The opposition should take heart from the multiplying failures of the government and use them to their own advantage, writes RABBIL SIKDAR
THE Tory Party is fast losing confidence from the public. Public anger, slowly fermenting, has been rising increasingly of late against the government.
Brutal cuts to local government budgets coupled with increasing attacks on the NHS, the BBC, comprehensive schools and the welfare system have stirred a tide of public outrage.
For once, questions are being asked of the competence of the Tory government in handling the country.
On just about every major issue the government has infuriated the public. Jeremy Hunt’s draconian approach to dealing with the junior doctors has been seen as an attack on a cherished British institution and those who selflessly and tirelessly work in it.
Attempting to turn schools into academies against their will was defeated. The fact that they tried to push these plans through is yet another sign that this is a government of ideological zealotry rather than actual political pragmatism, as it claims.
If the Tories were pragmatic they would target the deficit by attacking corporate tax loopholes rather than inflicting a savage battering to public services and the welfare system by cutting funds — deepening the misery for millions, degrading their living standards and widening an already yawning income gap.
A genuine living wage would have fixed the crisis of underpaid workers and exploited tenants forced to rely on welfare to cope with demanding rents and bills.
Instead the government has crept in a sneaky minimum wage rise counterbalanced by cutting the tax credits that boost workers’ overall earnings.
Public trust has never slipped so low. But it is unlikely that this is the beginning of the crumbling of the neoliberal order established by Margaret Thatcher.
However, for the first time, the British public has been consistently asking questions about inequality, the role of the free market and the expansion of the private sector.
The Tories are a party managing their inevitable decline. The change in British demographics to create a more culturally liberal society has forced the Tory Party to change with that.
They are economically liberal as always, but now culturally have moved with the times.
The racist undertones witnessed in Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign consigned him to a defeat — another lesson for the party in moving away from nationalist politics that feed into xenophobia in an increasingly diverse country.
But their politics will be fatal. The students and tenants suffering today will not forget, and as Britain increasingly gets sucked into the housing crisis and burden of student debt, the anger towards the party will grow.
How in the future can they resolve this legacy? The shifting demographic increasingly suits Labour, rather than Tories, one would suspect.
The growing public anger now simply hastens this. This isn’t to say they will not win in 2020. They are on course to do that.
But the point remains that a future Britain is unlikely to tolerate a political party wedded to xenophobic politics or one that favours higher education to come with a price.
The Tories face other problems beyond their image as a party that hates the NHS and BBC.
David Cameron is unpopular but trusted more than the others. He had supposedly a leadership appeal that Ed Miliband did not. George Osborne, Michael Gove and others, however, simply lack appeal at all. The public does not warm to them one single bit.
Compare this with Labour from the left-wing ex-soldier Clive Lewis to the outspoken Jess Phillips to the Blairite MP Chuka Umunna. Labour does not lack for politicians who are simply more likeable, on the surface at least.
Right now, though, Labour must take advantage of the Tories’ mishaps. A party that parades itself as fiscally responsible has endangered growth and productivity while mismanaging debt and the deficit.
A party that supposedly champions aspirations drives away the youth from higher education and young doctors out of the country.
A party that cherishes patriotism attacks the NHS and BBC repeatedly and has come perilously close to the break-up of Britain.
The Tories are in tatters and they know it. That they’re winning is damning of the divided Labour Party.
But should the latter focus on exploiting the weakness of the Tories, it can change British society for the better.
The Tories since their general election win have been defeated on countless issues from tax credits to disability benefits to forcing schools to become academies.
They lose credibility increasingly over the NHS and handling of tax loopholes. The public does not enthusiastically support them, whatever the Daily Mail may think. That should give Labour some optimism and hope.