Monday, 10 October 2016

Plenty of "window-dressing" on the way!

Gaby Hinsliff`s g2 article on May`s "inner circle" surprisingly didn`t mention her chair of policy board (Meet Team May,03/10/16). Mid Norfolk MP, George Freeman, apparently wants May`s administration, in his words, to "do for our generation what Disraeli did in the 19th century". Presumably he means that she should also attempt to win working people`s votes with half-hearted reforms, which , like "window-dressing" looked good, but in reality changed nothing? 
      Treating the voters like mugs didn`t work for Disraeli, as the Tories were thrashed in the 1880 election, the number of Tory MPs reduced from 350 to 214, and such duplicity won`t work for May, either. The "window-dressing" is all too obvious already, from naming and shaming company bosses failing to pay the minimum wage, to, in Hinsliff`s words, "deleting the juiciest bits from the child obesity strategy".

If I were a 21st century British PM, I`m not sure I would want the ambition of my chair of policy board to be for my administration "to do for our generation what Disraeli did in the 19th century" (Politics:George Eaton,30/09/16). Disraeli`s One Nation Conservatism was designed to woo the newly enfranchised working-class voters with apparently wide-ranging reforms, which would receive plenty of Tory praise, but in reality do nothing to change fundamentally the influence and power of the wealthy.
      George Freeman`s advice appears to be influential, with May`s rhetoric clearly attempting to regain the "centre ground of British politics", and her action, such as naming and shaming companies failing to pay the living wage, very similar to Disraeli`s penchant for "window-dressing" reforms, that were mostly permissive, rather than compulsory. At least Disraeli had the sense to pass the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act after Gladstone`s disastrous Criminal Law Amendment Act, and to increase trade unionists` picketing rights; we are unlikely to see May`s government repealing Cameron`s Trade Union Act, whilst its own version of co-determination is unlikely to be similar to the one envisaged by the TUC! 
       Voters will almost certainly see through such political duplicity, just as they did in 1880 when the Tories won only 214 seats, compared with the 350 won in 1874; by 1900 the Labour party was up and running, in part another result of Disraeli`s failed plan, as was the Liberals 1906 landslide victory. Already there has been some "window-dressing", and some improvements to the previous government`s poor legislation. What next? A calamitous election result in 2020? One can only hope!  

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