Rising tide of protest marks start of Tory conference

Falling on deaf ears: The chorus of protest against the bedroom tax is unlikely to be heard at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, where delegates will be discussing how to bribe the electorate into supporting them in 2015. [Picture: Matthew Pover in the Sunday People]

Falling on deaf ears: The chorus of protest against the bedroom tax is unlikely to be heard at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, where delegates will be discussing how to bribe the electorate into supporting them in 2015. [Picture: Matthew Pover in the Sunday People]

Does David Cameron have any new policies that are big enough to silence the rising clamour of discontent against him?

He’ll need something big – Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats managed only a tax on plastic bags (an idea stolen from the Labour Welsh government) and a few weak cries of “Please let us stay in government after 2015”.

The married couples’ tax allowance isn’t it. It seems this is how the Tories plan to spend any money saved by imposing the bedroom tax, and people are already naming it as an election bribe – albeit a poor one at £3.85 a week.

He has set aside £700 million for the scheme, which is more than the government would have spent if it had not imposed the bedroom tax.

A brand-new ComRes poll is showing that 60 per cent of voters agree with Labour’s plan to abolish the bedroom tax – which hits 660,000 households. And one in five Liberal Democrats could vote Labour in protest at the tax.

The issue has prompted shadow Work and Pensions secretary Liam Byrne to say something with which this blog can actually – for once – agree! He said: “It is the worst possible combination of incompetence and cruelty, a mean-spirited shambles. It’s got to go.”

He added that the bedroom tax was likely to cost more than it saved – a point made by this blog many months ago.

Another hopelessly unpopular Tory policy to come from Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions has been the work capability assessment for sick and disabled claimants of Employment and Support Allowance. It seems one of the first things the Tories did was alter this test so that it became almost impossible to accumulate enough points to be found in need of the benefit.

The result has been three years of carnage behind closed doors, where people with serious conditions have been forced into destitution that has either caused their death by worsening their condition, or caused the kind of mental health problems that lead to suicide. Thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – have died.

Now, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral has written to Cameron, urging him to end the assessments which, he wrote, can “cut short their lives”.

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, who presided over Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, signed a campaign letter entitled ‘The Downing Street Demand’, which claims Government policies force some of the most deprived members of society to “shoulder the heaviest burden of national debt created by the super-rich”.

Some might say this is typical of broad Conservative policy: Taking from the poor to give to the rich.

The harshness of such a policy, as outlined in the letter, is appalling: “In 2010 you said, ‘I’m going to make sure no-one is left behind; that we protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our society’.

“The reality of the austerity programme is the opposite.

“Since your Government came to power, cuts have meant that disabled people are paying back nine times more than non-disabled people and those with the highest support needs are paying back nineteen times more.”

Dr Ison said: “It’s right to stand in solidarity with people from many different organisations to draw attention to the needs of some of the most deprived members of our society.

“Many disabled people feel desperate facing possible cuts in support, the bedroom tax, and in particular an inflexible and failing Work Capability Assessment scheme which can blight and even cut short their lives.

“The Government needs to respond by enabling disabled people to live with dignity and security.”

Against this background, what is Cameron doing to make his party more attractive?

He’s bringing forward the second phase of his government’s Help to Buy scheme, that helps people in England to get 95 per cent mortgages on properties worth up to £600,000 – a scheme that has been widely criticised for setting up another debt-related housing bubble.

Cameron denies this. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show this morning (Sunday), he said that outside London and the South East the average price of homes has only risen 0.8 per cent.

But the BBC reported that, during September, house prices rose at their fastest rate in more than six years – and a report from Nationwide Building Society showed the rise was “increasingly broad-based”.

Adam Marshall, of the British Chambers of Commerce (which is normally supportive to the Conservatives), said: “With all the concern expressed about Help to Buy – rushing into it seems less than responsible on part of government.”

It is, therefore, under a barrage of scorn that the Conservative conference begins today. How is Cameron planning to rally his troops?

He would be ill-advised to use the economy – as seems likely from a BBC report today.

He wants the country to believe that “We have had to make very difficult decisions… These difficult decisions are beginning to pay off and the country’s coming through it.”

Even here, the evidence is against him. George Osborne’s economic theory was based on a very silly spreadsheet error, as was proved several months ago by an American student. Attempts by this blog to ascertain whether he had anything more solid on which to base his policy proved fruitless – all the evidence he provided was underpinned by the same discredited document.

