I don’t think Cameron is a malicious charlatan like Tony Blair, nor as avaricious – he doesn’t need the money. But there is something of the Blair about him – good looking young politician delivers touchy feely lines of dubious sincerity. One of his concluding lines summed it up for me:
“I see a country where the poorest children go to the best schools.”
Now don’t just admire how fine that sounds, read it again:
“I see a country where the poorest children go to the best schools”.
Do you think David Cameron does see that, really? Do you see that? And if the poorest children go to the best schools, who will go to the worst schools? What does it actually mean in practice? ” I think we should give a few token plebs scholarships to Eton”? “I wish we had someone from a council estate in the Bullingdon Club”? Or that the state schools in deprived inner city areas really will become the very best schools in the country? Does anybody in their right mind consider that to be possible? Or is this just rhetoric designed to neutralise Cameron’s cossetted origins?
There was a rather nastier point of using pretended concern for the poor earlier in Cameron’s speech, when he banged on about the poor single mother who works to better herself, and who because of benefit withdrawal effectively is taxed at 96% on every pound she earns over £150 per week. A crafted standing ovation greeted a ringing declaration that the Conservatives would end the scandal of marginal 96% tax rates for the poorest in our society. But of course the Conservatives would do that, not by lowering the single mother’s tax rate, and not by keeping giving her benefit when she works. They would do it by reducing the benefit she can get if she does not work, thus “incentivising” her to search for a non-existent job supported by non-existent cheap childcare for her children. The Conservatives’ attack on “Welfare Dependency” is motivated by their perpetual nastiness, which Cameron merely disguises a bit better. It is an attack on the poor disguised as social concern.
We are in for a Khaki election, with the parties competing to be the most committed to the ruinous war in Afghanistan. I have to say I do not object to Richard Dannatt joining the Tories. I always argue that we need politicians who have experience outside politics. There have been distinguished military men who have been good in Parliament – like Denis Healey and Paddy Ashdown. But they had the decency to get themselves elected first.
Yes, the true hypocrisy of the Dannatt affair has been missed by pretty well all commentators. The Tories opposed New Labour’s self-serving House of Lords reform, on the apparently principled point that the House of Lords should be reformed to a democratically elected Upper Chamber. Now they announce that Dannatt will be working with the prospective Tory government – from the Lords.
Plainly the Tories have no more interest in democracy than New Labour, and their true intention is just to turn the Lords from Tony’s Cronies to Dave’s Cronies.
Makes you sick, doesn’t it.