Can the Conservative leopard change its spots?

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Having been in America for the past couple of weeks I thought nothing could be more depressing than the two presidential candidates setting out their tawdry wares in debate. However reading Mrs May’s conference speech on the plane home came close, with her Trumpish rhetoric on immigrants and her Clintonish misrepresentation of political reality.

I suspect her next demagogic rant will include the Salmonesque “rocks will melt in the sun” before any Johnny Foreigner from the EU dictates migration policies to our vicar’s daughter.

She claims Britain will again be an “independent sovereign state” (which should be a neat trick) and “have no truck with the European Court of Justice” (which is ominous and troubling). With every passing day her Brexit gets harder and meaner, so warbling on about placing “the power of the state at the service of ordinary working-class people” is just a meretricious sham.

John Cameron St Andrews


So May thinks the Labour party is the “nasty” party now, does she? How quickly she and her colleagues forget that it was not that long ago that they voted to cut certain disability benefits by £30 a week. Many were ousted for the amount of expenses they claimed while making this decision. That is the definition of nasty. What a bunch of hypocrites.

Terry Maunder Kirkstall


What does our new Prime Minister mean by “working class”?  Why does she speak of it in such a patronising way, implying that whatever it is, it is comprised of people who are deprived and downtrodden. Are well-paid underground drivers and workers on oil rigs all underpaid? Are some building workers who are highly paid because there aren't enough of them, deprived and working class?  Are university graduates, struggling business owners, and professional people on minimal salaries working class? If the minimum wage is not enough to ease the lives of poorly paid people, then why is it not higher?  By all means speak of the low paid or disadvantaged, and do what is helpful in improving their lot, but please, please, let us hear no more of indefinable class distinction.

Ian Turnbull Cumbria 


So May is going to lead the Tory party through a metamorphosis to become the representatives of the “working man”? The very use of that term causes me to raise an eyebrow.

There are faint echoes of Margaret Thatcher in the promise to unite a people and create a fairer society. Thatcher's reality became war (The Falklands), serious social disorder (miner's strike and Poll Tax) and the creation of a new, avaricious capitalism where dividend value to shareholders always outweighs the care of workers and a more equitable share of wealth. Taken with the erosion of workers’ rights we have a more socially divided nation than ever.

May, in addition, seeks to erode human rights and together with Ukip falsely create a “monster” in the topic of immigration and the “ogre” of Europe.

Taken along with the commitment to replace Trident at an unknown cost, the historical truth is that the Tory leopard is wholly incapable of changing its spots.

C A Milne Scottish Borders


Where was Theresa May when the Government cut welfare benefits, forced the chronically ill to undergo distressing and pointless assessments, failed to invest when interest rates were low, outsourced Government to private agencies and ran a country that worked only for the privileged few?  Ah, yes, she seems to have forgotten: she was a senior member of that Government; she voted for those policies that left millions of people out in the cold, using food banks. Any sign of an apology?

Peter Cave London



Democracy in this country has come to a pretty pass when the Secretary of State for Brexit would have us accept that the lies told during the referendum campaign are not important. Apparently, massively exaggerating the amount of money paid to the EU and cynically playing the race card are acceptable as long as they enable you to scrape to victory and provided you don't care about the wider consequences of your rhetoric.

Hot on his heels comes an unelected Prime Minister setting out a political programme for which no one has voted, at the core of which sits departure from the EU, following the “clear message” given by a wafer-thin majority of the electorate. By her own admission, many Leave voters were protesting about the impact of the financial crisis and the failings of British democracy. Whatever its ills, the EU is not responsible for either of these, nor is it to blame for the decision of the previous Conservative chancellor to focus his austerity measures on the working poor and local authorities, on which so many vulnerable people rely. By so unquestioningly embracing a decision taken on such questionable grounds, Theresa May risks inflicting yet further misery on those she seeks to help. She would be better employed using the referendum result to get a better deal on immigration from the EU, while remaining a member, rather than so enthusiastically jumping on the exit-bound xenophobic bandwagon.

Ian Richards Birmingham


Antonio Guterres

The election of Antonio Guterres as Secretary-Gerneral of the United Nations is an appointment of great promise for a world community facing so many urgent and complex problems. Guterres certainly has a record that is much more impressive than most of his predecessors in this important role.

To his great credit Guterres, when he was prime minister of Portugal in the late 1990s, was a principled and outspoken supporter of East Timorese liberation from Indonesian colonial occupation and was arguably the most prominent proponent of increasing international pressure – including military pressure – on Indonesia to withdraw its brutal military occupation forces from East Timor. For this Guterres deserves high praise and respect and to this day he is highly thought of by the people of East Timor.

Bill Anderson Australia