Even on their own terms the Tories are now exposed to assault on several grounds. Cameron threw down the gauntlet by asking: Who do you trust? Labour should pick it up. Large majorities in the electorate think the Tories are the party of the rich, not for them; witness the tax cuts for millionaires and the latest tax breaks in Cameron’s speech which are worth 4 times more for the richest 10% than for the lower-paid 50%. They think the Tories are out of touch and have little understanding of, and even less care about, how austerity has hit the poor, including prominently the working poor. They think the Tories are not committed to improving public services on which so many depend, and even on the totemic NHS they don’t trust the commitment which the Tories espouse. They also think the Tories are far too obsessed about Europe and that their ideological zeal is a distraction and a drawback from prioritising problems in the UK.
Do people trust the Tories for keeping their promises? They said they would impose no further top-down reorganisation of the NHS, never mentioned a word about this in their election manifesto in 2010, and then set about the most nakedly ideological dismantling of the NHS in favour of their privatisation obsession. They promised that in the face of austerity we would all be in it together, when in fact they have loaded the cutbacks almost exclusively on public services and social security benefits, with no tax increases on the rich. They promised to deal with the deficit, but it’s still £100bn, even beginning to rise again, and at least £50bn more than they forecast in 2010. Even the universal credit they lauded as ending work disincentives has turned out a fiasco, wasting a huge mass of taxpayers’ money, and a failure on its objectives.
The Tories are keen to say they can at least be trusted on the economy. Really? They say the country is broke, so not a penny of extra expenditure can be afforded, but then Cameron reels off his electoral bribes costing over £7bn, totally unfunded. He’s also entered into an open-ended third war in the Middle East without explaining how it’s going to be afforded. They like to talk about their economic management, but then play fast and loose with it when it suits them.
On issue after issue the Tories have been shameless in junking their promises and doing the opposite. Labour should go for them tooth and nail on their record of untrustworthiness.