Does Lady Altmann get our vote?




The Guardian is reporting the Conservatives intention to elevate Ros Altmann to the House of Lords and make her minister for consumer affairs.

She will not of course get our vote as she will be unelected- but she has flagrantly implied  “a vote for conservatives is a vote for Ros”.

Ros tells the Guardian, the pension reforms have…

“proved to me that the Conservatives really do care about all savers, not just the wealthiest”.

“They really do seem to want to make long-term savings work for the many, not just the few at the top,”

Ros is a consumer champion and – until now – a non-aligned consumer champion.

This statement changes that this blog considers if it is wise to explicitly endorse any party’s politics if you wish to maintain credibility.

Why has Ros thrown her hat into this ring?

There are two things that Ros has lacked in her 20 years of campaigning- power and money.

Her work till now has been unfunded, she has taken no money for being the older people’s Tsar and she has had to charge to speak, to write and to participate in the projects she has worked on, to make her living.

This independence has come at a price, there have been times I have wanted to work with Ros but have not been able to afford her. That is fine, my intentions were commercial and though Ros has supported the work of the Pension PlayPen, she has done so pro-bono.

But just as I have had no money, so I have had no power. What power I have, and this Ros recognises, is through this blog, which is why Ros appears on this blog- it is the smallest building block in her empire of influence

For Ros to have power she needs influence and to get that she has always had to associate herself with Government. For years she was ridiculed by many in the pension village for calling herself a Government Adviser. But without that soubriquet doors would not have opened for her. Ros needs big Government endorsement to carry out her plans and I take her decision to throw her lot in with the Tories as an acceptance that the end justifies the means.

That said, it is a big ask, for those who regard the Conservatives as the party of pension irresponsibility to buy into this egalitarian stuff. The economics of Tory policy are no redistributive, they are philosophically and actually the economics of the status quo, maintaining a social equilibrium that is not in the consumer’s favour.

Has she sold her inheritance for a mess of pottage?

If Ros is going to be minister for charge caps then she will find she has sold her independence cheaply.

But if Ros becomes the person who gets money for the financial awareness work that needs to be done to get people to understand the finances of old age, selling her soul to the Lords of Misrule will have been worth it.

Only she can judge whether she’s being used for PR or for the common good. I have to back her judgement though I won’t vote Conservative because of her!

Is Ros burning her bridges with the left?

I do not think a Conservative majority is good for pensions , nor good for the country, I think a Conservative coalition with the Liberals would work well for Britain. Similarly a lib/lab coalition works for me in a way that a Labour majority or SNP supported minority does not work.

I can see few advantages  in electing the party of pension irresponsibility to power, but Ros is one of them. She is some form of a hedge.

If the Tories do not get power, will Ros be a loser? – I don’t think so. Her stock with middle Britain will not be damaged by a flirtation with Dave and George. She may have burnt a few bridges with the far left but Ros is a clever enough operator to recognise that she is a populist not an ideologue and her power rests with her constituents, those in Britain in later years.

So no – Ros polarises opinion – but I think it unlikely that those who support her on the left, will turn against her because of this

Would she make a difference?

There have been plenty of calls for a pension commission, but not from me. Steve Webb has shown that a single person, with well articulated clear views and the interests of everyone in mind can make a difference.

Ros is just such a person and whether we have another great pension minister (or maybe the same pension minister) Ros can make a difference if she has real power and a proper budget.

Ros speaks for middle Britain like no one else. She is the yin to Farage’s yang, the positive to UKIP’s negative, she has galvanised support for pension reform and made it happen. I don’t quite understand her genius but I recognise it.

Whether in supporting and building Pension Wise, in building better financial awareness or in helping the new products to develop so that we can efficiently spend our pension savings, Ros can make a difference.

Does she get my vote?

Within Government she would be under greater scrutiny and her freedoms would be trimmed.

She cannot criticise from within and she knows it. Her campaigning would stop. Within Government she will be under greater scrutiny and more accountable.

But Ros with a budget and power can be a force for great good.

So I will support her, whoever her paymaster. She gets my support but her bosses won’t get my vote!

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in pensions, Ros Altmann and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Does Lady Altmann get our vote?

  1. Terence P. O'Halloran says:

    Both you and Ros Altman will live with the naivety of your so called consumer focused support for the incredible damage that is being perpetrated by Steven Webb and Osborne in the name of Freedom. Neither of you would know a median consumer or their ability to understand pension savings if you tripped over them Henry. How sad you are in your ‘poverty’ and Ros is in her Ivory tower.

  2. henry tapper says:

    I think Ros’ aim is to help the “median consumer” improvve their understanding. She has done this very well over a long period and her popularity is down – not to her naivety – but to her real understanding of the aspirations and needs or everyday people.

    I sit at her feet and try to better understand

  3. ros altmann says:

    Thanks so much Henry, I will promise to try my utmost to keep championing the consumer, the ordinary hard-working great British savers and workers who need protection – but also need financial education and information, so finance can work as well for them as those at the top. It’s a big task, but, as you rightly say, it’s so much more likely I can do this better from inside Government with some power, than as an independent outsider. I also totally agree with you on the dangers of Lab/SNP in charge by the way. Keep up your great work.

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