DAVID CAMERON promised to be the greenest prime minister ever — before calling environmental reforms “green crap.”
He promised not to privatise the NHS but has slowly barrelled it into the private sector since he became prime minister.
He and the Tories were not going to raise the VAT but they did just that. He promised during the election debates not to cut tax credits but has brutally shredded them.
The Tories promised to annihilate the deficit in their first term but it has risen. They promised to solve the debt crisis but have incurred more debt in five years than Labour did in 15. They claim to have delivered a living wage but forget to mention that the original calculation for such a wage factored in the inclusion of the now-decimated tax credits.
What else is there to say? How else is there to say it? The Tories lied and misled this country into a state of low productivity, mass inequality, soaring levels of deficit and debt combined with an unwillingness to provide easy collective solutions to issues such as housing and the NHS.
The biggest lie though set by the Tories, in the face of all these facts, is their supposed ability to provide fiscal plausibility to their policies. George Osborne has often alienated the Institute for Fiscal Studies, never mind Oxfam, with his policies.
At the heart of Osborne’s capitalist instincts lies the notion that investing in public infrastructure to build a sustainable society through a growing economy is somehow bad. Instead he believes in letting chief executives of large businesses take huge slices of the corporate earnings rather than demanding a fairer distribution of the salaries. He believes in the 1 per cent holding power and wealth, and choosing to trickle it down.
It’s an economic model based on ideological zealotry from an Eton-educated circle unable to relate on any level to ordinary people who are the beating heart of the country. And yet its narrative, because of being rooted deeply within the media, has somehow convinced society. The comparison of household budgets to state budgets was quite commonly used until perhaps, a certain good-looking Greek socialist came along on Question Time and hilariously dismantled it.
But that’s kind of what the left needs. We need faces. Charlotte Church, Martin Freeman, JK Rowling and Russell Brand have all, with their outreach, informed a lot of people.
If even those who are well-off are uncertain about the Tory policies, then maybe there really is something rotten with the Tories? That’s a possible method to go down but it requires a relentless battering of the Tory narratives through popular marches, community outreaches, but also, occasionally, a famous popular face coming on TV and destroying the Tory agenda. I’m looking at you, Rowling and Freeman.
The Tories have a poisonous army of newspapers fighting for them. Labour has an army of people: trade unions, pressure groups, workers, ordinary families. That is the coalition that often assembles movements on the left. It’s something to be embraced, but the left needs a counternarrative that can only be delivered by those perhaps traditionally found outside the political circles.
For example, when he initially exploded into the political realm with that famous Jeremy Paxman interview, Russell Brand seemed quite brilliant. That faded when he offered problems without solutions — that in itself felt more symbolic of the left rather than one well-intentioned individual.
But imagine if, when devoid of fair coverage, the left found a number of musicians and actors lining up alongside economists to denounce the policies of the Tories?
Labour has already tried to position itself on the side of economic credibility by bringing in respected economists to provide substance and sincerity to its politics. But if it can’t hit the Tories with newspaper headlines, then the least it can do to counterattack is show that even the privileged music artists, actors and athletes of this country are disillusioned with the politics of the 1 per cent.
That’s what those with wealth, fame and a conscience — a rare mix to find — should aspire to. Not to lead or direct, but just magnify. They are the spokespersons of movements, not the leaders. There shouldn’t really be any leaders of what will have to be a powerful community-driven movement across the country, inspiring people with enough belief in change.