Top 10 Tory ‘out of touch’ statements
The Labour party got a right slagging off for its Crewe & Nantwich tactics of trying to portray Edward Timpson, now MP, as a toff, and from there has developed a reluctance to engage in such tactics, in the belief that the electorate don’t really believe in class distinctions any more, blah-de-blah.
I’m not so sure.
I think the reason the tactic failed was largely because it was done so badly. No evidence was produced that Edward Timpson actually had toff-like attitudes and beliefs, and that he was out of touch with ‘real people’; the strategy therefore insulted the intelligence of local voters, who know perfectly well there may be a correlation between birthright and attitude, but that a privileged upbringing does not always lead to ‘toff-like’ adulthood behaviours.
Anthony Wedgwood Benn, anyone?
Oh, and there was the fact that the Labour candidate was also part of what was seen (correctly) as a Labour ‘dynasty’ to which ‘real people’ had no access.
However, I think we risk throwing the electoral baby out with the bathwater, and assuming that because the strategy was poorly implemented first time around it is now a non-starter.
I’m testing the water here, but I think if people see (and remember) evidence that senior Tories really simply cannot conceive of what it’s like to be someone on a low/middle income, and not have all sorts of material and institutional privilege chucked your way from day 1, then they will be less likely to vote Tory.
So here, for starters, and because I love lists, is my list of top 10 pieces of real documentary evidence that the Tory hierarchy by virtue of their privileged upbringing, are incapable of government which takes account of ‘real people’s’ experiences. The top 10 is limited to Tory parliamentarians or wanabee parliamentarians, as it would have to be a top 100 otherwise.
No. 10 Anthony Steen, soon to be ex-MP for Totnes, on his inordinate expense claims:
‘You know what it’s about? Jealousy. I have got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral. It’s the photographs that make it look like Balmoral, but it’s a merchant’s house from the 19th century.’
A fairly obvious one in for starters, only down at No.10 because he’s not going to be an MP.
No. 9 Boris Johnson, and his £250,000 per year for a newspaper column as chickenfeed.
Out of touch, certainly, but down at No 9 because you can never be quite sure whether he really believes what he’s saying himself. Indeed he plays up the toff to such an extent that there probably is no longer a distinction between what is acting and what is reality. This is somewhat worrying, as he is the Mayor of London.
No. 8 Alan Duncan, for his view that MPs are treated like shit and forced to live on rations.
Again, an obvious enough one. Higher up than Anthony Steed, because he’s still an MP.
Don’t worry, that the last MP expenses scandal one in the top 10.
No. 7 David Cameron, on not knowing how many houses he owns:
‘Do not make me sound like a prat for not knowing how many houses I’ve got.’
Alright, we’re very fair here at TCF. He’s down at No 7 because it may just have been a bit of slip of the tongue. He does want to the prime minister, though, you know, and it wasn’t that long after John McCain had made the same mistake.
No. 6 George Osborne at the Tory party conference, with his ‘We’re all this together’ refrain.
No we’re not. You and many other Conservatives are quite well off, George. Mind you, to be fair, you may lose your job soon.
No.5 Chris Grayling, trying to look like he’s in touch with what’s really going on in the real world, but in so doing making it even clearer that he’s not, by comparing the reality of a Moss Side night out with a US television programme:
Even as someone well aware of the gang problem in our society, it was a shocking and enlightening experience. What was going on there at the time was nothing short of an urban war.’
See also this good coverage.
No. 4 Andrew Lansley, Shadow Health Minister, on not understanding how much, or little, money most people have:
‘A new scheme that will meet the costs if you have to go into a care home. A one off, up-front payment like an insurance premium, of around £8,000 at age 65. It will mean that all you have worked and saved for will be protected if you become too frail and unable to live in your home.’
While this seems innocuous enough to at first sight, only a few moments’ thought raises the question of where exactly pensioners get £8,000 up front from (£16,000 for a couple).
For most pensioners with a home that kind of immediately releasable cash is out of the question, not least since for many lower/mid-income home-owners any wealth they have is tied up in the property value, as to do so has been a sensible decision during the housing boom years.
Releasing sufficient therefore means, perversely, selling some of your home, at a major loss against the property value (and even greater if the home was bought in the property boom years).
Needless to say, Lansley and his Tory backroom team, doing their back of envelope sums, didn’t take account of the real world.
No. 3 Cameron, on liking bad news:
‘Au contraire, an enthusiastic Tory backbencher like me can hardly wait to switch on the Today programme every morning in order to listen to all the bad news.’
While this is a bit of an oldie, it’s in at No. 3 because it’s indicative of what is now clearly a wider Tory way of doing things – talking up their own political hopes at the expense of the people they profess to be wanting to govern, I mean serve.
Thus, Osborne and Hammond‘s talking down of the UK’s creditworthiness, and the risk therefore of talking up borrowing costs and therefore the overall national debt, are entirely in keeping with their glorious leader’s Tory Boy boo-boo.
This serious knock-on effect means the No.3 spot is well merited.
No. 2. George Osborne, on the way the financial markets work: ‘No one takes pleasure from people making money out of the misery of others but that is a function of capitalist markets.’
Yes, he really did say that. And yes, I think he meant it.
AND THERE’S A SURPRISE JOINT N0. 1
No. 1 John Redwood, arguing that date rape is simply ‘disagreement between lovers’
While it could be argued that this staggering obnoxiousness is not directly an ‘out of touch’/class matter, I would contend it reflects an ongoing rank misogyny within the ruling class, which then reflects itself in Tory party institutionalized practice up and down the country. This is not to say that it does not happen within the Labour movement, but I would argue that there have been greater efforts to drive it forth from there, so a No.1 spot is duly accorded to Redwood, who should be, but will not be, ashamed of his 2007 blog entry.
No .1 Louise Bagshawe, PPC for Corby and East Northants, telling her prospective constituents that her children attend ‘local schools’.
A surprise in at No.1, it must be said, but justified in our view.
Bagshawe is supposed to be the acceptable face of the new friendly Tory party, sent off to late night radio stations to tell us all the Tories really have changed. But here she is, on her carefully thought out website – this is no Cameronesque slip of the tongue, patronizing the people of Corby and Northamptonshire, telling them that she wants to be an MP so desperately that she’ll even send her children to their local schools.
For ‘local’, read ‘not private’. Yes, the implicit suggestion is that Tory wanabee MPs would of course be expected and entitled to enroll their children in private education, but that Bagshawe is so terribly ‘with it’ that she’s even prepared to send her children to state schools.
This well-considered Tory PR riles me 10 times as much as Anthony Steed’s unthinking snobbery.
And that’s it.
For post show, X-Factor Plus-style coverage on the antics of our winner, Louise Bagshawe PPC, please go to our sister channel.