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 Featured We will always be Labour – but the debate about our future must also be allowed to flourish

    We will always be Labour – but the debate about our future must also be allowed to flourish

    In the coming weeks I expect these pages will see numerous appeals for unity, respect and humility. This process is natural and right. Though an inevitable consequence of an open democratic process, airing our dirtiest laundry in public has probably not helped the party’s short-term standing. But as we turn our attention once more to the common enemy we must shelve any lingering grievances. Further education colleges are being decimated, Sure Start provision dismantled; climate change dismissed, trade unions attacked, charities […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Uncategorized Tristram Hunt: There will be no Labour split

    Tristram Hunt: There will be no Labour split

    The Labour Party will not split if Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader, Tristram Hunt will declare today. The Shadow Education will say that the party’s history has been marked by two splits, both originating from the right of the party, and both leading to long periods of Conservative Government. Speaking at today’s Progress West Midlands conference, Hunt plans to say that while the Labour leadership election is “far from over”, all of the party must accept the result and “stay loyal […]

    Read more →
  • News Uncategorized Yvette Cooper says UK must still do more to take in refugees

    Yvette Cooper says UK must still do more to take in refugees

    Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has praised the swell of public pressure for pushing David Cameron into making this morning’s announcement that the UK will provide “resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees”. But she also says that more needs to be done to help those who have fled conflict and are already in Europe. Cooper says that the Britain could potentially house tens of thousands of refugees, and that “Cameron must still do more to respond to this humanitarian crisis”. The Labour […]

    Read more →
  • Comment 10 reasons to be wary of assisted dying

    10 reasons to be wary of assisted dying

    1. Assisted suicide is almost certainly not as popular as its supporters claim. Dignity In Dying claim that 82% of British people support assisted suicide, based on an online survey by the polling organisation Populus. This oft-repeated figure is a very bold claim, and so deserves to be subjected to some severe critical scrutiny (and even if it is accurate, it would not clinch the argument: sometimes we need to protect minorities regardless of majority feeling). So should we trust […]

    Read more →
  • News Is Ed Miliband going to rule out a return to frontline politics?

    Is Ed Miliband going to rule out a return to frontline politics?

    Ed Miliband could publicly rule out a return to frontline politics next week, according to this morning’s Times. The move would mean ruling himself out of a Shadow Cabinet position under Labour’s new leader. The paper reports that Miliband wants a break after spending five years as Leader of the Opposition. It is common for Labour leaders to step back from the frontbenches after leaving the role, with most never returning to a prominent role in the Commons. However, Miliband’s relative […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit