Tag Archive: Conservative Party

Tories Of Millbank

(To the tune of U2’s Angel Of Harlem)

It was a cold yet bright November day
12 noon start, Horseguards Parade
Banners reading “Fuck the Fees”
Education brought to its knees
by the Tories

Parliament Sq and a big red bus
today this city belongs to us
not the Tories

Anger, this rage won’t let me go
such bile…for the Tories of Millbank

Tate Britain on our route
but first we pass the faceless suits
we got anarchists and a red/black flag
Sally says we have to resist the Tories

Aaron Porter got shallow eyes
we see the truth behind his lies

Anger, this rage won’t let me go
such bile…for the Tories of Millbank
Tories of Millbank

They’ll steal your education, and then your soul
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah
yeah yeah, right now

Blue lights on the avenue
riot police are coming through
fire extinguisher, flooded stair
how many really got in there
kettled you, lost liberty
up on a charge with 43
red flares exploding in the street
strike fear into the blue elite
Tory in a Lib-Dem tie
Betrayal, pack of lies
You never looked like an angel
Nick Clegg, another Tory of Millbank

Tories, Tories of Millbank

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – Angel Of Harlem

(To the tune of U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name)

I’m too skint to run, too old to hide
I have to take out the furniture
that I have inside
I want to reach out
for just a few quid more
to stay where the streets have no poor

I want to feel Southern light on my face
I’ve seen the cockneys disappear
without a trace
I need to call Shelter
if anyone’s there any more
where the streets have no poor

where the streets have no poor
where the streets have no poor

they still claim there’s
affordable housing
outside the M25 ring
and when I go there
you can’t afford not to come too
it’s all we can do

the city’s affluent
but our car’s turned to rust
we’re evicted and cleared by the Tories
who betrayed our trust
I’ll show you a place
high on the Yorkshire moor
where the streets might still have some poor

where the streets have no poor
where the streets have no poor

they’re still building
their mansions in fields
as the welfare state yields
and when we go there
you’ll just have to come too
it’s all we can do

our dreams turned to rust
the writing is now on the wall
and they just don’t care at all
oh I see our fate
see our bank balance bust
the writing is now on the wall
they just don’t care at all
oh when I go there
you just have to come too
it’s all we can do

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name

Better Start Packing

It is rare I listen to a political speech these days, even rarer that it should be one of a Conservative politician but I am in the unique position of staring down the barrel of a gun I pointed at myself some years ago when I promised that “if that fucker Osborne ever gets any real power I’m leaving the country.” There is now the very real possibility that my time may come in less than nine months when this objectionable twerp who was in the year above me at school becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer following what can only be called the foregone conclusion of the next election.

According to Gideon “Call me George” Osborne there is going to be some belt-tightening and apparently “we are all in it together.” Well we are unless we are earning less than £18k or stand to inherit anywhere between £300k to £999,999. The first figure is fair enough, it is wholeheartedly wrong for those at the lower end of the spectrum to be targeted, though any of them with any memory will be cautious about believing that the Tories will always give them exemption from any cost-cutting measures. The inheritance tax issue is rather more baffling. Firstly those for whom it will benefit are highly unlikely to be swing voters in the norm, this is something for the most wealthy alone, but secondly it is a glimpse into a clear sign that this is not a new Conservative party but the same old ‘nasty party’ in younger clothing, however much wool it may contain. The rise in the threshold of inheritance tax will cost £3.1bn, which when you consider that the saving attributed to the entire public sector pay freeze will net only £7bn puts this crass policy into some perspective. We in the public sector will run at a loss getting progressively worse off in real terms for the duration of the next parliament in order that Lord and Lady Ponsonby-Smythe can use the full whack of Daddy, the 13th Earl of Ffarquar’s estate to pay for the refurbishment of the East Wing at Chateau Chinless.

Osborne’s speech would have you believe that it is the Tories who will safeguard 100,000 frontline public sector jobs as a result of the pay freeze, and by inference that the Labour policies will put these jobs in jeopardy. However if you read closer, he is not saying that, he is saying that the saving gained by freezing the pay of public sector workers is in effect equivalent to 100,000 workers, ie their salaries. This is an important distinction, for were Osborne to become the next chancellor he would have the wherewithal to control the budget for the public sector but he would not have any say-so in how this budget is spent in individual institutions and neither would his ministerial colleagues. Therefore any change in budgets could still mean exactly the same number of redundancies if institutions choose not to see their staff as their primary asset, as has already been seen across large sections of the education sector. Even Howard Davies the director of the LSE who was relatively effusive about Osborne’s speech said that the saving of public sector jobs was “unachievable”.

