Monday, 1 May 2017

The Tory challenge


The rule of this game is very simple. If you've been sent a link to this article, all you have to do is pick five of these fifty things from the Tory track record in government and explicitly defend them to the person who sent you the link. 

Longest fall in value of wages since records began

Under Tory rule British workers have suffered the longest sustained decline in the real value of their wages since records began. The fall is so bad that it's the joint worst wage collapse in the developed world with Greece. The difference of course is that Greece did that to their workers because they were forced to by the Troika, the Tories did that to British workers because they wanted to.

A vote for Tories is a vote for lower wages

Spectacularly missed economic targets
In 2010 the Tories promised to eliminate the deficit by 2015. In 2017 they're still nowhere near eliminating it, and they've openly admitted that they won't be doing it any time before 2021. Over 11 years to do what they promised to do in under 5, and more new public debt created in the process than every single Labour government in history combined? If that's "strong economic management", I'd hate to see what Tories would classify as chaotic, debt-soaring ineptitude.

A vote for Tories is a vote for more economic incompetence

The austerity con

After such spectacularly missed targets and George Osborne's departure from Westminster politics it's amazing that millions still believe in his austerity con, but Theresa May is still parroting the same kind of economically illiterate justifications for a blatantly unjustifiable economic agenda. The evidence is now absolutely clear that austerity only succeeded in transferring wealth from the majority to the super rich minority at the expense of the real economy.

A vote for Tories is a vote for the continuation of the Tory austerity con


NHS cuts
Between 2010 and 2015 the Tories slashed £20 billion off the NHS budget. Their current spending plans involve a further £22 billion in funding cuts between 2015 and 2020. Slashing the NHS budget, closing dozens of hospitals and other NHS facilities; reducing services; and laying off tens of thousands of staff would be bad enough in it's own right, but at a time of rapidly increasing demand on NHS services it's a recipe for disaster.

A vote for Tories is a vote for an underfunded NHS


The productivity crisis
The UK is suffering an extreme crisis in relative productivity. The UK lags 35% behind Germany and 30% behind the US. This means that the average UK worker has to work an hour to achieve the same economic output as a German can manage in 39 minutes. The problem is getting worse and worse, and it's easy to understand why. Unhappy and exploited workers don't work as hard as those who feel valued and well paid. Well educated workers are more effective workers than those who have suffered a poor education system. If the UK wants to resolve the productivity crisis it needs to improve wages and working conditions and invest in the education system. The Tories have been doing the polar opposite of that for seven years.

A vote for Tories is a vote against resolving the productivity crisis


Systematic abuse of disabled people
The amount of appalling schemes and degrading assessment regimes disabled people have to go through under this Tory government is absolutely shocking. There's so much of it I've written a full article detailing over a dozen of the worst things.

A vote for Tories is a vote for the continued abuse of disabled people

Huge rise in child poverty

Since 2010 the number of children growing up in poverty has risen by 400,000. The latest Tory cuts to the child welfare system and in-work benefits are set to plunge another 250,000 kids into lives of poverty.

A vote for Tories is a vote for child poverty


Railway chaos
As a result of the shambolic Tory privatisation of the railways the UK has the most expensivemost over-crowded and least reliable rail service of any comparable developed European nation. What's more is that the profiteering private companies who operate the services take more in government subsidies than it cost to run the entire system under British Rail!

A vote for Tories is a vote for crap, over-priced and over-crowded rail services

The harshest cuts of all on poor families with children
Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed that under Tory spending plans the worst hit demographic of all will be poor families with children. The trend is absolutely clear. The poorer you are, the harsher the cuts you will be facing, and if you have kids you'll be hit harder than those without.

A vote for Tories is a vote to further impoverish the already poor (and their children)


Corporations paying less tax than their employees
Since 2010 the Tories have reduced the rate of corporation tax paid by the biggest multinationals from 28% to 20%. They plan to cut it even further to just 17% by 2020. This means that the UK has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the developed world. The global average is 27% and the G7 average is 33.4%. Theresa May has threatened to reduce the corporation tax rate even further too. Labour would reverse the corporation tax cuts and bring the UK back into line with other advanced nations.

