Gordon's pension raid could haunt him

ANYONE during the past 10 years who has dared to criticise Chancellor Gordon Brown's raid on pension funds has been turned on by the Prime Minister and Tony Blair, pointing out that state pensions in the UK have increased massively.

By Graham Dines

ANYONE during the past 10 years who has dared to criticise Chancellor Gordon Brown's raid on pension funds has been turned on by the Prime Minister and Tony Blair, pointing out that state pensions in the UK have increased massively.

But the abolition of pensions tax credits is leading to tens of thousands of British people facing old age with far less money than they expected, because their private pensions have suffered because of Brown's policy.

A number of company pensions schemes - final salary with defined benefits - have been wound up, and its odds on that most people not in the public sector will be forced to fend for themselves under the money purchase alternative.


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Local government employees, civil servants, and MPs have lucrative gold-plated pension schemes, underwritten by taxpayers and from council tax funds, and they are immune from, and ignorant of, the disastrous Brown policy.

Now that a freedom of information (FOI) request has uncovered that Gordon Brown was warned that he was potentially impoverishing the retirements of private sector workers, will it make any difference to his bid for the Labour leadership.

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That the FOI request was finally made public on Friday afternoon, after MPs had gone on holiday and the Chancellor was busy smoothing up to troops in Afghanistan, showed just what a disaster this could be for Mr Brown. Although he's run away from the publicity storm, he can't escape it forever.

It's one thing to swat away the Tory criticism of the pension policy, but when business leaders directly contradict claims by Economic Secretary Ed Balls that they had backed the move, things begin to look somewhat darker.

The CBI's director-general Richard Lambert said the organisation had privately told Mr Brown it was not a good idea - “there was a misjudgement by the Chancellor” and Robin Ellison, chairman of the National Association of Pensions Funds, said the industry had warned about the impact of the decision.

The revelations could just stir Alan Milburn to throw his hat into the leadership ring. That would then expose the Chancellor to weeks of television interviews in a leadership contest which until last Thursday had looked a mere formality.

I SHOULD like to thank Gavin Maclure, chairman of Ipswich Conservative Association, for his kind invitation asking me to donate £15, £25, £50, £100, or another amount towards the Tories' borough council £5,000 election fighting fund. He will not be surprised that I am declining the offer.

One of the reasons Ipswich is seeking unitary status is that it wants to end the domination of rural county councillors in the borough's affairs. How strange then that the begging letter was sent from the offices of Bury St Edmunds Conservatives in Woopit, one of the most rural areas of Suffolk, and where Ipswich Tories are now based.

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