Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Done up like a Kipper

It's the Conservative Party conference, and the major theme that seems to be emerging (aside from the usual persecution of the unemployed and working poor) is just how scared they are of UKIP.  On Sunday Tory MPs were told that their personal integrity would be brought into disrepute if they should defect to UKIP, which can only lead to the conclusion that many of them have secrets they would not like to be exposed to the public.  I don't recall ever seeing such a naked threat issued, and I think it tells us a lot about the level of fear over the defections.

As a related aside, one thing that I noticed during the referendum was that we didn't see any scandal stories about Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon in the tabloids.  You'd think that would have been a big weapon in the armoury, given how tame the mainstream media were.  I can only conclude that there really wasn't anything of great interest to be told, since if there was any scandal you can bet there will be a file on it somewhere.

Yesterday we had George Osborne promising to abolish the 55% tax on pensions when they are passed on at death, and hinting at reviving his party's policy on raising the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million.  Pensioners are deserting the Conservatives for UKIP in increasing numbers, so again we see the fear of UKIP dictating policy.  As I get nearer pension age, I am waiting to see if I suddenly wake up one morning agreeing with everything the Conservatives say.  Maybe it's something that you get on the day you retire, along with access to the special old people's clothes shops?  I'll let you know when I get there.  Mind you, with promises of raising the retirement age to 70, it's going to be a while.

Boris Johnson has even re-extended a previous invitation for Nigel Farage to join the Conservatives - presumably a sort of reverse 'if you can't beat them, join them' scenario.  For me this raises the scary scenario of a Tory/UKIP alliance if there is a hung parliament at the next General Election, especially if, as rumoured, Boris takes over as Conservative leader.  Are you Yes yet?

The final interesting thing for me was John Redwood warning businesses not to give their opinion on leaving the EU.  To be fair to Mr Redwood, he doesn't think businesses should have given an opinion on the Scottish referendum either, a view clearly not shared by David Cameron and his chums.  I don't think they will want businesses giving their opinions on the EU, as they are not likely to agree with Mr Cameron this time, given that he is willing to recommend that people vote to leave the EU in the event that he doesn't get changes in the terms of the UKs membership, ie if he doesn't get his own way.  Getting his own way seems a little unlikely, as he doesn't have a great record of success in negotiating with the EU.  Also, the fact that he wants schools to go back to teaching imperial measurements rather than metric would suggest a deep-rooted anti-Europeanism and a hankering after the days of Empire, something that I don't think is shared to the same degree in Scotland.

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