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When Theresa May took over from David Cameron last summer, she attempted to portray herself and her Government as a unifying and moderate force for good.
She wanted people to believe that her Government was going to be different to the one under Cameron and Osborne. Her spin machine even tried to suggest (against all the evidence before and since) that they would move away from the hardline cuts agenda. But whilst May has talked of a ‘shared society,’ research shows her Government’s programme would lead to the biggest rises in inequality since Margaret Thatcher.
Now, with the General Election on 8 June, there are again attempts to portray May as a modern, socially liberal ‘compassionate Conservative’ Prime Minister. The inconvenient truth for her though is that her parliamentary voting record and her actions as Home Secretary, then Prime Minister, tell a very different story.
The idea that she is a modern, socially liberal ‘compassionate Conservative’ is absurd. Her attitude towards LGBT rights alone gives the lie to that preposterous assertion. In 1998 she voted against equalising the age of consent, and in 2000 voted against the repeal of section 28. In 2001 AND 2002 she voted against gay couples jointly adopting children. Then in 2008 she voted in favour of a bill which said that the IVF rights should require a male role model, effectively discriminating against lesbian fertility rights.
She also voted against the hunting ban in both March 2002 and June 2003, which suggests she will facilitate the hard Right lobby’s desire to legalise this barbaric activity if the Tories win the election.
She was also a leading figure in backing some of the most unpopular economic and public service policies of the ConDem Coalition years. In December 2010 she voted to triple university tuition fees to £9,000 followed by votes in favour of the hated bedroom tax, and to support the privatisation of Royal Mail.
If you were concerned about how quickly our Prime Minister endorsed Trump’s military adventures, it is worth remembering that in March 2003 she voted for the disastrous US-led invasion of Iraq, a war which not only made us less safe, but also greatly damaged Britain’s international reputation. Let us not forget either that Jeremy Corbyn was a leading opponent of the war, reflecting the view of the majority of British people.
In power, May has shown that she is very far from being a socially liberal ‘compassionate Conservative’. As Home Secretary her first act was to ensure that public bodies no longer have to actively try to reduce inequality. The notorious ‘Go home’ vans were on her watch, so perhaps it was no surprise that in 2015 she claimed that immigration made it “impossible to build a cohesive society”.
Last year saw the hard Right setting the Tory policy agenda when she said that the UK should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, whatever the result of the EU referendum.
The alarming fact is that as Tory leader, Theresa May has moved the Conservative Party to the hard Right, aping UKIP’s line on immigration and proposing a ‘hard Brexit’. The fact that a ‘hard Brexit’ will deeply damage our economy is disregarded because her demonstrable priority is to appease the hard Right. Central to this rightward shift has been an anti-foreigner discourse. This has led to policies such as lists of foreign workers being floated, and EU nationals living in Britain being shamefully treated as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiating process.
If Theresa May’s ideologically-driven Tory Government is re-elected it will lead to a deepening divide in our country with a proliferation in poverty and soaring inequality.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can vote to win back the future by electing a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Government.