At least The Sun can be relied upon to inject some humour into what’s turning out to be a most frustrating election campaign by punishing the Conservatives, who its otherwise backed issue-by-issue. A day after the new pope’s election (already on his last legs, apparently), black smoke rose from a special chimney, then white to show a decision had been made, then red for Labour.
Even more galling for Tory leader Michael Howard must have been hearing Sun political editor Trevor Kavanagh tell Channel 4 News the Tories were weak on asylum and immigration, despite coming so close to playing the race card.
But The Sun’s right on its primary criticism; that the Conservative Party is flaky on the economy. Issue by issue support’s been there because Howard is an opportunist, something on which his own side warns constantly. Yesterday’s pledge to scrap the revaluation of property for council tax is a perfect example. Conservative policy is now to tax property based not on its current value, but what it was worth in 1991. A nonsense. My home was built in 1996, so I’m already taxed on a made-up number. Why? Because it was fun to claim revaluation is a stealth tax. So instead of a debate on funding local government, we get a row about whether an overdue administrative process is revenue neutral as it should be.
The consequences of opportunism are inconsistency and this has destroyed the Conservatives already battered reputation on the economy. Take the ‘British dream manifeso’; it’s hard to believe it’s anything other than that. There’s the promise to spend more than Labour do now, but less than Labour plan to (but they don’t belive in smaller government in priciple), except on some things like health, where they’ll spend more than Labour. And taxes will be cut by £4bn and borrowing cut by £8bn. All through the magic of efficiency savings.
So even The Sun knows: ‘It’s the economy stupid!’ And Tories aren’t fit to govern.