Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tory policies are a godsend for Labour

With only seven months or so to go until the general election, and the government parties trailing in the opinion polls, Cameron`s holidays took far more news space than any of his policies. The truth is, of course, that Cameron should have stayed out of the way in Cornwall, because back at Downing Street, he would be asked questions about those policies. This is probably the reason Lynton Crosby does not want television election debates. The less the electorate know about Tory policies, let alone understand them, the better! Rafael Behr in the Guardian rightly said that the Tories are attempting to "confound anyone trying to understand what would happen" if they won the election, but the reasons he gives for this omits one important point.(A race neither Labour nor the Tories are fit to win,03/09/14) How can they possibly hope to win the support and trust of the electorate, if the latter are made fully aware of the consequences facing them in a second Cameron term?
   The much vaunted "long-term economic plan" is based upon establishing and maintaining a low wage economy. Tories have deliberately encouraged zero-hours` contracts and part-time work, and done next to nothing to prevent the payment of wages below the amount statutorily required. A living wage for all is not on the Tories` agenda. Six million voters are members of trade unions, so there will be little election publicity given to restricting their rights to take industrial action, going back to pre-Disraeli days.
   Also part of the "plan" is a low tax economy, but how many voters will have seen their taxes fall? Contrary to their last manifesto, VAT was raised almost immediately, whilst, of course, the rate of income tax was reduced only for top earners, and despite the rhetoric flowing like water, tax avoiders are yet to "smell the coffee", the tax gap has risen to over £35bn a year, and inspectors are still being laid off at HMRC. Voters will have noticed, too, that if there ever was a Tory policy to rein in the behaviour of our banks, it certainly has neither been visible nor effective. Tory friends are in the City, not in the cities.
   It is certain that voters will have noticed that the Tory policy of austerity has largely been imposed on the poorest and most vulnerable, ostensibly to cut the deficit, but, despite the suffering and food bank dependency, with little success. The government cutbacks have had the most damaging effects on the welfare state, the NHS and the conditions of our prisons. Outsourcing services has not led to increased efficiency, the cost of living crisis is worsening every day as the cuts dig deeper, and there are plenty more in store. Both Cameron and Osborne have admitted their aim is to shrink the state back to 1948 levels - hardly an attractive election slogan!
    One successful policy of the Tories has been related to social mobility; they have reduced it, as their policies intended, and top jobs are more than ever the preserve of privately educated, Oxbridge graduates! Gove`s assessment reforms have removed the pre-2010 level playing field devised by examination experts, and no mention is made by the government parties of reducing university fees, which they tripled, or of restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance, which they callously removed.
       Do the Tories intend to continue the same policies if given the chance? Of course they do. Will life, or even life chances, improve for the majority of ordinary people, and their children, under another Tory-dominated government? Of course not, and much of Labour`s election strategy should be devoted to ensuring that the voters fully comprehend what`s in store for them with another five years of Tory rule; it certainly won`t be the Tory strategy!

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