[Guest post by Stuart Sorensen]
The twitter hashtag #nastyparty refers to the Conservative government (and by extension their silent LibDem collaborators). I’ve been thinking today about the damage the previous Tory government did during my youth and about the ‘never again’ resolve so many of us made when they finally were overturned in 1997. I’d been remembering some of the people I met during my homeless days and the despair and hopelessness we felt during the dark days of the mid to late 1980s. I’d been remembering the suicides of people I knew from street or hostel and the hopelessness that prevailed among the underclass that I’d become a part of in those desperate times.
So how come we got another ‘nastyparty’ government in 2010?
I think a large part of the explanation is youth. Many voters in 2010 had no understanding of the viciousness, the callousness that prevailed in Thatcher’s Britain. They don’t recall the mass unemployment because they’re just too young.
They don’t recall Sir Keith Joseph stating that capitalism works best in conditions of high unemployment.
They don’t recall the destruction of Britain’s coalfields and the despair of the broken communities that depended upon them.
They don’t recall the increased homelessness and widespread rioting in our cities (sound familiar?).
And they have never asked themselves just what the conservatives are trying to ‘conserve’.
So let me tell you…
These modern conservatives seek, just as their predecessors always have, to ‘conserve’ their wealth and the privilege of the few. They seek to create a desperate underclass (just as they did under Thatcher) who will be so afraid of destitution they will work harder and longer for less money and poorer conditions. They seek to deprive those without financial means of a decent education (remember The tory ‘textbook tax’ & compare it to Cameron’s university fees hike).
They do all this because they place wealth above people and division over fairness. As Tony Benn once said to Norman StJohn Stevens….
“Your people invest their money. My people invest their lives.”
We will have this nasty party in power for another few years. During that time they will do their level best to destroy our NHS and we may never get it back again. They will devastate the more vulnerable in our society (disabled benefit claimants for example) & slander them in ways that could take years to overcome. For example, did you know that fraudulent disability-based benefit amounts to only 0.5% of the total? That statistic doesn’t fit well with Cameron & Osborne’s narrative about ‘scroungers’ which, presumably is why they never mention it.
They will have presided over the demise of an effective public sector and they will have privatised health and social care, creating a race to the bottom that awards contracts based upon cost regardless of quality.
They will have continued to attack human rights and may yet succeed in overturning the Human Rights Act.
They will have whittled away further at employment rights and continued to oppose the minimum wage. They have already implemented the slavery of workfare which sees unemployed people working for nothing for the very same (profitable) supermarkets that are currently laying off paid staff. Does anyone of my generation remember the similar slavery of YTS & YOP schemes?
They will have presided over a widening of the gap between rich & poor (homelessness increased by 14% in 2011) and seen us isolated in Europe so that the banker, David Cameron, could protect profits for his mates in the City.
The next time we say ‘never again’ let’s mean it. Tell your kids & your grandkids about the true nature of the nasty party. Tell them about the Liberal Democrats too – the grubby, power-grabbing neoliberals who prop up this Tory band of thieves as they carve up our welfare state for shareholder profit.
Let’s make sure that the word ‘conservative’ becomes recognised as the obscenity against humanity that it really is. And let’s make sure we genuinely will be able to say …