'Party of working people'
That's what was rammed down my ears during the General Election campaign. The chimes of 'One Nation' Conservatism were alluring to me and many others as we canvassed on the doorsteps of millions of households and relentlessly spammed social media sites asking for our friends and family for them to put faith in five years of Tory governance. My confidence in Cameron and his colleagues, coupled with a burning hatred of the Labour Welsh Assembly Government, meant the Conservatives were the natural option. Values such as individual and family responsibility, fiscal responsibility with a slight dose of British patriotism are all conservative values I adhere to. I even attempted to stand for the party in the Welsh Assembly election, losing out in my constituency's hustings.
But then came something that seemed so contrary to this main Tory message:
Why then, I started to ask myself, is George Osborne so hell-bent on cutting tax credits for working people? Every report has concluded that even with the increase in minimum wage and tax-free allowance, families will still be worse off. And yes, consumerist attitudes do not help these matters, but I hear and see nobody in government trying to tackle these worrying social norms, with personal debt holdings soaring out of control, one of the signs of a looming economic crisis. Ah, but the Lords; they blocked it. Problem averted. Then why did Cameron refuse to answer Corbyn six times in Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, as to where tax credits will be cut next April. Why did Cameron tell the public last April in Leaders Question Time that his government were not going to cut tax credits full stop? We saw how deceitful this was as that woman broke down on Question Time two Thursdays ago. At the same time, they are slashing inheritance tax, which I am against in principle, but in times of 'fiscal conservatism' where public services are strained, is this really the most appropriate course of action?
Another Tory theme, was that of reforming welfare, but ensuring that always:
'The most vulnerable in society will be protected'
It doesn't take a senior investigative journalist to calculate that this isn't exactly true. Disability benefit for those who are considered able to work in the future, is being cut by £30 a week. Sure, try and help disabled people who want work get into work. But how is cutting their income by £1,500 a year going to help them into work? That is a total fallacy. On welfare, this does not smack of a 'One Nation' government that is serving the people. It smacks of the worst aspects of Thatcherism. Inheritance tax cuts; top rate of tax cut balanced against disability benefit cuts and tax credit cuts.
'The greenest government ever'
Thankfully, most British Conservatives do not resemble their conservative equivalents in the US, the Republicans, in the sense that the vast majority recognise the massive threat of climate change and environmental destruction. Rural Tories and the wider public moreover have a deep appreciation of the quite marvellous countryside and wildlife that inhabits it. So when Cameron et al stand up and shouts this will be the greenest government ever, I then ask, why has our government just allowed gas and oil drilling to be conducted on 303 Special Sites of Scientific Interest, areas of which have hold some of the most rare species and habitation? None of this adds up.
After Cameron's Tory Conference Speech earlier this month, many were impressed with the emphasis on a need for social justice and progressivism and the politics of it was clearly designed to solidify its position in the centre-ground in response to Corbyn's shift leftwards. But delivering a craftily written speech by a gifted speechwriter is the easy bit; actually putting this action into practice is a different beast all together. I can be persuaded to return if this 'One Nation' approach is implemented. But tax credits and disability benefit cuts are not things that the membership should just dismiss easily because they are not affected by it. Actually take action and follow your 'compassionate conservatism' instincts, and leave a party that isn't being very compassionate.