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Politics

Back to the Future 2015 Style: The Return of the Nasty Party.

Not That They Ever Really Went Away.

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“Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us: the nasty party, (we are) unrepentant, just plain unattractive.”  This is not Liz Kendall or Yvette Cooper (she of ATOS infamy) speaking, although it may sum up just where the Labour Party is at the moment, especially when you have Councillors slashing services to the bone and calling it, “compassionate”. This speech was in fact delivered by Theresa May to the Tory Conference in 2002. She was Tory Party Chair at the time and was trying to launch a “de toxification” process to rid the Conservatives of their mean minded and cruel image. IDS was the leader at the time.

The Tories are a horrible bunch of people. Those who say that their local Conservative government activists are just trying to do their bit in their community are talking bollocks. Each and every one of their members signed on the dotted line to join a rancid Party that has always defined itself by what it is against rather than for anything positive. They hate the Welfare State, they hate poor people and they hate anyone who is not like, or does not want to be like them.

Nye Bevan summed it up in his own inimitable style thus, No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.” This famous quote was delivered to a public meeting in Manchester 65 years ago. Events this week are proof positive that nothing has changed. In fact IDS and Jeremy Hunt make the Tory Shadow Cabinet of the time seem positively liberal.

At the moment we are working to launch a progressive leftish magazine. “Precarity” aims to get away from the sentimentalised and comforting view of Socialism described by Billy Bragg as, “The liberal with the small l crying in front of the TV.” Or its modern equivalent, the dreaded Facebook/ Twitter Warrior. We all know the types; handwringing condemnation, moral outrage and an (un)healthy ability to argue how shit everything is and how no one is doing anything. “Who will think of the children?!”  as satirised by Matt Groening in, “The Simpsons”. Predictably they are nowhere to be seen when the time for action comes. “Precarity” wants to be forensic and argue for a way forward that moves away from this comfort zone. It’s easy and gives us succour to get all hot and bothered, to blow off steam but unless it’s harnessed this anger is futile in the long run.

Having said that…….

How low can Iain Duncan Smith stoop? The list of his crimes and misdemeanours are legendary. From the Bedroom Tax which saw one of our residents have to pay back dated charges from the day her son died, to shutting the Independent Living Fund for disabled working people IDS has proved his credentials as the boot boy successor to Norman Tebbit.

This week saw the nadir of his tenure at the DWP. New Labour had a laudable commitment to eradicating child poverty in the UK by 2020. Erroneously this was to be done by what is called Supply Side economics. The flaw with this system is that is predicated by economic growth and using the proceeds for social justice programmes. Ergo when the economy goes belly up, as it always does due to cyclical nature of capitalism, so does any attempt to alleviate poverty because as a pro market Party New Labour refused to make other than gestures to make up the financial  shortfall in case they upset the business community, or damage middle England “aspiration” whatever that is.

We are locked into a death spiral currently when it comes to growth. There isn’t any and the future is bleak. That’s great news for the top 1% as it means a high profit/ low wage economy and workers can be placed firmly under the thumb with the threat of the sack. The government coffers are reduced due to falling tax revenue so public spending is cut. The priority for the Tories is to protect pensioners (they vote) and give the illusion to the middle class that they are part of a section of society whose lifestyle is under threat from scrounging, sponging welfare claimants who, “ lie about all day and get benefits”.(New Labour cheerleader Liam Byrne* said that).

The Tories set a malignant background hum which is then exploited by Tory owned media outlets that produce grotesque gawpfest shows such as, “Benefits Street: Life on the Dole” whose sole aim is to soften up public opinion by demonising working class people and line them up for cuts.

Child poverty is defined as a person under 16 living in household where income is less than 60% of the national average. The Institute for Fiscal Studies tells us the average figure is £31k after tax meaning that poverty is defined (in a two child family) as income being below £18,400.

As incomes for working people stall or fall due to increase of zero hours contracts the IFS calculates that by the end of 2015 300,00 MORE children will be living in poverty taking the proportion to 22.2%, a staggering figure in anyone’s estimation.

