Tory poverty rethink hits headlines
November 24, 2006 4:13 AM   Subscribe

"The Conservative Party recognises, will measure, and will act on relative poverty". Following a Mail-baiting report from policy adviser Greg Clark MP which recommends that Tory poverty policy should take inspiration from Polly Toynbee instead of Winston Churchill, David Cameron weighs in. Toynbee responds.
posted by teleskiving (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A not insignificant shift. But since I just saw Cameron on the news blathering the usual trickle down shite about business and wealthy individuals alleviating poverty instead of the state, they've not exactly embraced the redistribution of wealth. Also, as usual with Cameron, there's not even a hint of a properly costed raft of policy measures with projections on how many people they could lift out of poverty, just a few platitudes (unlike Labour, who for their many faults have actually done a fair bit of good work in this area, as Toynbee points out).

Also, how many grassroots Tories will have even heard of Polly Toynbee?
posted by jack_mo at 4:45 AM on November 24, 2006

It's just mood music - the headbangers won't wear it. Don't believe the hype. Guido's not impressed either.

Until the Tories actually, you know, come up with a policy they shouldn't be taken very seriously. They flirted with a potential strategy to implement this idea - flat tax - but bottled it. Until the Tories can find bottom and backbone they're a bit of a joke.

On preview: jack, not as many as you might have thought, apparently.
posted by dmt at 4:53 AM on November 24, 2006

"To be poor is to fall too far behind what most ordinary people have in your own society."

That has to be the correct way to look at poverty, measuring it against some absolute baseline simply doesn't reflect how a modern society should work. However, despite the fact that it's an important step forward for the Tories to take (in terms of shedding the "nasty party" label), it doesn't automatically lead to any particular policy measures. It's all good headline grabbing stuff, and unthinkable under Thatcher, but it's meaningless until there are actual concrete measures.

(Link to the report (.doc))
posted by patricio at 4:55 AM on November 24, 2006

I should link to my previous post on this subject back in April.

Also, how many grassroots Tories will have even heard of Polly Toynbee?

Well, there's this piece by Boris Johnson in yesterday's Telegraph, and then there's the "Churchill vs Toynbee" piece in the Mail referred to in my "Mail-baiting" link which I couldn't find online, so I would guess that a few more people will know who she is now.

I agree that the Conservatives probably have no idea what they are doing when it comes to this issue. Nonetheless, I believe that their acknowledgement of the problem is sincere, and that's important progress. I'm also really hoping that this will make it easier for Labour to talk about the issue.
posted by teleskiving at 4:59 AM on November 24, 2006

Here is Greg Clark's first report. The graph on page 4 is a highlight, but that aside, it's mostly just soundbite metaphors.
posted by matthewr at 5:00 AM on November 24, 2006

It seems, then, that the same poverty platform is now shared across the two main UK political parties:

1. Talk nice and project empathy.
2. Install CCTV cameras everywhere and make heaps of shit illegal.
3. Build lots of prisons.
4. Cut taxes on "wealth creators".
posted by stammer at 6:18 AM on November 24, 2006

It's amazing that with Tony Blair as unpopular as he's been in the past 5 years, the Conservatives have consistently managed to snatch electoral defeat from the jaws of what could very well have been solid victories. Especially last time.

It's almost like the Tories are actively putting off winning elections because they're somehow too busy doing other things, rather like someone who decides to stay on a train platform even as there is a train before him with open doors, presumably because he's reading an interesting book. Usually this is done by choosing the most inept (Major, Hague, Smith) or creepy (Howard) party leader possible shortly before an election, and having no platform at all except to say that Labour is "dangerous", despite the fact that two drops of water side by side exhibit more difference than the Tory and Labour parties since Blair began leading the latter.
posted by clevershark at 7:05 AM on November 24, 2006

My thought on hearing this on the radio this morning was that the Tories should intrinsically understand the needs of poor people as they've done so much good work in creating them ...

A friend of mine sent me the following via email when we were discussing it, I'm not sure I completely agree with it, but there's a lot of truth here:

"This we know:

1) Policies are designed primarily to appeal to the electorate either on an emotional/ practical or selfish basis.

2) 90% of all consituencies are considered 'safe' for one party or another, leaving about 65 seats (largely in urban areas) that are genuinely up for grabs in a general election.

3) Political parties logically tailor their policies to these consituents and search for the 'middle ground' to appeal to as many of them as possible.

4) Political parties can happily ignore their 'base' vote knowing that they have nowhere else to go.

5) Political parties have no incentive to recruit party members coz it is expensive, time and resource inefficient and can allow troublesome individuals within the decision-making structure. It is much easier to finance Party activities by approaching a few wealthy donors.

6) By limiting the number of 'winnable' seats, political parties need to spend a relatively small sum during a general election campaign because they can happily ignore everyone else. Anyone who has ever been in a 'target' seat will know that they are bombarded by leaflets, canvassers, cold-callers. Those that aren't can sometimes be forgiven for not knowing there was an election campaign going on at all.

Policies are narrowly targeted at the few not the many
Parties financed by the wealthy few and not the many

Disillusionment with the political process because most of us have a worthless vote and know they will never be able to influence policy."
posted by dickdotcom at 7:10 AM on November 24, 2006

At last, it all makes sense.
posted by cortex at 7:26 AM on November 24, 2006

jack_mo: I think that you must have misheard, given that his speech included the line:

'"Trickle-down economics" is not working.'

In the new, modern Conservative party, the "fundamental aim is to roll forward the frontiers of society" and then 'society' will solve all of the problems - so that's all right then!
posted by daveg at 8:20 AM on November 24, 2006

And here's the speech (or at least the press release of it)
posted by daveg at 8:21 AM on November 24, 2006

Toynbee idea in Blair's 2006: Resurrect poor on planet Jupiter.
posted by TreeHugger at 9:26 AM on November 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Vaguely relatedly, Fact Checking Polly.
posted by greycap at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2006

« Older Look out, George Foreman!   |   A video history of rave Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments