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Theresa May PM - A Right Wing Return

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Return of the Tory Right Wing

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Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister has been a series of betrayals, withdrawals and finally a coronation.

We’ve had careers buried whilst others have been resurrected. In Boris Johnson’s case we’ve had both in the space of a few weeks.  From anyone’s point it’s been truly incredible political theatre. Immediately, with her first statement Theresa May promised to be a “one nation” Prime Minister fighting against “burning injustice”. But these warm words can’t cover up the fact that she is someone who has been at the very heart of a failing government for over six years. The slew of Cabinet appointments feel very much like a blast from the past – nothing like the new-look cabinet that was speculated about, but a raft of right wing re-treads that are immediately out of kilter with May’s words on the steps of Downing Street last week.

The inclusion of the disgraced and incompetent former Defence Secretary Liam Fox – who oversaw a defence review so disastrous that it left us with hugely depleted military capabilities and the lowest army size since the 19th century – can’t fill anyone with hope that he will be able to strike beneficial trade deals for the UK across the globe. He’s also previously called for NHS spending to be cut, opposed plans to increase foreign aid spending and has criticised gay marriage associal engineering”.

David Davis, who famously resigned as an MP to fight himself in a by-election, is now in charge of our Brexit negotiations. In the past he’s expressed concerns about the impact of paid maternity and paternity leave as well as action to deliver equal pay for women, criticised “green” targets for the environment and he thinks winter fuel payments for the elderly are “gimmicks”. 
How can we expect someone with this record to defend the rights currently protected by the EU in our Brexit negotiations?

And what else can we say about Boris Johnson that hasn’t already been said? We now know there was no plan from the Leave campaign post-Brexit. We know he’s got form for saying things for political advantage – but now he has to pick up the pieces and be held accountable for his promises. Despite pledging billions more the NHS during the referendum campaign he’s previously said he wants a different model of healthcare to the NHS, he wants to water down our employment rights and he wants to give millionaires more tax cuts.

I’ve barely scratched the surface on this reshuffle. We’ve also got a new International Development Secretary in Priti Patel, who actually wants to scrap the department she’s now in charge of; a new Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, who wants to bring back fox hunting; and the abolition of the department specifically tasked with tackling the massive problem of climate change.

What is becoming quickly and abundantly clear is that this cabinet is clear shift to the right. It represents the huge chasm between May's rhetoric on fairness and opportunity and the reality of her right-wing government. May has rewarded the Brexiters, but those with a questionable record in the Tory Party now sit at the heart of Government.  The test now is to show that all members of the Government are committed to the laudable aims that Theresa May has set out. However if we are basing success on the appointments in the new Cabinet I think they’re off to a poor start.

Old Failures of the New Cabinet

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Theresa May may claim that she wants to deliver for everyone rather than just “the privileged few” but her new Cabinet will raise questions as to just now committed she is to this agenda. 

The new Prime Minister has appointed to the top jobs in government a series of Ministers who are tied to the failing record of the last six years and/or have firmly positioned themselves on the right of the Conservative Party.

Liam Fox

  • As Defence Secretary Fox was responsible for the shambolic 2010 defence review, which led to vital military capabilities being squandered and the size of the army being cut by a fifth, reducing it to its smallest size since the 19th century. (BBC News, 23 July 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14218909)  

  • The former Defence Secretary was forced to resign in disgrace in 2011 when it was revealed he had allowed his close friend Adam Werrity to work as an unofficial ‘adviser’ to him, including being “present at meetings Mr Fox had with military figures, diplomats and defence contractors.

  • In the last Parliament Fox called for cuts to NHS spending, arguing that automatic protection of health spending should not continue after the 2015 General Election.

    “The automatic protection of spending on the National Health Service should not continue after the next election, says former defence secretary Liam Fox.

    “The promise to increase spending on the NHS - even when many departments faced big cuts - was one of David Cameron's key messages at the 2010 election. BBC News, 2 January 2014, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25574096
  • In May 2011 Fox, opposed plans to increase Britain's aid budget to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product. "I cannot support the proposal in its current form” he said. BBC News, 17 May 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13420536 

  • Fox has also described gay marriage as a form of ‘social engineering’.

    "[Gay marriage] smacks of a form of social engineering of which Conservatives should be instinctively wary”. BBC News, 10 January 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20977765  

 

David Davis

  • The man charged with negotiating our departure from the European Union has previously said he was “not sure” about the Labour Government’s plans for paid maternity and paternity leave because of the potential impact on small businesses. 

