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Was that really it?
After the barrage of new policy plans from the Labour Party last week, David Cameron’s big revelation, at the end of the most disappointing Conservative conference since – well – the last one, is a hint that the Tories want to take benefits away from anyone under 25 who isn’t in work or education, if they win in 2015?
More repression, then. In a speech that we’re asked to believe is about making the UK a land of opportunity, of aspiration? A “land of hope and Tory”?
Land of hopeless Tories, more like!
Let’s look at those options. Put someone aged between 16 and 25 back into education and you put them into debt (unless they have very rich parents) – we have the Liberal Democrats to thank for that, after they betrayed their own manifesto promise and supported a massive increase in student fees.
Force them into work and its an employer’s market, isn’t it? They can hire or fire under any conditions they like – and the minimum wage will be no problem. You don’t like zero-hours contracts? Too bad – it’s a choice between being listed as employed but unlikely to get any paying work, or losing the pittance you live on anyway. Part-time wages putting you into debt? You’ll be homeless a lot faster without any benefits!
Whatever happens, of course, the benefit bill comes down and fewer people are classed as unemployed.
Just like George Osborne’s plan to put the long-term jobless on indefinite Workfare, this will falsify the employment figures to make it seem the Conservatives have improved the economy when in fact they are making matters worse.
The rest of it was a web of lies and waffle. It has been suggested that Cameron wanted to re-use his speech from last year, rewriting it minimally in the hope that nobody would notice, and that it would be worth finding out if this is true – but that would not get to the heart of the matter, which is that the Conservative Party has completely run out of momentum.
They’re at a dead stop and all they have to support them is falsehood.
Cameron’s speech started with a claim that the Tories are on the side of “hardworking” (it’s hard-working, David – learn some English) people. While he waffled, I had a look at some of the Tory slogans and tried to match some facts to the claims. So we have:
“A tax cut for 25m people” – but they put the cost of living up and wages down so “hardworking” people are worse-off.
“The deficit down by a third” – two years ago. It has been years since they made any notable progress.
“More private sector jobs” – that don’t pay “hardworking” people a bean because they’re part-time or zero-hours. They have also cut the public sector – and given those jobs to people on Workfare.
“Welfare capped” – so poor people are forced towards destitution or suicide
“Crime down” – because police are discouraged from recording crimes against “hardworking” people?
“Immigration down” – because the UK isn’t attractive to “hardworking” foreign people any more.
To these, Cameron added:
“Helping young people buy their own home” – by creating a debt bubble and asking the taxpayer to foot the bill.
“Getting the long-term unemployed back to work” – in order to falsify employment statistics.
“Freezing fuel duty” – and doing nothing about the huge, unjustified, price increases demanded by energy companies.
“Backing marriage” – with less than 20p a day for the poor.
“Creating wealth” – for whom?
“We are clearing up the mess that Labour left” – Labour didn’t leave a mess. Bankers left the mess. Why have the bankers not been cleaned up? Why has Mr Cameron thrown money at them instead?
He referred to the fact that Theresa May (finally managed to have Abu Qatada deported. She wants to get rid of the Human Rights Act, claiming it is necessary if the government is to be able to – among other things – deport suspected terrorists, right? So her action has proved that repealing an Act that protects the rights of British citizens isn’t necessary.
“Who protected spending on the NHS? Not Labour – us.” Wrong. At last count, spending on the NHS under the Conservative-led coalition was down. The plan was to spend £12.7 billion more by May 2015, but by December last year this meant the government needed to find more than £13 billion for this purpose.
He referred to the Mid Staffs hospital scandal as a Labour disaster – look to the Skwawkbox blog for the facts (hint: it’s not as clear-cut as Cameron pretended).
“When the world wanted rights, who wrote Magna Carta?” he said in all hypocrisy. Is he telling us the British people – who demanded those rights in the first place – are now demanding that he divest us of those same rights by repealing the Human Rights Act?
“When they looked for compassion, who led the abolition of slavery?” Fine words from a man whose lieutenant, Iain Duncan Smith, has been working hard to restore slavery for the unemployed, sick and disabled – even going to the lengths of pushing through a retrospective law, after his rules were found to be illegal.
“Whose example of tolerance – of people living together from every nation, every religion, young and old, straight and gay – whose example do they aspire to?” Perhaps someone should point him to his Home Secretary’s advertising vans, which preached intolerance of anyone who wasn’t demonstrably white and British by encourage people on the street to tell anyone else to “go home” in what Owen Jones called the language of knuckle-dragging racists.
His plea for Scotland to remain in the UK must have seemed particularly hypocritical, as the man who has passed more divisive policies than any other Prime Minister, possibly in British history, called for “Our Kingdom – United”.
There was more, much more – and if you have the stomach for it, you can find it here.
The underlying theme was that he wanted to appeal to British citizens to let the Conservatives back into office with a majority government in 2015, so they could “finish the job”.
If we let his party finish the job, we’ll be left with a ruined country, a wrecked system of government, and an elite ruling class laughing all the way to the offshore bank.
I made my opinion clear in a message to the BBC’s ‘live coverage’ page (which of course wasn’t used). I’ll repeat it here:
This speech is really distressing.
Cameron has learned nothing from the last three years, in which his policies have caused suffering to millions of hardworking people.
There is nothing in his words for hardworking people to support.
No growth, no hope, no health…