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 That project has now entirely disappeared and has been replaced by another – to build the Conservative Party of Lynton Crosby, a man whose mission the Prime Minister describes as being “to destroy the Labour Party”.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

PPC Co-Ordinator – Permanent - West Sussex – £24-£30k

£24000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Are you a Marketin...

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

IT Support Analyst (2nd Line Support) - City, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare: Ashdown Group: IT Support Ana...

KS1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: KS1 Teaching Specialist Leic...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: It’s been lonely in bed without my sleep soulmate

Rebecca Armstrong
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv  

Why do we stand by and watch Putin?

Ian Birrell
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor