Behind David Cameron’s fluffy new image, the beast remains the same. Delegates meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth might want a media friendly leader who can restore their fortunes - but little has changed beyond that.
What gets Tory delegates going are calls for more jails, a halt to immigration and demands for more tax cuts for the rich.
Cameron has held meetings with the Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley, which that bigot described as “valuable” and “helpful to us”. Paisley added that in that event of a hung parliament, “we’d be very interested in doing business with them”.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have seized on the Tory revival to argue the only response is to stick with New Labour. In truth Cameron would be struggling to secure election on his poll returns.
What has put him back in contention is the fall in New Labour’s support. And that fall is a response to Labour’s war on Iraq and its slavish devotion to the free market.
Blair and John Reid are trying to attack Cameron from the right, by claiming he is not supportive enough of George Bush. That will only alienate Labour voters even further.
Mainstream reporting of politics focuses on the Brown?Blair tiff or the media skills of Cameron. The question never asked is who speaks for the millions who reject the war in Iraq, or the sell?off of the NHS. Deserted by New Labour, they deserve a new home. Respect’s successes in east London and Birmingham have shown what is possible - they must be built on.
Defend the NHS
A focus for resistance
Health unions have called a lobby of parliament on Wednesday 1 November. It should be a date for everybody’s diary.
Gordon Brown has made it clear that he will continue Tony Blair’s agenda of NHS cuts and privatisation. But resistance is growing, and the lobby of parliament can be an important focus.
The 2,000-strong march through Epsom, Surrey, and 4,000-strong protest in Banbury, Oxfordshire, last week show the continuing fury over cuts to the health service.
But demonstrations are not the only expression of the anger. The NHS Logistics strikes in the past two weeks, the first national NHS strikes in 17 years, show how pressure on the government can be taken up a notch.
The lobby is a chance to draw together the power of the health unions with the rage felt by millions over the decimation of the NHS.
Truth in short supply
The British military hospital in Helmand province, Afghanistan, has been running at or near full capacity, carrying out 225 operations since June. This is the highest rate of casualties since the Korean war.
Last month British commanders came close to ordering the evacuation of a British forward base under constant attack. The loss of the base was only averted when the British agreed to tribal elders brokering a truce with the Taliban.
This all flies in the face of Tony Blair’s claims that the British are bringing peace and democracy to Afghanistan. But truth is in short supply from this government.