Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Facing The Problem

Published Wednesday 30 September, 2015

To my mind the biggest problem we face is a medium-to-long term one that, by its very nature, can always be put off til tomorrow........and that particular day, as we all know, never comes. What is it? 

Well it isn't the migrant crisis; no matter how sad that is (and I bet there are a fair few skilled plumbers and electricians, carpenters and brickies in that lot at Calais who could help us build the 200,000 houses we desperately need....it's that shortage that'll stop us building them, not planning policy) we are just not a big enough Island to take everyone. We keep being compared unfavourably with other EU countries: France (same population, twice the land mass). Spain (two-thirds the population, twice the land mass) Germany (a third more population and three times the land mass) ......... What do they want us to do? Sink?

It isn't the economy; that's doing just fine thank you very much. For a Country to be a basket case just six years ago and now being able to withstand the slowdown in China with ease is a tribute to the good people of our Country. No matter what the joke they call Her Majesty's Opposition might have you believe, the electorate understood what was needed and a Government with cajones delivered. 

No, the greatest threat is one that will affect the lives of our children and their children far more than us.......... It is literally a fact of life that we are all living longer.

A baby girl born today in the Developed World has a one in three chance of celebrating her hundredth birthday; a baby boy's chances are slightly less, one in four. Yes, that's right, 25% of all males born today in the U.S. or Denmark, in Australia or Spain, in Japan or the UK will be alive in 2115!

And precisely what are they going to live on in their old age?

There was NEVER enough money to pay pensions in our Country; it's just that no-one ever lived long enough to find out! Our grandparents' generation worked til they were 65 then did the decent thing and died when they reached 67! If they lived into their seventies they were living off the pension contributions of those (and there were many) who didn't even make it to retirement! A State Pension Age of 65 was set in .....wait for it......1925, when male life expectancy was 66. There has been huge unrest in some countries (and amongst the Trades Union movement everywhere) about extending the age at which the State Pension kicks in to 67 or 68 (or, as. those figures are translated in France, 57 or 58!!). Precisely where do these people expect Governments to find all the additional cash required to pay all these millions more getting-older people ..........thin air?

Q:- What do you get if you believe 2+2 = any number you'd like it to be over 10?

A:- Jeremy Corbyn!

And what do people in their eighties (the new seventies) need more and more of? Healthcare. So a creaking NHS is going to look after that lot is it? But any politician of any party that attempts proper reform of the NHS might as well write an electoral suicide note that would make the contortions of the Labour Party look like a walk in the park.

It is easy to leave these problems to another day. "We'll muddle through", "it'll work out ok in the end, you see". But the sad fact is that it simply won't.

Unfettered immigration based on where you're from (basically the EU) rather than what skills you have, to the tune of a medium-sized town (350,000) every year doesn't help.....all those people will be older for longer and need more and more state-funded healthcare as well.

But the real solution is root and branch reform, an understanding that everyone has to pay more to look after themselves, a State Pension Age into the Seventies, less hypocrisy and more realisation amongst the Great British Public........and a UK political class that displays that possession which is most marked by their absence of late........Leadership!