Immoral and Insincere: An Honest Conservative Soundbite
With a disappointing predictability, the Conservative party’s barrage of empty, meaningless statements has begun. Theresa May has decided on engaging the UK population through a series of well lit screenings of her reciting ambiguous statements of promise in hope of embedding some fruitless and untraceable sentiment in the minds of the population. The repetition of “strong and stable” avoids any real conversation regarding what the Conservative party will actually do, protecting it from scrutiny or scandal; an approach that recent events show is likely to succeed. The Leave campaign exemplified the unbelievable power of making claims and promises without explanation of execution or justification in any form and it seems the Conservative party are on-board with this. Rather than settle with this shameful, deceitful and disheartening version of political play I have set out to provide some more honest sound bites that accurately describe the Conservative party from its leader to its nature.
May’s claim that the snap election was to improve majority and strengthen the nation as it goes into EU negotiations is at the centre of the rhetoric that the Conservative party is promoting. Although parliament was massively in favour of brexit after the referendum anyway, Theresa May’s attempts at strengthening the government for the EU negotiations are irrelevant as her hard-line brexit mandate is incredibly problematic. EU Law expert, Professor Michael Dougan explains that the hard-line brexit approach is “deeply flawed” as the government’s intentions to implement the mechanics of withdrawal and settle on an ambitious and far-reaching future relationship with the EU within 18 months is contradictory to the EU’s position. Of course, this “contradiction” has been portrayed as some form of punishment for Britain leaving the EU, however, Dougan explains that the EU position is simply the “only interpretation which fits with the basic constitutional principles of the EU legal system as laid down in the treaties”. This is something that has been consistently ignored throughout the lead up to the referendum and throughout the discussions of the UK’s approach to its departure of the EU, although many law experts have repeatedly noted this problem.
We can also repeat the term “deeply flawed” when we’re discussing the taxation system that has been implemented by the conservative government since 2010 (Most notably from 2013 onward). A recent study by the Equality Trust found that the poorest households in Britain pay more in taxes than the richest. Although Theresa May claims that the Conservatives are a party “which always and has been, is and will continue to be a party that believes in lower taxes, in keeping taxes down for ordinary working people” she currently leads a country where the lowest earners pay 42% tax and the highest earners pay 34%. This is something that has been mumbled in parliament to some extent, which has provoked the Conservative party to promise that they will not increase VAT, as they did prior to the last general election before they decided otherwise once voted in (Theresa May being one of the politicians that voted in favour of raising VAT). In addition to “deeply flawed”, findings provoke experts such as Dr. Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, to use terms such as “broken and regressive” to describe the UK’s taxation system.
Ineffective, immoral, backward, exploitative
Contradictory to the common paradigm that Labour borrowing is considerably excessive as opposed to Conservative borrowing being calculated and limited, research by Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK found that over the last 70 years Conservatives have been the biggest borrowers. This research does include assessment of the effects of inflation and even the large economic events throughout this period, which would suggest that the national assumption that the Tories borrow less is wrong.
It is repeated however that the deficit has been decreased throughout the Conservative’s time in government since 2010. This is a claim that, other than a mention of unemployment figures, will not be elaborated upon by any Conservative MP to any great extent. A possible explanation for this lack of elaboration maybe that whilst this £20 billion reduction in deficit occurred, the national debt increased by £123 billion, the usage of three day emergency food packages increased by 73,645 (which had already tripled after the introduction of Universal Credit), bereavement benefits were cut, disability benefit was cut and a two-child limit was implemented in regards to child benefits (a third child will be provided for if you can prove the child is the result of rape).
We may have some voices insisting that these cuts were necessary and that sacrifices had to be made for the UK to start living within its means. However, whilst the Conservatives removed benefits from children suffering loss, disabled people and struggling parents with multiple children, they aimed to cut corporation tax from 20% to 15% and introduced tax and benefit changes which ⅘ ‘s of would benefit the richest half of households; thus ultimately removing money from the poorest and giving it to the richest.