A vote for Tories is a vote for very low rates of corporation tax


Most unaffordable homes ever
Since 2010 the Tory government has overseen the lowest levels of housebuilding since the 1920s. When Theresa May was Home Secretary she increased demand on the nation's housing stock by overseeing the biggest surges of net migration in UK history. This combination of weak supply, very high demand and collapsing wages has pushed house prices to their most unaffordable level ever.

A vote for Tories is a vote for unaffordable housing


NHS recruitment crisis
One of Theresa May's first acts as Prime Minister was to scrap NHS bursaries, which caused an astonishing 10,000 decline in applications for nursing courses. Add into the mix the fact that NHS staff from EU countries are quitting the NHS in record numbers and there's a massive NHS recruitment crisis on the cards.

A vote for Tories is a vote for a massive NHS staff shortage


Contempt for private sector tenants
In 2016 Tory MPs (1/3 of whom are landlords) voted down an opposition amendment to their housing bill that would have required landlords to ensure that rented accommodation is "fit for human habitation".

A vote for Tories is a vote for slumlords renting shit houses to people with nowhere else to turn

Biggest education funding cuts in decades
The Tories are planning the biggest education funding cuts in decades. Follow this link to find out how much they're planning to slash from the budget of your local school.

A vote for Tories is a vote for underfunded schools


Legal Aid cuts
Legal Aid was introduced in 1949 by Clement Attlee's Labour government. It serves to prevent the justice system just serving as a plaything of the rich. The point of it is to ensure equal justice and the right to a fair trial. Since 2010 the Tories have mercilessly slashed the Legal Aid budget creating a two-tier justice system where justice is available to those who can afford it, but out of the reach of the poorest and most vulnerable in society (especially in Legal Advice blackspots like the South West, the Midlands and the North). Legal experts are up in arms about these divisive and unfair cuts, but Theresa May has steadfastly refused to conduct an inquiry.

A vote for Tories is a vote for a two-tier justice system

The school privatisation agenda
An awful lot of people don't seem to have even noticed that the Tories have been privatising thousands of state owned schools, property and all, for free, into the hands of private sector pseudo-charities, many of which are owned by major Tory party donors (like Philip "Carpetright" Harris, Alan Lewis and John Nash). Read this article about the scandalous Perry Beeches academy chain to get an idea of the seriousness of this Tory vandalism of our education system.

A vote for Tories is a vote for unaccountable profiteers running the English education system

Rip-off tuition fees

With the assistance of their lying Lib-Dem sidekicks the Tories introduced £9,000 per year tuition fees for university students, meaning English students now face the highest fees in the world for study at public universities. The fees are so high that 2/3 of graduates will never be able to pay off their student debts, despite paying a 9% aspiration tax on their disposable incomes for their entire working lives.

A vote for Tories is a vote for lifetimes of unpayable student debt for millions of graduates

Huge rise in Food bank dependency

The Tories have seen a huge rise in food bank dependency since 2010. Over a million food parcels were handed out by the Trussell Trust last year, and they're just one of the food bank organisations. New research has shown that areas that have suffered the rollout of the Tories' hopelessly botched Universal Credit scheme have significantly higher rates of food bank dependency than areas where it hasn't been rolled out yet.

A vote for Tories is a vote for food poverty
 

The Hinkley Point C scandal
The Hinkley Point C deal is one of the most scandalous affairs in UK political history. The Tories have agreed to bribe the French and Chinese into building us a nuclear power station by promising to use taxpayers' cash to pay them double the market rate for electricity for 35 years, then cover the cleanup cost at the taxpayers' expense too. The reason we have to bribe foreign governments into building our nuclear infrastructure for us is that the Tories privatised the UK's nuclear expertise in the 1990s, and the private company was then allowed to be purchased by the French government.

A vote for Tories is a vote for the most expensive rip-off deal the UK has ever signed up to


Unqualified teachers
In 2010 the Tories changed the rules and scrapped the requirement that teachers actually be qualified to do the job. Since then the education system has been flooded with ever more unqualified teachers, rising to 22,500 by 2015. It's worth remembering that the education secretary who brought in the policy of flooding our schools with unqualified teachers was Michael Gove, you know, the guy who claimed that the UK has "had enough of experts" during the EU referendum campaign.

