An Open Letter to Oliver Letwin MP (Con)

Tory pamphlet devotes more space to lies and fostering fear than positive messages about Tory policy

Tory pamphlet devotes more space to lies and fostering fear than positive messages about Tory policy

Dear Mr Letwin,

I returned home from shopping this lunchtime to find a poor tree had died partly to fund an election “communication” from you , promoted on behalf of your campaign by a Mr Antony Stanley. My first thoughts were to return to sender with instructions on where one could shove it. However I have decided to respond in more detail.

Your election pamphlet was addressed to me here at the Vicarage. You see my wife is a vicar. In fact Mr Letwin you met my wife during the last election campaign. She was introduced to you in her capacity as a local Church minister in Charlton Down and you completely ignored her. Whatever merits or demerits your party may have I would never vote for someone so rude as to completely ignore and refuse to speak to someone in this way. Manners maketh the man and all that.

But let’s move on – I don’t want to make this personal, I have more of a beef with your party than your own lack of manners. As I said your pamphlet was sent to me at the Vicarage. I know it’s not popular among your church going party colleagues but this house, my wife’s position and our family ethos actually has something to do with the teachings of a man called Jesus of Nazareth. Anglican Tories, are happy to miss out all the giving to the poor, helping the needy bit, and instead favour racist immigration policies and demonising of the meekest members of our society. However I feel that your party is the enemy of everything this house, the church and the teachings of Jesus stand for.`

I want to raise a few points for you to explain why I would never vote for you or any other Tory candidate:

1, The Bedroom Tax – a purely malignant policy with two aims, first to divide and demonise the poor and secondly to save a tiny bit of money that could be spent elsewhere such as on rich pensioners. This policy was never about freeing up larger homes for poorer families – the housing stock didn’t exist to downsize people into. But your party went ahead with it anyway.

2, Tory opposition to Labour’s non-dom policy. A grown up intelligent party might have pulled the rug from under Labour by instantly adopting the same policy. Instead you circled the wagons and defended the fat cats that leach on this nation yet pay little tax here. The “all in this together” rings very hollow.

3, The recently announced changes to inheritance tax rules. The wealthy of this nation do not create their wealth in isolation. Our roads, railways, schools etc. are all used as they built their business empires. It seems perfectly reasonable for the rich to make reparations to society when they die. However as usual your party has decided to man the barricades and ensure very little of this money trickles down.

4, The harsh benefit sanctions driving people to starvation and suicide.

5, The lies on the economy. The figures do not bare out Tory claims that Labour wrecked the economy and you are fixing it. Independent figures show GDP fell due to your draconian slash and burn austerity policies.

6, Focus on the few benefit fraudsters when by its own figures the government wastes more benefits in mistakes and overpayments. The continued focus on the unemployed as your demons of society is revolting scapegoating. Pensioners make up the vast bulk of benefit payments, but of course the old vote for you so you will tip toe around the rich pensioners that receive benefits they do not need.

7, Selling off housing association stock. This one is new and a new low. This wrong-headed nonsense would see you sell off prime housing stock at a loss to fund building more expensive homes. It is totally insane. We have precious little social housing as it is and you want to flog it off? Shame on you.

8, Opposition to European human rights laws protecting workers, the disabled, parents, the sick, the poor – basically the laws that protect anyone from your party and its friends.

9, The attempted coup against the Speaker at the end of the last session of Parliament was shady, disgusting work.

10, TTIP – an assault on our freedoms via the back door. Selling off parts of the NHS to American corporations, relaxing banking laws (well it’s not like the banks would get us into trouble eh?), reducing controls on environment and food safety and even an assault on our democracy itself.

11, The Tory campaign has offered little positive. It’s all been about scaring people into voting for you. Daily Mail tactics – make vulnerable poorly educated people too scared to abandon the Tory party. Your pamphlet which I received today features a banner that devotes two thirds of its space to fostering fear of Labour rather than celebrating your party’s own policies. What’s wrong? Not enough positive policies to trumpet? Scared Labour might be right? I wasn’t going to vote Labour, but this pamphlet has me thinking of doing so.

12, George Osborne’s £8bn NHS boost. A completely fictional pile of money, a desperate attempt to win back some credibility on the subject of health. It failed. What kind of minister, or even chancellor, cannot answer a question asked 15 times about where such a large amount of money will come from? I can claim to be eating unicorn bacon for breakfast tomorrow, it’s just as likely as this £8bn being real.

13, The volunteering policy. So people could take time off from work to help a registered charity such as their local posh private school – but not their normal common village primary? What larks.

14, £9000 tuition fees. The children are the future of this nation. The rich pensioners are not. But your party insists on bolstering the past while robbing from the nation’s future. It is sickening. My children will be paying for your follies long after you are gone.

15, Cuts in social care for the old that means hospital beds are blocked by them, making people waiting for treatment wait longer. Like in many areas you make cuts to get headlines but cost us more money in the long run.

16, Protecting the wealthy, the privileged, the powerful. I see plenty of entertainers from the past have been in court – but not so many party colleague that perhaps frequented Dolphin Square. A cynical person might suggest we’re being offered these entertainers as a decoy. I also see plenty of bankers are still free to wander the streets after wrecking our economy, you’re still friends with them and blame Labour for their wrongdoing. Why are these bankers are not in prison? And why do those in desperate need who wrongly make benefit claims find themselves in prison but not former education secretaries who refurnish their kitchen(s) at our expense? On rule for one, eh?

17, The failure to make the likes of Vodafone pay the billions owed in taxes.

18, Closing libraries. What the actual fuck? Why not just go the whole way and burn books at torchlight parades?

I could list many more, but if I don’t put the shopping in the fridge soon some of it may spoil. And so that will do for now. I’m also a bit cross, so I’d rather go have a wagon wheel and some Fanta than bang my head against this uncaring brick wall any longer.

