One Na­tion To­ry­ism thing of the past

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Opinion -

“CON­SER­VA­TIVES to ap­peal to po­lit­i­cal cen­tre ground,” was head­lined in many pa­pers over the week­end. When I read that, I blinked in dis­be­lief.

One Na­tion To­ry­ism is dead and buried, make no mis­take about that. Mar­garet Thatcher killed it and Teresa May is danc­ing on its grave. The com­fort­able no­tion that a highly prof­itable busi­ness sec­tor will en­sure that wealth fil­ters down through all strata of so­ci­ety has been de­stroyed by mod­ern-day cor­po­rate greed. We now live in a near-klep­toc­racy.

Af­ter 40 years in thrall to an al­most un­reg­u­lated mar­ket econ­omy, in­equal­ity in the UK has in­creased to a stag­ger­ing ex­tent. Real poverty is in­creas­ing sharply, record num­bers of peo­ple are in work but still can’t make ends meet, and the na­tion’s phys­i­cal and men­tal health has suf­fered ac­cord­ingly.

All to en­cour­age “growth”, but the only real fi­nan­cial growth has been salaries and bonuses for the top “five-per­centers” – and of course money laun­der­ing in the City and tax avoid­ance.

Aus­ter­ity has just made mat­ters worse: it has dam­aged and taken lives, and it has ham­pered busi­nesses. And let’s be clear, when the Tories an­nounce aus­ter­ity is over, it’s a big fib. It’s hard-wired into all their pol­icy-mak­ing. Fur­ther cuts to the NHS will en­sure its steady march to com­plete pri­vati­sa­tion re­mains on track, sim­i­larly ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial ser­vices and the po­lice can all ex­pect fur­ther slim­ming. And all to no avail. The deeper the aus­ter­ity, the greater so­ci­ety’s needs – it’s self-de­feat­ing.

So why are the Tories try­ing for a more cen­trist ap­peal? The an­swer is sim­ply panic. They have seen that Labour’s pro­gres­sive, so­cial demo­crat-type poli­cies have gained great pop­u­lar ap­peal, and that nu­mer­ous busi­ness and eco­nomic an­a­lysts are com­ing to the con­clu­sion that Labour has an­swers to many of the prob­lems that have dogged the econ­omy – and so­ci­ety – for decades. Im­i­ta­tion is the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery, but the Tories are not sin­cere.

The right wing par­ties and me­dia have re­alised they’re on shaky ground rub­bish­ing Labour on pol­icy, hence all the spu­ri­ous at­tempts at char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion and the make-be­lieve ex­trem­ism nar­ra­tive. The real ex­trem­ists in UK pol­i­tics to­day are to the right. The po­lit­i­cal “ideas” of May, John­son and ReesMogg would’ve been un­think­able to the One-Na­tion Tories of yes­ter­year. The Con­ser­va­tives pre­tend­ing to oc­cupy the cen­tre ground is sim­ply breath­tak­ing hypocrisy. Paul Halas


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