This backwardness rapidly transforms into immorality when we consider what inequality results in. Currently, nearly 1 in 5 children live in poverty in the UK and unfortunately, there is a strong association between deprivation and infant mortality. When we consider that VAT increases are simply an economic move that affects the poorest in society more than it does the richest, we must also consider that infant mortality is currently twice as high in the lowest socio-economic groups when compared with the highest. This means that although the Conservative Spring 2017 budget may claim to “help young people from working families gain skills necessary for work” and “give more children a chance to go to a good or outstanding school that sets them up to succeed” it is incredibly negligent towards its continuation of jeopardising lives of children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
Insincere and fickle
Although we’ve seen George Osborne’s departure, we may gain some insight into the nature of the Conservative party through the actions of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. It somehow has now become cheap or unjustified to claim a Conservative MP has some form of conflict of interest. However, after repeated instances of this throughout the party’s history, we find the most recent occurrence in the form of Osborne’s interactions with Black Rock. After meeting with the investment management company during power, Osborne happened to have made changes in the asset-management industry which the company was “uniquely positioned” to take advantage of, resulting in $25 billion dollar becoming “money in motion”. So when we view the shock reaction from the press that Osborne was receiving an extraordinary wage for his new role we find that it actually was an incredibly profitable move for Black Rock to make.
We can also gather some problematic findings from Theresa May’s voting tendencies as she has voted against equal gay rights 10 times, 3 times against the promotion of equality and human rights, 5 times in favour of the Iraq War, 8 times against EU nationals right to remain in UK, 10 times in support of “bedroom tax”, 5 votes against welfare benefits to stay in line with prices, 8 votes against the increasing of benefits for the ill and disabled, 36 votes for the reduction of welfare spending all together, 10 votes in favour of VAT increase, 5 votes against increasing income tax for over £150,000, 6 votes against bankers bonus tax, 3 votes against mansion tax, 16 votes in favour of reducing corporation tax, 3 votes against measures to reduce tax avoidance.
It would not be inaccurate to conclude these findings with the statement that overall Theresa May wants to reduce tax and regulation of the richest in society and take from the most vulnerable, oppressed and disadvantaged. Additionally, would it be incorrect to suggest that if a member of your party is using his political influence to benefit his personal economic standing whilst your in power then you are either aware and not actively challenging this corruption or you are unaware and therefore lack control over your government?
What Does This Mean?
Although this fact dump does cover much of the austerity measures implemented by the Conservatives, there is much more that can be mentioned. However, the figures presented should hopefully reveal the disparity between the actual economic dealings of the UK and the fictional paradigm which the Tory party create. Additionally, it should show that there is every reason to challenge the dangerous rhetoric which promotes the idea that any form of opposition to the government or any political debate is jeopardising the future of the country or compromising “national interest”.
Is Any Of This Appropriately Challenged? Who Else Is There To Vote For?
Of course, many will simply view this and come to the conclusion that there is no serious alternative to consider. Denying the corruption of political dealings beyond the Tory party would obviously be denying the truth, yet, whilst the Tories are claiming they will continue cuts and pursue a brexit deal that proves to be impossible, other political parties are promising that they might just do something positive.
Unfortunately, any belief that any real opposition exists to the Conservative party is being silenced by the press. Although it is seen to be some form of left-wing conspiracy that the majority of media is right wing, several independent studies show that the press do have a serious problem with favouritism in their coverage. A study by the Media Reform Coalition found that twice as much airtime was given to critical rather than supportive voices of the labour party. Additionally, they found huge imbalances in favour of issues pushed by critics of Jeremy Corbyn on early evening BBC and ITV bulletins. Furthermore, a study by the London School of Economics found similar results with 57% of news articles considered antagonistic or critical of Jeremy Corbyn, whilst often failing to make a clear distinction between comment, conjecture and fact. Worst of all, when looking at The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express and The Sun, the study found that 15%-20% of Corbyn related coverage associates him with the IRA, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and/or terrorism. These findings don’t just reveal that the media is clearly biased, but shows that they have a willingness to promote falsities as fact.
