansion in your cadre of friends and acquaintances. Now for most people this is not that big of an eye opening experience. But for me it was rather interesting. As someone steeped in politics who used to spend his time either around political hacks or non-political musos it has been a bit of an eye opener.

Of course, paying attention to the political media, the parties and the political cognoscenti one would think non-politicos are all up in arms about the environment, the progress of the war and whether or not Speaker Martin should step down. We are repeatedly given lists of things that the public cares about, things that both parties go on about.

I have found it interesting that whether I am chatting to my male nurse giving me chaemo every Wednesday or a childhood friend of my wife from Islington the environment doesn’t come up. Instead of going on about the “big” issues of the day they all seem to be rather more concerned with the day to day cost of things in their life. Many people I encountered feel that they are far worse off now than they were 5 years ago as pay rises have not kept up with expenses.

If one actually listens to what these people are saying they are talking about the increase in their expenses. Several of them are using the same phrase “we are just working to pay our bills”. Now I have yet to speak to any non-domicile types so hated by the unions but many of the aforementioned friends and acquaintances, with a variety of skills, are talking about emigrating from the UK. Not all are chatting of emigrating, but many in London are talking of quitting the city. 

Neither of these groups are thinking of quitting their current situation because of “pollution” or too many SUVs. They are quitting London because of the congestion charge, rising council tax rates and increasing taxation of pretty much everything bringing with it many restrictions.

Those seriously considering or indeed emigrating list things like the expense of living in the UK as their reason for leaving. They go on about how little one gets in the UK and the decline in their standard of living

It would probably shock party leaders on all sides to hear that people who live in council houses can tell that Brown’s assertions that inflation is at 3% is just quite astonishingly inaccurate. Despite the assumption by the elite that no one can add up any more people are perfectly capable of seeing above inflation rises in tax. And they know that their employees are being encouraged by the government to keep their pay rises at inflation or lower.

All it will take is a bit of political courage, the question is whether any party has the guts to take it on.


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