We are regrettably used – and often inured – to Tory lies in recent times but their fakery goes deeper.
While the UK is the world’s 6th largest economy, it only ranks a woeful 22nd in quality of life. The lives of millions are suffering from reduced incomes, a failing health service and an increasingly compromised democratic system which threatens to rob them of a voice. When the Conservative government is presiding over decadence and decline, it seems timely to review what governing means.
Is a thriving economy the priority of any ruling party? If so, what constitutes success, and for whom? If the growth of GDP is the overarching objective, does this excuse reducing the incomes of those who depend on public funds? How does larger GDP benefit them? Where does the well-being of the population come in the hierarchy of priorities? And if the only beneficiaries of a booming economy are those who are comfortably off or just plain rich to begin with, does this count as success?
Myth – the Conservatives are the natural party of government
Insofar as there is an ethical dimension to politics, “do no harm” is one cornerstone principle in which Conservatism arguably flounders. It favours self-enrichment, self-reliance and a dog-eat-dog market economy, with little regard, or protection, for those less-equipped to prosper. It still harbours a now-discredited entitlement as the “natural party of government”, fostered in those schools designed to mass produce the officer class. It designs and enforces rules for others that it sees no need to apply to itself.
For many Tories, democratic processes are merely tools to be manipulated and abused, in order to ruthlessly prolong their hold on power, and on as much of the nation’s lucre as possible. They know that in the hands of other political parties, their often unfairly-obtained, and largely-untaxed wealth will be more widely and more fairly distributed.
Myth – the Conservatives are good with money and the economy is safe with them
One of the myths spun by the Conservative Party about itself is that it is good with money. It certainly has a focus, if not an obsession with the stuff. While they like to have it themselves, they appear content for others to have less. It is from the least affluent in society that they like to extract unnecessary repayment of the nation’s debt.
The truth, however, is that the public debt has risen under Tory administrations more than under any Labour governments; and inequality has risen to extremes, with “the poorest fifth of the population (of the UK) now much poorer than most of the poorest countries in central and eastern Europe”, according to Stephanie Flanders of Bloomberg.
Growth in the economy should go hand-in-hand with funding those services that are required by a growing, and ageing, population. Under a Tory administration, not so. Tories do not like taxation, so even when income grows they are still intent on reducing how much they contribute to the nation’s needs. And there are consequences of going down that path, fundamentally that citizens suffer whilst waiting for ambulances, GP checks and cancer care – while infrastructure falls into dilapidation.
In turn, this desperation drives an uptake of private provision, even by those who can barely afford it, thereby eventually “justifying” lower public service provision. The public not only loses access to good, free healthcare and education, but also suffers worsening transport, social care, policing, access to justice, libraries, roads and so on, while the Tory cronies who run private companies prosper.
By the same author
Myth – The Conservatives believe in the importance of letting the markets decide
Another potent myth that Conservatives would have us believe, is the importance of letting the markets decide. However, as the past 12 years testify, this is a party who want more money for those who arguably have enough already. And so, in the very antithesis of their supposed belief in market autonomy, they instead manipulate the nation’s budget to bypass the needs of the majority.
Here, we have seen how almost unlimited funds can be found by Tory leaders when huge contracts for services are awarded with little competition to cronies running private sector companies, reaping enormous profits and dividends for investors and party donors. The idea that a multi-billion pound tax cut for the already wealthy, a £200m private contract for Michelle Mone at the height of a pandemic, or a decade of austere misery for the multitude, could in some way be good for everyone is as risible as a return to leeches for the sick.
Reality – a government that meets the needs of the people
Toryism is based on myths of its own invention: that they are born to govern; that it is the party of sound economics and of law and order; that it believes in unrestricted markets and that it is concerned for democracy. In reality it sees people without assets as drones, whose sole purpose is to feed investors’ wealth, whilst obediently ticking ballot papers to keep them in power.
Despite exasperated platitudes that they are, all politicians and all governments are not the same. The progressive alternative is not without its failings but it is about the welfare of all, is collective rather than selfish, gives all citizens a voice and pumps money back into society. Would that not be better? It is no myth and it is available. An impactful consequence of the Tory’s low-tax policies has to be a change of government, so that the needs of the people are met with sufficient resources, adequately funded by tax income which is applied according to decent priorities – before it is too late.