by Daphne Liddle
THE CONSERVATIVE Party has been in opposition a long time and its members have been bored and frustrated, and passed their time in cooking up cunning plans for what they are going to do when they get in power again.
by Daphne Liddle
Now with Gordon Brown’s Labour government looking weaker by the day the Tory leaders are letting slip some of their more fiendish plans on behalf of their ruling class masters: plans to politicise policing in Britain; plans to devolve all welfare provision to local authorities (back to the parish poor laws) and plans to do away with the National Health Service, which they plainly hold in contempt.
Here we have to remember that Tory election manifestos are different to Labour’s; if they say they are going to do something they really do it - as Thatcher did.
Tory policing ambitions were let out of the bag last week by London Mayor Boris Johnson’s deputy for policing, when he told a journalist that the Conservatives have wrested control of Scotland Yard from the Home Office.
Last year Johnson managed to force the resignation of Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair, who was replaced by Sir Paul Stephenson. Johnson also ousted the Labour chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Len Duvall; up until then the MPA had eschewed party politics in policing matters.
on the tiller
Malthouse declared that he and Johnson “have our hands on the tiller” and had “elbowed the Home Office out of the picture” And he boasted about the close links that he and Johnson share with some of the most senior police officers.
The next day Sir Paul Stephenson replied angrily that he was running the Met and there was not place for party politics in controlling the police.
But if the Tories get in that is likely to change. They have proposed the introduction of elected police commissioners.
This is not popular with senior police officers. Sir Hugh Order, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) warned that public apathy could lead to “lunatics” and far-right extremists being elected to take charge of forces.
Sir Hugh said: “No one has articulated to me or anyone else what the elected commissioner plan actually looks like. I know that Labour have stepped back from it, but the Conservatives are still committed to it. They need to talk to us about what exactly they are talking about doing.
“Do they think that the public are so interested in policing that they would turn out to vote? Or do they mind if they get a lunatic or a retired copper?”
More likely it would be like the American system where police commissioners are appointed directly by elected mayors - and are changed at every election. They spend most of their time in the run-up to elections cooking or “juking” their statistics by recategorising unsolved serious crimes as trivial offences.
The Tory proposals for welfare are even worse. A couple of weeks ago we reported a Government green paper which proposed ending Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance as administered by the Department of Work and Pensions (cutting the massive budget of the DWP would be a feather in any prime minister’s cap) and transferring the funding to local authorities social services departments to administer to those in need with rules varying from one borough to another.
That was bad enough but the Tories want to do this with all welfare benefits. Last week Lord Hanningfield, a Tory spokesperson on business in the House of Lords and leader of Essex County Council, said the changes would mean money being spent more efficiently according to local needs.
Local authorities would set their own benefit rates, according to local living costs, and decide who would be eligible and who would not.
It would be a return to the pre-Victorian days of parish relief. Every “pauper” or claimant would have to plead their case and satisfy a panel of social workers (formerly board of guardians) of their needs. No borough would want to get a reputation for being generous or it would attract paupers/claimants from all around and bankrupt the fund.
Unemployed people who had travelled to find work would be told to return to their parish or borough of origin to claim, as boroughs tried to unload as many claimants as they could on to other boroughs.
Claimants would starve between the gaps as they did before. Then someone would suggest setting up workhouses as a humane alternative.
Senior Tory Daniel Hannan has already revealed the real Tory contempt for the NHS when he travelled to the United States last month at the behest of US profiteering health insurance companies to help them crush President Obama’s health plans.
Whatever we think of Labour, at the next election we must do everything we can to prevent the Tories winning.