Part three of our review of manifestos for the election takes a look at the Conservative's offerings.
By far the most concerning item in the manifesto is the Conservative policy on state pensions. At present men have to work five years longer than women to get a pennons despite the fact that they've put in more hours at work on average and thus contributed far more in taxes on average. On top of this, male life expectancy is rather poor in the UK (a fact which even the manifesto even touches on) and as a result your average woman can expect to receive some £81,000 in pension payments in her life, compared with £55,000 for a man.
Such is the unfairness of this situation we even have excellent groups such as PARITY campaigning for pension's equality and even Labour finally agreed to end this sexism one day far into the future. So what's the Conservative policy here? Are they going to equalise retirements ages as soon as possible and live up to their promise of "change"? Well actually, the manifesto promises change, but change that makes the problem even worse! They propose raising the retirement age to 66 in 2016, but only for men. Women will continue to be able to retire at 60 right up until 2020. Thus we'll have a six year difference in retirement ages instead of the present five and £49,000 paid to men compared to £81,000 for women. By my calculations the total sum the Tories will be denying men over the four years is a staggering nine billion pounds. Further still, David Cameron suggests the money is going directly to women so that they all get a full pension, I don't think I've ever seen a more sexist idea.
Obviously such a policy instantly rules anyone interested in equality out of voting for the Tories, which is perhaps a shame given that its proposals do contain a few positives. The first thing of note is the more incisive language used in the document. There's no sexist terminology anywhere to be found. For example the two party manifestos I've reviewed so far focus on the trafficking of women for sex, whereas Conservatives address "people trafficking" which is far more appropriate given forced labour is a massively larger problem. As most people know, the issue of women trafficked for purposes of prostitution has been blown out of all proportion by Labour.
The Conservative's plans in eduction also appear quite reasonable from an equality perspective. They recognise how broken and the current system is, not to mention how devalued qualifications have now become and appreciate the need to focus on core subjects such a maths and science. They also promise more challenging activities for especially gifted pupils, as well as help fro the least able. The Conservative perhaps don't' realise but this is in fact a gender, given that boys dominate both extremes of the intelligence spectrum. More significantly, they specifically mention the issue of false allegations against teachers and promise to protect staff.
Further help from the falsely accused can be found in the section on crime, with the Conservatives promising to remove innocent people from the government DNA database and instead replace them with convicted criminals. Other positives include numerous polices from helping those in the armed services, most notably policies helping them after leaving, and also support for married couples thus helping to remove the current financial incentives for divorcing. Finally there's a commitment to shared maternity leave, which is certainty preferable to Labour's 4 weeks for fathers and 52 for mothers.
However, overall the document is something of a disappointment. Whilst you fell the party has their heart in the right place, the generally feeling you get from the manifesto is that while the Conservatives mostly understand what's important, they really don't seem to quite have the right solutions yet and still seem out of touch. The polices on marriage are commendable for example, but you get the feeling the Conservatives just want to push the clock back to a different era. The party recognises more needs to be done in terms of contact after separation even recognising that we have " some of the worst rates of family breakdown in the world", yet there's no actual commitment to shared parenting. Yes they mention false accusations, but why restrict such polices to the teaching profession when the issue can ruin anyone's life regardless of their profession? The problem isn't schools in this instance, it's society as a whole and the lack of punishment and prosecution of the crime.
Similarly there are also concerns with the Conservative's "Big Society" theme. Concerns about government bureaucracy, waste and interference are sound, but the Conservative approach also brings concerns. For example they want to see charities proving public services, but in some areas that's already the case to some extent. Take domestic violence for example, do we really want to hand even more power to gender feminist organisations such as Women's Aid and Refuge so they can continue to deny help to male vicitms and pretend most of them are making it up?
In conclusion, it's a decent enough document for the most part, but the pensions policy is so horrific it essentially cancels everything else out. It shows us the traditional Conservative way of hurting men is still alive and well. Whereas the Labour party hates men due to it's gender feminist influence, Conservatives harm men through chivalry. The pensions policy shows they expect men to work even harder and longer than women for less reward. It sends out the message that men are an expendable resource to exploit, rather than people deserving of equal treatment and you have to fear that such an attitude will find it's way into other areas of policy. It's all very well coming up with decent education and civil liberties polices, but no one is going to take your seriously if your idea of pensions reform is to ring-fence women's income whilst his taking £9 billion from men to fund it.