Along with death and taxes, the only other inevitability is the skill of a politician being economical with the truth. This week, if Birmingham had a face, its blue nose would be growing faster than that of Pinocchio.
We are only two days in, but the sheer quantity of porkie pies being flung around Broad Street and on the fringes of the Conservative Party Conference is already Olympian in scale and breathtaking in audacity. The conference was opened on Sunday, quite rightly, by the chairman of the party, the Right Honourable member for Welwyn Hatfield Grant Shapps MP. Shapps, you might remember, received tens of thousands of pounds in “donations” from property developers, mortgage brokers and an estate agency presumably to make his role as a shadow housing minister more bearable.
Then there is the curious tale of Michael Green, an alias used by Shapps for some very dodgy on line business dealings of his company “How To Corp.” Basically an internet pyramid selling scheme, his web sites made ludicrous claims of guaranteed wealth generation and used fictitious testimonials resulting in Google banning the sites. Perfect qualifications for the constitutional figure head of a British political party. After opening the conference on Sunday with his rather pathetic predecessor Baroness Warsi, herself no stranger to dodgy dealings, scowling with resentment in the audience, Channel 4 News challenged him regarding his alter ego Michael Green. Ladies, gentlemen and children, the Chairman of the Conservative Party:
Setting aside the vacuous, dogmatic and dubious nonsense spouted by William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith, two small, bald men and Eric Pickles, a large, bald man, all clearly compensating for something, the main event so far has been the speech delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As addresses to conferences go, this was a complete and utter disaster for the Tories. It was as if there had been an almighty train wreck in the tunnel below Symphony Hall that carries the West Coast Main Line north out of Birmingham New Street station. Osborne`s speech was so full of untruth, contradiction and meaningless drivel that a Virgin Pendolino forced up through the stage performing a double somersault and two half twists before crashing down on Gideon`s head would have been preferable to the audience witnessing the unpleasant spectacle of the holder of a senior office of state telling lies. The Chancellor, of course, received a standing ovation.
He suggested that Edward Heath was bad and Margaret was good. That was only a half lie, they were both bad. He said that he had promised to “repair our badly broken economy” and “that promise is being fulfilled”. Errm…no it isn`t. He said the deficit was down by a quarter. The deficit, the debt and government borrowing has actually increased and will continue to do so. He said that there are one million more private jobs. Okay, he might be correct on that one but these are part time jobs and Workfare schemes where one million young unemployed people are expected to work for free to increase the profits of large companies who might, or might not, make “donations” to the Conservative party. He said that the economy is healing. A few short hours later, when Gideon was tucking into the foie gras and Dom Perignon, the IMF publish figures that forecast the UK economy contracting by 0.4 per cent. Applying leeches will not halt a growing nose, Gideon.
Reasserting that “we are all in this together”, the Chancellor said:
“We`re not going to get through this as a country if we set one group against another, if we divide, denounce and demonise.”
After the lies came the scurrilous insults. After two and half years of complete incompetence, Osborne continued to blame Blair, Brown and Labour for financial mismanagement. No, honestly, he did. He defended the 50p tax cut. Then came attacks on fellow citizens who are “sleeping off a life on benefits” behind “closed blinds”. Who can afford blinds as the economy goes down the pan thanks to an imbecile with a private fortune and a trust fund from daddy? His big idea is for employees to be offered share options in return for giving up employment rights that have been fought for by previous generations. The right to join a Trades Union, sick pay, time off, a safe working environment, the minimum wage, the working time directive, the right to challenge unfair or constructive dismissal, paternity and more importantly maternity leave gone on a promise of share dividends from stock market gambling that caused the mess in the first place. George Gideon Osborne is an idiot and there is little point in going any further with what this moron said yesterday. For those with a strong stomach, you can read the transcript of his speech courtesy of the New Statesman.
We are only half way through the Nightmare on Broad Street. There are two more days of this risible pantomime to go which will feature some of the more outlandish and accomplished liars from the millionaire Conservative front bench. One can only hope that some wag at the International Convention Centre prints up a name tag reading “Michael Green” when the party chairman closes this latest summit of the Eton and Harrow mafia.
Grant Shapps wants to be a real wide boy. Just like the rest of the cabinet.