The stability and strength of the Tories was on display for all to see as Theresa May delivered her keynote speech to the Tory party conference on Wednesday.
Pieces of the stage literally fell away in the background as May coughed and spluttered through a weak set of policies dressed up to be more than they were.
The Tory faithful were quick to come to her defence, but it’s difficult to find the words to defend a catastrophe.
“If ever the PM needed a metaphor for service and duty and resolution through adversity, that battling performance was it! Huge respect,” tweeted the Tory leader in Scotland Ruth Davidson.
And behind the warm words from senior Tories is a growing sense of desperation.
Before the speech the Tory PR machine claimed that May would unveil big news on housing. All that amounted to was a promise of £2 billion extra funding for council house building.
The 1,183,779 people on council house waiting lists – over 100,000 of whom have been on them for over five years – were told that “help is on the way.”
They shouldn’t hold their breath. The £2 billion amounts to an insulting 25,000 homes – just 5,000 a year over the course of the next parliament.
Private Registered Providers (PRPs), former housing associations, will be able to bid for the money. That raises questions over whether the money will go towards council housing or towards the Tories’ sham “affordable” rents of 80 percent of market rates. And PRPs build for private rent and sale.
“We will encourage councils as well as housing associations and provide certainty over future rent levels,” said May in her speech, pointing towards sham “affordable” housing as a way out of the crisis. She said councils would be encouraged to build, but didn’t go into detail about what this meant.
Housing campaigner and activist in the Unite union’s housing branch Glyn Robbins spoke to Socialist Worker after the speech. “It seems to me like they stumble from one ill-conceived policy to the next, particularly over housing,” he said.
“We’ve had the Housing and Planning Act, the Housing White Paper, Sajid Javid’s green paper, and now this.
“They’re all over the place. You can’t take their housing policy seriously. There’s a gaping void over housing policy which Labour needs to move into.”
Other announcements included an inspirational opt-out organ donation policy and a review of the Mental Health Act. At one point a comedian handed May a P45 form.
It will take a lot more than weak gags to unseat May and the Tories. Protests and, crucially, strikes can bring them down.
Last Sunday’s protest of tens of thousands outside the Tory party conference was a step in the right direction. The recent CWU union’s ballot for national action over pensions can increase the pressure on the Tories.
Theresa May’s speech shows her days are numbered.
We need resistance on a scale that can get rid of Theresa May and the rest of the Tory rabble.
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