Nightmare Tory vision
TORY LEADER William Hague last week proudly unveiled some of the most right wing policies ever put forward by a mainstream party. He walked in to the music of the band Massive Attack-appropriate because his plans are a massive attack on us all.
Hague ludicrously claims his earlier policy declarations, called the “common sense revolution”, “struck a chord with the mainstream majority of people”. The latest offering, “Believing in Britain”, is a fine-tuning of the manifesto for the next election. There is of course virulent nationalism, and warnings about the dangers of a European superstate.
But the nightmare vision goes much further than defence of the pound. It includes:
Hague describes this as “a social policy based on freedom”. People without jobs will be farmed out to private contractors who will make a profit from any social security savings.
The Tories seriously expect every lone mother on Income Support to get a job in the first year of this programme.
Firms will be “expected” to take out insurance instead.
This is a programme to smash public services and transfer huge slabs of money to the rich.
There would also be regular orgies of national pride and anti-foreigner witch-hunts. It would be a disaster, if ever implemented. But it is very unlikely that William Hague will be waving from the steps of 10 Downing Street after the next election.
What is more worrying is the near-certainty that Labour’s programme for the next election will accept a good half of the same material. The Financial Times noted the Tories’ “preliminary manifesto overlaps with the ideas of the present government”. Hague’s education polices are, as the Daily Mail comments, “similar to Labour”.
Labour and Tory competing for the same right wing ground has been seen most clearly over refugees. Ann Widdecombe and Hague called for prison camps. Home secretary Jack Straw said the only problem was cost, and that anyway Labour was deporting more than the Tories did.
So, in the next election campaign Labour will attack the Tories for privatising pensions. But Blair’s plans will reduce the state pension to such poverty levels that more people see making their own arrangements as the only alternative.
Over health Blair will attack the Tories for wanting to sell off the NHS, but he will push more PFI schemes, which are tailored precisely to fit the needs of private investors rather than patients and staff. On issue after issue New Labour opposes Tory suggestions and then implements a similar policy 18 months later.
That is why it would be wrong to hold back criticism of New Labour for fear of allowing Hague’s crew to grow stronger. The only way Hague’s crazed package will ever seem credible is if the only alternative is New Labour-which accepts so much of the same principles but argues about the details.
We need a political alternative that rejects Tory ideas entirely, wherever they come from.
Agency workers would be paid more
A racist Tory bill
Many people are already missing bill payments