Theresa May danced around the truth in her speech to the Tory party conference in Birmingham on Wednesday.
She claimed there are “better days ahead” and promised a “new approach for the future” after “we’ve secured a good Brexit deal”. And much of the mainstream press told us May had declared an end to austerity.
Her speech did no such thing.
But the Tories are worried about working class people’s anger at austerity and that it could get Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.
So both May and Hammond made sure to acknowledge that anger. Hammond said the Tories must have answers to questions that Labour is asking.
“Some communities have been left behind,” May admitted more than once. Yet she made clear that all the same anti-working class and racist policies will continue.
“There must be no return to the uncontrolled borrowing of the past,” she said. “No undoing all the progress of the last eight years.”
This “progress” has seen the wealth of the richest soar while cuts to pay and benefits, job losses and rising rents have made ordinary people poorer.
“Some markets are still not working in the interests of ordinary people,” said May. But she also said, “The free market hasn’t just saved lives, it has improved them”.
And she claimed the free market is “the greatest agent of collective human progress ever devised”. She said near exactly the same words last year when once again trying to defend capitalism against ordinary people’s anger.
May talked, without irony, about how people have been hit by the housing crisis and cuts to the NHS. But the Tories are responsible for these things—and have no answers to them.
So May trotted out the same lie that the Tories have put more money into the NHS. She even claimed that some Tory MPs “work in the NHS in their spare time”. In truth the Tories are attacking the NHS.
In the three years since 2010, the NHS lost over 5,000 nurses. The Tories snatched £1 billion from NHS funds to just keep services running this year. The cash was supposed to be spent on maintenance and repairs of buildings and equipment.
NHS funds for necessary modernisation fell by 8 percent in 2017-18. NHS trusts ended 2017/18 with a deficit of £960 million.
And cuts in other areas have made the NHS crisis worse. Even former health secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted this year earlier this year. “Cuts in the social care system had a profound impact on the NHS,” he said.
On housing May said the government will scrap a cap on council borrowing so that more homes can be built. Yet other Tory rules limit councils’ ability to fund new council homes, and encourage private developments instead.
They’ve encouraged social housing tenants, who can pay up to 80 percent of market rents, to buy their homes—reducing the stock of homes for rent.
The Tories are not about to start improving housing for ordinary people, or properly funding services. And May will continue the Tories’ racist agenda too.
“The free movement of people will end, once and for all,” she declared. “This is our proposal. Taking back control of our borders, laws and money.”
May said decisions on who can come to Britain would be based on “skills”. “But we will be able to reduce the numbers,” she added.
May has once again tried to portray herself as sympathetic to the plight of working class people suffering under the Tory assault. And she attacked the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn again and again in her speech.
She even tried a cringeworthy attempt to make herself likeable, dancing onto the stage to Abba’s Dancing Queen. May wants us to think she can laugh at herself, after being mocked for her dancing in Kenya earlier this year. She is desperate to appear “human” and not just a “MayBot”.
But no amount of theatrics can get away from the fact that the Tories exist to protect the bosses and the rich—and to make our lives worse.
It’s clear that the Tories fear anger at their attacks – and they are worried. But not worried enough to back down. We will need much more resistance and struggle to defend our jobs and services, and to push back racism