There is a delicious irony in the fact that the Boy, who has done everything he can to position himself in the political centre, abandoning a raft of traditional Conservative beliefs in the process, should be so undone by his transformation in the public mind into a sleazy Nob, a Top Hat Tory of Dickensian traditionality, by the 50p tax and Cruddas events. Hugging the huskies fades rapidly from the public mind and instead Cameron stands exposed as the little rich boy taking care of his chums and lining his pockets. Meanwhile, traditional Tories are looking to a UKIP manifesto that includes
- Economy - Low tax; flat rate 31% with NI abolished
- Education - School vouchers, abolish OFSTED, support Grammars
- Defence - Spend an extra 1% of GDP, increase army and naval strength, cut Whitehall
- Nationality - Promote uniculturalism, oppose the apartheid system of 'multiculturalism'
- Immigration - Strict immigration controls, safer borders
- Direct democracy - Support triggers for local and national referenda
- Energy - Expand nuclear, end subsidies for wind
- GM foods - compulsory labelling
- Liberty - Defend personal liberty from the State
- Localism - Greater powers locally, less Whitehall control
Nothing there about Health or Welfare, but I daresay UKIP will distance themselves from State nannying and the alcohol price debacle, a move that the IFS estimate will benefit the drinks industry by £850m a year and the consumer not at all. And as Sam Leith pointed out in yesterday's Standard;
If drinks in a club are a fiver a pop, as Lansley pointed out before his conversion, you don’t stop people “pre-loading” at home by sticking a quid or two on a bottle of off-licence vodka. And statistically it is neither the young nor the poor — demonised though they are and targeted by this measure though they will be — whose drinking is the real problem.
We drink not because it’s cheap but because we like it. We drink because we got started and — look! a wrap of speed! —and what the hell, in for a penny. We drink because the agony and tedium of living in this crappy little island is alleviated, and always has been, by our deep rooted traditions of getting plastered and putting a bar stool through a bus shelter. I’d advise Andrew Lansley, if he hasn’t already, to take it up.