Thursday, November 23, 2006


Polly Toynbee to Head Tory Commisison on Poverty?

If someone had predicted, even five years ago that a Tory frontbencher would identify Polly Toynbee as a source of wisdom preferable to Winston Churchill, one would have discreetly called for the gentlemen in white coats. Polly has been unfairly demonised by the rightwing- their politicians, press not to mention leading bloggers- as the archetypal wishy-washy liberal- as the reason, in short, why no-one should bother reading The Guardian.

As a devotee of this 'Bolshevik broadsheet', I have occasionally been irritated by her views but long ago-after reading her book on low pay based on working as a cleaner -decided always to read her far from wishy-washy articles. On poverty and low pay I have always thought her by far the best informed columnist and now, from the opposition, comes irrefutable confirmation. Her 'caravan in the desert' analogy, borrowed by Greg Clark, the above mentioned front bench spokesman, who has doubtless caused blood pressure amongst Telegraph readers to soar, is a good one. She reprises it today:

'All [in the caravan] may move forward, but how far behind do the poor at the back have to fall before they cease to be part of the same caravan at all?'

She calls for a more generous minimum wage. This is something which I strongly support since my son has been living with me after university, working in Manchester, seeking to save money to finance a year's study to become a professional actor. I can testify he is not living in the slightest bit extravagantly, yet, even though he pays no rent, he has saved nothing at all. How much more difficult is it for someone with a family to survive on the basic 'fiver plus a bit' per hour?

As Polly observes, it is Conservative acceptance of the notion of 'relative poverty' that is the real breakthrough; before that they tended to cling to Churchill's minimum 'safety net' standard. Polly reinforces the point:

'Poverty is measured internationally in relative terms, because that is how people feel it. To be poor is to fall behind what most ordinary people have in your society.'

And Greg Clark's advice to his leader does underline the one undeniable achievement of the legacy-hungry Blair: he has succeeded in extinguishing the remaining life in the head-banging school of thought initiated by Thatcher's 'no such thing as society' assertion. And long may it remain buried somewhere in one of the far from glorious chapters of the Conservative Party's history.

The woman is a poisonous witch. Prison is too good for her. If Cameron or any of his silly friends listen to a word the cow says, then they merely prove their stupidity beyond doubt.
Don't you just love this guy!
Unfortunately, to judge by the actions of our recently Torified county council, there is still a lot of life in "the head-banging school of thought initiated by Thatcher's 'no such thing as society' assertion" (nicely phrased btw). They, in common it seems with many other Tory controlled councils, are merrily cutting grants to the organisations which help the really poor and those unable to cope with life in our society in order to keep the council tax low.

Others will counter perhaps that some Labour controlled councils went on pursuing 'loonie leftie' policies even after the light had dawned in Walworth Road that this wasn't the way to get a Labour government elected.

These observations might explain why both parties have taken as much power as they can get away with from local councils but it does beg the question that if the Tories are busy trying to be New Labour and Labour (under Gordon Brown) will be determined to remain New Labour why don't the two parties merge and let the extremes drift off where they may?
1. Vlad yep!
Nice idea but only likely to happen if there is a move to PR. Then both big blocks could merge should they choose but more likely the finer shades would be distinguished and extremes as well as centrists would have more choice on election day.
She can be a bit "worthy" at times, but I agree her articles on poverty and inequality are often outstanding. The recent article on the collapse of Farepak is an example. The fact that the Tory Bloggers hate her so much speaks volumes. But I don't believe there is anything but electoral calculation behind Greg Clarke's remarks. The Tories care about the poor? Give us a break. As for Oakeshott: it a Borat-type piss-take isn't it? It must be.
i agree it doesn't mean much in terms of what might happen after an election but I do believe rightwing Conservatism is over; not that Michael Oakshott would agree. He is real, he is not a piss-take and he is angry over the embrace of Polly.
Skip - you write as though more choice were a good thing. Have you tried buying paint recently?!
Agree re paint but politically lack of choice is a factor making for apathy and, one could argue the present system limits democratic choice to candidates and voters alike.
Re this Hughes character: if you think there are not right wing people all over Britain outraged at the embrace of this woman, then it is you who is the parody.

And no I don't believe right wing ideas have been consigned to the dustbin just because one political party, in a rather unimportant country, has a misguided idea of how to win an election.
Ah I confused the idiot Hughes for the idiot Politaholic. Can't think how...
It’s great how Oakeshott gets abusive when his arguments fail. It makes for highly amusing reading. It is even better when he makes comments on the UK and he doesn’t even live in the country.

Oakeshott, I suppose you know all about idiots. You see one every time you look in the mirror.
Skipper, it will be interesting to see the working out of your prediction that right-wing politics may be over, perhaps in much the same way that the Labour party could not credibly - at least in the short term - return to its flirtation with 'extreme' leftism. I am fascinated by the Toynbee reference, and indeed by Cameron's continual challenge to the Tory Party. As a long-time TRG member, and Ken Clarke supporter, I would never have thought that the man who wrote the 2005 manifesto might have been the means of challenging wholesale the long Thatcherite shadow. Yet such seems to be the case. Mind you, I guess no-one would have given Disareli the time of day in 1846....
Thanks for the laugh Vled Tapes. I am the only right wing person on a left wing blog. I wasn't expecting wholesale conversions on the spot, so my disappointment is perhaps not as great as you think. Not quite sure how the location of my house affects my right to make points, it lost on me. Now do you have any wit or intelligence to display, or is that you done?
Oakeshott - Any wit or intelligence? Ironic coming from you; being devoid of both.
You were finished then. I won't keep replying to you after this, I have better things to do than trade insults with a fool who has posted on multiple occasions and failed to make ANY political point. Embarrasing for you, but I guess politics for you Vlad is something other people do. Now go and find someone else and waste their time, I am done with you.
Vlad - very poor.
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