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Conservative conference: Robert Halfon admits: ‘I envy socialists’

8 October 2012

The Conservative leadership is just starting to tap in to the idea that the next election will be about the ‘strivers’, but Robert Halfon and Priti Patel know all too well from their Essex constituencies that what Halfon calls ‘white van conservatism’ is a key battleground. At last night’s Institute of Economic Affairs, the two MPs explained how the Conservatives needed to talk about the cost of living for the ordinary family in order to win in 2015. Halfon outlined how difficult that project was, saying:

‘I wish I was a socialist and the reason for that is if you are a socialist, you have a simple message.’

He said that even though Conservatives were interested in the same matters as the socialists in terms of tackling inequality, their message was not as easy to explain. But one area where the government isn’t helping itself in its appeal to strivers is by ‘bashing the public sector’, Halfon said. Because 30 per cent of union members vote Conservative, he explained, the party needed to stop viewing the unions as an automatic enemy. This will come as a great disappointment to some ministers who take some delight in ‘engaging’ with the unions, and is also curiously timed: Francis Maude is speaking to conference this afternoon, and is expected to give further details about his plan to crack down on trade union ‘pilgrims’ – civil servants who also work as trade union officials.

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  • Hexhamgeezer

    Halfon is totally wrong.
    The socialist message is not simpler.
    The BBC filter through which a right and left message must pass before it reaches the populace leaves the left’s message untouched and the right one bent, distorted, and clouded.
    Like campylobacter through a colon, socialism is given a clear run through the body politic.

  • Nick Kaplan

    Anyone calling himself a conservative yet saying that they think inequality is something that the government ought to ‘do something’ about, has either failed to understand the word conservative or else is very confused about equality. Only someone with totalitarian instincts, a prurient interest in other people’s business and a dog-in-the-manger envy of other people’s success (i.e. a socialist) could possibly believe in the procrustean ideals of egalitarianism. Conservatives really must learn to distinguish the perfectly humane desire to tackle poverty from the intellectual poison that is egalitarianism. All the latter has ever achieved and will ever result in is death and destruction on a hitherto unimagined scale.

  • Daniel Maris

    I don’t know of any free country that doesn’t have free trade unions. Any democratic party should embrace them.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    So let’s get this right.. Halfon is the ‘face’ of the campaign against the horrendous cost of fuel. 60% of fuel cost is taxation. To seriously reduce the cost of fuel back to reasonable levels (without punishing tax payers otherwise) will require a significant reduction in tax revenues which in turn would mean a significant reduction in public sector spending. Who is going to oppose that? The Trade Unions.

    For Halfon to achieve his stated goals he will have to defeat the Unions. He cannot do that and be nice to them as well. Oh for the days when Conservative politicians did not equivocate, obfuscate and dither and had the courage of their convictions. The Tory party really does need to find itself a backbone!

    He’s right though its easy to be a socialist. After all anyone can lie and promise what they can never realistically hope to deliver.

    • telemachus

      I salute your analogy of the Tories as invertebrate worms
      Count them one by one
      You can imagine them wriggling and writhing while true thinkers put together a growth plan to get the country back on its feet

  • james102

    I do hope he means equality of opportunity rather than the
    fallacy of proportionate outcomes which has been enshrined in law.

  • Nick

    Very simple solution.

    1. Publish all the debts.
    2. Send everyone a statement of their share.

    Hmmm. What will Mr Average do when they discover that they owe 240,000 grand, the majority of which the government has hidden.

    Delay publishing and they will blame the Tories.

    Publish now, and Labour will get the blame.

    In either case, the public won’t support more debt.

    • Daniel Maris

      I wouldn’t disagree with that approach. We need more transparency in government. But it should go with (as Daniel Hannan says) much more referendum based democracy.

      We also need transparency on tax. The public will be shocked to know how little tax the super-rich pay.

      • james102

        More direct democracy is the answer and we have the technology,
        but we also have a professional political class that will never give up power.

  • Vulture

    Strivers? Please don’t make me vomit. The only thing that Cameron and his pals have ever had to strive for is the corner table at the Ivy. He is pure plastIc fakery personified.
    If you want to see what Cameron is really like behind the mask, just read Steerpike’s column in the current Speccie.
    They say personalities don’t matter in politics, but from someone as personally poisonous as he, no good will ever come.

    • james102

      A lot of this is to do with the personality types attracted
      to politics.

      We need more direct democracy to weaken the power of the
      political class but obviously turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

    • McRobbie

      So you prefer ed millionaire, one of the backroom team of the biggest liar and imposter in british politics (next to blair). He of the “end of boom and bust” economic guru style, selling our gold, destroying private pensions. ed the nod and his balls up still have to answer for that and the “there’s no money left” parting giggle from labour.
      Cameron is a shining beacon of openness and honesty compared to the current and recent past labour lot.

      • Vulture

        Not at all, I’d prefer a Tory. And I’m not alone. According to Con Home half the current dwindling membership of the Tory party are dissatisfied with Dave.
        The same number have left the party since this faux Conservative fraud took over.
        However its all a bit academic.
        It doesn’t matter a damn whether Ed, Nick or Dave is in No. 10: they have no power, which resides in Brussels and we are no long living in a free country. And dave has made it perfectly clear that he’s not going to change that.

        • Baron

          Vulture, quite, on both of your postings.

          and this

          What does everyone remember of Lady T? She had many an iron in the fire, but the way she dealt with the unions has stayed in everyone’s mind, right? So what will the boy be remembered by? Nothing, zilch, big blank.

          Baron would show more understanding for the boy’s striving (what with the confused lot messing things up) if he were to go for one single thing that irks, pushed it to the end, like for inst. the quangoes. Anyone recalls the promise of a bonfire? Arghhh

      • Baron

        McRobbie, sir, one would be hard put to measure the gap in openness and honesty between any of the top politicians, it’s thinner than Rizzla paper, what’s unarguably true, however, that the boy has performed so many U-turns h’d better move to a roundabout. The guy’s conviction-less, no broad vision of where he wants to country to be in the years ahead, nibbling at the edges of the disastrous legacy of the Red lot won’t do it.

  • Coffeehousewall

    Is everything reduced to gaining power at the next election, or does actually doing something conservative ever come into it?

    Everything is appearance and PR. Nothing is real. The media connives at this, the Spectator plays the same game.

    • HooksLaw

      Grow up

      • William Blakes Ghost

        May I congratulate you on such a ‘mature’ put down. Is that the sound of stones smashing through glass that I hear?

        • telemachus

          The vicar would not hear

  • Ian Walker

    Einstein’s definition of stupidity was repeating an experiment and expecting different results. I think that given the number of failed attempts at socialism around the world over the last century, we can therefore comfortably label all socialists as stupid.

    It’s a nice idea, it just doesn’t actually work, primarily because the principle of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ always comes into play.

    • Sweetpea

      However, Einstein espoused socialism and claimed that capitalism was a source of evil, a “predatory phase of human development”.

    • telemachus

      What puzzles me is that the essence of Christianity is the socialist creed
      This extended to Christendom(Europe) and is hence the very basis of our society and existence
      And yet there are goons walking around in Birmingham who seek to deny it

      • Coffeehousewall

        Socialism is not Christian at all. It denies that people have to take responsibility for themselves or others and outsources it to the state. That is not Christianity.

      • Ian Walker

        If it helps, I would comfortably label all Christians as stupid as well; in fact I’ll extend it to anyone who wants to live their life according to what a semi-mythical figure said centuries ago about a completely mythical figure.

  • HooksLaw

    Its a fair point – the socialist message is that there is always someone else to take responsibility, someone else to blame, someone else to provide.

    • james102

      Well someone has provided the Blairs with a lot.Mandelson is
      hardly on his last few pounds/Euros either—and the Kinnocks…

    • telemachus

      Someone to care
      Someone to inspire
      Someone who understands

      • james102

        The Blairs, the Kinnocks and the rest certainly understand
        how to make money. Have you ever driven past their house? Armed police everywhere.
        A pig when you are trying to avoid Edgware Road.

        The Blairs make Cameron look like a pauper. .

        • telemachus

          But they still cared

          • Baron

            Of course they cared, about themselves, hence the houses, millions in their bank accounts, right?

            • telemachus

              Yes they cared
              They produced the longest period of sustained growth in 100 years
              They then invested in improved health care for all and a better safety net forvthecdlisadvantaged

              • Baron

                telemachus, sir, Baron has replied, whoever controls the input decided not to take the reply in, sorry, mu blogging friend, Baron cannot be bothered any more.

                • telemachus

                  PS Are you Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen’s comic persona (an airheaded Austrian gay fashionista )

          • Fergus Pickering

            What did the Blairs care about? Getting rich, I think, and they certainly managed that.

      • El_Sid

        You don’t want a political party, you want a personal Jesus

      • Hexhamgeezer

        What Eurovision ditty are those lines from?

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