Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Workers of the world unite- ok yah!

The Conservative Party is to ‘rebrand’ itself as the ‘Workers’ Party’ in an attempt to shed its posh image.

The party will keep its official name but MPs will be encouraged to refer to themselves by the new moniker in public statements.

In a speech delivered yesterday party Chairman Grant Shappps said ‘Sir John Major campaigned for what he called a ‘classless society’, and I would argue that is the society we are fighting for in government today, a Britain where it doesn’t matter who your parents are, where you can go as far as your talents and hard work will take you and where work rather than benefits is what pays.’

The rebranding follows a series of polls showing that the Tories are, surprised expressions please, are struggling to win support amongst low earners; well fancy that with an old Etonian leader and a cabinet of chinless wonders.

Tory MPs in marginal seats are less than impressed by the narrowness of the party leadership, several have complained that David Cameron will never win over working class voters because he has surrounded himself with fellow public schoolboys. As one told the Financial Times recently, ‘there are six people writing the manifesto and five of them went to Eton; the other went to St Paul’s.’

Influential back bencher Robert Halfon, who has pushed for the rebranding so the party can ‘never again be allowed to be called the party of the rich’ also wants to reduce membership fees to £1 to attract new members and replace its current green tree logo with a ladder to symbolise the party’s ‘moral mission’ to workers.

Responding to the plan Labour shadow Cabinet Office Minister said the Tories would be ‘better off renaming themselves the Millionaires Party.’ He added that he thought it wrong of them to ‘pose as the workers’ party when you’ve made working people worse off while cutting taxes for the wealthy’ and that under the Cameron government ‘for the first time more than half of households in poverty are in work.’

He concluded that ‘Labour has always been the workers’ party- the clue is in the name.’

When this story broke I felt obliged to check the calendar, nope it wasn’t the first of April; it wasn’t an outtake from a lost episode of The Thick of it either, a sharp pinch proved I was still awake and so the only logical conclusion was that it was for real.

If so it is certainly evidence that the Cameron government has lost its way; and possibly its reason too.

There is something rather distasteful about a party that has presided over rising levels of inequality, snatched benefits away from disabled people and sat back smugly as the lines grow outside food banks seeking to portray itself as the Workers’ Party.

In fact if you look at it in the context of some of the other things they’ve done since taking office in 2010 the whole thing starts to look distinctly Victorian.

Robert Halfon’s suggestion that the party replace its current logo of a green tree with a ladder to symbolise its ‘moral mission’ looks more than a little offensive when viewed alongside the rhetoric about ‘strivers’ and ‘scroungers’ so beloved of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. Combine this with the wholesale assault on public services and you get a picture of a Britain very different from the utopia described by Grant Shapps.

A place where the rich live in comfortable isolation and the poor know their place, which is out in the cold with only hymn singing and glum stoicism for comfort. This isn’t an inspiring vision of the future, it’s a return to ideas of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor that should have been banished to the history books long ago.

Incidentally Labour have no cause to be smug either, they are the party of working people only by default. They survive largely through the political inertia of former industrial towns where they used to weight rather than count votes for the Labour candidate, even when that person made a donkey in a hat look like Ghandi.

In fact it is hard to see the three dead brands under which our complacent and disconnected political class operate representing anyone other than themselves.

Maybe it is time for the silent support that has kept them going into their current curious afterlife should switch to smaller parties; maybe even to a new party entirely.

Wherever it goes what we need is a ground up political movement rooted in the concerns of those struggling hardest to get by behind which the workers and everyone else can unite.

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