A kinder, gentler Conservative Party (UK)? That’s certainly the image Conservative leader David Cameron has been desperate to project ever since he took the reigns of the so-called ‘nasty party’. But Harry Potter impresario (and single parent) J.K. Rowling isn’t buying the Tory’s New Labour Lite makeover. Rowling notes that despite the fuzzy rhetoric, Cameron’s Tories exhibit the same naked contempt for the poor they did during Maggie T’s tenure — especially towards poor women:
Yesterday’s Conservative manifesto makes it clear that the Tories aim for less governmental support for the needy, and more input from the “third sector”: charity. It also reiterates the flagship policy so proudly defended by David Cameron last weekend, that of “sticking up for marriage”. To this end, they promise a half-a-billion pound tax break for lower-income married couples, working out at £150 per annum.
I accept that my friends and I might be atypical. Maybe you know people who would legally bind themselves to another human being, for life, for an extra £150 a year? Perhaps you were contemplating leaving a loveless or abusive marriage, but underwent a change of heart on hearing about a possible £150 tax break? Anything is possible; but somehow, I doubt it. Even Mr Cameron seems to admit that he is offering nothing more than a token gesture when he tells us “it’s not the money, it’s the message”.
Nobody who has ever experienced the reality of poverty could say “it’s not the money, it’s the message”. When your flat has been broken into, and you cannot afford a locksmith, it is the money. When you are two pence short of a tin of baked beans, and your child is hungry, it is the money. When you find yourself contemplating shoplifting to get nappies, it is the money. If Mr Cameron’s only practical advice to women living in poverty, the sole carers of their children, is “get married, and we’ll give you £150”, he reveals himself to be completely ignorant of their true situation.
As they say, read the whole damn thing, then read it again — and, if you are a UK citizen of voting age, maybe think twice before uttering the foreboding words “I’ve never voted Tory before, but . . .”
h/t Chris Bertram