An insight into the delusional ideology of the Tory Party

(Or: Why we can’t afford to let them win the next election)

The Tory Party has recently released its very own ‘vision for the future’. Although it makes for disturbing reading, it does offer an insight into the inner ideologies of the Tory Party, an organisation so keen to re-brand itself and gain some distance from its unofficial title of ‘The Nasty Party’. Entitled 2020 Vision: An Agenda For Transformation, the document is available to read here.

I won’t go into the whole document, although it does give interesting insights into the Tory’s agenda. So much of Cameron and Co.’s rhetoric is steeped in doublespeak so it’s interesting to see the veil lifted and see their, albeit terrifying and destructive, agenda that lays behind the lies. The whole document gives insight into their own vision of a Tory-led UK in 2020, but I wanted to quickly examine the small section found under the heading “The Innovation Economy”. It is here that an actual fictional narrative has been created describing the horrifying implications that could happen if the Tories remain in power:

It is the morning of the 7th May 2020. Over breakfast, Mr and Mrs Jones, happily married for 50 years with three children, are reflecting on the past and their hopes for the future. Reflecting on the difficult years of 2010-2015, they now know Britain is on the right track. Britain is topping the world economic tables for competitiveness and unemployment is low. The most striking development is that it seems the whole world wants to invest in the UK.

Mr and Mrs Jones have a large proportion of their savings in bonds. Not Government bonds—which are no longer issued—but in interest-bearing bonds from mutuals, cooperatives, social enterprises and private businesses. Their oldest child, John, is a successful ‘Life Science’ entrepreneur. He is hiring 20 top class science graduates and another 20 apprentices from the local technical college. He happily invests his profits in research and development. His business benefits enormously now that the Government only accepts electronic invoices. The UK online services industry has cornered the market for electronic invoicing standards. Electronic invoicing alone has added about 0.5 percent to GDP. Their daughter, Mary, is a successful maths teacher on the road to promotion. Her husband is an orderly at the local hospital trust. Nobody can remember if it is private or public; it is just a good hospital and they both hold a stake in its future. Their youngest, David, is a perpetual student and hightech entrepreneur. Like so many others, he is also registering his own IP with the Online Intellectual Property Office.

Mr and Mrs Jones seldom see politicians on TV. The only political stories appear to be about tax reductions, high-tech exports and the massive trade surplus. Britain is confident, dynamic and at ease with itself. The only criticism Mrs Jones has is that “the Conservative Government failed to raise the tax-free threshold to £25,000. It’s such a disincentive for lower earners.” However, Mr Jones reminds her of the days of “those awful tax credits, national insurance contributions and year-end tax returns.” Mrs Jones reflects on this, adding, “at least we know where we stand with a 20 percent flat tax.” “But,” Mr Jones says, “never trust a politician, I very much doubt they will get the flat rate down to 15 percent by 2025 as they promised.” “True,” adds Mrs Jones, “but we can’t expect too much, now that Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year.”

Fantasy? Not necessarily.

Whilst making for a rather unsettling read, it describes what the Tories aim to achieve. It also describes their ideal future for the UK. There is a really good breakdown of this part here, but I will give a quick explanation of the parts I found unsettling (in no particular order).

  1. Britain is topping the world economic tables for competitiveness and unemployment is low.

    Under the current Tory government unemployment is a key concern, despite the government assuring us that unemployment is falling. The reality is that the statistics that make up unemployment are convoluted, with many on workfare schemes, and still claiming JSA, being counted as “employed”. Government workfare schemes are actually taking paid job vacancies away from workers. High street names like HMV are going bust, leading to mass redundancies. Widespread public sector cuts mean even more unemployment. With all this in mind it is really hard to see how the Tories envision a future with Britain topping the economic tables and low unemployment figures under their leadership. Unless in 2020 they are still manipulating the unemployment statistics, of course… The skwalker1969 article describes it nicely:

    Silly, silly people who opposed the Tory wage-slashing, benefit-cutting, state-shrinking ways! Don’t we realise that we’re on the path to a Shining Future? 2.5 million unemployed people, an impending triple-dip recession, Foodbanks opening at the rate of 3 a week and rising rates of suicide – nothing more than a few eggs that needed to be broken to complete the Conservatives’ ‘omelette’.

