Sunday, October 19, 2003

I don't want to buy your new honest Tories

As the shit storm about Iain Duncan Smith's wife being paid by the state to be his secretary, after the tax payer was already shelling out £121,000 a year for his salary as leader of the Opposition and he had the services of the party machine to answer his phone calls, brews up, a very curious phenomenon has appeared. That is the mysterious appearance of a whole volley of Mrs DS' supposed "friends from the school run" writing oddly similar letters to the press. (We shall, obviously, recall that the Conservatives' main argument in the great debate is that they are utterly free from "promises and spin".) Strangely enough they all seem to include the phrase "Crick thinks answering the phone in an office (with a skinny latte from Starbucks it took you half an hour to collect, in one version) counts as work but taking a call while cooking pasta for 10 doesn't". Now this would be all well and good if it wasn't so vilely hypocritical. Apart from the frantic spinning of the Tory-wife kitsch, we have to put up with the idea that grabbing as much public money as your well-heeled manners will permit is some kind of laudable feminist statement. Balls. BDS, as I suppose we have to call her, does and will never know anything about struggling - she was born rich and has got richer. It's typical of the Conservatives that the Duncan Smiths (TDSs?) found it necessary to grab the extra £18,000, and even more typical of the party of Peter Lilley ("I've got a little list/Of single mothers who get pregnant/just to jump the housing list")
to claim this as a blow against patriarchal injustice.

Equally, it's classically Tory to go on and on and - axewieldingly, acid in the woundly, desperate smackheadly - ON about something called spin which, we are supposed to believe, was invented overnight by Peter Mandelson (gay! Jewish! pro-European!) and Alastair Campbell (weirdly, it already seems odd to type the words) in May, 1997 whereas British politics before that instant had been so many repetitions of Gladstone's Midlothian campaign - whilst dragging out God knows how many utterly obscure women to pen paeans to the Leader's wife as a means of relieving their latest leadership crisis. Spin? Not a jot. Neither was there in the personalised e-mail I got from a conservative friend recently, which started off as if written by human hand but turned out to be a top-and-tail job on a standard Central Office newsletter, complete with the ritual announcement that "the Liberal Democrats are being investigated for false advertising".

Now this is too much. Trading Standards authorities, who the Tories will claim are doing the investigation if you press them, police such legislation as the Sale of Goods Act, the Trades Descriptions Act, Consumer Credit Act, and the Weights and Measures Regulations. I do not see that voting for a political party means engaging in a contract for the supply of goods or services. A contract must involve obligations on both parties and a consideration. Do the Tories really promote paying for votes? It's a myth. It's a lie. It is purest spin.

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