Saturday, 5 October 2013
Tories shot in the foot?
I have spent the past week walking in the North Yorkshire Dales so have not followed the Conservative Party Conference all that carefully. However it does seem to me that, with their further plans to make life difficult for the unemployed, their policies will be seen even by their supporters as both vindictive and pointless.
The long-term unemployed are to be forced, in order to receive any benefit, to attend Job Centres every day (my emphasis). Who is going to pay their bus or train fares? What are they going to do when they get there (having discovered there are no jobs)? Have the Job Centres enough room for them, enough lavatories?
Then benefits are to be withdrawn for all unemployed under 25s. This is an appeal to populism which will directly affect the Tories' core support. There are thousands of parents, not to mention doting grandparents, who are fully aware that their beloved offspring have done and are doing all the "right things" approved by the middle class canon and still can't find work. Even Daily Mail readers will surely recognise this as ideological nonsense. A Tory government should not be attacking "people like us."
Although not the responsibility of the Conservative leadership, the Daily Mail's attack on Ed Miliband's father will surely rebound against the party. Even if Ralph Miliband had been the threat to "decent values" that the Mail portrays it would be a logical nonsense to tarnish his sons because of those views. The fact that Ralph Miliband wasn't the "hater of Britain" the Mail claims, but a refugee who fled Nazi-ism, came to this country and joined the Royal Navy to fight it, will surely expose, even to its own readers, the Mail's black propaganda.
This incident also allows us to remind ourselves of the Mail's history of distortions and questionable probity: the publication of the Zinoviev letter, which falsely claimed, four days before the general election of 1924, that the Labour Party was in thrall to Communist Russia; the paper's sympathy for Europe's fascist dictators in the 1930s; and its owner Lord Rothermere's "non dom" status which allows him to avoid taxes.
It is just possible that from this week our political debate may be more honest and more rational: excess Tory zeal and Mail duplicity could have done us a good turn