David Cameron demeans his office

The Conservatives’ tactics of fear and smear raise serious questions about type of politics we want

Share
Related Topics

Last week the Conservatives’ approach to the next election was laid bare.

They want to distract attention from the issues that matter. With the support of a determined section of the press, they have decided that mudslinging matters more than the futures of millions of families across this country. We had seen this approach before with the Daily Mail crossing the line of common decency with its attacks on my Dad. And, on a different level, we have seen signs of it too from the Tories, trying to smear Labour last year over the Libor market – or blame Andy Burnham this year for their failures in our National Health Service. But last week a pattern of behaviour became clearer still. On Monday, David Cameron used a parliamentary statement about human rights in Sri Lanka to talk about trade unions in Britain.

Then he hit a new low by trying to use the gross errors and misconduct of one man, Paul Flowers, to impugn the integrity of the entire Labour movement. We all want proper answers as to what went on at the Co-operative Bank, and the public deserves better than the desperate attempts by the Tory party to score the cheapest political points, including ludicrous claims that Labour’s historic links with the Co-op movement were the invention of Rev Flowers. Of course, the credibility of their smears was undermined when it emerged that the Chancellor himself was promoting the Co-op’s bid to take over Lloyds Bank branches.

The Conservatives’ tactics of fear and smear raise serious questions about the type of politics we want in Britain today. David Cameron used to claim he wanted to change his party and lead it back to the middle ground: one that cared about the environment and all Britain’s citizens – including the poorest – one that wanted an end to the worst adversarial aspects of Britain’s Punch and Judy politics. That project has now entirely disappeared and has been replaced by another – to build the Conservative Party of Lynton Crosby, a man whose mission the Prime Minister describes as being “to destroy the Labour Party”. This is a Conservative party preparing to fight the dirtiest general election campaign that we have seen in this country for over 20 years. And the Crosbyisation of the Conservative Party has reached a new intensity as their leadership becomes increasingly desperate. 

They have nothing to say about the cost of living crisis and have no vision for a better Britain. All they have left is resort to the lowest form of politics: that of division, of smear and character assassination. David Cameron cannot resist a low blow when the British public craves a politics on the high ground. His main political strategy is now to sling as much mud as possible in the hope that some of it sticks. When he does so, he demeans his office. Of course, these tactics have been tried before. David Cameron has said he wants to “dust down” the playbook for the general election of 1992 and doubtless, that is why he has employed Lynton Crosby who has run elections of this sort in Australia.

But Britain has the chance to say to them over the 18 months: not here – and not this time. Every time these tactics are deployed, the Labour Party I lead will call it out. Our response to these accusations will be rapid and robust. Fear and smear won’t work. Millions of families face a cost of living crisis unequalled in their lifetimes. And the general election will determine how our country responds. The next election is far too important to be conducted in the gutter. Britain can do better than this.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“I just wanted some chicken wings,” Tan Shen told the assembled media. “But once I got in there ... I decided I needed time to think.”  

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015