A vote for Tories is a vote for even more unqualified teachers in our schools


Election fraud 
The Tory party committed electoral fraud in 2015. They've already paid the maximum fine the Electoral Commission could levy against them for election cheating, and 30 Tories afaced the prospect of criminal prosecution for financially doping their way to victory in a number of marginal constituencies, but were let off on a technicality.

A vote for Tories is a vote to empower electoral cheats

PFI
One of the worst things about New Labour was their reliance upon rip-off PFI economic alchemy scams designed to bribe private companies into building public infrastructure. The Treasury Select Committee found that PFI is "an extremely inefficient method of funding [public infrastructure] projects" yet the Tories have carried on using them, and are currently looking for hedge funds to sign up to another £10 billion worth of PFI deals. Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to scrap PFI.

A vote for Tories is a vote for even more rip-off PFI economic alchemy schemes


Secret courts
In 2013 the Tories (in coalition with the so-called Liberal Democrats) introduced a new law to create secret courts in which a person can have their fate decided in a courtroom they are not allowed to enter, on charges they are not allowed to know, based on evidence they are not allowed to see. In secret courts even the person's lawyer is barred from entering the courtroom or seeing the evidence. These shocking secrecy rules don't just apply to criminal courts or terrorism related offences, they can be used in civil cases too! Theresa May was the Home Office minister responsible for this attack on the concept of open justice.


A vote for Tories is a vote in favour of contempt for the concept of open justice

Privatisation
Since coming to power in 2010 the Tories have been privatising public assets at a faster rate than any government in UK history (even Thatcher). Many of their privatisation scams have been completely senseless and resulted in vast rip-offs for the British public; they sold Royal Mail off at over £1 billion below its real market value; they sold off the publicly owned banks at massive losses to the taxpayer; they've carved up and given away £billions worth of NHS services
they gave away thousands of publicly owned school properties, for free, to unaccountable private pseudo-charitiesthey've sold off the student loan books at a loss; and they sold off the UK government's stake in Eurostar for a tiny fraction of what it cost us to set it up.

A vote for Tories is a vote for more rip-off Tory privatisation scams


Foreign ownership of British rail franchises
One of the most ridiculous things about the Tory privatisation ideology is that the only country that is barred from bidding for UK rail franchises is ... err ... the UK! Vast swathes of our rail system are now operated by foreign governments like Germany, France, the Netherlands, Singapore and Hong Kong. These foreign governments then extract their taxpayer-subsidised profits back to their own countries to be used to improve their own rail systems. The Netherlands state rail operator Abellio now operates so many train services here that their UK network is two and a half times the size of the entire Netherlands state railway!

A vote for Tories is a vote for UK taxpayers and rail passengers subsidising foreign rail networks


Social care crisis

The Tories have slashed £4.6 billion from the social care budget at a time of rising demand due to the UK's ageing population demographics. This social care funding crisis has coincided with the biggest increase in the death rate since the 1960s, and is putting an immense amount of pressure on already overstretched NHS services and unpaid carers.

A vote for Tories is a vote a social care system in crisis


Scrapped NHS waiting time targets
Over the winter of 2016-17 it became clear that the underfunded overstretched NHS was incapable of meeting the 4 hour waiting time target at A&E departments. Instead of reversing their cuts and stopping their programme of hospital closures, the Tories simply scrapped the waiting time target! If the target can't be delivered then don't change your policy, scrap the target - that's the Tory approach to problem-solving!


A vote for Tories is a vote for longer hospital waits

Defunding of local government
The Tories have slashed local government budgets so harshly that the leader of David Cameron's own Tory council famously wrote to him to plead for him to stop. What's most disgusting about this assault on local government budgets is that the most savage local government cuts have been focused on the poorest areas, while some leafy Tory councils actually got increases in their budgets.

