Saturday, 17 October 2015

How is the Tory party spin machine going to react to this video clip?


If you haven't seen the clip of Michelle Dorrell's tearful accusations of betrayal against the Tory party she voted for in the last election the clip is embedded below. If you have seen it already, maybe it's worth watching again because it's not very long and it raises an issue that cuts to the heart of the ideology that drives the Conservative philosophy.




Firstly I'd like to say that when it comes to someone who admits having voted Tory suffering the consequences of Tory ideological austerity, it's easy to take a "ha! should have known better" stance, but that's not actually a productive thing to say at all. At least she understands her mistake now. She doesn't deserve to be criticised just because the Tory propaganda machine convinced her to vote against her own economic interests - because convincing millions of people into voting against their own economic interests is precisely what the Tory propaganda machine exists in order to do. 

There's little point in saying that she shouldn't have voted Tory because there's nothing she can do now to change how she voted in the past. However what might be useful is to have a think about how the Tory propaganda machine plans to react to this video. It might help us get a few issues under the spotlight if we consider the kind of narratives the Tories and their supporters will try to spin in order to minimise the impact of one of their so-called "hardworking people" crying with frustration at the lies they told her in order to con her into voting for them.

Contempt

The initial Tory response to this video was a bizarre display of utter contempt for Michelle, and the general public. When specifically asked if David Cameron would be meeting Michelle to discuss her concerns, the official Tory response was to say "The prime minister meets with people from all different walks of life all the time". Imagine the utter contempt they must have for the public to think that we're so stupid that we'd accept a statement like that as an answer to a specific question about whether David Cameron would be meeting a specific person.

More lies

It's absolutely clear that the Tory party lied about not cutting Tax Credits before the general election. This comes as no surprise to some of us. Especially to people who remember their outright lies about having no plans to raise VAT before the 2010 General Election, and how they raised it just months after the Lib-Dems enabled them into power. It's also no surprise to people who remember that 2010 Tory "Contract with the Electorate" that they broke so badly that they decided to delete all traces of it from their party website in the hope that the general public would forget all about David Cameron saying "if we don't deliver our side of the bargain, kick us out in five years time".


I think we've all come across habitual liars in real life before haven't we? You know, people who lie so freely and easily it seems that sometimes they're so accustomed to lying that they still lie even when it's probably much easier to tell the truth. It amazes me that so many people seem incapable of seeing that David Cameron is this kind of inveterate liar. There are so many examples of him outright lying to the public and using grotesquely dishonest language it's absurd, yet some people are apparently such poor judges of character that they can't see that behind the posh accent, expensive suit and well-practiced PR spin, David Cameron is blatantly a fundamentally dishonest person.*

We all know a fundamentally dishonest person like this, and we all know that their reaction to getting caught in a blatant lie is never to come clean, it's always to tell even more lies.

The lie that Cameron and the Tories are telling now is that these Tax Credit cuts are being made up by increases in the Minimum Wage**, but everyone knows that the paltry increase in the Minimum Wage are coming 9 months after the cut in Tax Credits, meaning a severe financial hit for millions of "hardworking families". Here's an example of David Cameron telling exactly this lie: 

"what our proposals do are reform welfare and at the same time bring in a national living wage" [source].
Personal attacks

The strategy at Tory party HQ in response to being caught in this lie seems to be a combo of "ignore it until it goes away" and "just tell more lies if you're really pressed on the issue", but other Tories have realised that the only way they can try to diminish the impact of this video is to attack the woman in order to distract everyone's attention away from David Cameron's outright pre-election lies about having no plans to slash Tax Credits for working people.


One of the main strategies you should expect to see from the Tory attack dogs in the mainstream press and those obnoxious below-the-line Tory apologists who are aver willing to get their hands dirty slinging shit in defence of their beloved Tory party is the idea that Michelle isn't a "hardworking person" trying to establish a business in difficult economic times, but actually an outrageous freeloader who thoroughly deserves to live in such poverty that she can no longer afford to provide for her kids.

Another avenue of attack for these horrible Tory apologists will be to attack the nature of her business by sneering about how a nail bar is a frivolous business, without any acknowledgement that hundreds of thousands of other people running small businesses will be affected too. Maybe it's possible to sneer at a nail bar, but how about small independent caf├ęs, takeaways, stationary suppliers, building companies, electricians, bakeries, computer repair shops, newsagents etc. Are all of these businesses fripperies that need to be crushed out of existence too?

Freeloaders

The idea that Michelle's nail bar is an example of freeloading just because it's not currently turning healthy profits is obnoxious in the extreme. There are several reasons that this kind of vindictive attitude is based on severe ignorance.

One of the most obvious reasons that this argument is nonsense is the purely pragmatic one. If Michelle's business is crushed out of existence by the dramatic cuts in income the Tories are going to inflict on her, will she be more or less of a "freeloader" if she ends up unemployed and claiming unemployment benefits? Maybe we could have a think about how such an outcome would be beneficial to anybody (answer later in the article). 


