Lots of noise yesterday about George Osbourne’s claim that the Tories are carrying the ‘torch of progressive politics‘.
I’ve actually never been a big fan of the word ‘progressive’. I think it tends to be used in the Labour Party by people who don’t want to use the word ‘socialist’. But what does it mean to the Tories?
One man who should know is Phillip Blond, director of the Progressive Conservatism Project at Demos and ‘the man who sets Cameron’s mood music’ – who gave an interview at the weekend suggesting abortion should only be available in ‘extreme cases’ and has also been known to argue that society should discourage adoption of children by gay couples.
Very progressive. Just like Iain Duncan Smith’s obsession with ‘family breakdown’, which led to the ‘tax breaks for married couples’ policy.
I could go on, but I think Peter Mandelson nailed pretty well why this talk of progressive Tories is cobblers:
“…why are the Tories so coy about their policies on education, healthcare, minority rights, workplace rights and Britain’s place in – or out of – Europe? How progressive is a policy on inheritance tax that would favour the very wealthy with a substantial tax cut?”
But still, you can’t blame Osbourne for some pretty ballsy spin. It’s just too bad no-one told the rest of his party.
First Tory MEP Dan Hannan went on his slag-off-the-NHS tour of the States.
Then another Tory MEP, Roger Helmer, announced that there’s no such thing as homophobia. It is, he said, ‘merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions’. As Stonewall’s Ben Summerskill and others have pointed out, he can tell that to the parents of Jody Dobrowski and Michael Causer.
My token Tory friend is very cross with us irreponsible Labour bloggers for drawing attention to the things MEPs say. While Labour’s MEPs, like Arlene McCarthy, are at the forefront of genuinely progressive politics, apparently the Tories’ elected representatives are an irrelevance and we should ignore them. To be fair, the LGBTory group has come out of their usual invisibility to call for Helmer to be reprimanded; but, as John Prescott has pointed out, Cameron has never distanced himself from Hannan’s denigration of the NHS.
So thank goodness – for the Tory press office – that the Shadow Cabinet are a bit more in touch with real people, eh? Oh dear. Alan Duncan. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he tried to claim £3194 for his garden. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he went on Have I Got News For You to be smug about it:
Now, he’s been caught on video bitching about how he couldn’t make the taxpayer fork out for his entire gardening costs; and describing his £64000 (before expenses) MP’s salary as ‘rations’.
Of course, you can see why what would seem like unimaginable wealth to the people I meet every day in Salford seems like peanuts to millionaire Alan Duncan. The question – aside from ‘How stupid do you have to be to get caught out by ANOTHER Don’t Panic video?’, and possibly ‘Was that the least convincing apology of the summer?’ – is: would this party of homophobes, frighteningly ideological right-wing stars of Fox News, and whinging rich bastards, recognise a progressive party if it dug a hole in their lawn?