The Nasty Party Never Went Away

January 4, 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

  • News Major Labour donor John Mills dismisses Mail story as “pure mischief making”

    Major Labour donor John Mills dismisses Mail story as “pure mischief making”

    The Mail on Sunday run with attacks on Ed Miliband today, including quotes from major Labour backer John Mills where he appears sceptical of a Mansion Tax and seems to side with Alan Milburn’s comments on the NHS this week. Mills, who has donated £1.5million to the Labour Party, has dismissed the story as “pure mischief making” and said they had used “highly selective and misleading quotes” for the story. The business leader admits he would prefer the widening of […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Election chief Alexander sets out campaign priorities in email to supporters

    Election chief Alexander sets out campaign priorities in email to supporters

    Labour’s election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander has set out the three priorities for the party’s national campaign over the next three weeks. He says Labour won’t run a personality-led campaign (pledging not to feature Cameron on any of their posters), that Labour are willing to take part in TV debates, and that the aim to have four million conversations with voters will be at the heart of the campaign. This kind of “memo” to supporters is not completely new (the last […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Candidate selected to replace Alistair Darling in Edinburgh South West

    Candidate selected to replace Alistair Darling in Edinburgh South West

    Ricky Henderson has been selected as the to fight the Edinburgh South West seat as the Labour candidate for this year’s election. The seat is being vacated by retiring former Chancellor and Better Together chair Alistair Darling, who has been an MP since 1987. Ricky Henderson, 53, has been a councillor in Edinburgh for 16 years. Speaking after the selection tonight, he said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen to succeed Alistair Darling as Labour’s candidate. He will […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Video SNP surge “is real” – Lord Ashcroft speaks ahead of Scottish polling announcement

    SNP surge “is real” – Lord Ashcroft speaks ahead of Scottish polling announcement

    Labour activists, MPs and strategists will be paying close attention to Lord Ashcroft’s polling of Scottish seats (which should be out in the next few days), but for a taster on that – and the impact of UKIP, watch this interview of Ashcroft from Sky News’s Joey Jones:

    Read more →
  • News Roy Hattersley defends Miliband over NHS election focus

    Roy Hattersley defends Miliband over NHS election focus

    Former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley has leapt to Ed Miliband’s defence, after the current leader received criticism from former ministers this week for relying on the NHS too much as an election issue. Alan Milburn and John Hutton made public their scepticism about Labour’s plans for the NHS, with former Health Secretary Milburn saying “major reform” was needed in the health service. Following Neil Kinnock’s call for an end to “sniping from behind”, Hattersley has also come forward to attack […]

    Read more →