Frankly speaking: Addressing some home truths

By Frank McKenna

13 May 2024

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“You can’t handle the truth”.

So says Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘A Few Good Men’ as he defends his ruthless decision-making in a frontline situation.

I wonder if that is the mindset of our leading politicians right now, as we approach a General Election?

Can we, the electorate, handle the truth?

Here is what the polls tell us. We want more money spending on the NHS. We want more resources made available to schools. We want more police. We want better quality social care. And we want to control immigration more effectively. We are not keen on spending more money on defence, or overseas aid.

Here is what we also want: to pay less tax.

Only a very brave politician, in an election year, would tell us that if you want better public services, then taxes will have to go up. If we want a better NHS, then it is as much about reform as it is resources.

If we want to fix our creaking social care system quickly, we need more – not less – immigration.

Indeed, if we want to continue to be a nation that cares for its old both financially, through a very generous ‘triple-lock’ pension system, and by having an infrastructure that cares for them when they fall ill – then unless the government can somehow reverse a consistently declining birthrate in the UK, again more immigration is the only practical answer.

The world is becoming a far more dangerous place. So the post-Cold War peace dividend has gone – and, particularly since Brexit, the UK’s influence on the global stage has diminished, making British aid to foreign countries more essential than ever.

Of course, all of these issues are more easily tackled if we can grow our flatlining economy.

The easiest way to do that is to forge a closer and more pragmatic relationship with our nearest and largest trading partner, Europe. But our politicians, and let’s face it the voters, don’t want to talk about that either.

The truth – honestly - can you handle it?

Enjoyed this? Read more from Frank McKenna

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