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Theresa's May Speech: Empty Progressive Platitudes Undermined By Hypocrisy And Far Right Policies

06/10/2016 16:29

So in Theresa's May first speech as Tory party leader and PM yesterday, she said that she wanted to tackle injustice and unfairness and make sure the country works for everyone and not just the privileged few. She stated quite dramatically that the vote to leave the EU was a "revolution" and that with stagnating wages and failing schools a lot of the working class felt the system wasn't working for them and thus voted against the system. She also stated that politicians haven't listened to working class people and belittled their views on crime and immigration. She stated that some politicians felt the public's view on crime was "illiberal". There is quite a significant proportion of people in this country that want to bring back capital punishment. Should politicians give in to people's demands to illiberal policies because it is popular? Just because something is popular, doesn't mean it is right. Politicians are meant to persuade people of ideas and meant to become signpost's to a vision of Britain that they believe is right, not become weathervane's and blow whichever way public opinion is going. Of course people's concerns should be taken into account but not at the expense of evidence-based policy making.

Going back to the idea she mentioned that people feel the system isn't working for them, Theresa May is right. However, she has been at the heart of a government for six years that has been the cause of the system failing the working class. If she really cared about it that much, you would have thought she would have had a little word in Dave's ear when he was in charge. Of course she blamed stagnating wages on low skilled immigration coming in rather than the public sector pay freeze and lack of a genuine living wage for everyone. She even had the temerity to accuse the Labour Party of peddling the politics of hate and division and referred to them as the new "nasty party". Never mind Theresa that over the last few days you and your ministers have been openly spouting hate towards foreign workers and doctors and trying to blame them for our country's ills.

She also believes that she can prevent resentment and division and make sure that no one in this country lives in fear. This is undermined by far right policies such as making firms list foreign workers and "phasing out" foreign doctors by 2025. Also EU residents that are "cards" in our Brexit negotiations will be fearing their future now.

On education, she apparently wants a system where people's talents will take them as far as they can go. She said she wants to build on Michael Gove's education reforms. She says that still over a million pupils do not go to a good school. However, this has been caused by Michael Gove's education policies over the last six year. It is also clear that Gove's increase in rigorous testing and focus on "core subjects" has stifled creativity and undermined people fulfilling their potential and not allowing their talents to flourish as May so wishes to happen.

If she really wanted to create a system where everyone can achieve their potential, she'd look at the Finnish model and invest in a comprehensive education system where schools collaborate and share best practice, where there is a little homework, school hours are shorter and the teaching style is more interactive rather than standardised. Alas, none of this was mentioned and it seems that once again her empty platitudes will be undermined by the continuation of failed education policies over the last six years.

I was gobsmacked when she payed tribute to Jeremy Hunt as an "advocate for doctors and patients". Rather than being an advocate for Doctors, he has forced an unpopular and damaging contract onto them. This shows how out of touch and arrogant May is on this issue. She also claimed that the Tories have been protecting the NHS and claimed that the biggest wave of privatisation happened under the last Labour government. However, it was the Tories in the 1980s who began an internal market in the NHS and it was Major's government who started the PFI deals.
She will also apparently review workers' rights policies and enhance them by seeking to get workers on the boards of companies. Fair enough, that is a good idea. However will she get rid of the pernicious Trade Union Act? What about employment tribunal fees and the long wait for unfair dismissal claims? I won't hold my breath on those.

She also made vague promises on being an outward looking nation by ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement despite the fact her government got rid of the Climate Change department. She also promised to build "more affordable homes". What types of homes will these be? Yet another empty platitude, just like the promise of going after tax dodgers despite the fact the Tories have been in power for six years and done sod all to do that. Her husband also works for a company that invests in tax dodgers such as Amazon so I doubt she'll act on that promise.

At the heart of her speech was the promise of making us a fairer country and tackling injustice but this was doublespeak. On one hand she talks about fairness and the next, she gets a round of applause for having a go at "activist left wing human rights lawyers harassing armed forces". This was referring to the promise to take the military out of the convention of Human Rights. How is it fair that the military should be able to get away with human right's abuses?

To sum up though, I will agree with her on one thing. A change needs to come. But the very idea that keeping the Tories in power who have undermined the things she said about fairness and injustice is the change we need is laughable. However we won't be laughing when we see the most vulnerable people still suffering for the next four years and the promise of a fairer Britain from May turns out to be empty and hollow.

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