  2. Government bonds are no longer offered

    I won’t profess to say I understand the whole government bonds aspect, but the blog I mentioned earlier, skwalker1969, has given a decent description of what it all means:

    “The idea that government bonds – which is how governments finance their spending – ‘are no longer issued’ is far more revealing than you might think at first reading.

    That the report thinks such bonds will no longer be necessary betrays the extent to which the Tories, in their secret ‘heart of hearts’, want to slash the state on which many people inevitably have to rely.

    Only in a country where virtually everything is provided by private companies, and paid for by direct charges on each individual ‘customer’, could a government even conceivably do away with government bonds. Either that, or we discover that we’re sitting on oil reserves that make those of Saudi Arabia look like a duck-pond.

    Without that unlikely event, a country that does not fund its spending through bonds is going to be one that has no place for the vulnerable, for those who through disability or circumstance are unable to pay their own way. Such people are too expensive, and too unprofitable for private providers if the government is not footing the bill.

    That this is how the Tories see the future speaks volumes about their plans and ethos – far more than their coded, public statements will ever admit to. Life sciences and electronic invoices Here we see what the Tories are pinning their hopes on.

    The economy is circling the drain because of policies that are either misguided or, more likely, deliberate; full-time jobs are disappearing while poorly-paid part-time jobs replace them if we’re lucky; decision after decision sucks cash – and therefore demand – out of the UK economy. And demand is everything, for economic recovery.”

  3. Nobody can remember if hospitals are private or public

    Perhaps one of the more relevant and eye-opening aspects of this Tory vision is this statement, though it might seem unsurprising to many. It is clear that the Tories want to sell off the NHS to private corporations, privatising the National Health Service that even Thatcher left alone. However, in their ideal future, the public can’t remember, and don’t seem to care, if hospitals are private or public; they’re just seen as “good hospitals”. The NHS will be privatised and sold off bit by bit, and in the Tory Party’s ideal (and delusional) vision of the future, nobody will care. Well, maybe they will care when the private corporations cut corners and place profit before quality, efficiency before patient care, inflated management bonuses before…

  4. Mr and Mrs Jones’ youngest son is a “perpetual student”.

    One of the more delusional aspects of their vision is the notion that the average couple, Mr and Mrs Jones, have a grandson who is a ‘perpetual student’. This is laughable considering this government tripled tuition fees. Enough said, really.

  5. Politicians are seldom seen on TV anymore

    This bit is rather scary, though I suppose the whole ‘vision’ itself is one big nightmare trip. So, in the crazy world of Tory-led 2020, politicians are “seldom seen on TV anymore”, and the only political stories that do appear are all about “tax reductions, high-tech exports and the massive trade surplus”. So in their vision of the future, politicians rarely feature in the news. Clearly an uninformed and ignorant public is a Tory wet dream. With a government rarely featuring in the news, it would be free to get away with… well, anything it wanted. Such as privatising public services, for instance. Although maybe it’s not as sinister as all that. Maybe the Tories aren’t on TV much because they don’t actually do much in the future. In fact, it’s probably explained by the fact that:

  6. Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year

    I guess in the Tory world of 2020, corporations and business run everything, and Parliament is just there to occasionally  lower taxes for the wealthy elite. Maybe by 2020 Parliament is more like the Royals, where they’re just there as a tourist attraction and a hark back to the “old” days where elected governments actually ran the country. Maybe, despite the attacks on the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable, the public services, the council cuts (etc, etc.) – maybe despite all of that, Cameron’s “Big Society” was actually implemented and a lot of public organisations and local services are run by volunteers in the community, and everything else is controlled by multinational corporations that pay 0.5% corporation tax, or something. Ah, those crazy Tories…

    The funny thing is, even the Tories (in their crazy scenario) admit that they won’t be able to do much with only 16 weeks out of the year. Mr Jones is moaning that the flat tax rate of 20% (more on that in a second) isn’t the 15% that they promised (at least the Tories still envisage them breaking promises in 2020), to which Mrs Jones replies:

    True,” adds Mrs Jones, “but we can’t expect too much, now that Parliament only sits 16 weeks a year.”


