In her final speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Prime Minister Theresa May seemed to get very confused, launching an attack on her own party’s record.
The attack was multifaceted, criticising a number of aspects of the six years of Tory rule in which, awkwardly, May herself was a key player. (Remember that she was Home Secretary throughout David Cameron’s premiership.)
The first prong of the assault was as follows:
Our society should work for everyone, but if you can’t afford to get onto the property ladder, or your child is stuck in a bad school, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.
Considering that Conservative governance has helped to cause the current housing crisis and cripple our education system, this represents an admission of the failings of her own party.
The housing crisis
Currently, if you earn the national average salary of £26,500, 91% of houses in England and Wales would be beyond your income. This is not an unfortunate fact of life, as May seems to make out in her speech, but the result of a government that has not built enough social housing and has allowed house prices to skyrocket well above people’s income.
Plans announced at the conference to spend £5bn investing in housing projects do not nearly go far enough. The schemes will reportedly yield 40,000 new homes by 2020, meaning an extra 13,000 per year. In 2014, just 118,760 houses were completed, while in 2015 the figure was 142,890. Add the extra homes proposed at the conference to either of these numbers and it still falls well short. The government’s own recommended target for annual building is 300,000 to help solve the housing crisis.
Crucially, just building houses will not solve the housing crisis. If the new houses are too pricey, they will only exacerbate it because, without affordability, increasing supply only takes up space that could be used for genuine affordable housing. Under Cameron, the Conservatives redefined affordable as £450,000 in London and £250,000 in the rest of England.
Not only has May attacked her own party’s record, she has also failed to provide any solutions.
A quick look at the extent of Tory austerity and readers can see why their children might be at a “bad school”.
- From 2010, the Tories began to cut the education budget by 25%.
- This is ongoing. Secondary schools are facing the sharpest cuts to funding since the 1970s. By 2020, 7% less will be spent on each pupil.
May’s speech was an admission of the failings of six years of Conservative rule. And it didn’t stop at housing and education.
Moving on to kick her own party’s record on wages, she said:
Our economy should work for everyone, but if your pay has stagnated for several years in a row and fixed items of spending keep going up, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.
Under Conservative rule, UK real term wages have fallen by 10.4% from 2007 to 2015. This figure is only matched by the economic calamity that is Greece. Over in Germany, workers have enjoyed a 13.9% increase.
Meanwhile, the super-rich have quite literally doubled their wealth since the economic crisis.
As if all that wasn’t enough of a swing at herself and her allies, May continued:
Our democracy should work for everyone, but if you’ve been trying to say things need to change for years and your complaints fall on deaf ears, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.
The Conservatives preside over the first-past-the-post voting system which saw 22 million votes wasted in 2015. Safe seats meant the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) predicted who won in 363 of 368 seats, a month before polling day.
But it is not just the voting system that means people’s voices are ignored. The Conservatives also ignored teachers when they tried to force all secondary schools in England to become academies; ignored doctors when they tried to force a new contract upon them; and ignored disabled people when they forced through even more deep cuts to their support.
Surprisingly, May used her closing speech at the conference to rip her own party’s record to shreds.
Quite embarrassing for the new Prime Minister, really.
You can watch the Prime Minister’s final conference speech here:
– Check out the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and find a local group!
Featured image via Youtube screenshot
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