As in the DT column today
Boris was seen to be going begging recently …..
I threw off my bedclothes and charged out into the rain to continue knocking on doors and accosting strangers in the hope of persuading them to vote Conservative
Labour has run out of hope, money and ideas
Look. Please. I know it is always undignified when a grown man begs, but I woke up recently and had a horrifying thought. I seemed to see Tony in power for another four years. There he was, once again on the steps of Downing Street, with Cherie draped all over him like a flannel, and then the camera zoomed in for the tight head shot, and the look of holy rapture on Blair’s face started subtly to mutate, and omigosh, I thought, it’s coming, here it comes, here it comes… And aaargh, I thought. This is it.
The lips drew back; the corners of the mouth went up, and there it all suddenly was, that gigawatt dentistry, grinning a smile of luminous and incandescent prime ministerial triumph, like a cross between the Joker in Batman and a sex-crazed chipmunk. And with a howl of horror I threw off my bedclothes and charged out into the rain to continue knocking on doors and accosting strangers in the hope of persuading them to vote Conservative, and I hope you will not think it amiss, dear reader, if I now ask you, at this eleventh hour, to consider doing the same.
This is no time for any more bashing Labour. I will say no more this week about this clapped-out, deceitful, nannying and discredited government, and I have no comment on its stooges and would-be coalition partners, the Lib Dems, who believe that every problem can be addressed by raising taxes.
I ask you today to vote Conservative in a spirit of optimism and confidence, and because only the Conservatives have the power and the policies to help some of the people I have met in the course of the campaign. Take the woman delivering papers. There she was, pushing stuff through the doors ahead of me, and at first I thought she was out on the campaign trail herself. She had two children with her, and a pile of free newspapers at the bottom of the pram that she had undertaken, for a pittance, to deliver from door to door.
No, she said, slightly tetchily, she wasn’t going to vote for anyone. She was fed up with politicians. Look what had happened to her. Her husband had just been told he couldn’t work more than 48 hours per week, and it was costing them, as a family, £500 per month. “Shush!” she said to her children, and then made as if to get on with her rounds.
I leapt out of the way of the pram, as all canvassing MPs must, and then it suddenly occurred to me that yes, I could help her. Or rather, that the Conservative Party could help her. Here it was, that intersection between a manifesto pledge and a real human existence. If we Conservatives are elected today, we will immediately begin negotiations to opt back out of the Social Chapter, and the imposition of the 48-hour week. We would get rid of the restriction that applies to her husband, I told her. She looked at me appraisingly.
“You all say that,” she said. “You all make promises.” But it’s true, I said; and she gave me a wan smile and went on her way, the children tagging in her wake. Then by a complete fluke – or perhaps it is a sign of the intensity with which we have been campaigning – I met both of them together, husband and wife, not three hours later, and he accepted my campaign leaflet, and described how maddening it was that he was prevented by the state from earning enough money to feed his family, and thereby forcing his wife to spend her afternoons delivering papers.
“Why should they tell me what to do?” he said.
And I think he is right. It must be infuriating, and there is only one party that is pledged to give him back that freedom – the elementary freedom to choose the number of hours he wants to spend in gainful employment. He isn’t being helped by Labour’s minimum wage. The Lib Dems have absolutely nothing to offer him, not least since they are in favour of even more harmonisation at a European level, and of handing even more decision-making power over to majority voting in Brussels. It is only the Conservative Party that will go back to Brussels and change our obligations under the Social Chapter – obligations that Labour ministers themselves believe are insanely prescriptive, but which they have failed to oppose for fear of seeming anti-European.
We oppose the Social Chapter not because we are anti-European, but because we think the British and European economies are in danger of losing competitiveness, and do not need to be run with that degree of regulation, and we will restore the opt-out not for any reasons of dogma, but because it would help people like the couple I just met. If you think we should be helping such people, on modest incomes, who are already paying a huge quantity in tax, then I hope you will vote Conservative today.
If you do, you will be helping the pensioners who are being stung for huge quantities of council tax, and who face an expensive uprating of their properties under this Government. You will be helping young families who are finding it hard to buy property in this area, and who would be helped by the Tory proposal to lift the threshold for stamp duty to £250,000.
You would be helping the pensioners who feel humiliated by the process of proving they are poor enough to claim benefits, and whose pensions would once again be uprated in line with earnings and not with inflation. You would be helping the doctors and nurses to run cleaner hospitals, by ceasing to belabour them with targets and commands. You would be helping the policemen, who still can’t understand why they have to spend so much time filling in a form every time they stop someone for questioning, when they should be out on the streets and allaying people’s fear of crime.
You would be helping teachers who feel like leaving the profession because they are not only blizzarded with paperwork but also given absolutely no support in the matter of disciplining their pupils. You would be helping British universities to achieve financial independence, and escape the jackboot of Gordon Brown and the Treasury.
Above all, you should vote Tory if you think you are paying too much in tax, and you think it unfair that the burden should fall so heavily on the poor, and if you think hiring 850,000 state sector employees and losing a million manufacturing jobs is no way to run an economy. We can’t just drift on with a Labour administration that has plainly run out of money, hope and ideas, and wait for Tony to pass the torch to Gordon. Vote Tory for freedom, democracy and taxpayer value.