In response to S&C’s call for Conservative perspectives on the election, Ian Morris explains why he will be voting for the incumbent party despite the strong feelings he has encountered online and off.
Sadly yes it’s true, I am a Conservative. You might think that, at a time when we have a majority Conservative government which has recently achieved a massive local election victory, this wouldn’t be so hard for people to accept. But if you spend any time on social media you’ll find some strange ideas about who Conservatives are and what we stand for.
It would seem that I hate the poor and that I want to cut services and benefits with the express intention of causing as much misery as possible. Austerity is an ideological choice to punish the vulnerable and benefit sanctions are a cunning ploy to kill off the very poorest. I take rare pleasure in bullying the disabled and stealing every penny from them to spend on vintage champagne to quaff with my public school mates. I am secretly privatising the NHS – another part of my wicked plan to kill more poor people – and I despise doctors, nurses, the police, teachers – and don’t get me started about the old. God they are a burden and we need a plan to get them to die sooner and cut the care bill. In short, I am seen by many as that vile demonic cartoon monster: ‘Tory scum.’
I find it incredible that people believe this sort of narrative, but believe it they do and they re-post it with alarming regularity. So why do I and millions like me keep voting for the Conservatives who keep winning elections?
Let’s start with the negative reasons. Just look at the alternatives. I am just old enough to remember what life was like under an “old school” Labour government and the mantra of tax and spend until there is nothing left to tax anymore. The trouble with the Corbyn brand of socialism is that the other bloke’s money always runs out. Labour promise more holidays, more doctors and nurses, extra funding for the teachers, more money for the NHS… and who wouldn’t want that? The trouble is, if it were that easy someone – perhaps maybe the current government – would have done it by now.
I won’t cry ‘fake news’ but often stories about the government are very misrepresented. Take the recent story about cuts to disability benefits. This is a subject close to my heart as I am blind and have a keen interest in disability and inclusion. What was reported as a cut to disability benefits was in fact a move to change Employment Support Allowance for those claimants capable of work so that it would be in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance. This was only applied to the ‘work capable group’, not those with more complex needs and only applied to new claimants. The latter two facts were omitted from most coverage in the news and not mentioned in the FB backlash.
As for Brexit, for the record I voted to remain, not because I desperately wanted to remain, but I thought we would be stuffed and slow roasted by the rest of the EU for trying to leave, which seems to be what is happening now. As we now must jump off the cliff into the unknown, I want the party with the most economic nous to fight hard for the best deal we can get. This is clearly the Conservatives.
Finally, on this ‘I hate the poor’ allegation, I don’t want anyone to be poor, but stopping poverty can’t be achieved by taking even more money off the non-poor. Currently the top 1% of earners pay 27% of the total income tax bill. If you earn over £41k you lose 52p in every new £1 earned to tax and national insurance, and of course when you spend the 48p you have left you lose 10p of that as VAT. That’s 38p left. Is it really moral to tax these people some more?
The only real answer is wealth generation. Only by having a strong and thriving economy can you create the jobs and income to increase earnings. The Conservatives are the only party that will deliver this. Labour keep banging on about raising corporation tax which is a nonsense of the first water. Put up the tax and drive business away from Britain? Not the brightest plan. Cut corporation tax and attract more business here. Would you like 90% of £1 or 10% of £20?
So I am one of those “C” words, and there are, as of the last election, 11,334,576 of us out there out there. And, like me, they are not evil or self-serving. They didn’t all go to public school. I, for example, was at St Vincent Secondary School in Gosport from 1980-85.
We live in a time of great change and the next few years are going to be challenging for the country as a whole. I know which party is best placed to lead us through it.
Photography by Moshe Tasky.