What we think
Are Tories on the way back?
THE SPECTRE of the Tories winning the next general election sends a shiver down the spine of everyone who suffered the barbarity of 18 years of Thatcher and Major. Three recent opinion polls have recorded sharp drops in support for New Labour. One for the Guardian published on Monday of this week put Labour on 41 percent-for the first time falling below the 44 percent it won in 1997. William Hague and the bigoted rabble who lead the Tory party are convinced their lurch to the right is winning votes.
But the Tories' support is barely up on the 31 percent they got three years ago. One opinion poll puts the Tories on 32 percent and another on 34 percent. They are not gaining ground through pro-business policies, and by scapegoating the poor and refugees. New Labour is losing support because it is pursuing those kinds of Tory policies.
The threat of closure stalks every one of the five million manufacturing workers in Britain. New Labour says it is powerless to save jobs. Over five million pensioners are living in poverty. New Labour gave them a miserly 75p a week increase. Public services are sold off and working people are told they must sacrifice their family lives to work ever-longer hours.
Every indicator of public opinion shows that three in four people want higher taxes on the rich, more public spending and an end to privatisation. People in every workplace and housing estate talk of feeling betrayed by Blair. If that sense of betrayal turns to cynicism, the Tories could pick up support. The only person who can give Hague any hope of winning the next election is Tony Blair himself.