The Tories’ Party | Comment

Simon Smith reflects on the Tories’ party conference, the current state of the party and the disconnect between them and the common people. 

The Tories’ party conference was like a dinner party, the sort where various people sit round talking about things they are not entirely well qualified to talk about. A group of well-fed people who think they know what is wrong with society because they read the right sort of newspapers that tell them exactly what and why they need to think how they do.

They have no sense of the other, of what it is to be poor. They have no sense of how it is to be so desperate that they have to suffer the indignity of going to a food bank. They have no sense of what it is to be facing a cut of £1300 tax credit when already struggling to make ends meet. They have no sense of how stressful it must be to be so ill that they cannot make it out of the front door yet be declared fit for work and have their benefits removed.

What they do know, or think they know, is that the best way out of all these scenarios is to work: to work harder and work longer. You can see it now, an endless conversation about how ‘these people’ rely on the state for handouts because they are essentially lazy. They do not want to work, and if they did they would not have to go for free handouts or claim disability allowances.

Sitting around the dining table they do not have any real comprehension of what it is to be on a low wage, of not being able to put anything on that table; of even living without that table at all. Surely ‘these people’ can just work more just like the Americans or the Chinese do, after all some of the party guests have met some Americans and Chinese people, you know the sort that can actually afford to travel abroad. Obviously not those who live in glass ceiling ghettos or work in the sort of dark satanic factories that we had hoped to see the last of on these shores; but which seem to be making a comeback over here too.

If only, they ruminate as they ingest another course, we were not beholden to such politically correct ideas that are found in such inconveniences as human rights legislation and planning laws. Then, and only then, could people be free to build what they wanted where they wanted (as long as it was not one of those awful wind turbines and/ or around where they live), and their children could finally find somewhere affordable to buy within their price range of around £250k. After all doing this will be so much more effective than supporting programmes for social housing, if people work harder then surely they will be able to afford to buy these ‘starter’ homes.

While they are on the subject of homes they start talking about how it is becoming increasingly attractive to live in gated communities because security is so important these days.  After all who knows what will happen now that Corbyn and his left-wing cronies are running the Labour Party. The very idea of him not singing the national anthem or wanting to kiss the Queen’s hand means that he obviously hates Britain and, like those immigrants (except for that nice lady who won Bake Off obviously), wants to dilute everything that we British stand for and coheres us together.

At a Dinner Party it doesn’t really matter what you say is true because you are generally talking to like-minded people who will follow your logic and agree with what you say, and the way that you say it. The calculation that the Tories are making is that there are enough people out there who are prepared to believe what they say, and a further group who can be sufficiently scared into believing what they say.

By saying that they really care for the poor the Tories are able assuage many potential voters’ guilt sufficiently for them to not to think hard enough to be concerned about the people who get left outside. After all we have been buying things from exploitative factories for years, what we do not see does not seem to bother us.

For the Tories the party is currently in full swing, the wine is flowing and things are good and it seems that no one is particularly interested in those who are not invited. ‘These people’ represent a way of life that seems to be beyond comprehension of those speaking from the platform this week, as is the way that their policies impact on them.

As a result the Tories bid for ‘the centre ground’ is as audacious as it is cynical, it is a device that they hope will keep them in power for many years to come. We saw how they want to do that more clearly this week than perhaps any time since the days of Thatcher, and we also saw who will be left behind.

Simon Smith is a political contributor to Wales Arts Review


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