Another example of the Tories lupine rather than ovine qualities comes in the form of the “married or bust” proposals that they wish to introduce. We are to believe that if you are married you are far more likely to stay together than if you are not and that therefore ‘for the children’ these measures must be brought in. Since around 49% of co-habiting couples are not married it is clear there will be a great deal of losers from this, many of whom will have less Conservative or conservative ideals. Would that another party might turn this into a vote winner for themselves but such is the C(c)onservative hegemony there will be little capital made of it. Again there was little flesh on the bone as to how much this would cost, one presumes the money saved by drastically reducing the benefits of the single families would be sunk into propping up the couples. If you could prove that your chosen sexual preference gender found you utterly repugnant would you be able to take the government to the European Court of Human Rights for discrimination against the ugly?

When it comes to pensions we are all going to have to work longer, this does not I’m sure come as much of a surprise to most people and the raising of the age to 66 is merely a hastening of a policy already brought in by Labour. What is not addressed is the great deal of difficulty faced by many people in finding employment in later life. Courts have recently stated that companies do have a right to refuse to let someone work past 60 in the public sector though they should be encouraged to allow them to work on. If it is mandatory that people wait until 66 to be able to claim their state pension then it is in fact merely shifting the burden from pension to state benefit for a large number of these people at the lower end of the scale. Those for whom it has less effect are likely those who can afford to do without the state pension anyway. Interestingly the savings from raising retirement age are apparently in fact to reintroduce the earnings link to pensions, which will raise pensions and therefore cost more. All very laudable one may think but you cannot use your one-shot pistol twice, either this measure is to pay for an increase in expenditure or it is designed to save expenditure it cannot be both, except in the eyes of vote-avaricious politicians. One must also take into consideration the pledge on not levying national insurance on new businesses for the first 100 employees. This is a further erosion of the pension tributary and since these 100 employees will not be ‘opting out’ of the state pension this money will have to be subsidised by the government at some stage.

Osborne also looked to show that Westminster was tightening its belt by saying MPs pay would be cut by 5% – which is all very well when you consider that the average MP is on vastly more than most of the population. It is the other plans though that merit further investigation, the Tories plan to cut the number of MPs by 10% though he did not give details as to how this reduction would be achieved. In an age already of a democratic deficit the idea of making more people electorally redundant seems a typically regressive move. Traditionally Tory strongholds have been in areas large in land mass and low in population, it is unlikely that the 10% will be drawn from these areas but more likely that the constituency boundaries will be redrawn to pull together smaller metropolitan constituencies together, thus marginalising the Labour and Liberal electorate.

Osborne, or rather his advisers, have been quite clever, they have made a rather odious conservative man look like he is being prudent and fiscally aware without actually giving a great deal of substance and depth to the proposals. It has been described as a “bookkeeper’s speech and not a policy speech.” Many ideas were floated that were designed to catch the headlines and obtain applause from the party faithful but there was scant framework as to how any of these ideas would be funded.

Economic experts reacted cautiously to Osborne’s speech Irwin Stelzer pointed out the anomaly of the Tories not wanting interest rates to go up and further but retaining the contradictory point of wanting people to save more. It is also clear that there is a further paradox in claiming that public sector pensions would be capped at £50k whilst at the same time assuring that previously made commitments will be honoured. Since we have bailed out the banks would the directors of financial institutions be subject to the same caps, as they are effectively now no more than civil servants?

The Conservative hegemony has gone so far that now all parties are vying for who can be the greatest public spending butchers. So for me the question I would most like answered is why is public spending such a bad thing? After all even those with the most basic knowledge of economics such as myself see that it is not expenditure that leads to bankruptcy it is the discrepancy between expenditure and income that does so. What is not being asked is what are we spending our money on that may be seen as unnecessary, or if nothing be forthcoming in that column, which is highly unlikely since any such thing is rather subjective, how can we raise income to account for what we must spend? Have we got to a stage now where even the Fourth Estate have given up questioning the actual validity of the policies and are merely scratching around for the methods by which the parties intend to pay for them. One presumes were any of them to be honest and actually have the money they like to claim they do that the current media would feel it had nothing to do.

