The whole sordid spectacle played out in Manchester this week was an exercise in lying, writes BEN CHACKO
“I AM in just as much of a hurry as five years ago,” David Cameron told the closing day of Tory Party conference yesterday.
Full speed ahead was definitely the theme of the Prime Minister’s speech.
No matter that the Conservatives slunk into power with the support of less than one in four voters.
Or that — in stark contrast to the recent summit of a Labour Party many times their size and buoyed up by hundreds of thousands of new recruits — their Manchester jamboree had to take place behind walls of steel, with rooftop snipers keeping a close eye on the gigantic protests the party’s mere presence in the city provoked.
The past week saw the nasty party in full throttle. There were few new policies — Cameron’s paltry housing pledge has been made before, while the arbitrary and unworkable promise to reduce net immigration to less than 100,000 has been so spectacularly missed that you wonder Theresa May has the gall to repeat it.
But there was to be no turning aside from their purpose either.
No compromise on the all-out assault on British democracy. The breathtaking authoritarianism of the Trade Union Bill, with its plans for armband-identification on picket lines and forcing workers to explain everything they plan to do to their bosses 14 days in advance, is pressing ahead.
It’s being joined by the astonishing bid to ban elected councils from pursuing ethical investment policies. Now objecting to the murderous global arms trade or the illegal occupation of Palestine is only permissible if doing so becomes “national policy” — fat chance of that under this racket.
Those two issues are linked, of course. As Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions director Jeff Halper pointed out last week, part of the reason for Israel’s international impunity is its unique status at the heart of the global trade in weapons — a state which is able to use the Palestinian people as live-test guinea pigs for devices then flogged to a catalogue of nasties worldwide.
There will be no turning away from the bonfire of tax credits, either — despite Tory David Davis’s warning that with millions set to lose out to the tune of thousands of pounds a year this could become the 21st century’s poll tax.
Was Iain Duncan Smith worried that evidence his department reluctantly released this summer showed thousands of people have died after being declared fit for work under his draconian welfare “reforms”?
Not a bit of it. No, those who protested against his inhuman policies were “horrid,” he whined, while aiming a few more kicks at this country’s disabled people by saying it wasn’t the state’s job to keep them out of poverty.
The whole sordid spectacle played out in Manchester this week was an exercise in lying.
The Prime Minister went red with indignation as he described instances of racism and sexism in modern Britain and claimed to stand for equality of opportunity.
But he was at the helm when the introduction of employment tribunal fees put a price on justice for workers facing discrimination by their bosses.
His commitment to social mobility — which is indeed the worst in the developed world, and has been grinding steadily to a halt since his idol Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 — was apparently expressed in a grandiose bid to found 500 more free schools (despite there being no evidence whatsoever that these improve pupils’ results, let alone social mobility) and to remove all schools from democratic oversight.
The Chancellor claimed to represent “the true party of labour.” But Britain’s working people are still earning 6 per cent less than they did when the economy crashed in 2009 while the wealth of the richest 1,000 families has risen by 112 per cent in the same period.
The Health Secretary even made an audacious claim that the Conservatives were the party of the NHS — when they fought tooth and nail to prevent Labour founding it and are currently presiding over a system at breaking point, facing a £2 billion deficit and the chaotic fallout from Tory outsourcing attempts as panicked private companies disengage.
“If you want a lecture about poverty, ask Labour. If you want something done about it, come to us, the Conservatives,” Cameron blustered yesterday.
Well, they have done something about it. Calculations by the New Policy Institute this spring showed they have increased the number of people in poverty in this country by 760,000, with 300,000 of those being children.
Duncan Smith is so confident that this terrifying trajectory will continue that this summer he scrapped the government target of eliminating child poverty by 2020.
Poverty is in fact on course to be the lot of one in four British children by that date.
This is the bleak reality that the Conservatives sought to shut out behind the high walls surrounding their self-congratulatory smarmfest.
It is the Tories, not Labour, who are hurting people. It is the Tories, not Labour, who are a threat to you and your family’s security — if having a decently paid job, access to a world-class health service free at the point of use and excellent, locally accountable schools staffed by professional teachers are things you feel your family needs.
And security brings us to the lowest and cheapest shot of Cameron’s speech — his deeply dishonest smears of Jeremy Corbyn.
But it is not Corbyn who sent bombers to Libya and handed that country over to gun-toting religious extremists.
It is not Corbyn who backed the murderous monarchy in Saudi Arabia’s bid to join the UN human rights council, even as it mutilates its own subjects and bankrolls terrorist proxies across the Middle East.
By contrast, Corbyn has for decades campaigned against the policies of destabilisation and war which are responsible for the explosion of terrorism and the refugee crisis.
So it is Cameron, not Corbyn, who is seeking to ram down our throats the failed policies of the past. Endless privatisation, endless poverty, endless war.
But such is the stake our rulers have in this nightmarish future that the whole weight of the Establishment, its Tory Party and its media, its “security” experts and its military strongmen, is being brought to bear to present the extremism of the Conservatives as common sense and the voice of sanity expressed in Labour’s current revival as dangerous nonsense.
Congratulations to the tens of thousands who believe in a better future who made sure that message was heard loud and clear outside Tory conference in Manchester this week.
It will be an uphill struggle, but our job is to ensure that message continues to be heard above the spin, distortions and lies of the elite in the coming months and years.