The Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative Party conference really did change the tone. It indeed had a centrist, catch-all feel to it, with Cameron emphasising just as much, if not more, on social justice and equality as on their “long term economic plan”. You could even say it was almost comforting as he tried with all his might to rally the entire country behind the Tories. And quite a clever move too, after the election of Corbyn to Labour leader, the centre ground seems a little bare (when was the last time you heard something about the Lib Dems?). However as we all know, actions speak louder than words—to properly judge a party means to look at what it’s actually doing, not to fall blindly in love with its rhetoric.
This is a party whose policies comprise of strangling public services and continuously selling off large parts of the State to the highest bidder, taking away financial aid for those at the bottom and cutting tax rates to those at the top. No matter your political affiliation, these anti-interventionist and individualist policies are firmly grounded in right-wing territory. Coming across as the country’s main common-sense centrist party is a way of establishing their ideology of austerity and privatisation as a universal norm, but we can’t let ourselves be hypnotised into thinking that this is the only single path towards a better future.
“Quite a clever move too, after the election Corbyn to Labour leader, centre ground seems a little bare (when was the last time you heard of the Lib Dems?)”
And that’s what we need to realise. Despite how unifying Cameron’s conference speech may have come across as, the Conservatives remain a party ever edging to the right. They’re no more centrist, in reality, than Corbyn’s Labour is. The sort of social equality Cameron talks about in his speech—equality of opportunity regarding ethnicity, sexuality, gender or disability—cannot be taken as a criterion for establishing a political party’s stance in today’s politics, because across the board, we all agree more or less that discriminating upon one of these criteria is absolutely ludicrous.
So if we strip it all back, what are we left with? Exactly the same thing as we’ve had for the last five years: unrelenting frontbenchers implementing unpopular policies in the drive towards their ideological goal, a reduction in the size of the State and the role it plays in everyday life. It’s for this reason that Cameron and friends aren’t going to make an effort to move into the centre ground that New Labour’s absence has left behind, but instead they’re simply going to tell us that their way is moderate, that their way is the only way, and that they’re the only people who can deliver to us a prosperous future. But we know better than to believe politicians, right?
In essence, the idea that the Conservatives have embraced some new-found radical centralism is so wrong its quite literally right(wing)!