Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Good news: the Tories have rediscovered some of the questions. Bad news: they’re still peddling the same failed answers.

After thirty years of telling the sick, poor or despairing to pull themselves together, the Tory leadership seems to have rediscovered social responsibility. It’s a pity that most of the parliamentary party and practically all of the membership are stuck in the ‘I’m alright Jack, sod everyone else’ mode but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Writing in the Times, Alice Mills at first seems quite upbeat: "What is heartwarming at Bournemouth is to witness the genuine conversion of a party". But then comes a long list of buts and a very pertinent question: "Where were you ... with your social consciences, for the past two decades?"

Well David Cameron was busy writing a manifesto including a scheme for people to buy their way out of the NHS.

The tired solutions include a greater reliance on the voluntary sector. I now work in it (but not for free) and know a lot of other people who do. We’re all certain that there isn’t an army of people available to work for nothing to do the things our public services should do. It is a fantasy to suggest this sector can ever take more than a tiny percentage of the load.

And then there’s ‘efficiency savings’ handing the running of services over to ‘the professionals’ (as if managers and administrators aren’t professionals). At the risk of repeating yesterday’s post, do we really want our doctors or nurses having to order the milk, pay the gas bills, organise the staff rotas or do any of the millions of other tasks needed to keep the NHS running. When would they find time to treat the sick?

Bonkers! They still pretend we can have something for nothing. As Alice puts it "The Conservatives have not even begun to work out the answers"...


At 04:52, Blogger cassilis said...

I'm not about to defend 30 years of Tory policy Brian ('cause I can't) but I would take issue with your characterisation of it as devoid of conscience and based on an 'I'm alright jack' philosophy.

Thatcherite reforms need to be understood in their political and economic context. The changes they were looking to bring about in the UK were structural and long-term and the fact the most of those significant changes are now accepted by all main parties (e.g private utilities & home ownership) is testament to their durability.

As a moderate Tory I accept that the party lost it's way after 1987 and became fixated on market solutions and refused to acknowledge the social dimension in politics. And, quite rightly, we paid an electoral price for it.

I'm just keen that people recognise there's a 200+ year history of the Tories to hold Cameron against - not 20. Conservatives were legislating Trade Union rights and public health programmes a generation before Labour was founded. Cameron has some atoning to do yes but let's not overstate it.

At 10:24, Blogger Hughes Views said...

I think the history of the 'nasty party' goes back more than twenty years. I can remember the cheers from members when speakers used 'do gooder' as a term of abuse ...

The future is more important in this context than the past; all parties have evolved into things that they weren't when I was young. But if DC can really make his members and many of his voters care a little more about others and be a bit more accepting of difference then hooray!


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