Jon Bigger has read the Conservative Party manifesto and it contains some very interesting passages on well-known policies and also some terrifying paragraphs on their aims and objectives.
Below I’ve presented a mix of well-known and more obscure elements of their plans. If they win next week we can expect a Johnson government to do some scary stuff.
1. Universal Credit continues
We as Conservatives believe that everyone who can work, should work – and that it should always pay them to do so. But we also believe that those who truly can’t work must be given the help they need. That is why we will continue the roll-out of Universal Credit, which combines multiple benefits into one while building a clearer pathway from welfare into work.
This policy has been an utter shambles. It isn’t just the policy though; it is the sentiment behind the policy. The key assumption here is that many people who claim are not ‘truly’ unable to work. This shows that the Tories are set for another five years of persecuting benefit claimants if they get into power.
2 A Police Covenant
We will put the Police Covenant into law to ensure they have the support they need.
The police covenant is designed to support officers and provide them with higher standing in society. Instead of being considered as employees the law change would ensure that they are seen as holders of the ‘office of constable’. This strengthens their position in proceedings, a situation they already enjoy in court. The covenant will also be used to provide a legal imperative to ensure that officers are well equipped for their ‘office’. It will therefore place an obligation on government to provide such equipment, whatever that may be. Expect it to include a lot of crowd control equipment because it’s a decade since the last major riots; we’re due some soon.
3. Work until you drop
We stand for the people working every hour they can
A simple sentence tucked away on page 25 of the manifesto suggests more than just their headline of “unleashing Britain’s potential”. It hints at their pension policies and the kind of gig economy that has developed over the decade they’ve been in power. The rumours are that they want pension age increases to 75. The reality of Tory Britain isn’t people working every hour they can as if that’s a lifestyle choice; people are working every hour they have just to make ends meet. It’s only going to get worse if they win.
4. Always money for war
We will adapt to new threats, investing more in cybersecurity and setting up the UK’s first Space Command.
We can expect to hear a great deal about the military expansion into space. This is the next level for countries interested in global dominance and the Tories want to ensure that the UK is right there, contributing as much as it can. While the Tories will cut benefits for people and funding for life saving research once again we can see where their priorities lie.
5. They want to make a ton of constitutional changes
In the recent print edition of Freedom I predicted that whatever party forms the next government, we can expect constitutional reform. You can read the online version here. The manifesto states:
After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.
Out of all their plans this is the one that is most chilling. I could get excited for reform of the House of Lords but I expect this will not be radical. It will be about ensuring that the Lords is curtailed further in holding the government to account. I worry that ‘updating’ the Human Rights Act will actually mean watering it down and if that is accompanied with the UK distancing itself from the European Convention on Human Rights then we’re in dangerous territory. Changes to judicial review are designed to prevent the government from ever having to face action in the courts. In a liberal democracy we might expect some judicial oversight of government actions. This appears to be something they want to stop.
The manifesto is short but the implications are huge. The Tories plan an attack on the way the UK is governed, for their own interests of course. The policies I’ve set out show that they will continue their decades long war on our communities, continue to hamper efforts at collective resistance and favour the wealthiest. We knew that before it was published but the devil will be in the detail should they get back into power. Right now these are just words in a barely read manifesto. Soon they could be fleshed out in government action and legislation.
~ Jon Bigger
Pic by Guy Smallman