Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tories turn right to mend their broken poll lead.

With their lead in the polls beginning to falter, the Tories are showing further signs of panic by lurching ever more to the right in the hopes of averting disaster.

The Conservatives would abandon Labour's belief that "pumping" money into the most deprived areas is the way to solve Britain's social problems, a rising star of David Cameron's team says today amid signs that the panic-stricken party is turning to the right to curb a fall in the polls.

As the Tory leader prepared for his final conference speech today before the general election with the slogan "vote for change", a battle at the top of the party over strategy appeared to have been won by those favouring a hardline core-vote agenda.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, in charge of Tory plans to mend Britain's "broken society", says the party would send out a "strong signal" that "money is not always the answer" to deprivation. Using Thatcherite language, in an interview with The Independent on Sunday, she says a Tory government would oversee a "retrenchment of the state" – but the difference under Mr Cameron would be funding social entrepreneurs and volunteers to "reinvigorate" local communities.

That's extraordinary. Cameron has spent the past few years trying to lose his party's image as "the nasty party" and yet, months before the general election, they are now preaching that "money is not always the answer to deprivation". That defies belief. If money is not the answer to poverty then I am left wondering; what is?
WARSI: "In the past, when the Conservative Party fundamentally believes in a small state, and there has been a retrenchment of that state under various Conservative governments, we've assumed that that space will be filled by some level of society or voluntary sector. What's good about David's thinking is that he acknowledges that that's not going to happen automatically. And therefore something has to be done to make that happen."

"Clearly, if the solution to all their problems was money, we would have solved it, wouldn't we? That should send out a strong signal to say – actually, money is not always the answer. Because Labour has pumped money into areas, and has pumped money predominantly into their own areas... but actually why is it still in that mess?"
I can't be the only person who reads into that statement that money will no longer be forthcoming once a Tory government are in place. Nor can I be the only person to hear hints of Thatcherism in that statement.

Indeed, she shows the flaw in her thinking by admitting that, despite the conservative belief that society and the voluntary sector would fill in on social projects where the government have retreated, that this is "not going to happen automatically".

In other words, Cameron's Tories will offer community projects as an interim before, one can only assume, retreating when "society or the voluntary sector" take their rightful place in replacing government intervention.

Warsi is arguing that social deprivation is not something which the government should actually concern itself with and is saying that these problems are best solved by "the voluntary sector". In other words, the least well off should turn to charities rather than expect help to come from the government. That's radical shift to the right for the party who once wanted to Hug a Hoodie.

Cameron yesterday made a speech in which he insisted that the Tories would not retreat to core values in order to win the election. But there are signs that the right wing of the party are already winning that battle.
After polling evidence showed voters are confused over the Tory election strategy, George Osborne, George Bridges and Andy Coulson, all of whom favour a tax-cutting, "austerity" strategy on public spending, will take charge of day-to-day campaign management while Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron's director of strategy who favours more centrist policies, has taken a back seat, along with Mr Cameron himself.
Then we were treated to the sight of the ultra right wing Tory MEP Daniel Hannan launching the British version of the US Tea Party protests at which he lauded tax cuts and Ronald Reagan.
He [Hannan] defied the party line by saying radical tax cuts must be introduced, regardless of the size of the deficit. Addressing around 200 people at the Brighton Hotel, Mr Hannan cited Ronald Reagan's remark that "the deficit is so big it can look after itself". He added: "We seem to have lost sight of that wisdom."
Just as with the Republicans in the US, there really is no situation for which tax cuts is not the answer.

Both Warsi and Hannan sound like founder members of "the nasty party" that Cameron has spent the past few years distancing himself from.

And they remind many of us that, despite the cosmetic changes Cameron has brought about in that party, it's parliamentarians remain as rancid in their beliefs as they ever were.

Warsi and Hannan are both mouthing well worn right wing canards. That the poor should turn to charity and not government, and that Ronald Reagan was right when he argued that the more one gave to the rich, the more money would eventually trickle down to the rest of us.

I thought both of those notions were consigned to the past, but no, they have reappeared in Cameron's glossy new classless "Hug a Hoodie" Conservative party.

This isn't a new political movement, or a reborn party. They are stating the same rubbish which we have all heard before. The only difference between then and now is Cameron, mouthing whatever platitudes he imagines that we might want to hear.

But, at the heart of his party, the same greed and contempt for the less well off remains firmly entrenched.

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