  7. There is a 20% flat tax. For everyone.

    Another scary aspect of this ‘vision’ is the fact that taxes are lowered to the extent that there is a “flat tax” of 20% for everyone. That means that even the millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate of tax as the working classes. Actually it will probably be much like today, where they pay even less due to tax evasion/avoidance, etc. However, in the future, and even with a 20% flat tax rate for everyone, the Tories aren’t happy. This future government of 2020 wants a lower flat tax rate of 15% for everyone. It’s hard to see how further tax reductions will help support the government and the country, but then again by 2020 (under a Tory leadership) everything will be run by the private sector so there probably won’t be any sort of welfare system or “public” services to speak of by this point anyway. Maybe we won’t even need a welfare state, because by that point all the poor and disabled will have died out (so they hope?). Even schools will be fully privatised, run for-profit, by the time the Tories are done. The flat tax gained will just go towards paying the MPs salaries, I suppose.

There’s much more to dissect from that scenario, and the 2020 document as a whole, but I only wanted to do a quick run-down of the impressions I got from it. It’s clear that the authors behind the document are delusional, and potentially dangerous (!!). If this is representative of the Tory ideology and real vision for the future (and I cannot see anything to counter this), then it is clearly very worrying. If anything puts you off voting for them in the next election, let it be this. Unless you want a future government who only sits for 16 weeks a year, and lowers taxes for higher earners to the point where a welfare system and public service sector becomes impossible to maintain; a future where big business runs everything and the government doesn’t even feature on the news… It’s not that I love seeing politicians and government policies talked about on TV all the time, but surely they need to be in the public eye to be held accountable? Surely the public should be kept informed?

Damian Hinds, the Conservative MP who is one of the authors of the report, said that the ideas aimed to encourage social mobility, supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds who wanted to get on in life.

“The electorate gave our party half a chance in 2010,” said Mr Hinds. “This work is about showing what we could offer the country if voters give us a full opportunity to govern on our own in 2015.

See what I mean? Anyway, let me know what you think below.

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University tuition fee rises may end up taxpayers more than scheme it replaced

The Coalition’s £9,000-a-year tuition fee hike could cost taxpayers more than the scheme it replaced, a think-tank has warned. A £1bn-a-year “black hole” in university funding shows that the rushed tuition fee reforms are coming back to haunt both the Lib Dems and the Tories, despite all their claims that the reforms would save the country money.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) says that the government “seriously understated” the cost of its higher education reforms and will either have to implement drastic cuts to student numbers or ask graduates to make higher repayments – a result that will deeply embarrass the Lib Dems.

So as well as having an impact on social mobility, lumping a lifetime of debt on future graduates and deterring future students from attending higher education, the drastic cuts to higher education will actually end up costing taxpayers more in the long run. However, this was clear from the start, and it has often been said that you do not cut public spending in a recession. This government’s policies may reduce debt in the short run, but in the longer-term the “austerity” programs may lead to irreparable damage to the public sector, to education, and to the UK as a whole.

None of this is new, however. A report published in 2010 stated that with state funding for University teaching being cut by a monumental 80% by 2014-15, the government will have to borrow more to fund the higher loans and pick up a bigger bill for those debts “written off” after 30 years; The report argued this will leave taxpayers worse off.

This is what happens when austerity reforms are pushed through as legislation before MP’s have had a chance to properly review and debate the proposals. The student protests of 2010 fell on deaf ears. It’s clear that either the Coalition MP’s who passed this legislation were either so short-sighted, they could not see the implications of their reforms, or the reforms themselves were ideologically-driven. But the Tories are anything but ideologically-driven, right?