In a time when the banks are being financed by the public purse with no indication of what the public may expect in return, whilst top level bankers accrue massive pension pots and bonuses and banks record profits the like of which seem to be in line with the total income of small countries; in a world where Britain tags along with illegal American warmongering committing vast sums of public money and people to countries in which we have no business save for the financial powers of the few; in a world where natural resources such as gas, electricity and oil are being provided at exorbitant rates despite the wholesale cost having dropped exponentially and the companies in question post profits that are rivaled perhaps only by the banks; in a world where company directors can expect huge payouts when sacked due to lack of competency and golden parachute pension provisions regardless of the efficacy of their work it is surely time to revisit this capitalist model and realise that something is very wrong at the very root of it and the only method of stopping this boom and bust roller coaster is not to eat a little less before you get on, or just hold tighter but to get off the ride entirely.

Song Of The Day ~ Bombay Bicycle Club – The Hill

Barring a major unilateral turnaround in the economy or Gordon Brown appearing on X-Factor singing a barnstorming version of  Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ it appears fairly clear that the Conservatives will win the next election and David Cameron will be the next Prime Minister.  The parallels with the transformation of the Labour Party under Tony Blair are quite evident, even down to using much of the same PR machine that Labour used to mastermind their metamorphosis into the party that was elected in 1997.  Certainly the Cameron publicity machine has been in overdrive with interviews and appearances almost ubiquitous, and yet amongst the commentators and the observers as well as for some of those of us lay members and interested parties there remains a nagging question about what Cameron and his new “Compassionate Conservatism” really stand for.

Cameron wants to be all things to all people, this is fairly natural as an opposition politician does not wish to alienate voters who may mean the difference between overall majority and landslide victory, moreover his own political career and stature rests very much on the Tory victory, for failure now would rank alongside the greatest political defeats in British history.  However to allow the party an almost unimpeded run into government as appears to be happening is tantamount to not contesting a opposition lineout in rugby on your own five metre line and not expecting your opponents to score a try.  If the public are mindful to remove the Labour party because they disagree with their politics or their decisions would it not be prudent to ensure that the opposition have a tangibly different way of doing things?  Thus the onus is on the electorate and the Fourth Estate to find out just what the country may be letting itself in for, and the truth is that few of them seem at all bothered.  Dissatisfaction with the incumbent and vacuous promises have won British elections before and look likely to again and this spells serious trouble.  The Metropolitan Police have already predicted a middle-class “Summer of Rage” against the economic problems and if this is to come to pass the analogy of 1978 will be almost complete, economic meltdown, trouble with the unions and workforce etc.  The stage is set for a perceived ‘Summer of Discontent.’

What bothers most British people at the moment, and therefore likely to “inform” their decision on who to vote for, are the old chestnuts such as the economy, immigration, unemployment, crime and taxation.  It would be nice to think people may care about the welfare state, healthcare, pension provision, education and social cohesion but these tend to be very much more marginalised than the big isolationist dogmas.  I say isolationist because the key points I have listed above fall into 2 very distinct categories, the first list contains the ‘me’ items, ie specific concepts that affect me personally and the second the ‘us’ items ie concepts that affect us much more as a whole.  That may sound far-fetched when you look at wooly tag words such as economy and crime but people are not worried about the overall rate of crime in general, they are worried about whether or not they, and most often their property, is really safe.  Likewise the economy is of interest in terms of what it means to their pay packet, their house price and how much the contents of their trolley or their fuel tank is going to cost not what it may mean to the family next door or in the next city.  Likewise in taxation, the primary concern is not whether tax revenue is spent wisely and for the good of society and public services but just how much they are going to have to pay from their wage.  I believe you can tell a lot about a society if you look at which of these concepts are more important to people.

It is difficult to believe that the Tories would have handled the economy very differently, the precedent in recent times is 1992 where billions of pounds of taxpayers money was pumped into sterling in an unsuccessful attempt to prop up the currency.  The Conservatives are a party wedded to business and the city, they have hitherto been given credence as a safe pair of economic hands, but this mantle has come from the city financiers and analysts who are as resistant to changing the status quo as the Conservatives are.  One could say that one of the reasons Britain has faced such a severe hit from the economic downturn is because the Conservatives did not seek to carry out any far-reaching reform of the financial institutions and sector in general in the wake of the last recession and Labour have merely continued that inaction.  Even when openly criticising the government little is given as to what would have been done differently had the Tories been in charge, Tory grandee Chris Patten has stated that he never thought he would be voting on nationalising the banks but he offers no idea as to how that situation would have been avoided by his party and was himself in the government that presided over Black Wednesday in 1992.  Norman Lamont, astonishingly now in the House Of Lords, is also quick to criticise anyone else’s handling of the economy and even quicker to forget the quite catastrophic mishandling of it that he himself made of it as chancellor in 1992.  The man bends like a reed in the wind suiting his answers to the questioner concerned, implying loyalty where necessary and dissent where expedient.  Why are these people trotted out, why do such imbeciles have any relevance?  During the current crisis one has not seen David Cameron leading the calls for a salary cap on the directors of nationalised UK banks, nor to suggest that huge bonus payouts and golden parachute pension plans are an anathema to the outgoing directors of failing businesses, so whilst Cameron in public is keen to ride on Barack Obama’s coattails through the wind of change, he is a reactionary in every sense of the word.

