Saturday, May 03, 2008

don't forget who the tories are

As many people have done, on Thursday Zoe Williams tore into Boris Johnson. She attacks his deep-set racism, his homophobia, his snobbery.

But what she and others miss is that these qualities aren't something that make him unusual. They make him a classic Tory.

The Conservative party exists today, as it always has done, as the party of wealth and privilege. He, like his party's leader, is an old Etonian pro-hunting toff.

From Mugabe to the Orange Order, anywhere power is entrenched it is seriously abused. People are sick of the smugness and betrayal it has inevitably bred in the Labour party. They are sick of them as the party who lied to take us to war in Iraq. The despise them for the bizarre trickle-up economic theory of abolishing the 10p income tax, a clear and unambiguous attack on the poor.

But fuck me, is anyone saying the Tories wouldn't have gone to war? That they wouldn't have shifted taxes from the rich to the poor? They're the people who supported the war and opposed the minimum wage!

They're the party who gave us the poll tax and - in the form of the miners strike - ran a paramilitary campaign to demolish effective trade unionism, the collective bargaining that won a living wage and fair working conditions for those of us not born into riches.

All of these were also clear, unambiguous attacks on the poor but on a scale far greater than anything Blair and Brown have contemplated.

In their last time in office the Conservatives took big essential industries in public hands, things too important to be run just for profit - electricity, gas, telecommunications, water, railways - and sold them off at a pittance, making a fortune for the City institutions who bought shares. A straight transfer of vast wealth from the people to the obscenely rich few.

Whilst Labour have continued privatisation more stealthily (do it by components rather than a whole industry so we don't notice, call it Private Finance Initiative), it's clearly nothing the Tories wouldn't have done too. Voting Conservative as an anti-Labour protest is like cutting your legs off to stop your toes itching.

Boris Johnson was a leader writer for the Daily Telegraph from 1987, as it cheered on all those privatisations, the poll tax and the outrageous attack on liberty known as the 1994 Criminal Justice Bill.

Johnson, like the other three of the top four Mayoral candidates, has come out against the third runway at Heathrow. But can we be so sure he'll stick to it? It's hard to imagine Ken Livingstone being automatically impressed by someone just because they run a large corporation like BAA or because they are part of a profitable industry. It's hard to imagine Johnson - or any classic Tory - not being cowed. (But especially Johnson, who appears to be a climate denier).

The Conservatives remain the party of privilege. They are still directed and run by millionaire bankers. Their actual policy, as opposed to their touchy-feely PR spin and slogans, still shows it.

If you think your interests are the same as those of millionaire bankers, then they're the party for you. If not, then they're not.