Powerful paedophile network may have connections to Downing Street

Tom Watson, deputy chairman of the Labour Party, announced yesterday that a powerful paedophile network may have operated in Britain and been protected by connections to Parliament and Downing Street, the Independent reports.

English: 10 Downing Street door

English: 10 Downing Street door (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Referring to a case in 1992 of Peter Righton, Watson called on the Metropolitan Police to re-open the closed criminal enquiry into paedophilia. Righton, who was a former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau and lecturer at the National Institute for Social Work in London, was convicted of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material. He admitted the charges and was fined £900. At Prime Minister Question’s, Watson said of the evidence file to convict Righton: “If it still exists, [it] contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.”

 

He added: “One of its members boasts of a link to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad. The leads were not followed up, but if they exist, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it, and investigate.”

 

Females win landmark equal pay victory

A landmark Supreme Court ruling means that equal-pay disputes can be heard in the civil courts, not just employment tribunals, for the first time. Over 170 women, who worked in low-paying jobs for Birmingham City Council, claim that they were paid less than their male colleagues and have won the right to have their cases heard in the courts. This could have implications for thousands of workers, and could mean that female employees at local authorities across the country could potentially receive payouts for pay discrimination.

Equal-pay disputes have generally been heard in employment tribunals, which only deal with cases brought within six months of leaving a place of work. However the ruling means that future disputes can be heard in civil courts which has a longer six-year time frame in which a case can be brought.

The dispute over equal pay at Birmingham City Council has been running for over three years. The female employees who brought the case to court were employed in roles such as cleaners, cooks, caterers and care staff, and claimed that they were excluded from bonuses that were given to male employees. Between 2007 and 2008, Birmingham City Council ended up paying thousands of pounds in compensation to women bringing the claim, but only those who did so within the six month period of leaving their jobs. Those left out of the original compensation took their case to the High Court.

The law firm Leigh Day & Co., who represents the women, declared the ruling as “historic.” In a statement, the firm said the judgement:

“…Effectively extends the time limit for equal-pay claims from six months to six years, the biggest change to equal pay legislation since it was introduced in 1970, with huge implications for thousands of workers”.

Disability hate crimes soar to ‘record levels’, doubling since 2008 financial crisis

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the number of disability hate crimes has soared since the 2008 financial crisis, leading to concerns that the “anti-scrounger” rhetoric employed by the Coalition is leading to hostility and aggression against the most vulnerable members of society.

The Independent reports that disability hate crime has doubled since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, yet yespite the rise, the number of people convicted for the crime actually fell last year. A total of 1,942 disability hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2011 while only 523 people were found guilty of a disability hate crime – down 5 per cent from 2010.

I remember when the rhetoric from both government and the media was very much anti immigration and immigrants and asylum seekers seemed to be blamed for most of the issues that Britain was facing. Now the focus and blame has shifted towards other vulnerable members of society – those on benefits and those with disabilities. “Benefit scroungers”, as well as the welfare state itself, are being blamed for much of the economic crisis and the deficit. This rhetoric has allowed the Coalition to effectively attack and slowly attempt to dismantle sections of the welfare state and the public sector, all the while blaming “scroungers” and the most vulnerable members of society.

“There are historical parallels,” says Katharine Quarmby, the author of Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People, who has grown alarmed by the levels of “benefit scrounger” abuse aimed at disabled people. “If you have a group that is blamed for economic downturn, terrible things can happen to them.”

“Iain Duncan Smith [the Work and Pensions Secretary] is saying ‘We’re going to push through these benefit reforms’ and hinting strongly that lots of people on disability benefits are scroungers,” Quarmby says. “That kind of rhetoric leads to disability hate crime on the streets.”