No – we can all see what George Osborne’s policies did to the British economy: They stalled it.

We spent three years bumping along the bottom with no growth worth mentioning, which Osborne, Cameron and their cronies used as an excuse to impose policies that have hammered those of us on the lowest incomes while protecting the rich corporate bosses, bankers and hedge fund investors who caused the economic crash.

Now, it seems more likely that the economy is picking up because it was always likely to. Commerce is cyclical and, when conditions merit it, business will pick up after a slump. That is what is happening now, and this is why growth figures are “stronger than expected”.

It has nothing to do with Conservative economic policies at all.

That won’t stop Cameron trying to capitalise on it. Ever the opportunist, he is already trying to pretend that this was the plan all along, and it just took a little longer than expected. We would all be fools to believe him.

And he has rushed to attack Labour plans for economic revival, claiming these would involve “crazy plans to tax business out of existence”.

In fact, Labour’s plans will close tax avoidance loopholes that have allowed businesses to avoid paying their due to the Treasury.

Besides, Conservative policy – to reduce Corporation Tax massively – has been proved to do nothing to make the UK more attractive for multinational businesses; the USA kept its taxes high and has not lost any of its own corporate taxpayers.

That country, along with Germany, adopted a policy of investment alongside a tighter tax regime and has reaped the benefits with much greater growth than the UK, which has suffered from a lack of investment and a tax policy full of holes (because it is written by the architects of the biggest tax avoidance schemes).

So what’s left?

Historically, at this time in the electoral cycle, Tory policy is to offer Middle Britain a massive bribe.

If they try it now, they’ll risk wiping out any savings they might have made over the last three years, rendering this entire Parliament pointless.

This blog stated last week that the Tories seem to want to rewrite an old saying to include the line: “You can fool most of the people, enough of the time.”

We know that millions of people were fooled by them at the last election.

Will we be fooled again?

25 thoughts on “Rising tide of protest marks start of Tory conference

  1. aturtle05

    “If they try it now, they’ll risk wiping out any savings they might have made over the last three years, rendering this entire Parliament pointless.” Has this parliament been anything but pointless?

    Hurried decisions pushed through parliament with little or no thought, policies designed to make the “Rich Richer” as David Cameron once said. Policies designed not to meet “The test of a good society is you look after the elderly, the frail, the vulnerable, the poorest in our society. And that test is even more important in difficult times, when difficult decisions have to be taken, than it is in better times.”

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  4. viv

    sack all government too and get rid of all taxes onley the rich should be tax and get rid of all mps who are just lieing lot so no one got no trust in them so sack the lot of them and bring other army men to come home to there Fammerley s and us all say no more to all government and mps and make a all new government with other army guys so they will have a new job and for every one to have a say in this world for shore and these mps who done wrong will be up for there crimes and who remembers the 16000 duck pod and they dint get sacked and other money back well we all won’t a say on what happens and not just them thinking power to there heads in takeing what relley ant there’s now get other money back from all these of shore bank and bring it back to England and start doing some think right in your life’s the all table needs to be turned back a round for the people and poor and disabol people too god bless the people who die and all the people in other places in this world and all them kids who lost there life’s in all them cemecol s gun that this government or mps who aloud this to happen and what about the truth about 911 with the planes FBI know all about it and they had the black boxes from the planes and who’s gold was that what they found in the basement of one of the towers it was lots of gold who was that gold ?? and then tri saying it must of bin a tereratack from cub ber when it’s not the government or FBI must love war but it not them who relley get killed its the people all this got to stop and stop now come home to your Fammerley s army men and Ladey we need this government and mps stopped and sacked

  5. psychjim

    I would love to leave a sensible reply – but I can’t help fearing that they’ll win the next election despite the ‘rising tide of protest’! There are so many apathetic, bored voters out there who will waste their votes on the Sun, or Mail editorials! There is not enough media attention paid to the plight of ordinary working class people impoverished by Tory brutality, let alone the disabled and unemployed being made homeless, destitute and dying to make these “tough decisions” fit. Most people I speak to in casual conversation pay no attention to what’s happening to their fellow countrymen at all. Their only source of reference seems to be the “telly”! Marx argued that you can’t have a successful revolution without a politically aware proletariat! It won’t happen in my lifetime!

  6. nick

    Cameron wont care he’s in the same mould as all the other scum people of the world who endorses slave labour and if you die that’s tough luck
    it’s very difficult to rid the world of these types of people and may never be possible ?

