FOR ALL the harping on about Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson being the least competent member of the Tory Cabinet — and he has a fair claim to the title — Chancellor Philip Hammond was determined yesterday to give him a run for his money.
In his speech to the Tory conference, Hammond served up to the half-empty hall a room-temperature dog’s breakfast consisting of all the lowlights of the Conservatives’ election campaign.
Hammond claimed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wanted to “take us back to the 1970s” but instead revealed himself to be yesterday’s man with his references to early 1990s films.
Corbyn was a “clear and present danger to our economic prosperity” — what economic prosperity? — and Hammond relished the thought of debating with “a political version of Jurassic Park.”
That latter tale perhaps holds some lessons for the Tories — a private theme park whose owners conduct horrific experiments, causing lives to be lost and the whole area turned into a wasteland. One might even go so far as to compare it to Thatcher’s destructive reign or the austerity inflicted on Britain by the Tories and their former Liberal Democrat collaborators since 2010.
Before Thatcher — in the, er, 1970s — wages made up a far greater proportion of GDP, council housebuilding was going strong, and there was a whole swathe of publicly owned companies enriching Britain that have now been flogged off on the cheap to make money for a privileged few.
The Tories like to refer to Hammond as “Spreadsheet Phil” — for supposedly being obsessed with details — but he’s really Phil the Fantasist.
One hopes that he doesn’t quite believe his own guff, for his own sake, as it doesn’t take much looking at the detail to see that Tory economic policies have greatly impoverished Britain while enriching a handful at the very top.
It was those benefactors of “austerity” that Hammond thanked in his speech — the wealthy donors which bunged the Tories cash to run a disgraceful election campaign — and, to make sure they keep giving, warned about the threat of “the union barons [mobilising] their power and their wealth behind Corbyn.”
Phil the Fantasist knows how important it is to rally his banking barons and his oil barons and his hedge-fund barons and his zero-hours barons and his privatised transport barons to fight off the threat of Britain’s teachers, nurses, firefighters, bus drivers, train guards, prison officers, paramedics and just about everyone else who has been inspired by the Labour Party’s message of hope.
Hope that they can put a roof over their heads, that they can put on the heating this winter as well as feeding their children, that they won’t be stuck waiting on a trolley in A&E for half a day, that their kids can get a good education from teachers who aren’t burning out under the strain of understaffing, that maybe they’ll grow up in a better world than their parents did.
What a “wicked and cynical” thing it would be to have a pay rise that is not actually a real-terms cut. To have a job with guaranteed hours on a wage that you can live on. What “havoc” these “dinosaurs” could wreak.