This approach from the press reflects Theresa May’s decision to hold back from TV debates and any real engagement in debate as the media will continue to delegitimize Labour as a serious alternative to the Conservative party whilst she reduces her own exposure to criticism. Something that seems to be dangerously significant throughout this election is the lack of information being provided by the front-runner, the negligent and unconsidered inhalation of some false idea of “strength and stability” and worst of all, a genuine belief among many that a Conservative government has the best intentions for ordinary working people when it’s history, both recent and distant, proves anything but.
I have included many newspaper articles as reference which can be said to compromise the integrity of the evidence presented. However, I have included the articles purposefully as they prove to be much more accessible than the heavier research or government documents which similarly justify arguments presented. I have also included these government and research documents in the bibliography so if you wish to look into the legitimacy of my findings then feel free to use them.
- Department for Work and Pensions, 2010 to 2015 Government Policy: Welfare Reform, (see: Appendix 2: Introducing a Cap on the Amount of Benefits Working Age People Can Receive), (8 May 2015), https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-welfare-reform/2010-to-2015-government-policy-welfare-reform#actions
- Dominiczak, P. Theresa May to give Britain lowest corporation tax of world’s top 20 economies, The Telegraph, (21 December 2016) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/21/theresa-may-to-offer-business-an-olive-branch-with-hint-of-futur/
- Dougan, M. University of Liverpool, EU law expert, Professor Michael Dougan shreds Theresa May’s #Brexit election pitch and “political messiah complex” #GE2017, (28 April 2017) https://www.facebook.com/UniversityofLiverpool/videos/1619485934745471/
- Elgot, J. Theresa May defends cut in payments for bereaved families, The Guardian Newspaper, (3 April 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/03/theresa-may-defends-cut-in-benefits-for-bereaved-families
- HM Treasury, Spring Budget 2017, (8 March 2017), https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/597467/spring_budget_2017_web.pdf , p. 1
- Kentish, B. Poorest Pay Higher in Taxes than Richest, New Figures Show, The Independent Newspaper (25 April 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lowest-earners-more-tax-richest-office-national-statistics-inequality-council-tax-vat-equality-trust-a7704331.html
- London School of Economics, Journalistic Representations of Jeremy Corbyn in the British Press: From Watchdog to Attackdog, (2016), http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report.pdf
- Media Reform Association, Should he stay or should he go? Television and Online News Coverage of the Labour Party in Crisis, (2016), http://www.mediareform.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Corbynresearch.pdf
- Murphy, R. The Conservatives have been the biggest borrowers over the last 70 years, (13 March 2016), http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2016/03/13/the-conservatives-have-been-the-biggest-borrowers-over-the-last-70-years/
- Neate, R. Mason R. Striver? Tory architect of austerity George Osborne banks £1m fortune, The Guardian Newspaper, (10 March 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/10/george-osborne-tory-architect-austerity-banks-1m-pounds
- Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, The State of Child Health: The Report at a Glance, (28 February 2017), http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/state-of-child-health/report-in-a-glance
- The Equality Trust, Britain’s Poorest Households Pay More Of Their Income in Tax Than The Richest, (25 April 2017), https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/britains-poorest-households-pay-more-their-income-tax-richest
- The Resolution Foundation, Poorest third of households will be worse off from tax and benefit changes starting this week, despite a £1bn giveaway, (2 April 2017), http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/media/press-releases/poorest-third-of-households-will-be-worse-off-from-tax-and-benefit-changes-starting-this-week-despite-a-1bn-giveaway/ Published on 2 April 2017
- The Trussel Trust, End of Year Stats 2016–2017, https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/end-year-stats/
- TheyWorkForYou, Profile: Theresa May, https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10426/theresa_may/maidenhead/votes
- Wheeler, C. Theresa May insists Conservatives to remain party of ‘lower taxes’, Express Newspaper, (April 23 2017), http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/795260/Theresa-May-Prime-Minister-Conservatives-lower-taxes-manifesto-pledge