The Conservative civil war took a new turn this week. After a turbulent five days we have experienced a budget disproportionately affecting disabled people, a quiet man roaring and a Chancellor whose leadership bid lies in tatters. Who could ever say that politics is a slow and uneventful business?
We believe that one core responsibility of H.M. Government is to provide for those that cannot fend for themselves. Whilst balancing of the books is incredibly important – a government should be regarded as any individual, only spend the money you have – disabled people should not find themselves being undermined in this fashion. Noises coming from the Treasury are indicating that these changes might be postponed, but the damage is already done. The image of compassionate conservatism has been tainted, and George Osborne has to take responsibility for this damage.
Many of Osborne’s colleagues in the House of Commons are, understandably, uncomfortable with the proposed changes to the Personal Independence Payments (PIP). By reducing the support to disabled people the government would undermine the underlying notion of PIP – providing independence and empowerment. This is an unacceptable move and provoked the shock resignation of one of Britain’s most decisive figures, the Works & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
Much can, and has, been said about Duncan Smith and his welfare reform. It is easy to demonise him, however maybe unfairly. If one explores his background in welfare accutane for cheap reform, one should not forget that this man is a part of a rare breed of politicians nowadays – conviction politicians. His genuine belief that his reforms are for the better for disabled and disenfranchised people should be applauded.
The budget also brought other changes that are noteworthy. The philosophy underlying the introduction of the ‘sugar tax’ – tackling an increasingly overweight population – is correct, the means through which it is dealt with is not. Evidence from across the world has shown that similar taxes – be that on sugar or fat – are by and large useless. It disproportionately affects the poorest in our society and is unlikely to yield the effects we desperately need. Time to revisit already?
At the end of the day, the budget has become a likely watershed for British politics in the latter half of the first decade in the 21st Century. The last thing the Conservative Party need at the moment is further causes of internal division. The Tory civil war is waiting in the wings and this budget is only pouring gasoline onto the flames. Less than one year into its term the government has caused tremendous damage to its credibility as a ‘compassionate’ Conservative government. Four years remain of the term and with a Labour Party in tatters the damage is unlikely to be overwhelming, unless your name is George Osborne.