Category Archives: The blog goes political

Can anyone tell me what Conservative voters want?

I am not a Conservative voter.  Never have been, probably never will be (by “probably” I mean “definitely” while considering the possibility that hell might, one day, freeze over).

However, I do feel that when Theresa May isn’t rubbing her hands in glee, Cruella de Ville-like, at the thought of bringing back fox-hunting, or barking out “Brexit means Brexit” (made-up word with no clear definition means exactly the same made-up word with no clear definition) she’s actually rather good fun.  I can almost convince myself that the knowledge that she stands to gain a landslide majority has sent her a tiny bit bonkers, to the extent that she’s now trolling her own supporters.

The latest evidence of this comes in her manifesto proposal to tackle the problem of funding for elderly social care by, essentially, making people who’ve got the money pay for it, even if that money is tied up in their homes.  And let’s make it clear, she’s not being a heartless, moustache-twirling Victorian villain here.  Elderly people aren’t going to be thrown out onto the streets, the cost of their care will be taken from the sale proceeds when the house is no longer needed.

This has caused considerable consternation among Conservative voters.  Apparently, people who’ve worked all their lives shouldn’t have to spend their savings on the care they need when they’re old.  Clearly I’m missing something here.  I thought the whole idea of saving for your old age was so you’d have the money to pay for the things you need in the aforementioned old age.  Like food, heating, lighting and … social care.  Let’s face it, if you need someone to help you wash and dress in the morning you’re unlikely to be spending your money on round the world cruises.

But this idea hasn’t gone down well with Conservative voters.  According to them, the state should pay for elderly care because they’ve “worked hard and paid our taxes”.  That would be the same state that can’t afford to properly fund the Health Service.  The same taxes that are insufficient to properly fund the Health Service.

As our lifespans increase so does the number of elderly people on the planet.  The elderly have expensive health and social care needs and they deserve to have those needs met.  I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting all elderly people to know that they will live out their lives in comfort and dignity without worrying about what will happen if they become unable to look after themselves.

So how do those complaining about this policy propose we pay for elderly care?  Higher taxes?  Fine by me.  Scrap Trident and put the money to better use?  Bring it on.  Close hospitals and schools, take money from the police and fire services?  Everything has a cost.  Improved government-funded services have to be paid for in higher taxes or reduced spending somewhere else.  Lower taxes have to be paid for in cuts to essential services.  What do Conservative voters want?

If I reach the stage of needing care then I’m happy to contribute towards that care if I have the money.  If I don’t then I hope the state will be able to pay for it. And if I’m a feckless workshy wastrel (which I’m not) well sadly that happens but a civilised society just accepts that some people are like that and looks after them because we moved away from the concept of deserving and undeserving poor long ago.

I’m not a Conservative voter but I’m not sure that I am a good fit with any political party, probably because I’m prepared to acknowledge the merit in Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and sometimes even Conservative policies.  And on this particular issue I have a degree of sympathy with Theresa May.

 

I don’t suppose Amber Rudd is reading this but …

So Theresa May’s Government has scrapped the so-called Dubs Amendment which was designed to allow 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees to enter the UK.  That number will now be capped at a miserly 350.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Home Secretary Amber Rudd claimed that the scheme was “incentivising migration” and acting as a “magnet for people traffickers”.  This is nonsense and I suspect Ms Rudd knows it.

When you go to bed not knowing if your house is going to be bombed during the night, then make a perilous journey to Europe in the hope of a better, safer life, I really don’t think you give a whole lot of consideration to whether you’re going to be allowed into what you see as the Promised Land.  And if you’re a people trafficker, you just take the money – you don’t care that the hope you’re offering is false.

I wonder if this is the sort of Christian message Mrs May learnt from her vicar father?  She, along with Amber Rudd and all the MPs who voted to ditch the Dubs Amendment have shown a brazen disregard for the plight of child refugees which shames us all.

Should Meryl Streep have said that?

I’ve been in love with Meryl Streep since I was 15 and saw her in the US television mini-series “Holocaust”.  She played the part of Inga Helms Weiss, an Aryan woman with a Jewish husband who stood by him and her Jewish in-laws at a time when many Aryan Germans betrayed their former friends and neighbours.  Maybe it was the character I really fell in love with, but there was an integrity in Meryl Streep’s performance which suggested to me that she would behave in the same way if she found herself in Inga’s situation.

Along with two other cast members, Streep won an Emmy for her role, but the series itself faced strong criticism, being accused of trivializing the Holocaust by some survivors.  However, as a 15 year-old with little knowledge of that terrible period of recent history, I was fascinated, horrified and educated.  “Holocaust” affected me in a way nothing on television had ever managed before and probably played some part in making me the person I am today.

Flash forward nearly 40 years, and Meryl Streep received the Cecil B De Mille award at the Golden Globes.  She used the opportunity to make a reasoned, eloquent attack on President Elect Donald Trump.  Her speech was received with rapturous applause, gained widespread media coverage and has been circulated on the internet.  I agree with every word she said.

But I wish she hadn’t said it.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that Donald Trump won the election by appealing to the racist, misogynist, homophobic element in US society.  After all, the ugly extremist views which seek to blame all the world’s ills on anyone different are becoming more prevalent in Europe just as they are in the US.  But how does this explain the existence of groups like “Women for Trump”, “Muslims for Trump”, “Hispanics for Trump” and “Gays for Trump”?

The unpalatable truth is that while Donald Trump did indeed exploit any prejudice he thought might bring people to his cause, what he did even more effectively was to tap into a resentment among many US citizens towards being told what to think by rich liberals.  So effective was this strategy that he actually succeeded in winning the votes of many members of groups he simultaneously marginalised in his campaign speeches.

When Meryl Streep made her heartfelt, eloquent, beautifully-delivered speech at the Golden Globes, she became one of the rich liberals telling people what to think.  Trump’s supporters took no time in pointing this out only for members or the so-called liberal elite to hit back.  The end result can only be a widening of the existing divisions in US society, the knock-on effects of which will no doubt affect all of us.

I don’t think that’s what Meryl Streep wanted.

So am I saying she should have just kept quiet?  Do I believe a Hollywood star should stick to acting and keep her political views to herself?  Not at all, but maybe a glittering, celebrity-loaded occasion is not the right time to criticise someone who is seen as a hero by many less-privileged people.  To truly stand any chance of influencing people, it is important to meet them where they are, to at least give the impression of understanding what matters to them.  This is why Donald Trump, even when caught out repeatedly in lies and misrepresentations, succeeded so spectacularly.

And why Meryl Streep, for all her honesty, sincerity and integrity, may have done more harm than good.