Danny Alexander repeats the ‘big lie’ that pension reform needed to stop spiralling costs

Danny Alexander's continued spin that we need to push up public sector pensions premiums so we can afford them is a myth that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has defended the Coalition’s intentions to ask public sector workers to pay up to £3,000 per year more for their pensions this morning, on the old government line that public sector workers need to pay greater premiums  so we can afford such provision in future.

The Treasury’s press release claims that the reforms:

“are designed to ensure that public service pensions remain among the very best available, while dealing with increased costs of people living longer.”

However, this is pure piffle. As Michael Burke wrote on Left Foot Forward earlier this month:

“The justification for the attack on public sector pensions is rapidly being unravelled. The chart below has had a good airing and even made it onto the BBC’s main news programme last night.

“The government has repeatedly claimed that the pension entitlements are “unaffordable”. The chart shows that – under current arrangements – the cost of pensions has already peaked at 1.9% of GDP and that they will fall to 1.4% of GDP over the next 40 years.”

The real reason, as Micheal Burke pointed out, for this reform, is to prime the public sector for privatisation, as set out in the terms of reference of the Hutton Report:

“…the growing disparity between public service and private sector pension provision, in the context of the overall reward package – including the impact on labour market mobility between public and private sectors and pensions as a barrier to greater plurality of provision of public services.”

Privatisation and outsourcing of public services is a good thing or a bad thing, but that’s what we ought to be arguing about here as it’s the real issue. The ‘we have to reform because we’re all living longer and can’t afford this pensions’ is a myth that Alexander should stop indulging in. In fact, if the changes spark a withdrawal, the Treasury will lose money overall.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

59 Responses to “Danny Alexander repeats the ‘big lie’ that pension reform needed to stop spiralling costs”

  1. Ed's Talking Balls

    Quite clearly, the point I was making is that you were assuming things about Selohesra while criticising Anon E Mouse for making assumptions about you. If Selohesra has stated that he is a Tory voter, or if I accepted that all Tory voters were nasty and/or frequenly made assumptions, I’d agree that what you said was fair.

  2. Peter

    Jab,jab, jab.
    Simple. At the age of sixyand having lived under tory and labour rule what I know is:
    Conservative is not the friend of the working man but the friend of big internationals and investers.
    Labour always wants something for nothing with no long term plan.

  3. Selohesra

    Leon – if you must know I have not voted for the Tories at the last three general elections – I used to but nowadays I see precious little difference between the parties. Of course they try and big up the difference between themselves to justify their existance but at the end of the day they are much the same. I seem to recall at the time of the last election a statistic revealing Tories planned to spend 698Bn & Labour 704Bn – ie Tories had 6Bn more cuts – sounds a lot – but <1% doesn't sound so much. In my view we need some more serious cuts – the EU money drain would be a good start and a real Conservative leader in the style of Thatcher to get the country out of this mess.

  4. Leon Wolfson

    Selohesra – Thing is, the details MATTER. Cutting in different places, and avoiding certain specific tax rises – VAT – and not doing certain extremely expensive pet projects – the NHS semi-privatisation – would make a real difference.

    The cuts going on are deeper and wider than Thatcher’s. You’re mistaking a right-wing drift under New Labour for the Tories going anywhere, afaik.

    Also, calling for a massive trade barrier to be imposed on us in our major exports market (because no, France and Germany wouldn’t stand for us staying in the free trade zone) is laughable.

    I won’t call you Tory in future, but instead far-right. Thanks for the clarification.

  5. Selohesra

    Thanks Leon – however I always find lables like far right and far left a bit meaningless. Afterall was there really such a big difference between Hitler and Stalin?

    If it helps you frame a view of me I can confirm that I am not a racist, do not think our troops should be fighting wars for the US around the world and am not in favour of capital punishment. I would like to think I try and decide each issue on its merits and what really annoys me is the slavish devotion to party orthodoxy by professional politicians (of both the main parties)who dont.

    If I had to apply a label to myself it would probably be Libertarian or English Nationalist – and before you bang on about Nationalist = far right just consider both SNP and Plaid Cymru neither of whom would consider themselves fascist

    Finally – and of no particular relevance I note that many of your postings are in the small hours of the morning – would they be alcohol fueled by any chance.

  6. Leon Wolfson

    Selohesra – I believe in calling people what they are.

    Far-right doesn’t necessarily mean racist, if I felt you were then I’d call you that.

    But no, you then have to throw away what was a reasonable post with a typically nasty, bigoted attack. I drink once in a blue moon, I’m actually working with West-coast Americans on their time, since that’s the work currently available to me.

    So thanks for clarifying that having a reasonable conversation with you is impossible.

  7. Selohesra

    Leon – it was a light hearted flippant remark – I too like a drink. However if you really found it a nasty bigoted attack then I appologise – it was not meant that way

  8. Leon Wolfson

    No, of course not. Right. I stand by my previous statement.

  9. RCT UNISON

    Danny Alexander repeats the ‘big lie’ that pension reform needed to stop spiralling costs, via @leftfootfwd http://fb.me/14necJ16T

Leave a Reply