G P Taylor: Compassion is needed from the Tories

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THE day after the election was a disappointment. I woke early and tuned in the radio to hear the news. The saddest thing was not that David Cameron was elected, but that so few people turned out to vote. This election was so important to every person living in Britain and yet many chose not to have their say in the future of our country.

It is a very disappointing democratic system where a party that has a minority of the mandate from the country can have a majority in Parliament. It is especially disappointing that coalition Government is now over. I had got very used to policies been tempered and even changed by two parties with different views. It may not have been dynamic government but it was practical government. Nothing radical or dangerous could be done and like a long term marriage everyone had to compromise and that was a good thing.

The trouble I have with a Tory government, and especially David Cameron, is the lack of compassion. It seems to me that they are hell-bent on a policy of tough love but have forgotten the love.

According to the Conservative Home website, compassionate Conservatism is a do no harm, minimalist compassion that only involves controlling inflation, keeping down crime and paying off the national debt. Not the kind of things that I would describe as compassionate politics.

It must be hard for a man from such a privileged background to understand what it must be like to live in the real world. It is said that money doesn’t bring happiness, but it certainly does help. Many people go through each day worried about making ends meet. If, like Cameron, you have plenty of money then that isn’t an issue.

If he and the Tories had compassion, then their policies would be different. Cameron made a pledge to rule out cuts to pensioner benefits. I know that this year we will see the Tory party attack these very issues through stealth measures to scrap the winter fuel allowance, free bus passes and TV licences. These cuts will be brought in through back-door policies and launched in such a way that they are hidden in the small type of a major Bill. Next will come a means test on pensions and no state pensions for anyone with more than ten thousand pounds of savings. These are not the policies of a man with compassion.

A good society should be based on the principle that we help those in need. This isn’t the same as supporting the reckless scrounger or drug-addled layabout. It should be incumbent on the government of the day to make sure that there is an adequate provision for people in real need. This includes free health care and education.

However, Cameron appears to have all of these in his sights. A compassionate man would ensure that the fear of not having free health care and education was taken from the minds of the people they serve.

It would seem that now the Tories have a working majority that the NHS as we know it will disappear. We will be encouraged to have insurance and those, like me, who have long term health issues will be penalised in a two-tier system. I will be priced out of insurance for treatment with premiums beyond my means. It is actually frightening to see how many Tory MPs sit on the boards of private health care providers.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, David Cameron is more bothered about balancing the books than the welfare of Bob Cratchet. I would even go so far as calling him heartless in his approach to the people of Britain. He is contemptuous to all the great values that we once had.

All we will see in the next five years will be the rich getting richer and the poor sinking into ghettos of misery, uncertainty and deprivation. Even under the last administration, disabled people were denied benefits and bedroom taxes forced people onto the streets.

One victim of Cameron’s compassionless policies will be Scarborough Whitby and Ryedale Mind, a charity that helps 1,000 vulnerable people with mental health problems, some of whom are suicidal. This charity has to raise £8,000 by the end of this month so it can continue running its nine projects including a helpline and support groups. It it is destined to close and it is a matter of life and death for some.

I actually wanted to like David Cameron, but all I can see is a man who seeks the return of the workhouse, the penny doctor and debtors’ prison.

GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster and can be followed @GPTaylorauthor.