By Tommy Sheridan
Detailed analysis of the effect of Tory austerity policies on the lives of ordinary folk across the dis-United Kingdom were produced last week https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/06/new-tax-year-personal-allowance-benefits-national-insurance-pensions?CMP=share_btn_link and reminded me of one of the best statements in one of the best films I have ever had the pleasure of watching. ‘Brassed Off’ (1996) is a film which brilliantly illustrates the human cost of the war Thatcher and the Tories waged on the miners in 1984/85.
The Tories rejoiced in the industrial vandalism they presided over, the rampant poverty and inequality they caused and the millions of hopes and dreams they crushed as millions were thrown out of well-paid and secure jobs to feed their monetarist ideology and finance capital over industry philosophy. They destroyed coal mining and manufacturing industry as a whole throughout the decade and a half they were in office (1979-1997) and drove unemployment up from one million to over three million. The film should be shown in every school and discussed as part of the essential social studies syllabus.
Phil is a character played by the excellent Stephen Tompkinson in ‘Brassed Off’. He is a coal miner whose pit is going through the process of being selected for closure. Like millions of ordinary households they are mired in debt and his wife is pressurising him to accept the redundancy money rather than fight the pit closure as it would provide some short term financial relief. Phil is a proud man and he and his coal miner father (played by the sublime but sadly departed Pete Postlethewaite) are determined to fight on for the pit and the Grimley Colliery Band his dad organises. Some members can no longer afford the band dues and the fear is they won’t be able to play in the UK Band Championship in London. The survival of the pit and the band are intertwined.
To try and make ends meet Phil takes on a second job as ‘Chuckles’ the clown and hires himself out to children’s birthday parties. As the debt burden grows heavier and causes more stress, anxiety and family tension Phil, dressed as Chuckles, reflects sagely on life and the origin of the Tory Party:
“So God was creating man. And his little assistant came up to him and he said: “Hey, we’ve got all these bodies left, but we’re right out of brains, we’re right out of hearts and we’re right out of vocal chords.” And God said: “Fuck it! Sew ’em up anyway. Smack smiles on the faces and make them talk out of their arses.” And lo, God created the Tory Party” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115744/characters/nm0867017.
It is a truism of Tory rule that the rich always get richer while the poor always get shafted. Chuckles called it 100% correct when he explained the genesis of the Tory party. They exist to defend the rank and privileges of the rich and powerful. Everything they do and say is dedicated to promoting the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the working class. Whatever misdemeanours you commit in life please don’t ever sink so low that you vote Tory.
Think about it, voting Tory is akin to death. When you are dead you don’t know you are dead. The pain and suffering is felt by others. The same thing happens when you vote Tory. The Tories are just like snow. They cover everything up and lie everywhere.
Hate is a strong word and we should try and avoid getting personal but I cannot hide the fact I hate the Tory Party as an institution and political project. They stand for inequality, poverty, illegal wars, low wages and scapegoating of immigrants and/or benefit recipients whenever it suits them to deflect from their woeful economic incompetence.
Across the UK today over 4 million are being raised in poverty. Over 1 million families rely on food banks each week for survival. Homelessness is at record levels and now stalks over 320,000 citizens. The number of premature deaths linked to the combined damage caused by the cruel, cold and callous benefit cuts; the disastrous universal credit roll out; and the benefits sanctions regime introduced by the Tories as the heart of their austerity programme stands at 120,000.
The Tories don’t just murder innocent civilians with bombs in Libya, Syria and Yemen they also murder folk through harsh and heartless austerity measures.
Heartless Tories stood with tears in their eyes as Big Ben was silenced for repairs but showed inhuman indifference when Grenfell Tower caught fire and wiped out the lives of 72 residents and injured over 230 others.
Theresa May and her Conservative conmen whipped up a frenzy of fear and resentment over immigration to blind people from the real cause of low pay, housing shortages and NHS waiting lists. It is Tory policies of tax cuts for the rich but bedroom tax for the poor, slashing public services expenditure but spending more on nuclear weapons and illegal wars which leads to housing shortages, hospital waiting lists and increased poverty.
Immigrants don’t cause poverty and low pay they are the victims of poverty and low pay. The creation of a ‘hostile environment’ is what led to hundreds of families who had lived and worked in the UK since 1948, the ‘Windrush Generation’, being threatened with and suffering deportations.
In every aspect of life the Tories are incompetent or criminally complicit for multi-billion pound corporations paying little or no taxes, the Carillion collapse which cost the tax payer £148 million https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44383224 and creating the conditions necessary for the wholesale future privatisation of the NHS https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/naylor-report-tory-nhs-privatisation-healthcare-flog-off-conservatives-theresa-may-election-2017-a7766326.html.
The debase nature of the Conservative Party is not new. In fact it is entirely consistent throughout their history. After experiencing the harshness of life under the Tories prior to 1945 the Labour politician credited most with the introduction of the ground breaking and life changing National Health Service, Nye Bevan, chose his words carefully on the eve of the birth of the NHS on July 1948 when he addressed a rally in Manchester:
“That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. But, I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now. Do not listen to the seductions of Lord Woolton. He is a very good salesman. If you are selling shoddy stuff you have to be a good salesman. But I warn you they have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse than they were” https://tidesofhistory.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/lower-than-vermin-the-story-of-bevans-quote-that-lives-on/.
Those words are as applicable today as they were in 1948. The Tories as an institution and political party continue to be ‘lower than vermin’ in my eyes. Never trust them, never vote for them and never support them. As council elections loom in England and Wales and European elections are poised to take place on May 23rd across the UK remind yourself what the Tories stand for and resolve to oppose them all the time until your dying breath.