The outlook is even bleaker as the IFS says that the number of kids living below the breadline will be 3.3 million by 2020, the year New Labour had promised to end this blight.

IDS’ response was not to listen to the Child Commissioners in each of the four UK countries who called for an end to Austerity in a report published this week, (Austerity)..“has resulted in a failure to protect the most disadvantaged children and those in especially vulnerable groups from child poverty”. Demanding for an end to the cuts the report concluded that, “”the best interests of children were not central to the development of these policies…. Reductions to household income for poorer children as a result of tax, transfer and social security benefit changes have led to food and fuel poverty, and the sharply increased use of crisis food bank provision by families.”

Instead IDS decided to simply scrap measuring child poverty at all, and in one fell swoop removed any obligations that the Government may have felt to address the crisis. It simply beggars belief that a Minister has such total contempt for anyone outside his own bubble of stinking privilege. But that’s who these people really are. Instead IDS has decided to declare war on workless households with the aim of forcing the general population to take any job no matter how badly paid an insecure it may be. This led to the supreme farce of a worker being forced to work for nothing in the same job he was let go from, under IDS’ back to work scheme. John McArthur’s predicament gained notoriety in late 2014 leading to a slew of other such examples being aired in public.

Now to Jim Naugtie’s favourite politician, the member for Surrey South West and Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt whose surname the BBC presenter Freudianly mispronounced https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjH4arIn-80 in December 2010.

The NHS has been put to the sword by the Tories who have a long held and ideological hatred of the service. Hunt co authored a book with fellow loon Daniel Hannon in 2008 where they described the NHS as a, “sixty year mistake”. Here in Hull he has trashed the budget to the tune of £100 million, decimating services including Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Such is the savagery of the situation that even Diana Johnson and her fellow New Labour/ pro market apologist Alan Johnson have been forced to speak out. £30 million worth of contracts have been privatised across the city, and nationally the Blood and Transplant Service is in crisis. Nursing shortages are a running sore and a chronic lack of GPs is paralysing local practices across the nation.

Hunt’s answer is to stamp medication with, “Funded by the Taxpayer” and show the cost of drugs on the packaging to remind people that, “there is no such thing as a free health service.”

I have a fine and well honed range of filthy language readily at hand for most occasions, as my family will attest to. But I am simply lost for words to adequately describe such a move.

Hunt’s aim is very simple. It is to drag the debate as far down the gutter as he possibly can to entrench the belief that there are, “deserving” recipients of state services and the rest can go to hell. Thus we see and hear the finger pointing during “Question Time” and on ‘phone ins. Thus the discourse is around these issues. Another classic line is the one about health tourism, damning people and blaming them for the existential crises facing the NHS. The fact is that UK citizens take FIVE times more out of European systems than we pay out for treating foreign nationals. But hey! Why let the truth get in the way after all?

Our grandparent’s generation set up the NHS in a time of Austerity when the deficit was five times what it is today. Yet these are the very people who would baulk at taking treatment if they thought it would cost the NHS what they would consider to be, “too much”. I am thinking of my late parents and in laws who were very altruistic people and would never want to be, “any trouble”. They would be the ones to feel guilty whereas the miniscule minority who do abuse the system wouldn’t give a fig anyway.

Frankly I know that my life saving treatment of plasma exchange and a cocktail of medication costs a great deal of money. I know that. I don’t need to be reminded that a cruel twist of fate has shattered my life. I am grateful that I live in a country where I will be looked after with money not being the main consideration. I feel that Hunt wants to admonish me and that IDS would rather that people like us who cannot usefully contribute would just hurry up and die.

But here’s the thing, and this is the major plus, 76% of our fellow citizens did not vote for, or in any way endorse Austerity and all the collateral damage that comes with it. Store the anger, save the handwringing and deploy these strong emotions in a planned and constructive manner to bring an end to capitalism once and for all. That’s the plan…..

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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