A vote for Tories is a vote for even more ruination of local government services

Tax-dodgers winning government contracts
The Tories have brought giant outsourcing corporations in to do all kinds of government functions. Huge numbers of these corporate leeches are now having their contracts renewed automatically with no cost-benefit analysis and no competitive tendering process. The Labour Party have proposed a new law to ban outsourcing companies from receiving government contracts if they're based in tax havens. The Tories are quite happy to continue using taxpayers' cash to pay tax-dodging corporate outsourcing companies to do the work the government should be doing itself.

A vote for Tories is a vote for tax-dodging corporate outsourcing parasitism

Filibustering
Filibustering is an incredibly cynical strategy politicians use to block proposed legislation by talking and talking until the debate runs out of time. Some of the proposed laws that have been derailed by Tory MPs deliberately blabbering on for hours to run the clock down include first aid lessons for school children, free hospital parking for carers, cheaper off-patent drugs for the NHS, and a bill to prevent revenge evictions by landlords who have been asked to maintain their properties. Several of these bills had cross-party support, but were deliberately wrecked by a handful of hard-right Tories like Philip Davies, Andrew Rosindell, Sam Gyimah, Alistair Burt and Cristopher Chope.

A vote for Tories is a vote for Tory debate wrecking tactics

Fire service cuts
Between 2010 and 2015 the Tories slashed 30% off the fire service budget resulting in the loss of 10,000 firefighter jobs and the closure of 39 fire stations. Between 2015 and 2020 they intend to slash another 20%. In 2015/16 the number of fire deaths increased by 17.4%.

A vote for Tories is a vote for more people dying in house fires

 
Prisons chaos
Violence, riots, widespread drug use, escapes, chronic understaffing and soaring suicide rates. The UK prison system is in chaos. One of the worst prisons of all is HMP Northumberland that was privatised by the Tories in 2014. It's supposed to be a training prison to give prisoners jobs skills so they're less likely to return to crime. At HMP Northumberland a private contractor Novus was giving prisoners pictures of Peppa Pig to colour in as their employability training, all at the taxpayers' expense of course.

A vote for Tories is a vote for absolute chaos in our prisons


Unfair dismissal fees
In 2013 the Tory led government introduced £1,200 fees in order for employees to seek unfair dismissal compensation from their employers. So now if your boss sacks you unfairly (for your age, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, political orientation, trade union activities, or refusal to suck his cock) you have to find over a grand in order to go to an employment tribunal. The Tory presumption of course being that your boss is a great guy and all of his employees are worthless scum, and the fewer people who take him to tribunal the better. The person who came up with these fees is a major Tory party donor called Adrian Beecroft who also runs the payday loan company Wonga (which would obviously benefit from a significant increase in the number of people being unfairly dismissed and priced out of seeking compensation). Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to remove this economic barrier to justice by scrapping employment tribunal fees.

A vote for Tories is a vote for economic barriers to the justice system

Police cuts
Between 2010 and 2015 the Tories axed 34,000 police jobs. Between 2015 and 2020 they intend to axe tens of thousands more. The police have managed to juke the statistics by non-recording vast numbers of reported crimes, but the impact of these police cuts can't be hidden off the violent crime statistics, which have increased by 96% between 2012 and 2016.

A vote for Tories is a vote for fewer police on our streets and more violent crime


Flood defence spending
Of all of the Tory cuts their decision to slash the flood defence spending budget is one of the most stupid. For each £1 spent on flood defence spending the nation saves £8 in avoided damage and disruption. Several of the areas that had their flood defence schemes cancelled in 2010-11 ended up suffering severe flooding. As a departing gift after resigning in disgrace David Cameron handed a DBE to Caroline Spelman who was the Tory politician who oversaw this ideologically driven lunacy!

A vote for Tories is a vote for more damaging floods


Adult education
Adult education colleges had their budgets slashed by 24% between 2010 and 2015. The vocational training budget was slashed even more, by 40%. Over a million adult learning places have disappeared since 2010. It's beyond obvious that re-educating adult workers is absolutely vital in the modern era where the concept of jobs for life has been all but eradicated. Any government intent on developing a modern high-tech economy would invest in adult education in order to provide workers with the skills retraining they need to move between jobs. The Tories have been doing the exact opposite.