Perhaps some of the electorate are under the impression that the New Conservatives have learnt the lessons from the fall of the old guard.  However in a recent program conducted by the then inside man Michael Portillo interviewing his former cabinet colleagues the matter of the Poll Tax was mentioned.  All were quick to infer that they had told Thatcher it would be a bad idea and that she had lost touch with the electorate but critically none seemed to understand just why this met with the level of vitriol that it did in 1990.  Their summations suggested that it was because it involved charging people that had not paid before, like women in the home etc who had previously let their breadwinning husband pay the rates.  Leaving aside the very misogynistic element of this stereotype not one of these dinosaurs suggested for a moment that the tax itself was hated because it was utterly iniquitous in its foundation and draconian in its implementation.  Households of two adults and a child of eighteen still at school that had once paid £250 for their annual rates were expected to pay £1200 without prior notice and without any amelioration of circumstances or amenities, others in single-occupancy in large houses found themselves no longer paying for what they received in their area but a flat-rate based arbitrarily on the levy of the incumbent council.  (I must at this point declare vested interest – I was one of the eighteen year olds still in full-time education expected to pay without having the luxury of any wage.  I refused on principle and my local council sent a summons to my then address in the United States for a court appearance that had taken place whilst the letter was in transit.)

Cameron is the master of talking a good game, one would expect it, he went to Eton and Oxford obtaining the best education money can buy whilst also coming from a wealthy family that gave him every advantage to succeed in life.  It is easy for someone with such a background to eulogise about opportunities and fairness as he himself has rarely seen the daily adversity most of the country contends with, it would be like expecting the Queen to have a handle on how it is to live when you’re waiting for a decision on housing benefit.  There are examples of those coming from the establishment turning their back on the established system and all its flaws, such as Tony Benn who renounced his title and held cabinet office in a comparatively left-wing Labour government in the 1970s, but these are very much the exception rather than the rule.  Cameron is no radical and delving into his past as well as his present illustrates this quite graphically.

His stance on immigration ticks every box, he wishes to make clear that “immigration has been good for Britain” right that’s kept the immigrants and moderates happy, but also “there must be more controls” thus keeping the rapid xenophobes in their cages.  How does Cameron expect to square these two points of view, he will inevitably alienate one faction the question is which?  Arguably this question also impacts very much on the economy, many migrant workers work below the minimum wage and a great many businesses will feel that being forced to consider British labour in the current financial climate will put unnecessary pressure on their ability to survive.  They tried the same trick when the minimum wage was to be introduced and almost succeeded in derailing it, companies claimed, without a sense of irony, that if they were forced to adopt a minimum wage for their workers they were likely to go out of business.  Very few did.  This was also legislation under a Labour government, the Conservatives had many opportunities to implement it before but had always ducked it claiming that they would not bow to trade union pressure.  Now they have pledged that they will not abolish the minimum wage, which is hardly sign of any commitment to eradicate poverty and more to do with the fact that to abolish it would be seen as a U-turn and necessitate a huge amount of bureaucracy for the companies involved

The Conservatives have before tried to convince the electorate that those who wear leopard print can change their spots.  Anyone who witnessed the apparent Damascine conversion to the forces of moderation that Michael Portillo wished to have us believe will know what I mean here.  The difference between Portillo and Cameron is that Portillo had form, he had held office, he had been questioned very specifically about policy before and in that regard we knew what they were really thinking.  Cameron has not held senior office and neither have many of his front bench team, however the old faithful working behind the scenes have.  A working group headed by former cabinet minister Francis Maude is already planning the Tories first months in office and the decisions they will take but we hear little about what these decisions will be.  If the old guard are making the decisions then do the british electorate really believe that to go back to 1992 would be a good idea, or do they believe Cameron will disregard these views as he seeks to plot a new course?  Either way to vote Cameron and the Tories in now is equivalent to placing Johnathan Aitken in charge of the Press Complaints Commission or Jeffrey Archer in charge of Culture, Media and Sport or to put it another way not just letting the lunatics take over the asylum but in fact run the asylum system at a national level.  I may well have just predicted the first Tory government cabinet reshuffle!

Song Of The Day ~ Bricolage – Flowers Of Deceit