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The Nasty Party

Jeremy Dewar argues that the Conservative Party has completely reverted to type after the riots

The Tories have long sought to shed their reputation as Britain’s “Nasty Party”. Before the last election, David Cameron’s PR machine worked hard to soften their image. “Hug a hoodie” was the catchphrase, “understanding” his watchword. “Dave” described Tory Party members as “the most socially-engaged, the most civic-minded, the most neighbourly bunch of people in Britain”.

Now this fluffy visage has been cast aside; the mask has slipped. Tough jail terms, curfews and plastic bullets have replaced hugging for hoodies. Any attempt to link the riots to poverty or racism were shrugged off as “relativism” or even condoning criminality.

Cameron warned young rioters: “You will feel the full force of the law. And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment.”

He linked his determination to lock up children as young as 10 (the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Europe) to another attack on the Human Rights Act and even Health and Safety legislation. In fact, this was a coded message that he wants parents and teachers to be allowed to smack and thwack children.

“Many people have long thought that the answer to these questions of social behaviour is to bring back National Service,” he continued, “In many ways I agree: teamwork, discipline, duty, decency.” In short, boot camps to drill labour discipline into young people who cannot learn these “values” at work because there are no jobs.

Works and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith asked rhetorically, “So what we’re looking at is, for criminal charges, should we take the benefit? And the answer is yes.” This is yet another, gratuitous swipe at the unemployed, punishing them for the bosses’ inability to provide jobs. What will happen to children in workless homes is not even addressed.

Theresa May, Home Secretary, has also been busy. She has announced plans to supplement police powers to place individual under-16s under curfew with the right to declare “general curfews” of up to 12 or even 18 hours on the whole population in what she dubbed, “no-go areas”.

These knee-jerk reactions show that the Tory party has not changed. Its policies are designed to raise the hackles of its middle class base against working class youth.

The Tories and the class they serve have stolen this generation’s future. Now they are tooling up to defend themselves against further resistance.

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