04 January 2006

David Cameron's move to the left is great news for Labour.

Happy New Year! I'm back. I hope you all enjoyed your consumerist holiday frenzy.

I've once again been beaten by Polly Toynbee in most of the argument I was planning to make on this point, but here goes;

So the Tories now share the same objectives as us? On Social Justice, International Aid and Green issues they talk left of centre.

If this is true (and forgive me for being unbelieving about Cameron's Damascian change from advocating right wing policies just a few months back), then this is good news.

The Tories are just playing catch up with us. This is a huge victory for New Labour. The Tories can NEVER be as green or redistributive as us, their record is awful. If they decide to match us, we can always go one step further and call their bluff. Why vote for a Tory party copying Labour when you can have the real thing. If Cameron is just going to copy New Labour policies, what is the point of him?

A recent green survey suggested that not only are the Tory's policies the worst of any party in the UK, they are the worst of any party in Europe. They consistently vote against things like the climate change levy and oppose improvements in public transport. Their 'green' solutions are building more roads and scrapping the congestion charge. This is the opposite of environmental, so I await their policy commitment on this with relish.

As for social justice and reducing inequality, the Tories are asking a lot for anyone to believe they really mean this. Which party fought tooth and nail against the minimum wage and has opposed every increase? Yes, you guessed it! Only Labour can be trusted to keep increasing the minimum wage above the rate of inflation, like they have since they introduced it.

Also, everyone knows the Tories are going to spend less than us on public services. Who relies on public provision the most? The poorest. Any cuts here goes against the Tories claims on social justice. Cameron's only policy here is regressive - discriminating against single parents in favour of wealthier married parents with tax breaks. This is old Thatcherite prejudice coming through again.

Remember Thatcherite/Reaganomic 'trickle down' economics? I would suggest that is what Oliver Letwin thinks will reduce inequality. It didn't work under Thatcher and it won't work under Cameron either.

International Aid - does anybody trust the Tories on this? Bob Geldof refused to sit on their committee and I await his verdict on their policy change. The Tories could not stomach to be better than Labour on this and I can't wait for Geldof to point this out. Lets see them promise to match Labour's and the UN's target of 0.7% of GDP. I doubt very much a party that wants to cut taxation will do this. They reduced aid last time they were in government.

Saying all that, its great to see we are winning the argument. Come on Cameron, lets see how far you are willing to drag your party kicking and screaming into the 20th century (sadly not the 21st). The more you talk of moving to the left, the better for us.


  1. Why vote for a Tory party copying Labour when you can have the real thing. If Cameron is just going to copy New Labour policies, what is the point of him?

    Well, we were the party of the welfare state in 1951, and yet Winston Churchill managed to convince the electrorate that it was safe in Tory hands for the next 13 years - or safe enough for people to vote on other matters.

    OK, we wuz well and truly robbed at that election, but the point remains. I've already had one Lib Dem-voting friend tell me Cameron's NHS policy gets their vote.

  2. B4L, if the Tories 'win' the next election by constructing a 'social democratic' fraud on the 20% of the electorate they need we will only have ourselves to blame for not emphasising our own social democratic policies and not changing the voting system.

    We will have had 3 terms to honour our 1997 commitment to a fair voting system and now we are risking another dose of Toryism that 80% of the electorate will not have voted for. What are we playing at?

  3. Eben Upton6/1/06 12:24 am

    I don't know whether to be concerned by your desire to reform the electoral system so as to guarantee a perpetual Labour government. On the one hand it is inherently undemocratic, but on the other it seems reassuringly infeasible.

    Why you imagine that the rich, generally so astute in the management of their affairs, will give their consent to a "progressive" agenda which consists mostly of taking their money and giving it to the poor? Will they not either purchase a government more to their liking or, failing this, bugger off to the nearest low tax economy?

    There's a lot to be said for FPTP as a way of keeping power in the hands of some sort of elite. Dyed-in-the-wool reactionary Ben Franklin had a point when he said that

    When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

    The core of your argument seems to be that "the people" will always vote for progressive measures because they will benefit from them financially. Truly the end times are upon us :)

  4. eben; I would be willing to tolerate a Tory government that got over 50% of the vote and a decent amount of the electorate, but not one that only gets 30 something percent of the vote on an abysmal turnout. A turnout which is not surprising under FPTP where most people's votes have little or no impact on the result.

    I don't want a perpetual Labour government, I just want good policies. I don't think the policies of the Tories could win 50%, I believe Labour could win 50%.

    Look at the opinion polls where over 50% of the electorate identify themselves as basically Labour in philosophy, the Tories only get about 20% that identify with them. The difference is a lot of those who identify with Labour don't bother voting or vote Lib Dem over a specific issue.

    Because they don't understand how bad our electoral system is, they don't realise how much they are risking a Tory government by doing this.

    The Tories are the ones who appeal in hard cash, enticing the wealthy with tax cuts who use their wealth and ownership of the media to pull the wool over the people who would benefit from a Labour government. Under FPTP, the Tories can get away with a very low percentage of support if they can split the opposition and scare enough people away from Labour. This is not democracy.