Important Influence of the Postbag - Worcester News

MPs must stay in tune with what our constituents, the people who elect us, are really thinking, and not get caught out by simply believing our own Party political propaganda.

My "postbag", by which I mean not just letters but also telephone calls and e-mails, tells me that the people of Worcestershire of all ages are now really concerned about the rising cost of living and the growing burden of taxation. They feel a sense of injustice that those who work hard or who have saved hard are not being rewarded for their efforts.

The economic outlook is worrying. There are growing pressures on families and pensioners. More and more people are beginning to feel the pinch of rising prices, higher taxes, and falling real incomes. Falling house prices add to uncertainty.

High energy prices are creating difficulties for many households. Those on lower incomes are being hit especially hard. In the past year, the cost of many basic household items has increased significantly. For example, the prices of butter and of a dozen eggs have both gone up by about a third.

To be fair to the government, many of these rises are outside its control – but its tax rises are its responsibility and no one else's. Two especially make people angry.

The past decade has seen council tax double. That was a decision entirely down to Gordon Brown as he gave councils less taxpayers' money and asked them to do more.

But it is the abolition of the ten pence starting rate of income tax that was, for many, the final straw. I have had scores of letters from local people about it and the serious problems it is causing.

One lady who didn't give me her name or address wrote a particularly powerful letter about it. She also gave me a detailed explanation of how the tax-credit system often unfairly penalises those who choose to stay in work, and save hard. I wish I could reply to her moving and angry letter. I wish Gordon Brown would read it too.

Thank you, all of you, for writing, ringing or e-mailing. The power of the postbag in influencing politicians is immeasurable - it is the best way to communicate concerns to those with the means to do something about it. Perhaps the Prime Minister should sit down and start reading.

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