The Tories, it seems, are suddenly not relishing this General Election campaign. Yes, they called it, and no, there was no need for them to do so, but the temptation of grinding Labour into the dirt on the false pretext that this somehow gave Theresa May a stronger negotiating hand on Brexit was just too much. The party’s problems are significantly down to so many of its policies, and politicians, being thoroughly unpopular.
And one Tory politician realising that this campaign has progressed not necessarily to his advantage is Dominic Raab, who has represented the ultra-safe seat of Esher and Walton since 2010. His efforts have not been helped by his co-authorship of the book Britannia Unchained (along with the equally unappealing Priti Patel) which asserted “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world”.
Perhaps his reputation had preceded him: this morning, Raab represented the Tories in Victoria Derbyshire’s Big Debate and addressed the issue of food poverty as if he were reporting on a set of company accounts. As the Mirror has reported, “A top Tory sparked anger today by saying most food bank users are not ‘languishing in poverty’ … Instead Dominic Raab blamed ‘cash flow problems’ for the huge rise of people using the Trussell Trust - which gave out nearly 1.2million emergency food parcels last year”.
Yes, they have “cash flow problems” because, all too often, they don’t have any cash flowing. They’re skint. There is no money left for food after paying for rent, gas, electricity, water, council tax and other household bills. So all those food bank users are indeed languishing in poverty. Raab is dealing in sophistry.
That nurses and other public sector workers are ending up having to use food banks, after several years of seeing their pay frozen - or receiving increases that do not keep up with the cost of living - did not occur to Raab, who demonstrated zero empathy towards those participating in the debate who are less fortunate than himself. And it got worse, as a disabled campaigner tried to get through to him on work capability assessments.
Fiona from Aberdeen “said disabled people were ‘fleeing’ from England to Scotland where she said the devolved parliament was doing more to protect them … ‘You’re all talking about numbers and money, and there is an ocean of suffering under that’”. Raab’s response? He said “it was ‘just a childish wish list’ if there was not a ‘strong economy creating the revenue’”. Fiona was talking of people taking their own lives.
Her response was blunt: “So you choose to sacrifice tens of thousands of disabled people, for the sake of that? This is the sixth richest country in the world. It is a choice that people make”. The Independent also noted “A £30-a-week cut to some new claimants of the Employment and Support Allowance came into effect in April despite opposition from more than 30 disability charities”. Thirty quid a week cut. While the best-off get more.
And the best that Dominic Raab can do is to think like a cost accountant. Well, as the Tories have been happy to send him out to bat for them in the Victoria Derbyshire debate, it has to be assumed the party line is not dissimilar from his.
Small wonder the polls are tightening. Dominic Raab is a contemptible and utter shit.