A vote for Tories is a vote for an inflexible low-skill economy 


Forced closure of NHS services
During the 2010 General Election the Tories promised to stop the forced closure of NHS services. In 2012 the Tory government attempted to force the closure of Lewisham Hospital in South London. In 2014 the Tories introduced new legislation to make it much easier for them to force the closure of NHS services and facilities. Since 2015 the Tories have been working on a secret plan to shut down dozens of A&E departments, maternity wards, walk in centres and mental health facilities up and down the country.

A vote for Tories is a vote for the forced closure of even more NHS services

Sweetheart tax deals
One of the sickest things about the Tory government is the way they allowed HMRC to draw up sweetheart tax deals with massive corporations like Google, Starbucks and Vodafone. Why should Google get to negotiate a 3% tax deal when ordinary working people have to pay what they actually owe?

A vote for Tories is a vote for more sweetheart tax deals with multinational corporations


Armed services cuts
Between 2010 and 2015 the Tories slashed over 33,000 jobs in the armed services. The army has been pared back to its smallest size since the Napoleonic War! Meanwhile the Tories have been blasting money like it's going out of fashion on aircraft carriers with no aircraft, paying 40 Admirals and 260 Captains when we've only got 19 warships, and the 205 billion renewal of Britain's privatised supply of weapons of mass destruction.

A vote for Tories is a vote for weaker and less capable defence

Democracy under threat
The proposed Tory Great Repeal Bill is an astounding assault on the concept of democracy and accountability. If this bill passes it will give Tory government ministers the ability to rewrite tens of thousands of UK laws with no parliamentary scrutiny. If people supported Brexit because the EU is too undemocratic, it would take an astounding display of doublethink them to now be supporting Theresa May and the biggest anti-democratic assault on the UK in history that they're planning.

A vote for Tories is a vote against democracy

The Snoopers' Charter
Theresa May's Snoopers' Charter is the most extreme state surveillance law ever introduced in a developed nation. It allows over 20,000 government employees to trawl through the private communication data of innocent people (including loads of non-terrorism related organisations like the Food Standards Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Gambling Commission). It also allows the state to tell lies in court in order to secure convictions.

A vote for Tories is a vote for extreme surveillance and an end to the concept of privacy

Dictators and despots

Theresa May and the Tories love sucking up to dictators and despots like the Islamist tyrants in Saudi Arabia and the Turkish autocrat Recep Erdo─čan. The disgraced Liam Fox was even in the Philippines to suck up to the brutal dictator Rodrigo Duterte and talk up our "shared values".

A vote for Tories is a vote for closer relations with dictators and despots


In-Work benefit cuts
The majority of people receiving non-pension benefits in Tory Britain are the working poor, not the unemployed. When the Tories slash things like housing benefit and tax credits, what they're actually doing is further impoverishing the working poor. Incredibly they have repeatedly introduced new welfare cuts to make working families poorer whilst simultaneously spouting the Orwellian propaganda that they're "making work pay" as they do it!

A vote for Tories is a vote to further impoverish the working poor

The trade deficit
The UK is suffering a massive problem with trade deficits. This means the UK imports far more than it exports. The problem has been going on for a long time, but since 2010 the problem has been getting a lot worse, with the record being smashed over and again. In the month of the Brexit referendum the trade deficit in goods swelled to an astonishing £12.5 billion, the highest ever recorded. The UK's terrible balance of payments deficit is offset a bit by financial services export and vehicle exports, but a Tory hard Brexit would throw a massive spanner in the works, especially if they go for the "no deal" cliff edge strop Theresa May has been threatening.

A vote for the Tories is a vote for massive trade deficits


Contempt for human rights
Theresa May has a burning contempt for your human rights. She has expressed her determination to tear up the European Convention on Human Rights on many occasions, and join Belarus as the only European nation that doesn't adhere to the human rights legislation that was bestowed on Europe by the British Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee.

A vote for Tories is a vote to scrap your own human rights

Mental health funding cuts
The Tories love talking up how much they care about mental health conditions, but their actual track record is disgraceful. Between 2010 and 2015 they slashed £600 million from mental health services. They're still slashing away now. In fact they even advised the corporate outsourcing companies carrying out their disability assessments to actively discriminate against disabled people.

