To Mohammed Ali:
Being David Cameron must be bliss right now. Every week he alights upon some new topic with a mildly surprising phrase; every week he hits every button in the headlines. He floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, and flits off to the next flower leaving only a dusting of pollen he can shake off when he pleases. Watch him flutter from huskies to hoodies, from child poverty to windmills, one light touch and he\’s away before anyone can pin him to a policy.
She does like her masculintiy all big hot and sweaty, doesn\’t she, our Poll?
But let\’s examine the real meaning of this latest Cameron trope: he has stolen the word "progressive" from Labour. It was a deft theft of Labour clothes backed by a Conservative pamphlet published tomorrow by the cerebral Tory MPs Greg Clarke and Jeremy Hunt. Who\’s Progressive Now? is breathtaking larceny but clever politics, calling on Conservatives to "stand up to claim the progressive banner as their own".
Frankly, if the Tories want to purloin the word "progressive" plenty in Labour would be happy to let it go. It was a vacuous word devised by Peter Mandelson to avoid saying "centre-left" or "social democrat". For a decade the Brownites have tried to make the lumbering "progressive consensus" fly, but what does it mean when there is no consensus between left and right? Gordon Brown used it 12 times in his 2004 conference speech, but "progressive" fails the political test: if any party can use it, forget it. Would any party call itself regressive? Labour should now quietly set this word free and find others that stand for something real. "Fairness", for instance, resonates with authentic policies that separate Labour from Conservatives.
Hmm. Progressive is usually taken to mean belief in the power of the State to make things better. Even I believe that, even if most of my belief in progressivity is insisting that the State can make things better by stopping doing some of the damn fool things it is doing currently.
Labour has cut income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax and now inheritance tax.
Really? It\’s raised income tax (doubled the lower rate and also allowed fiscal drag to pull more into the higher tax rate) just raised (or is it about to raise?) CGT by 80% and again used fiscal drag to raise inheritance tax.
So if the Conservatives promise to accelerate this "progress", redoubling what Labour has already done, and even cutting income tax,
Can\’t you just see the horror there? "even" income tax? But, but, if people were to spend more of their money as they wish, where would be all the pots of gold to be spent as Polly wishes?
Respect for diversity over uniformity sounds fine, but local diversity means less not more fairness.
It does? How so? Fairness can only be delivered by the centre is it?
So it\’s time Labour let the obfuscating "progressive consensus" go, and started to say what it means in plain English.
Quite. Now that progressive is no longer defined as 45% of the economy being spent as Polly T sees fit it is clearly time to abandon said phrase. We need a new one to express the political idea that your and my money be spent as the scion of a cadet branch of the Earl of Carlisle\’s family thinks it ought to be.
Pollyanna Politics anyone?