  • When asked about equal pay for women he also expressed concerns about the impact of discrimination legislation on small companies saying he was “very worried” about it.

  • On the environment he has said that “the fixation of the green movement with setting ever tougher targets is a policy destined to collapse”.

    “The fixation of the green movement with setting ever tougher targets is a policy destined to collapse.” David Davis, The Independent, 2 December 2009
  • Davis described has described winter fuel payments for the elderly as “gimmicks” and said child benefit should be targeted “solely on the least well-off”.

 

Boris Johnson

  • Boris Johnson headed up the Leave campaign, including defending the misleading £350 million figure, pledging £100 million for the NHS and suggesting leaving the EU would bring down immigration. But when the Leave campaign won they admitted they had no plan for what came next.

    "That figure [£350m] represents accurately the gross sum that is sent.”
  • Johnson has previously said a free NHS will be abused and that the UK needs a different model of healthcare.

    “There is a moral point. If NHS services continue to be free in this way, they will continue to be abused like any free service. If people have to pay for them, they will value them more. Above all, there is an economic point. In a very modest way, this extension of private funds into the NHS would help the Chancellor’s straitened circumstances” Boris Johnson, The Essential Boris Johnson, 2003

 

 

Theresa May’s Record Shows she

cannot Stand up for Working People

Theresa May has said we need a “vision of the country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us”. But for the last six years she has been part of a Tory Government that has stood up for the “privileged few” at the expense of ordinary working people. 

  • In her Times article last week May has said: “Taxes for the lowest paid went down, but other taxes, like VAT, went up”.

  • But May’s record is one of backing the Tory-led Government’s decision to cut the 50p rate of tax for the richest earners (giving someone earning £1 million a tax cut of more than £42,000) while hiking up VAT to 20 per cent – a move that costs a couple with children £450 a year.

  • And just last September she voted in favour of cutting tax credits for working people – a move that would have left more than three million working families an average of £1,300 worse off this year.  

  • She has said that “fixed items of spending, like energy bills, have rocketed”. (Theresa May, The Times, 11 July 2016) 

  • But she consistently opposed, and voted against, Labour’s policy to freeze energy bills.  

  • Theresa May has said “there isn’t much job security out there” and that “some find themselves exploited by unscrupulous bosses”. (Theresa May, The Times, 11 July 2016) 

  • But she has been at the heart of the government that has presided over an explosion in zero-hours contracts and watered down working people’s rights through the Tories’ unfair Trade Union Act. There are currently just over 800,000 people on a zero-hours contract, up 15 per cent on the previous year.

  • She says she wants greater transparency when it comes to the way big business is governed, including putting employees on company boards. But she is part of a government that dismissed calls from Labour to put workers on remuneration committees as not “practical” and “not the right way forward”.

  • And despite calling for greater transparency on remuneration and bonuses she was part of a government that refused to enact legislation which the last Labour Government had put on the statute book requiring banks to disclose the number of employees earning more than £1 million, broken down by bands of pay.

  • She says she wants to tackle corporate tax avoidance but in February she voted against a motion calling on the Government to achieve a swift international agreement to implement country-by-country reporting of company accounts.

  • As Minister for Women and Equalities, Theresa May scrapped a legal requirement forcing public bodies to try to reduce inequalities caused by class disadvantage, branding it “ridiculous” (Theresa May's equality strategy speech, November 17th 2010, https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/theresa-mays-equality-strategy-speech). 

  • Theresa May also said the National Minimum Wage would cost jobs and that employers should be able to “step aside” from its provisions.

 
I also spend lots of time visiting local Labour parties around the country, talking about the kinds of issues in this email and the ways we can campaign against the Tories nationally and locally. If you'd like me to come and speak at your CLP please do get in touch with Sarah Coombes.

As a member of the Shadow Cabinet and National Executive Committee I’m always keen to hear your views and suggestions about our campaigning work against the Tories, or on any other issues. If you've any thoughts about how we are doing, or how we could do better, please do get in touch with my office.

 

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commented 2016-07-21 18:22:05 +0100
I doubt if any of us in the party are surprised by the direction May’s cabinet has taken. Unfortunately, it will take some time before the general public sees through the slick PR presentation.

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