Sunday, 28 November 2010

Happiness measure?

It says on BBC news website today that our dear Prime Minister wants to know how happy we all are.

My first instinct to that was to question whether he cares at all, then I thought I'd read it to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps his election promises stood for something after all. Perhaps he really does care about the state of the family.

He starts well...

"He said the government's "most urgent priority is to get the economy moving, to create jobs, to spread opportunity for everyone".
"Without a job that pays a decent wage it is hard for people to look after their families in the way that they want, whether that's taking the children on holiday or making your home a more comfortable place.
"Without money in your pocket it is difficult to do so many of the things that we enjoy."

But he said the government also had to focus on the long-term and he said "the country would be better off if we thought about well-being as well as economic growth".

GDP was too "crude" a measure of progress as it failed to take into account wider social factors - he cited the example of "irresponsible" marketing to children, an immigration "free for all" and a "cheap booze free for all", which had all boosted economic growth at the expense of social problems."

Unfortunately I was still left with that old familiar feeling that I'd heard it all before. And the last paragraph put it succinctly...

"Trade union Unite attacked the plan as "another attempt by the coalition to pull the wool over peoples' eyes".

General Secretary elect Len McCluskey said: "No doubt Cameron will use the index to claim that despite rising unemployment, home repossessions, longer NHS waiting lists and unaffordable education, the people of this country are happier under Tory rule. The reality is a gathering gloom."

... and I have to agree. The general feeling among people I know is one of discontent, and I suspect that many people would use such a survey to voice that discontent.

The idea seems ok in principle but in reality I think its yet another PR exercise to make the government appear to care about the average family. Cuts in provision of surestart centres, NHS cuts, reductions in employing Midwives, demonising independent Midwives, increasing taxes for drivers, increasing VAT... The list goes on.

Back to the drawing board please Mr Prime Minister Cameron.

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