Mr Letwin, I would never ever vote for you or any of your party. You are the enemy of decency and fairness, your party has attacked and vilified the poor, made the poor hungry and sick, made the sick homeless and driven people to their deaths with your selfishness. The policies of your government since 2010 were an all-out war on the most desperate and needy people in our society, the people without a voice, all so you could hoard wealth for rich pensioners, non-doms and your corporate friends.

When children arrive at school hungry and without warm clothing there is something very sick at the top of our society. I am not a party loyalist – I haven’t even decided where my vote will go in May – but one thing is clear, it will never go to those who abuse the weakest members of our society. My late mother brought me up to believe in decency and kindness – and I am not one of those people who can stomach the cognitive dissonance of kneeling on a Sunday but voting to harm the poor on a Thursday.

Good day to you

Harry Neary

Tory Breakfast

I’m a hungry chap this morning so I intend to eat a Tory breakfast. What does that consist of? It’s 65 million rashers of unicorn bacon and four billion dodo eggs. All of which I have pulled out of my arse.

Happy #nondom Day

Every general election has certain days you know will be super important. Even now it only takes a word or two to evoke those memories – such as “Gemma’s Ear”. Today the Labour party gave us #nondom – a promise to stop the unfair system where some rich people can avoid paying tax in this country despite living here and earning money here. Whether this policy makes or loses money for the country seems less important to me than the issue of taxation in a fair and equal society. Labour’s pledge of removing non-dom tax status is a step towards a fairer society.

Why should Lord Rothermere – the owner of racist hate-rag The Daily Mail – spread his bile throughout the nation with his nasty paper, reap the financial rewards but not pay a fair amount of tax? It is unfair. It is that simple. I am not a Labour supporter. The two-faced Blair and his nasty war put an end to that. But for once a party is offering something that goes beyond an election bribe, but instead is about a principle. The principle of fairness is all too rare in today’s political climate.

What we are used to today is hate and fear. The racist right of UKIP and its even nastier brethren scaring the older generation into screwing over their own grandchildren for a few pence and to keep the brown people away from their unspoiled hamlets. And Liberals abandoning all their policies for the merest sniff of power, their principles sold very cheap. And then there’s the Tories, the friends of Lord Rothermere and the Telegraph’s Barclay Brothers – more interested in protecting their rich friends and dividing the poorest. They set poor against poorest – with hate campaigns against those on benefits, bedroom tax making families poorer and homeless, the food banks and attacking the church that dares defend them.

It’s a vile disgusting mess. But I know some of you reading this will vote for it anyway. You will tell yourself that none of the oppression and heartache that results is your doing. The people going to foodbanks, the suicides following benefit sanctions, the children going to school cold and hungry – are not the fault of the Conservative Party. The Tories are just pandering to the darker side of your own beliefs. You were the one that put the mark in the box, you were the one that gave them the power. Those deaths and that hunger is just as much your fault as any of the suits at Westminster, just as there’s Iraqi blood on the hands of those of us who supported New Labour in 1997.

My family receives child benefit and it is money I have no guilt in taking. I have paid taxes. We are raising children that will become part of the society and hopefully be a benefit to it. Child benefit is this nation’s investment in the future. However I’m not sure child benefit and education is safe in the hands of the Tory party. Today has shown that the Tories will defend privilege and wealth ahead of fairness. By all means vote Conservative if you own a broadsheet newspaper or own a Premiership football club, it makes perfect sense.

But if you don’t have a million in the bank and have children or grandchildren, perhaps you ought to rethink whose future you want to defend.

Videogame Ghosts

Lack of interactivity is something I’m noticing more and more in games. It’s not that the worlds used to be more interactive – it’s that as the detail in games has increased the level of interactivity has not kept pace. So while the Paris of Assassin’s Creed Unity is a really amazing thing – I’ve spent house exploring it – after a while I felt like a ghost. So many games we move though these amazing worlds without being able to really reach out and touch them.

Perhaps these lonely avatars wandering though Paris or Chicago of Watch Dogs are a metaphor for a lonely generation. Unintended of course. But I want to be able to give money to a beggar in Watch Dogs, or just talk to someone in Unity, tell a busker they are great, hold someone’s hand.

So many games with amazing game worlds and the only time we can touch them is with a blade or a bullet.

Ending the Social Media Experiment

I had given up Twitter and Facebook for Lent, joining my wife in this endeavour. But today I’m packing it in with regards to Twitter. The truth is that I live a rather isolated life here at the Vicarage and with friends and family so far away I’m somewhat lacking in social contact. In many ways Twitter has become that social contact. And while I can take or leave Facebook with its endless postings of feelgood photos to “pass on”, I’m returning to Twitter today. The truth is I’m lonely.

The couple of weeks I’ve been away from Twitter have changed the way I will be using it though. I’ve gone through my following list and removed lots of websites and news sources. I’ll make more of an effort to visit sites I want to support. More importantly I want to avoid the kind of knee-jerk Twitter rage that has become all too common now. 144 letters is too few for nuanced reporting. So on the whole I’m going to try to steer my usage of Twitter away from controversy and more to conversation, sharing and fun. I want to talk about things like videogames and photography – not subjects that make my blood boil.

If you want to see this as an acknowledgement of my own misuse of Twitter then you aren’t far wrong. I seem to spend half my time on Twitter being cross about something I read on Twitter. Sometimes that anger is useful – Citroen fixed our car a heck of a lot quicker than they otherwise would have done thanks to my Twitter posts. But I’d rather use the platform to chat and stay in touch with friends. I make no promises of getting this right – but I’m going to try. So I’m unfollowing the stuff that winds me up and trying to be a better Twitter citizen. And I’ll see you back there shortly.