It seems that Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has greatly under-estimated the level of the basic state pension.
Whilst the errors recently made by Nick Clegg seem incredible, unfortunately no one these days would be surprised at this level of ineptitude from a politician.
Mr Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, when asked in an interview for ITV West-Country how much the state pension was he said “I think it’s about £30 quid now, isn’t it?”
The questioner Wally Cotgrave, a retired blacksmith from Devon said he was “unimpressed”. The answer should have been £90.70 a week for a single person and £145.45 for a couple, with more if you claim tax credits.
What I find a bit rich are the comments then made by Mike O’Brien, the New Labour Pensions Minister, who accused Mr Clegg of “living in a remote world – an ivory tower”.
Mr O’Brien would seem to be saying that Mr Clegg didn’t know what he was talking about and by association was inferring that he didn’t take the subject seriously enough or indeed think it was important enough to know something as simple as the amount of basic state pension people are entitled to.
What I think Mr O’Brien is trying to say is that his party is the one that takes pensioners situations seriously and Mr Clegg’s isn’t.
After all, we are an ageing population and it should be getting more and more important that our politicians start to take notice of this; pensioners are voters too!
With this in mind I would like to point out that up to the beginning of this year, New labour have had no less than 13 parings of ministers to look after the serious business of pensions, since they got into power in 1997.
It started in May 1997 with the paring of Harriet Harman and Frank Field. It changed again in July 1998, January 1999, July 1999, May 2001, May 2002, June 2003, September 2004, May 2005, November 2005, May 2006, June 2007 and a change in January this year to the paring of Mike O’Brien and James Purnell.
Here are two people who are pushing through a new regime of Personal Accounts, where the affect of means tested benefits could mean that if you save £1 into one of these accounts, you could very easily get less than £1 back.
So I am of the opinion that although it is a disgrace that the leader of the liberal party doesn’t know what he’s taking about, it does not seem New Labour are taking this issue seriously either.