Another very strong counter-argument to this kind of "freeloader" attack is the idea that the benefit of a business is not just measured in terms of its short-term profitability. It's important to consider other factors too. Even if a small independent business does not produce big profits, it can still have a strong net benefit to the wider economy. Two of the principal reasons are demand and employment. If the business uses any materials then the economy benefits when they are purchased, and if the business employs people the economy benefits by virtue of the fact that these people are economically active instead of unemployed.

Then there's the concept of infant industry protection to consider. There's very strong economic evidence that helping entrepreneurs and small businesses get started is a very beneficial thing for economies to do. I'm not saying that Michelle's nail bar is going to be the next Google, but it's absolutely clear that today's struggling small business could be tomorrow's highly profitable business providing an awful lot of employment, economic demand and tax revenues.

The strongest argument of all against these ludicrous assertions that Michelle should stop expecting handouts is the vast scale of taxpayer "handouts" to all kinds of other businesses. Research has shown that corporations receive some £93 billion per year in taxpayer handouts, yet do our right-wing blowhards complain about that? Of course they don't. They're too busy attacking Michelle for receiving a few thousand pounds in Tax Credits to provide for her family while she works hard trying to establish a successful small business.

Let's look at a few examples; the privatised rail companies take £billions per year in taxpayer subsidies; dozens of outsourcing corporations are almost entirely dependent on the taxpayer for their business models (Serco, Capita, A4E, Atos, Seetec, G4S ...), nearly all employers benefit from tax credits topping up the poverty wages they get away with paying to their employees, the power companies get vast taxpayer handouts, and let's not forget how the banks had to be rescued with the biggest government subsidies in UK history to save them from bankruptcy back in 2007-08.

Are the pro-Tory blowhards squealing for the railways and power companies to be shut down for the good of the economy? indeed the abolition of any company whose employees receive Tax Credits or any bank that needed taxpayer bailouts during the financial sector insolvency crisis? Of course they're not, because they don't really care about the issue at all. The only thing they're interested in is trying to discredit Michelle because they see her as a threat to their beloved Tory party.


Who really benefits from this policy?

It's absolutely clear that millions of the "hardworking people" David Cameron conned into voting Tory are going to be hit hard as a result of the Tory Tax Credit cuts. It's also clear that the wider economy and the taxpayer will suffer if this campaign of impoverishment results in lots of small businesses going bust and their owners (and employees) end up claiming unemployment benefits.

The only obvious beneficiaries are big corporations who would probably be glad to see their small local competitors wiped out. The huge corporate chains of coffee shops, newsagents, bakeries, computer suppliers, construction firms etc must be rubbing their hands with glee to see support for the owners of small local businesses being withdrawn like this. 


Where small local tax-paying businesses fail, gigantic multinational tax-dodging Tory-donating corporations can step in.

The only potential beneficiaries from this Tory policy of eradicating small local businesses by withdrawing support for their owners are major corporations and the kind of smug millionaire Tory party donors that David Cameron has been stuffing into the unelected House of Lords as fast as he can.

Anyone who thinks that impoverishing ordinary people and crushing their businesses out of existence is for the good of the taxpayer or the general economy must be so economically naive that they'd even fall for the Tory Austerity con!

Conclusion

The Tories are obviously hoping that by front-loading their harshest attacks against ordinary people to the early months of this parliament that people will have forgotten about it by the time the next General Election comes around. In my view the video clip of this Tory voter reduced to tears by the lies she was told to extract her vote is such emotive material that it's not going to just fade away like the fuss over the blatant VAT lies the Tories told back in 2010.

This clip shows the Tories up as the liars they really are, and exposes the fact that they don't actually give a damn about the "hardworking people" they're always harping on about in their propaganda. In fact many Tories and their sympathisers give so little of a damn about ordinary people like Michelle Dorrell that they'd openly attack her in pathetic attempts to discredit her and distract attention away from the blatant lies David Cameron told to con her into voting Tory.

It should be absolutely clear that the Tories serve the interests of the big corporations and millionaire donors that fund the party (just follow the money), but the Tory propaganda machine has managed to con millions of ordinary people into believing a load of economic fairy tales about how the Tories have done a marvelous job of fixing the economy (they absolutely haven't) and how their "cutting our way to growth" strategy is the only conceivable plan of action (it really isn't).

If this video helps to demonstrate to potential Tory voters that the party doesn't actually give a damn about them because they're far too busy serving the interests of their wealthy financial backers, then it's a good thing. It's just a shame for Michelle that on top of being impoverished by the party she voted for, she's going to have the Tory attack dogs on her case now because her tears of frustration represent a real threat to the age old Tory party agenda of serving the extremely rich at the expense of everyone else.



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* = I imagine that some Tory apologists might try to claim that Tony Blair was a liar too, which might seem like a fair point, but isn't for two main reasons. Firstly pointing out that one person was horribly dishonest doesn't mean that's a licence for everyone else to behave like that. The second point is that they can't seriously have not noticed that the Labour Party is now led by a man who believes that Tony Blair should be investigated for war crimes as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq where his public reputation as a liar was forged. 

** = Another thing to note about the Tories paltry increases in the Minimum Wage is that it's actually irrelevant to self-employed business owners like Michelle because they won't benefit from it at all. The only way it could conceivably impact them is of course is if it means their businesses are going to be even under even more pressure because they have to find more money to pay their employees when the Minimum Wage increases come in. 


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