The Nasty Party Never Went Away

4th January, 2013 5:08 pm

We are all aware of the efforts of David Cameron to ‘detoxify’ the Conservative Party from its ‘nasty party’ image. Prior to the general election he was hugging a hoodie, hugging a husky and even hugging hospitals. The election result shows public opinion of these efforts were inconclusive. I always believed despite there being some good people amongst Conservative ranks, the Conservative Party was still a nasty party.

At a local level we see examples of this every day. According to The Press, York Tory Councillor Chris Steward has said there is no real poverty in Britain and people should not donate to food banks. He went onto say “the fact some give food to food banks, merely enables people who can’t budget… or don’t want to, to have more money to spend on alcohol, cigarettes etc.” and that “there is certainly no need for food banks”. His comments have received widespread derision on Huffington Post and Political Scrapbook.

The Guardian has printed about how important food banks are for many families in Cameron’s Britain and it is ironic that in November 2010, York Conservatives opposed the loss of taxpayer subsidised sandwiches for themselves. York Tory Group Leader, Councillor Ian Gillies at the time went so far as saying “I said if you are going to save the money, then fair enough but if you are going to spend it on something else then we want the food”.

On Thursday 8th October 2009, David Cameron stood upon the stage of Manchester Central at his party conference. He spoke directly to us, the Labour Party, and said “it falls to us, the modern Conservative party to fight for the poorest who you have let down.” I am not sure how Councillor Chris Steward’s views tally with this notion.

My Deputy, Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing is writing to David Cameron to seek assurances Councillor Chris Steward’s views are not shared by the Conservative Party – although The Mirror recently printed David Cameron snubbed an invitation to visit a food bank. A petition is being set up online calling for City of York Council to censure Councillor Chris Steward for his comments. If 1,000 people sign the petition there will be a full council debate on the issue.

This is not the first time Councillor Chris Steward (who works as a stockbroker) has shrouded himself in controversy. In February last year he was criticised by ‘York Stop the Cuts’ for ‘quoffing’ champagne with Conservative Future as a ‘drink to cuts’. Recently he came out against the Labour-led Council I lead for implementing the Living Wage. He said it was the “the wrong thing to do” adding Council staff already had ‘perks’ like pensions.

Owen Jones recently brought to my attention an interview with Margaret Thatcher in the Catholic Herald from December 1978. Thatcher said, “Nowadays there really is no primary poverty left in this country” and added “all right, there may be poverty because people don’t know how to budget, don’t know how to spend their earnings, but now you are left with the really hard fundamental character—personality defect.”

Sound familiar? The nasty party never went away.

James Alexander is the Labour Leader of City of York Council

Latest

  • Comment Progressives want to mend, not end, the link

    Progressives want to mend, not end, the link

    Last week, I – and 2,000 others – were followed by a new Twitter account, Break the Link. Using Progress branding, it claims to represent the views of members of the organisation of which I am the director. It purports to be for those who want to sever Labour’s relationship with the unions.   However, I suspect that Break the Link – which was last active at the time when Aslef and the GMB were attempting to ban Progress – is actually […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour’s problem: a great political product is one thing – selling it is another

    Labour’s problem: a great political product is one thing – selling it is another

    Once Labour has a product something the majority want, we think, we’re in with a chance. They lost 2015 because the offer seemed flimsy. A better offer means a better chance. But there’s still the problem of marketing. Angela Eagle and Jon Wilson have argued the language of Labour isn’t working; too many “hard working families” and abstract nouns. The right words can change minds. The right marketing can change votes. In 2015, Labour didn’t know what it was selling […]

    Read more →
  • News Sadiq Khan proposes a London Living Rent as part of his mayoral bid

    Sadiq Khan proposes a London Living Rent as part of his mayoral bid

    Sadiq Khan, who’s in the running to be Labour’s candidate for London Mayoral, has made his first big policy announcement today. Khan, who is also the MP for Tooting, said he would introduce a London Living Rent to bring down the price of renting. This would be below-market rent that would be offered in new build properties and it would be a third of average renters’ income. He explained that this Living Rent would also make it easier for people […]

    Read more →
  • News Mayoral hopeful, Tessa Jowell, outlines her plans for London’s housing crisis

    Mayoral hopeful, Tessa Jowell, outlines her plans for London’s housing crisis

    Tessa Jowell, the former MP who’s one of eight people hoping to be Labour’s candidate to be London Mayor, has set out her plans for the city’s housing crisis. In a speech to housing experts, developers and councillors, Jowell will explain that if she was Mayor she would create a programme to ensure people living in London have access to a decent home, at a price they can afford. She would also give “real help” for first time buyers, by making rent-to-buy […]

    Read more →
  • News MPs endorse Bradshaw amid crowded deputy leadership field

    MPs endorse Bradshaw amid crowded deputy leadership field

    With the number of candidates sin Labour’s deputy leadership contest extending to seven over the bank holiday weekend (both Rushanara Ali and John Healey have announced in recent days), the battle to secure 35 nominations from MPs has become increasingly difficult. The maximum number of candidates who can reach the ballots is six. Ben Bradshaw’s campaign has received a boost with a group of new endorsements today. He has announced that Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North, will be running […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit