Anyone noticed the Conservatives behaving a bit oddly lately?
Anyone noticed the Conservatives behaving a little strangely recently?
We have, and we suspect it’s down to the party panicking after being caught with no answers to the living standards crisis.
The detoxification of the Tory brand appears to have been abandoned, but there are several other signs the party is beginning to lose the plot:
1) Green levies
As well as blaming rising energy prices on so-called green levies, David Cameron is reported to have told aids the government should “get rid of all this green crap”.
Downing Street has rebutted the allegation, but it doesn’t seem particularly far fetched to suppose that Cameron might have said such a thing. He has, after all, spent recent weeks trying to blame the rise in the cost of energy almost entirely on so-called ‘green levies’.
And to think, at one time Cameron promised to lead the ‘greenest government ever’.
2) Too many of us are too thick to get on, according to Boris
While there was something of a brouhaha last week over Boris Johnson’s speech to the Centre for Social Justice – the core of the Mayor’s speech was the uncontroversial point that economic equality (as opposed to less inequality) is impossible – his comments about IQ were more revealing. In effect, the Mayor wrote off a large swathe of the population as too stupid to ever achieve anything.
IQ is an attractive myth if you are one of those in a position of power or wealth, but a myth all the same. The children of wealthier parents are more likely to go to the best schools (properties in desirable catchment areas cost on average 42 per cent more), eat the best food, have access to ‘high culture’ and a place to do their homework. They also benefit from a number of other forms of social and cultural ‘capital’ their working-class counterparts lack. Nurture has at least as big an influence as ‘IQ’.
3) Putting VAT on food and childrens’ toys
The Free Enterprise Group is a group of Tory MPs who unsurprisingly advocate a greater role for the market. Treasury minister Sajid Javid is among the group’s members. Last month the group set out seven demands ahead of George Osborne’s Autumn statement this Thursday, one of which was for an end to VAT exemptions and the reduced rate currently applied to many essential items.
This would lead to big increases in the price of zero rated items such as prescriptions, train tickets and food and children’s clothes.
4) Bizarre comparisons of Ed Miliband to Marx, Engels and even Stalin
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four, head of the omnipresent government is Big Brother, a quasi-divine leader who persecutes all individualism as ‘thought crime’. While the link between Stalin and Big Brother is somewhat tenuous, the latter is at least a hint toward Stalin’s regime.
Tory HQ appears to believe, however, that it is Ed Miliband who Orwell is referring to
Tory hyperbole over Ed Miliband since he announced an proposed energy price freeze at Labour party conference goes right to the top. At Prime Minister’s Questions last week David Cameron said that Mr Miliband was “no longer a follower of Marx” but “loving Engels instead”.
5) Lying about history is fine, provided it makes you feel good
Tory grandee Charles Moore is a former editor of The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator. I don’t think it’s too far fetched to say that he is fairly representative of Tory opinion. Observe, then, an interesting paragraph in his recent review of Conservative MP Daniel Hannan’s book on the Anglosphere. Largely favourable, Moore does, however, disagree with Hannan’s history. But nevermind that, he writes, for “Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation”:
The way Hannan gets ours wrong works to the good. Even if it is not always true that we have upheld liberty and the law, it helps us to do better if we believe that this is our special role in the world. In all countries, at all times, there are a shocking number of people who want to diminish freedom.
In other words, nevermind the fact that the British Empire was very often not a place of milk and honey, it makes us feel better about ourselves if we believe it was.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.