The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 6th October 2017

Tory fiasco conference

by Daphne Liddle

She tried to go on with a list of positive things she had done but was interrupted by a prankster who had evaded the conference’s tight security to hand her a P45, the form given to employees who are being sacked.

May did her best to carry on but was blighted by a persistent cough and an obvious lack of confidence in a marked contrast to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Labour conference last week.

She announced a few new policies — including a promise to allow local councils to build more council houses — which previous Tory leaders had tried hard to abolish.

This is an admission that the Tories had got it wrong but it’s not very convincing — her pledge would result in only 5,000 new homes — a drop in the ocean compared with the need.

For decades now the deliberate run-down of council and other social housing has allowed a runaway boom in housing prices that has left a generation of working class people in their 20s, 30s and 40s unable even to contemplate owning their own home — and therefore unable to commit to lasting relationships.

The Tories claim to be the party of the family but it is their greedy housing policies that have destroyed the traditional bourgeois family, not rights for lesbian, gay and transsexual people. Meanwhile landlords and developers have made billions.

Chancellor Philip Hammond spent most of his speech attacking Labour and Jeremy Corbyn as “dinosaurs” and attacking the economic policies of Harold Wilson whilst avoiding saying much about his own.

In an interview before his speech Hammond confirmed that he would be rolling out in the next few months the big change from an array of benefits, for those both in and out of work, to the new Universal Credit (UC).

It has already been rolled out in some places and claimants have found they generally have to wait 42 days with no money between applying for the new benefit and the old ones being cut off. This leaves thousands of families facing Christmas with no income at all.

He then went on to say that the Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke was telling Jobcentres to direct people to the loan arrangements that are available to them.

The loans Hammond refers to are known as ‘short term advances’. They are available from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and a Freedom of Information (FOI) request showed they can take up to 72 hours to be paid. But, as Hammond indicated, they have to be paid back and are automatically deducted from a claimant’s UC payments.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stunned the country by trying to claim that the Tories had built the NHS, crediting it to wartime Tory Minister Sir Henry Willink who, on behalf of the national government, prepared a White Paper on a possible national health service.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth responded: “Jeremy Hunt’s claim the Tories created the NHS is laughable. The Tories fought it tooth and nail all the way through Parliament on a three-line whip. In fact they voted against the creation of the NHS 22 times including at the third reading.

“Over the last 70 years, the Tories have under-funded and tried to sell off the NHS. Labour governments have always stepped in to fully fund and rebuild the NHS. And so it will again fall to the next Labour government to give the NHS the funding it needs and rebuild it to deliver the quality world class health service every patient deserves.”

The Tories have just handed over a huge £55million NHS contract to Care UK — a company that uses tax havens and had not paid a penny in corporation tax since it was bought by the private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital in 2010.

Meanwhile Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson embarrassed the whole party with a callous remark about building another Dubai millionaires’ playground in Libya “once the dead bodies have been cleared away”.

Support for May is disappearing even amongst her most trusted friends. But whoever takes over would face exactly the same problems that go with being a lame duck government with no majority and only one person openly wants the job — Boris Johnson, who would bring more shame and embarrassment and division to his party than Donald Trump has to his.