If there's one thing Tory leader David Cameron is good at, it's catching the public mood. In a recent speech at the Hugo Young lecture at the Guardian, Cameron spelled out his vision of a 'fairer Britain'. Distancing himself from laissez faire capitalism, Cameron also blamed overreaching government for breaking down social cohesion and responsibility and laid out a plan to engage people by encouraging them to be more responsible citizens.
It was in short, a cop out.
The inconvenient truth is that British society has fallen apart because of the economic philosophy espoused by his party. Neo liberal economics has failed spectacularly, and conveniently for the Tory party, they weren't in government when it happened. The Torified Labour Party followed Thatcherite monetary policy that ripped money away from the poor and middle classes and sucked it upwards at an extraordinary rate. While the economy grew for some, most languished as jobs were shipped abroad, the minimum wage stayed flat, and debt spiraled out of control as families tried to maintain living standards on lower pay.
Cameron is basically suggesting that people be nicer to each other and that the poor should rely on the charity of the rich for their survival. Only government has the power to radically redistribute wealth, and unfortunately, they've only done it upwards in recent times. While generosity of spirit plays well in speeches, it does not translate into the real world. If we want a fairer society, the rich must be forced to pay for it. Otherwise, they will continue to cut costs, argue for lower wages, ship jobs abroad and take our money without consequence when they need it.
(photo by andrew moores)