  • Last year the Glasgow Media Trust found the public believed between 50 and 70 per cent of those on disability benefits were fraudulent. The actual number is likely to be between 1 and 2 per cent.
  • The same report found that there has been a tripling in the use of words such as “scrounger”, “cheat” and “skiver” in tabloid stories on disability in the past five years.
Charities are expressing concern at the rise in these reported incidents. Guy Parckar, head of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “The impact of hate crime simply cannot be overestimated, and these figures suggest that police authorities and local and central government must all look again at what they are doing to tackle disability hate crime.”

Former government drugs advisor says that alcohol consumption would fall by 25% if Dutch-style “cannabis cafes” were allowed

Cannabis sativa plant

Former government advisor Professor David Nutt has told MPs that alcohol consumption would fall by up to 25% in Britain if Dutch-style cannabis “coffee shops” were introduced, the Guardian reports.

“A regulated market for illicit drugs would be the best way and we could reduce alcohol consumption by as much as 25% if we had the Dutch model of cannabis cafes,” said Nutt, who added that he believed the police would rather deal with people who were ‘stoned’ than drunk.

“The drugs trade is the second biggest international trade in the world, after oil, and it is completely unregulated … It is impossible to win the war on drugs.”

Prof David Nutt is a psychiatrist and  neuropsychopharmacologist who was a former government minister appointed as chairmen of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in 2008. However, he clashed with MPs due to his views on drug harm and classification. This came to a head in 2009 when Nutt published an editorial in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in which he stated that horse riding held more risk than taking ecstasy. He vocally stated his beliefs that illicit drugs should be classified according to actual evidence of harm rather than as a result of politics.

Prof David Nutt recently gave his views regarding the Dutch-style cannabis cafe model to the Commons home affairs select committee’s inquiry into drugs policy. Both Nutt and Prof Lesley King, a second former government drug advisor, were invited to give evidence. Nutt told the committee that he still stands by his claim that horse-riding is more dangerous than taking ecstasy, and offered his views regarding the introduction of “cannabis cafes”. As the Guardian reports:

“Nutt told MPs the cost of policing cannabis use was only £500m a year, mainly for issuing possession warning notices, compared with the £6bn a year bill for policing the use of alcohol, including dealing with people who were drunk and disorderly.”

Nutt instead of scientific evidence, politics had influenced drug policy in Britain over the 40 years since the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed in 1971. Only one drug – cannabis – had ever been downgraded and that was quickly reversed against the advice of the ACMD.

Nutt said the decision by the home secretary to classify magic mushrooms as a class A drug alongside heroin and crack cocaine was “the final nail in the rationality of the 1971 Drugs Act”.

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Plan B releases single – Ill Manors – centred on the London Riots

Plan B has released a new single entitled “Ill Manors,” focused on the UK London Riots last summer. In an interview with BBC 1Extra Ben Drew, from Plan B, explained why he felt the need to write the song:

“I’m not trying to condone what happened during the riots, it disgusted me, made me sick, but it saddened me more than anything. Because those kids that was rioting and looting, they’ve just made life ten times harder for themselves, they’ve just played into the hands of what certain sectors of middle England think about them. And we have a big issue and prejudice in this country from certain ignorant sectors of middle class people towards the younger class. An example of this is the word chav, which in the video I state stands for Council Housed and Violent.

“This is a derogatory term used again by certain sectors of middle England to define people from poor and unfortunate backgrounds that have less money than them, that haven’t had as good an education. And for me, that term is no different from similar terms used to be derogatory towards race and sex, the only difference being that the word chav is used very publicly in the press.”

Later in the interview, he added: “It’s been described as horrific by some people that have watched it. It’s supposed to be. It is because that’s life. Not life for everybody, but the world that I’m talking about, that’s life for these people. If you don’t live in that environment, you don’t have to address it, you can just get on with your own life and live happily. But I can’t do that, I can’t read a newspaper and read something negative that’s going on in the world and just forget it, turn over to page 3 and star looking at a girl’s pair of breasts.”

Listen to the interview on BBC Radio 1Extra with Ben Drew, explaining the song and his beliefs, here.