An authoritarian Tory government will undo Cameron’s early work

An authoritarian Tory government will undo Cameron’s early work

Dave hassled

Ten years ago David Cameron’s victory speech as the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party argued against Thatcher’s famous remark insisting “there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same as the state.” His vision for a Big Society never proved a campaign hit in its own right, but helped set the tone of a party that was keen to hear many flourish within civil society and for that to drive public services.

After 2010 general election ‘The Coalition’ wasn’t just an electoral arrangement but presented as a statement to show that the Conservative Party were a liberal party and can do business with other liberal parties.  Different parties working together in the national interest. Common ground with Clegg’s Lib Dems helped further the appeal of the Conservatives who were then able to win many 2010 Liberal Democrat voters in 2015.

Already this political bounty is at risk by a meaner, more judgemental and intrusive Conservative government that increasingly disregards democracy. It seeks to guarantee Tory one-party rule from the smallest working majority for a generation not by persuading more voters but by stacking the deck in their favour.

It started with the Lobbying Act at the end of the last parliament which had very little to do with regulating lobbyists which Guido Fawkes pointed out only 1% would be hit. Instead it was more to do with tying up charities, trade unions and political blogs in red tape to inhibit criticism of the government’s programme.

The Conservative-supporting press continues to present the prejudices and projects of its billionaire owners including the sustained assault on the Leader of the Opposition before and after the election. In contrast David Cameron’s ministers avoided independent recommendations of televised TV debates, his ministers routinely refuse live interviews, press conferences are rare as hens’ teeth and independent scrutiny is minimised. The BBC has since been duffed up and now faces big cuts to its services.

The Conservative government is proceeding with the reduction of elected MPs (constructed in a way that will hurt its main opposition the most) while at the same time increasing the number of appointed peers in the House of Lords. The government’s devolution to the north disregards the referendum results where voters rejected mayors. Meanwhile locally elected councils receive some of the biggest spending cuts in the public sector.

The new Trade Union Reform Bill is designed to drain funding for the party of opposition by considerably reducing funds from the trade unions which founded it. Meanwhile unions will be criminalised if members on picket lines don’t wear armbands, notify the police or breach new social media laws causing Amnesty International to condemn the plans. Vince Cable has broken his silence to describe it as “vindictive, counter-productive and ideologically driven.”

The new leader of the Opposition is apparently ‘a threat to national security’. Language we don’t expect to hear from a Prime Minister of Britain. This follows accusations in the general election from the Defence Minister that Ed Miliband would stab the country in the back like he did with his brother.

Meanwhile family size of the non-affluent is now government business. Child Tax Credits will be restricted to the first two children after 2017. Homosexual marriage may be ‘socially liberal’ is legislated for yet a heterosexual couple on a modest income will have their pennies pinched by the Treasury if they don’t obey a ‘two child’ policy.

What on Earth has happened to David Cameron? I don’t recognise him and his government has taken a dark turn. Cameron may feel like a thumping result at the election given expectations beforehand, but he still begins this parliament with a smaller working majority than John Major in 1992. The Prime Minister should still stop and think from time to consider how new policies would have fared with his former Lib Dem colleagues. There are times where Clegg, Alexander and Cable must have infuriated the Conservative leadership – yet they arguably helped make for a better Conservative Party. David Cameron once claimed to be a liberal Conservative, yet now looks anything but.

Some voters may soon start to notice.

Henry G Manson

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