Suggestions that Mr Cameron seems oblivious to how poor people actually live, think and behave seem to provoke accusations of class warfare…. I simply want to know that aspiring prime ministers have taken the trouble to educate themselves about the lives of all kinds of Britons, not only the sort that send messages with banknotes.
But wait, some will say. Given that you have long since left single parenthood for marriage and a nuclear family; given that you are now so far from a life dependent on benefits… why do you care? Surely, nowadays, you are a natural Tory voter?
No, I’m afraid not. The 2010 election campaign, more than any other, has underscored the continuing gulf between Tory values and my own. It is not only that the renewed marginalisation of the single, the divorced and the widowed brings back very bad memories. There has also been the revelation, after ten years of prevarication on the subject, that Lord Ashcroft, deputy chairman of the Conservatives, is non-domiciled for tax purposes.
Now, I never, ever, expected to find myself in a position where I could understand, from personal experience, the choices and temptations open to a man as rich as Lord Ashcroft. The fact remains that the first time I ever met my recently retired accountant, he put it to me point-blank: would I organise my money around my life, or my life around my money? If the latter, it was time to relocate to Ireland, Monaco, or possibly Belize.
I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer…. I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.
A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s idea of being a mug.
Child poverty remains a shameful problem in this country…. David Cameron tells us that the Conservatives have changed, that they are no longer the “nasty party”… but I, for one, am not buying it. He has repackaged a policy that made desperate lives worse when his party was last in power, and is trying to sell it as something new. I’ve never voted Tory before ... and they keep on reminding me why.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010
J.K. Rowling's "Single Mother's Manifesto" Excoriates Tories
In the upcoming UK elections (about which I am far from expert) I think I'm hoping the Lib-Dems will coalition with visibly tired Labour against any ugly Tory resurgence. The Lib-Dems would surely demand wholesome voting reforms as the price of such a coalition -- reforms that would probably be the most lasting impact of this historical juncture when all is said and done -- but it would also be nice to think Labour would take the resulting breathing space as a chance to reinvigorate the party by returning to its roots and throwing off the worst of New Labour's failed experiment in corporate-militarism. That the UK would switch favored dance partners from the US to the EU is probably much too much to hope out of this scrum. I was pleased to see J.K. Rowling's anti-Tory polemic as a contribution to such a hopeful outcome. Here's a snip from the end of her piece, follow the Times link for the whole thing: