Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

EDITORIAL: The Tories’ mask discarded

In Editorial on November 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm

How many readers remember those pre-election promises of a new “compassionate Conservatism”?

 

Or claims that the Tories would give us the “greenest government ever”?

 

Of course we didn’t believe them at the time. We always thought they were just a cynical exercise in gaining votes under false pretences. Even those who may have been gullible enough to give credence to these claims must have been swiftly disillusioned when Cameron became Prime Minister (despite failing to win an overall majority). Massive cuts, the decimation of the public sector, callous attacks on the poorer sections of society – and the nauseating sight of the rich getting even richer – all followed swiftly.

 

Cameron’s recent re-shuffle of his Cabinet wasn’t so much a “shift to the right” (as it’s been interpreted in the media) – it was more a confirmation that the former claims that we had a new compassionate caring Toryism were now well and truly dead and buried. We now have blatant neo-Thatcherism, buttressed by a pack of tame Liberal Democrats who seem oblivious of the fact that they are heading for oblivion.

 

HEALTH AND EDUCATION:

Actions, of course, have always spoken louder than words. And probably the two policy areas that have really revealed the true face of Toryism today have been in health and education. And that’s why the Clarion has devoted so many column inches to these two topics – and no doubt will continue to do so. Neither the undermining of the NHS or the privatisation of our children’s education were mentioned in the Conservative election manifesto. Yet in terms of their impact on us all, they are surely the most significant. Nearly all of us, at least at some point in our lives, rely on the healthcare provision given by the NHS. And most of us have (or will have) children – and care about the quality of their education as they make the journey towards adulthood and all the uncertainties that this brings.

 

Michael Gove remains in charge of education and continues to press forward with his aim of turning all schools into “academies”. The word “academy” sounds impressive – a seat of learning where our children’s faces will be turned towards the light of knowledge and understanding. Of course the reality is very different. In effect, it’s a drive to hand the education of our children over to private companies (or “sponsors”) who lack accountability and are basically driven by the profit motive.

 

And what are we to make of the appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Health Minister? A man who believes that the NHS should be reduced to a supervisory role, whilst health provision itself should be in the hands of the private sector? A man who helped to ensure that hospital provision in his constituency was handed over to Virgin Health Care?

 

And what kind of government allows such policies to be implemented, in the face of continued outrage and opposition? Equally important, what kind of future society will we be handing on to the next generation if we don’t challenge – and continue to challenge – these policies.

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