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Effing who? It seems that, when Cameron talked about “giving the effing Tories a kicking”, he was in fact hoping to kick Labour instead – and he has found plenty of FOOLs (see the article) to help him.
It seems a lot of people have become terribly confused and are making a lot of rash assumptions.
The first is that promises by the political leaders in Westminster – to hand Scotland new powers over tax, spending and social security – persuaded voters in Scotland to reject the opportunity to split away from the United Kingdom and form their own country. We don’t know that this is the case. In the run-up to the vote, the result was too close to judge, depending on perhaps six or seven per cent of the total number of voters. If they were persuaded by the offer, does that invalidate the belief held by the other 48 per cent, who always thought Scotland was better off with the rest of us?
The second is that Labour has reneged on the promise to give more powers to Scotland. This claim is utterly inexplicable as Labour has not done any such thing. Only this morning (Sunday), on Andrew Marr’s TV show, Ed Miliband said: “Yes. Yes. Yes. We’re going to deliver. No ifs, no buts. We’re going to deliver on that promise.” That’s about as straightforward as it can get. Labour will keep its word.
Finally, that English devolution is tied up with the promise of more powers for Scotland. It isn’t. David Cameron never mentioned more powers for England until the morning of the referendum result and it was not part of the offer he made alongside Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in the run-up to the vote.
It seems that the problems have arisen from the last point. Cameron – ever the opportunist – saw a chance to gain something from the unexpected victory, and cobbled up a plan to resurrect the long-dead West Lothian question.
This asks why Scottish MPs can vote on English matters in Westminster, when English MPs cannot vote on matters that have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Cameron wants to introduce a law to ban Scottish MPs from voting on England-only matters in Westminster, tied in with the new powers for Scotland.
It is, as with most Cameron Government ideas, monumentally stupid. The way to ensure Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs don’t vote on England-only matters is to devolve powers to deal with such matters to an English Assembly – or several regional assemblies. In fact, such bodies used to exist; what happened to them? With those powers safely devolved, Westminster could continue dealing with matters that concern the whole of the UK.
There’s only one problem with that: It runs entirely counter to the whole of Conservative policy during the last four-plus years.
The Tories have worked very hard on concentrating power centrally in Westminster, by constricting the flow of money to all other UK authorities and telling them what to do with what they’ve been given. Devolving power to regional English assemblies means a loss of influence that the toffs who pull Cameron’s strings simply won’t countenance. The BBC’s Mark D’Arcy put it very well: “Devolution to regions or city-regions would mean more Labour enclaves.”
Labour clearly wants English devolution to be handled separately from the referendum promises, and this is entirely reasonable; tying them together is something Cameron is trying to do unilaterally – it was never agreed by the unionist parties when they were putting together their offer to Scotland.
The Tories and their followers are trying to spin this, to make it seem that Labour is the renegade party – with some success among the weak-minded, it seems.
Most of all, though – certainly on the Vox Political Facebook page – we’re seeing wave after wave of claims that Labour and the Conservatives are the same because they campaigned side-by-side as unionists, even though this makes absolutely no sense at all in the context of either Scottish devolution or the West Lothian question.
It seems that the many Tory minions who see this muddling of the facts as the only way to win the next election have been released into the community again to do their worst. The mission is explained by Robert Livingstone on the ‘We hate Iain Duncan Smith – The Minister For Manslaughter FB page: “BBC Tory correspondent Nick Robinson has stated that David Cameron’s best chance of winning the next election is to convince the electorate that all parties are the same.”
So we see:
“Tory/Labour theres no real difference and anyone with any sense knows that.”
“Darling Milliband and Brown campaigning with the Tories was the final straw.”
“Labour and Tory are two sides of the same coin.” (This one was from a UKIP supporter, who then claimed “I might yet vote Green”. Whatever.)
It occurs to Yr Obdt Srvt that, if Nick ‘Tory’ Robinson is right and Cameron’s best chance lies in convincing the electorate that all political parties are the same anyway and voting won’t make a difference, then he’ll have asked his campaign chief Lynton Crosby to make it happen.
Therefore it seems that we can safely consider anyone promoting such views to be allied to Mr Crosby – a Friend Of Ol’ Lynton (FOOL) if you like.
You can tell where this is going…
So the next time you hear anyone uttering such tosh, or read it in the social media comment columns, see if you can be the first to ask that person: “Are you a FOOL?”
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”.
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.
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.
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 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.
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