In October 1990, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave a speech to the Conservative Party conference that, with a few tweaks, is as relevant today as it was then. Labour’s vision has been shattered. Beneath its contrived self-confidence lies a growing certainty that the world and history have passed it by; and that if Britain rejects them yet again, as I believe it will, socialism must return for ever to its proper place — the reading room of the British Library where Karl Marx found it, Section: History of Ideas, Subsection 19th Century, Status Archaic.
Last night, I seemed to hear a strange sound emanating from Brighton. And I thought at first it was seagulls. Then I remembered that Labour was holding its annual Conference there. And I realised it wasn’t seagulls, it was chickens— chickens being counted before they were hatched.
Then, I heard voices getting all worked up about someone they kept calling the “Prime Minister in Waiting”. I’ll tell you this, “that man” is going to trip over his promises in the rush if he’s not careful.
There is his promise, for example, not to cut taxes “for many years to come.”
That’s the one Labour promise it’s safe to believe. Indeed the Shadow Chancellor was being unduly modest. He wouldn’t cut taxes ever. Why?
Because he’s a socialist—and they just don’t like the idea. In government, they put taxes up and in opposition, they fight our proposals to bring taxes down.
And taxes would go up and up if Labour spends as much of your money as they’ve promised. But they say “we’re reformed characters, next time it will be different, we’ve paid our debt to society.” If that were true, it would be the first ever debt Labour has ever paid.
We Conservatives say that society must be protected from such a persistent offender and a sentence of ten years in opposition is nowhere near enough.
Then Labour say they’re going to introduce “freedom and fairness” in trade union law.
In other words, freedom to force their members out on strike against their will. Freedom to organise secondary strikes against third party employers, other workers and the general public. And freedom to give wings to flying pickets to go round the country and bring it to a halt.
Those aren’t freedoms. They’re powers to hurt others; and there’s nothing fair about them.
For years council after council has been hijacked by socialist extremists. The residents wanted litter-free zones, but what they got was nuclear-free zones. What Labour wants is for local authorities to be accountable not to the citizen but to its own Left-wing. No wonder Labour councillors don’t want it.
Then there’s this plan of Labour’s for smaller, more de-centralised government—which would contain two brand new ministries, a couple of new departments of state, nine different bodies in each region, a hundred new committees, heaven knows how many councils and commissions on top, and a great herd of quangos thundering up Whitehall. A mere 2015 new bureaucratic bodies in all.
It’s the oldest law of politics: government tends to expand and socialist government expands absolutely.
I could go on for hours quoting from Labour’s lexicon of logical contradictions. There is its pledge to cut emissions of carbon dioxide—by burning more coal. And its promise to improve educational standards—by phasing out tests.
But the really remarkable thing about Labour is, they want you to swallow that they’re now a party of moderation.
Labour’s Brighton Conference is the amateur dramatics of the season, a grand masquerade at which militants and trots peeped out from behind a painted smile. The audience had learnt its lines. The rehearsals had gone splendidly. John McDonnell gave a dazzling performance as Mr Moderation.
Alas, on the night, the extras got everything mixed up and voted the wrong way to emasculate defence, to bump up public spending, to ditch our electoral system, and to deselect moderate MPs.
The audience applauded like mad. Only Dennis Skinner remained glued to his seat. The theatre of the absurd was clearly not for him.
Well, they can produce all the assurances in the world. They can say that they never read their own manifestos or understood their own speeches.
But there’s one thing they can’t do. They can’t tell the nation why it should trust a Party whose only claim to office is that it has ditched its principles, disguised its policies and denied its past. And when a party does that, how could anyone trust its promises for the future?