Lunacy, yes, but voters could still be tempted
SANTA Claus Jeremy Corbyn had something for everyone in his conference speech. To the young and their parents, he promised more cash for schools and at least 30 hours’ free childcare a week for the underfives – all courtesy of a generous state.
To commuters and those struggling with rip-off utility bills, he offered ‘radical new forms of ownership’ (by which he meant the expensive, inefficient old ways of nationalisation).
To workers in large companies, free shares paying up to £500 a year in dividends have been pledged. There would also be more state cash for a massive home-building programme and an extra 10,000 police – and yet more for green energy initiatives.
He had goodies galore for the elderly, too (or ‘you, the older generation’, as he said, apparently forgetting that at 69, he is no spring chicken himself). Not only would he preserve the triple lock on pensions, winter fuel allowance and free bus passes, but he would devote extra state funding to the NHS and social care.
As for where all this money is to come from, in a country almost £2trillion in debt, he was less specific. Indeed, he mentioned only a levy on second homes. But his message was clear: the ‘rich’ alone will pay, while everyone else will be quids in.
It’s sheer fantasy, of course. As any realist can see, his programme of Marxist economics, class warfare and unfettered union power is a recipe for mass unemployment and national ruin.
Yet the disturbing truth is that his speech will have struck a chord with many voters. Yes, unemployment is at a record low – an achievement ministers trumpet far too seldom. Meanwhile, contrary to Labour’s claims, the gap between rich and poor has shrunk relentlessly under the Tories.
But millions are frustrated by failings in the public services, the shortage of affordable homes and the way bosses of banks, private utility firms and train operators ruthlessly exploit customers while greedily lining their own pockets.
It is simply not enough for Tories to point out the truth that Mr Corbyn’s policies are disastrous, or that he’s surrounded by anti-Semites and sympathisers with anti-Western terrorists.
Nor will it help them, while they fight their own civil war, to argue that the Labour leader is utterly clueless about Brexit (in one breath yesterday, he said he would respect the referendum result, while suggesting in the next that he might keep Britain in the EU!).
No, at their conference next week, the Tories need to set out their own solutions to the grievances Mr Corbyn has identified. Above all, they must find positive language to convince the country that under them, the future for all will be bright.
After this week’s display of far-Left lunacy in Liverpool, the stakes couldn’t be higher.