    1. Mike Sivier

      A few of you seem to be suffering from pessimism today, it seems. In the spirit of Britishness it is therefore necessary for me to say:

      Chin up!

      Stiff upper lip and all that! It’s always darkest before the dawn (even though this has been scientifically disproved)! Play up, and play the game! It’s a game of two halves! If you’re not in it, you can’t win it!


      These goons won’t last forever; it’s their ideas that have to be put down. And it’s the PUBLIC who need to be persuaded.

      1. Nick

        I’m at a stage in life where theirs so much evil in the world because of the likes of Cameron it’s very difficult to see any light at all

        all over the world the likes of Cameron are destroying lives and what lives they don’t destroy they kill

        the battles over the coming years will be between the conservatives and the terrorists for the battle to be top dog causing untold carnage as these two battle it out across the world at the expense as always of the innocent

        i just wish i was well enough to get out of the UK even for a month would be a god send

  7. nick

    if you were to do a public poll which said should the sick and disabled be able to get euthanasia on the NHS so they were no longer a burden on the state you would find the majority of people would say yes such is the bankrupt standards of the uk people as a whole

    1. Mike Sivier

      You’ve been reading that dodgy Policy Exchange poll that was quoted in today’s Observer, haven’t you?

      Apparently they found 75 per cent of people wanted disabled people to do some sort of workfare; and 78 per cent of people who are mentally disabled to do it too.

      But this was a right-wing Policy Exchange poll. They interviewed 1,930 people, all of whom may reasonably be expected to have stiff right arms and a tendency to goosestep when they meet each other.

      1. Nick

        i don’t read any newspapers but the facts are as a say if you make a poll black and white should the sick and disabled be able to get euthanasia on the NHS so they were no longer a burden on the state you would find the majority of people would say yes

        and there lies the main problem you will never run a decent country with a conservative foundation as the DNA of capitalism is slavery and at this time that DNA has a vice like grip not only in the UK but china/ India /Bangladesh/ Saudi Arabia to name but a few and millions die every year both the very young and old the sick and disabled.

        and yet the likes of Cameron say were helping out somalia a country my wife knows very well and she would tell Cameron yes your helping them your helping them to their deaths

        for the record my wife was born in Eritrea but lived most of her first 20 years in Sudan and Ethiopia all her Somalia friends have all been killed by a bad Cameron led type of government

        a conservative government only panders to the rich and the strong only and always has done and whatever bull comes out of this conference this week you can be sure that hundreds of people will die as a result of it and that’s 100 percent guaranteed

  8. b-b-p

    Where are we the Public today as opposed to 30 years ago,still as down trodden but without a Union Voice to speak for us.Thatcher spent Billions decimating the Unions and Closing our Industries at the same time.Dockers,Miners,Shipbuilders,Fishermen,Car Workers.The Unions needed overhauling because they did hold the Country to Ransom.From there on in Thatchers Campaign still highly in operation today was never ever give the Public any Offensive Power for their Defence from Government Will .
    Like or Loathe Thatcher her Policies still rule from the Grave. Draconian and Dated in a Modern World we are still suffering from Absolute Government Domination,by stealth ,Lies and Deceit.
    We still have the Poll Tax but in different form,Massive Unemployment,Benefit Sanctions “you will conform”.ATOS illegall,inhumane & Draconian,if just a head bounced in for assessment it would be found fit for work.We need a new system of Government.BSB

  9. joanna

    Mike did you know that there is now a tax on hot cooked foods (again) I was going to get a bacon joint which used to be about £2 now it is £4 because of the added tax!!!! I know it is off topic but I was shocked!!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      I’m reading a BBC news story (yes – it even made the BBC website!) that says there were 50,000, and Greater Manchester Police reckon it was one of the largest protests they have ever handled.

      1. Jonathan Wilson

        And got roughly 10 seconds mention on the BBC1 6’oclock news, the two rtd army hecklers got about 20-35 seconds although none of what they said was broadcast; nor was it stated what they were heckling about. The “Maggie shop” got a greater mention, especially as it was front of the story just after the tributes to her and a tear being wiped from dic*head Camorons face after the vid to her… I dunno, I always thought the bbc had a left leaning bias, I’m not so sure anymore; especially with its near blanket ban on reporting bedroom tax protests (who were part of the same rally as the save the nhs).

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