Update: Maria Hutchings… revisited?……‘Racist’ Tory, Maria Hutchings, heads Cameron’s A-list
An emerging theme of Tory strategy this election is anecdote presented by so-called ordinary people who have been done to in some way. As a PR man, I’ve always looked to illustrate wider points with a human interest angle, because if people understood statistics, they wouldn’t do the lottery. But I can honestly say I’ve never knowingly misled anyone.
Conservatives are already stretching ethical boundaries to the point where even a still loyal ex-Tory MP labels the strategy ‘irresponsible and cynical’. He’s worried about the effect on people like Margaret Dixon, a woman in pain, whose operation has been cancelled several times. Eight years ago, under the Tories, she wouldn’t have gone through this, explained her consultant. She wouldn’t have been offered the operation in the first place, he explained. And so the bickering goes on… without any substantive proposals from anyone to deal with systemic problems they’ve identified.
Far more dangerous is Maria Hutchings who gained her fifteen minutes of fame by leaving her studio audience seat to confront Blair on live TV. She’s now a Conservative Party pin-up to be seen nodding vigorously on stage next to Tory leader Michael Howard. Her story has appeal. Her son is autistic and she’s allegedly fighting to save his special school from closure. As someone who’s been done to by fate, she’s almost untouchable: you can’t condemn a struggling mother bravely tackling the heartless state.
But Maria Hutchings is not all she seems. David Aaronovitch has bravely delved deeper. Firstly, the Tory council responsible (!) said it had ‘absolutely no intention’ of closing the school, but it may become part of a group. Hutchings isn’t the sort to worry about inconvenient facts. She’s a traditional common sense Conservative. That means she thinks there are things that Conservatives know (i.e. their prejudices) and for which evidence is not required.
Here she reveals her own agenda, apparently endorsed by the Conservative Party:
‘With an increasing number of immigrants and asylum seekers the pot is reduced for the rest of us.’
That Britain provides asylum for those who can prove they face persecution and often torture and death, is a source of pride for me, but I’ll have to agree to disagree with Hutchings. On immigrants she obviously hasn’t researched the subject. The UK economy has become increasingly dependent on, often illegal, immigrants as labour shortages have taken hold of many industrial sectors. Tesco is desperately recruiting truckers from Poland. That’s a little anecdotal, but Saskia Sassen of the University of Chicago explodes the migration fallacy in the FT, with the kind of detail Conservatives hate. These immigrants don’t have rights to a share of the ‘pot’ Hutchings refers to. Her comments border on the malicious and are apparently endorsed by Tory policy makers who know that, at best, they’re based on gross ignorance.