David Cameron is correct in thinking that his belief that it`s "not just the left who care about the poor" is not a sentiment "widely shared outside Planet Tory" (Cameron`s goal is to suggest that it`s not just the left who care about the poor,30/05/15). The empirical evidence, something the Tories are noted for ignoring, is there for all to study. That`s why Anne McElvoy is wide of the mark when stating that "scepticism... is not the whole story when it comes to Dave`s one-nation claim". Disraeli`s plan was to woo the working class voters, in his 1874-80 administration, with reforms designed to improve the quality of their lives, after Gladstone`s election defeat due largely to him basing the government on laissez-faire principles which had the effect of increasing inequality. Strange how Cameron`s aim to shrink the state, and take government spending back to 1930s levels, is so much more Gladstonian, in principle, than Disraelian conservatism.
Indeed, similarities with Disraeli`s one-nation conservatism are rare: whilst Cameron aims to curb trade unionism and make it more difficult to strike, Disraeli passed the Conspiracy and Protection Act, which increased unions` right to picket. Whereas Disraeli wanted to improve the homes of the working people with his Artisans Dwellings Act, present-day Tories allow huge tax concessions for profiteering landlords, and "reduce the country`s stock of affordable housing" (Extending right to buy makes no sense and creates divisions,31/05/15). Disraeli`s School Attendance Committees were designed to encourage as many children as possible to take advantage of educational opportunities, unlike Cameron`s government which scrapped the Education Maintenance Allowance within weeks of taking office in 2010. That same government cut staffing at its Food Standards Agency, leading to less inspection and more risk for consumers, but Disraeli`s Sale of Food and Drugs Act laid down stringent regulations on food preparation. Even Cameron`s policy towards the health of the nation, with more privatisation of the NHS, compares unfavourably with Disraeli`s Public Health Act, which laid down the compulsory duties of local authorities, and his Factory Act which enabled workers to participate in sports on Saturday afternoons.
"One-nation" Toryism requires "compassionate conservatism", which seems more a product of the Tories` propaganda machine than a plausible concept, or even a realistic prospect.
Martin Kettle urges us to "look at the whole picture" of the Tories in power, and "take an objective view", yet fails to take his own advice, and instead ignores the empirical evidence (A reality check - the Tories aren`t all wicked and wrong,05/06/15). A brief study of the cruel and callous actions of the Tory-dominated coalition, 2010-15, makes a mockery of Cameron`s claims to want "the economy to work for everyone" and "bring people together". Within weeks of that government`s creation, Gove had destroyed the aspirations of thousands with his ending of the Education Maintenance Allowance, Osborne had raised VAT, and the imposition of austerity policies especially hurt the weakest and most vulnerable; the bedroom tax, cuts to disability allowances and the sanctioning of thousands of benefit claimants, whilst simultaneously cutting tax rates for the very wealthy and doing next to nothing about £35bn annually of tax avoidance, except reducing staff at HMRC by 20,000, all suggest “compassionate Toryism” is a figment of imagination, produced by the Tory party`s propaganda machine. According to Cameron himself, there is even worse to come, with £12bn welfare cuts, and government spending reduced to 1930s` levels. He may claim to emulate Disraeli with his "one-nation" rhetoric, but his preference for retrenchment and laissez-faire is far more Gladstonian!
Kettle wants us to believe that there is more to Cameron than "soundbites and wickedness", so he has clearly forgotten all about "making work pay", lobbying being "the next big scandal", and of course, "all in this together"!