The Tories are not a progressive party

It’s little wonder Eric Pickles is trying to persuade Liberal Democrats to vote for him; we’ve been winning council seats off the Conservatives in his constituency and he’s obviously rattled.

The Tory Chairman says liberal democracy is “part of the Conservative family”, but I’m certain I’m no part of his family. His flawed view of history is matched only by his arrogance in assuming that he’s got the General Election in the bag and can now order people to vote for him.

Let’s remember, the Conservatives are the party that opposed social welfare in 1909 and the creation of the NHS forty years later. They opposed placing sanctions on racist South Africa under Margaret Thatcher and appeased ethnic cleansing in Bosnia under John Major. They began the erosion of the right to protest in 1986, introduced the homophobic Section 28 two years later and campaigned in the last election to banish refugees to an imaginary island.

Mr Pickles says that the country now needs strong leadership that will bring fresh ideas; I couldn’t agree more. Sadly the only fresh ideas David Cameron has are for new publicity stunts. This week Vince Cable outlined fresh thinking on where tens of billions of pounds of public spending cuts can be made, including difficult decisions on pensions and family tax credits. The best Mr Cameron can come up with is an increase in the price of MPs’ salads.

Nick Clegg today outlined fresh thinking on how we can turn around the war in Afghanistan. David Cameron hasn’t the courage to speak out about the war; all he’s done is let cameras “accidentally” film him telling William Hague he was a bit worried about it.

Mr Pickles highlights the Tories’ opposition to 42 days’ detention – but forgets to say his party refused to back Lib Dem moves to reduce that to 14 days. He says the Tories opposed ID Cards. In reality the party has flip flopped from one side of the debate to the other. Indeed their Home Affairs spokesman Chris Grayling, and their former Leader Michael Howard both tried to introduce ID Cards long before the Government did.

Mr Pickles has the gall to describe the Liberal Democrats as a “road block to progress”. Maybe he has forgotten our recent success in forcing the Government to commit to reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050? Or how we led the way winning settlement rights for Gurkhas, on breaking up our casino banks or on giving people the right to sack their MP if they do something seriously wrong.

At the next election, Liberal Democrats will work unashamedly to persuade Labour voters that the only strong progressive force in British politics is now the Liberal Democrats. Equally, we will work to persuade Conservative voters that theirs is now a shallow husk of a party that wouldn’t know a belief if it got up and hit them on the nose. All this talk about being progressive, and caring about the environment is just a sham. They’ll say anything to anyone.The Tories are not a progressive party no matter how many times they repeat the word. The evidence to the contrary is clear.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Alix Mortimer 18th Sep '09 - 9:13pm

    I was worried right up to the point where he said “Put your trust in David Cameron.”

    Fail on so many levels. Our Glorious Leader Himself wouldn’t get away with taking that tone with a bunch of liberals, can’t imagine why Pickles thought he might.

  • Well said Danny. The arrogance of Eric Pickles is breathtaking. Something tells me he’s in for a rude awakening when the General Election comes round and they’ve not taken a single seat off us…

  • David Heigham 18th Sep '09 - 10:09pm

    Once upon a time, I thought Eric Pickles might be quite comfortable among the more traditional Liberals if he did not suffer from strong family feeling for the Tories. But when I saw him talking about MPs expenses, I realised that he is on a fundamentally differnt wavelength.

    Undoubtedly, he is one of the more competent Tories; but in the current LibDem Parliamentary Party wouldn’t he look inadequate, as well as a fish out of water?.

    Is the current Tory Party progressive? At least its leadership is less regressive than New Labour; but you cannot say even that about the Tory membership.

  • Terry Gilbert 20th Sep '09 - 8:57am

    The Tories are the roadblock, and have been since at least 1688. They opposed William of Orange, the Great Reform Act, the People’s Budget, the NHS, and vitually every other progressive measure you can think of, unless and until it had been established for decades, and they were forced to accept it like a dose of foul tasting medicine or face extinction. The very name they adopted in the mid 19th century – Conservatives – shows that they are the very antithesis of social progress.
    Any slight tinge of progressivism they currently exhibit is merely window dressing, designed to cover up the fact that they all worked desperately hard as twenty-somethings to make sure Thatcher and her crew got to implement her savage policies in the late 1980s and keep them in the early 1990s.
    In conclusion, Mr Pickles is a charlatan if he thinks he will attract anyone who has been a Liberal Democrat for more than five minutes.

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