THINK of a Tory government, and you think of mass unemployment. One of the defining achievements of Thatcher was to win two general elections having been responsible for creating historically high levels of unemployment; it wasn’t enough that she didn’t care about the jobless – she managed to persuade a sizeable section of the electorate not to care either. Genius.
But times have changed. Such scant regard for others’ misery, captured in Norman Lamont’s dismissively cruel jibe that mass unemployment was “a price worth paying”, is no longer acceptable to voters.
Which leaves ‘Dave’ with the job of further detoxifying the Tory brand.
Today he says that his party “will not stand by and do nothing” in the face of rising unemployment. I’m guessing that the full quote didn’t add “like we did last time while I was working for Lamont”, though that would have been more honest.
Does ‘Dave’ mean what he says? Does he give a fig for people struggling to find a job? His own party’s record doesn’t suggest a positive response.
But to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter. He’s doing what he has to do in order to win an election: he’s ticked another box. And for this Tory leader, that’s a good day’s work.