• Benjamin Woods: Rants & Other Ramblings Founder

Would you still support your parties policies had the opposition announced them? - I know I wouldn't

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

I reflect on the government's record over the past ten months. A government that I voted and campaigned for. A government that on reflection I believe no conservative who places country above party could cheer. And I ask myself a difficult question. How would I have reacted had Jeremy Corbyn and not Boris Johnson made the exact same decisions?

Although I am not tribal to the Conservative Party, I have voted for three different parties in as many years, I did vote and campaign for the Conservative Party at the last election. I have often wondered would I support a policy regardless of who announced it or is who announced it not what was said more important in determining my position?

Too often we judge policies and decisions not by what was said but by who said it, myself included. The recent stream of seemingly endless U-turns and farces emanating from 10 downing street like a bad smell has exposed a plethora of nodding dogs, notably among young conservatives on Twitter. Quires of vocal supporters defend their party until the second they hear the U-turn upon which they abruptly turn tails and follow suit backing the new government line like they've supported it all their lives. The same can be said for SNP supporters in Scotland and Labour supporters in Wales.

So let us look back over the past ten months and ask a question. How would I have responded if Jeremy Corbyn and not Boris Johnson had made the exact same announcement?

Take a moment to imagine a different outcome in 2019. As Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn takes to the podium in front of that famous black door to make his victory speech (*shudder*) and a defeated Boris Johnson retreats onto the after-dinner circuit; in a faraway city, that few in this country know exists let alone visited, a virus is mutating. A virus that within ten months will have changed everything.

Faced with the new threat, to slow the spread of this invisible killer, the country was placed under house arrest in the single biggest crackdown of individual liberty by the state in British history. The state-controlled and dictated who we could see, how often and how long we could leave our homes, the clothing we had to wear, the private businesses that were allowed to open, the ability to gather and the right to protest. Furthermore, a bill was passed meaning these measures where no longer subject to parliamentary scrutiny but could be implemented by ministers whenever they chose. In the rare instances where MP’s where given a vote, it happened after the measures had already been implemented. Prior to 2020, no western democracy had ever seen such authoritarian and draconian measures placed on its free citizens and up until last year would have unequivocally condemned any other nation that did.

So would you of stood by and supported your rights and freedoms being curtailed in the name of the greater good had it been announced by PM Jeremy Corbyn and not Boris Johnson? Maybe, but I wouldn’t.

To counter homelessness the housing secretary banned all evictions for five months and extended it for a further two months after that. This is despite 94% of landlords being private individuals, reliant on rent on average for 42% of their income, with 44% reliant on their rent for their pension. The measures imposed are so severe you couldn’t evict people from your own property even for antisocial or violent behaviour with no financial relief provided to the landlords affected.

Would you have supported the annihilation of property and land ownership rights that underpins capitalist economics had it been introduced by a socialist and not Robert Jenrick? Maybe, but I wouldn’t.

Schools, where forced to close, despite mounting evidence showing children, are relatively unaffected by COVID and do not pass it on as easily. Loss of education will lead to severe consequences for all year groups, but especially for the most disadvantaged pupils in early years, GCSE and A-level cohorts. Schools were closed not only for teaching but for exams also. With exams taken in silence and socially distant, it’s harder to imagine a more COVID secure activity. The chair of Ofqual, Roger Taylor, has said they advised the government for the exams to be held at the time but where ignored. As it stood, only predicted grades where available and Ofqual faced, what Roger Taylor described as, an “impossible task”. An algorithm was devised to counter grade hyperinflation. The algorithm was assessed in consultation with responses from 79 teacher representative groups and unions, receiving the backing of the largest teaching union the NEU and one of the largest unions for school and college leaders the ASCL. With hours to go and without consultation, the algorithm was scrapped, and raw teacher predicted grades were used. This led to the largest grade inflation in history, causing substantial problems for universities as well as future job prospects not only for this year group but following year groups as well.

Would you support taking away children's education along with their opportunity to prove themselves in exams, despite evidence showing low levels of COVID transmission in children, if the policies and U-turns where performed by an MP backed by Momentum and not Gavin Williamson? Maybe, but I wouldn’t.

Following the dreadful killing of George Floyd, monuments and statues were desecrated by vandals and criminals seeking to hijack the debate around race and history in order to stoke division and hatred on both the extreme left and extreme right. The criminal activity was permitted to continue by the police chiefs, government and local councils with the toppling and defacing of several statues going unchallenged. Thugs used lighters to try and burn the Union Flag on the cenotaph, desecrated Sir Winston Churchill statue as well as Gandhi’s and urinated on the memorial to PC Keith Palmer who gave his life to defend our democracy. All the while they assaulted our brave Police men and women to whom we are all indebted.

Would you support the stone walled silence of government in the face of direct attacks on our nation, our traditions, and our heritage by both the far left and the far right had the home secretary been Diane Abbott and not Priti Patel? Maybe, but I wouldn’t.

What would you say if it was a Labour government that did next to nothing to respond to the illegal channel crossings? What would you say if it was a Labour government that oversaw the highest death toll per one hundred thousand of any advanced economy? What would you say if it was a Labour government that oversaw the largest fall in GDP of any G7 nation? What would you say if it was a Labour government that sent UK debt surging to £1.95 trillion exceeding the size of the economy for the first time in over half a century? What would you say if it was a Labour government that lost the data of 16,000 test results, with a backlog of nearly 200,000 tests in the system? What would you say if it was a Labour government who oversaw farce upon farce upon farce?

Honestly, what would you say? What would you say if it was Jeremy Corbyn at the helm of the most incompetent leadership from No 10 in my lifetime, during the most important few months for our country in my lifetime?

I for one would be outraged. The fact the man in 10 Downing Street wears a blue rosette shouldn't change that. However, party loyalties meat that it sometimes did, and on reflection that was a mistake.

Yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic but that is no excuse. In times of crisis, you show your true colours and one thing is for sure, no conservative who places country above party over the past few months can look upon this governments with anything other than disdain, disgust and disappointment. We must hope the next ten months are better than the last, starting with Brexit and ending with a coherent exit plan from COVID-19.

Benjamin Woods

Founder of BW: Rants and Other Ramblings

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