A vote for Tories is a vote for mental health neglect

Taxpayer subsidised malice
One of the worst things about the Tory government is the fact that several of their malicious anti-welfare schemes actually cost more to administer in corporate outsourcing fees than they will ever save in reduced benefits payments. The Work Capacity Assessment regime for sick and disabled people and their draconian sanctions system are both examples of socially ruinous schemes that actually cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds to operate.

A vote for Tories is a vote for more money to be wasted on malicious Tory anti-welfare schemes

Rising inequality

While UK workers suffered the worst collapse in the value of their wages on record the tiny super rich minority literally doubled their wealth. There is an abundance of evidence showing that the more unequal a society is the less economically prosperous it is, and the unhappier the people are. Take from the poor to give to the rich, that's always been the Tory agenda. The worst thing is that these malicious reverse Robin Hoods even had the gall to tell us "we're all in this together" as they were deliberately rigging society even more in favour of the tiny super-rich minority than it already was!

A vote for Tories is a vote for an even more unequal Britain


U-turn after U-turn
Theresa May keeps repeating the phrase "strong and stable leadership" like a broken robot but she's not strong or stable. She's too much of a coward to face Jeremy Corbyn or the other party leaders in the TV debates, she's conducting her election campaign in "safe spaces" full of handpicked Tory sycophants bussed in from miles away, and she U-turns so often it's impossible to know which way she'll be facing in the morning. She's U-turned on supporting Remain during the EU referendum, on the National Insurance hike, on "now is not the time", on not calling a snap election ...

A vote for Tories is a vote for the lady who is for turning


Threat of a "no deal" Brexit strop
perhaps the most worrying thing of all is the way Theresa May has made the threat of a "no deal" Brexit strop the centrepiece of her diplomatically inept Brexit negotiating strategy. If the EU 27 call her bluff and she ends up walking the UK over a "no deal" Brexit cliff edge the social and economic consequences will be catastrophic. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated that the imposition of WTO tariffs, the flight of businesses, border checks and all the other chaos that would come with a "no deal" flounce would wipe between 6.3% and 9.5% off the national GDP. To put that in perspective the recession that followed the 2007-08 global financial sector insolvency crisis (you know, the one we're still trying to recover from) wiped 4.8% off GDP.

A vote for Tories is a vote for the threat of an even bigger economic meltdown than the last one



A reminder of the rule

The rule of this game is very simple. If you've been sent a link to this article, all you have to do is pick five of these fifty things from the Tory track record in government and explicitly defend them to the person who sent you the link.


Explicit

Now I'm going to define what I mean when I use the word "explicitly" so that there is no confusion:

  • If you mention Jeremy Corbyn, Labour or any other political party or figure you're engaging in whataboutery deflection. 


  • If you fail to address the actual issue you claim to be defending, you're being misleading and evasive. 
  • If you attack certain sectors of society (the unemployed, the working poor, young people, migrants, left-wingers, trade unionists, Muslims ...) you're playing the classic Tory divide and conquer games that they use to keep the majority of people fighting amongst themselves rather than fighting back against their appalling misrule.

If you use any of these fallacious arguments you obviously fail the challenge


Running away

If you refuse to engage with the challenge you obviously fail too, and demonstrate beyond doubt that you have the same cowardly attitude to scrutiny as Theresa May


If you run away from the challenge then you'd just be showing the person who challenged you that you imagine that you can just make difficult subjects go away simply by evading them and avoiding open and honest political discourse. 

If you run away from the challenge then you'd actually be demonstrating exactly why politics in the UK is such a bloody mess. 

You'd be showing that you're one of the people who wilfully ignore so much malice, incompetence and right-wing authoritarian scheming simply because you think it's all outweighed by whatever (probably imaginary) personal benefit you'll be getting from a Tory government.

It's bad enough having such a selfish "I'm alright Jack" attitude, but running away when challenged to defend it, well that would just be pathetic wouldn't it?

Register to vote

If you're horrified by this list of incompetence and malice, and had no idea how bad it was, you need to make sure that you are registered to vote so that you can vote against this disgraceful Tory government.


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