Brian Reade casts his eye over the Tory conference and finds a bunch of gloating millionaires who appeared to be mocking those at the opposite end of the wealth scale
During the 1990s the Mirror would send me on an annual undercover job.
My mission was to gatecrash the Young Conservatives’ ball and report on the next generation of coked-up, bow-tied, chinless goons pogoing to The Jam before ferociously barking at the waitresses for more champagne.
Sadly, Tory HQ decided these ugly drug balls were bad for the Conservative brand as they showed them to be the out-of-touch, poverty-baiting hedonists that they were – and so ended the group and the parties.
Thankfully, this year, the Mirror didn’t need to do an undercover exposé of the callous entitlement that runs through the veins of Tory youth as the grown-ups did so in plain sight.
Let these facts sink in. Hours before the brutal £20-a-week reduction in Universal Credit came into force hitting 4.5 million families, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was belting out “I’ve had the time of my life and I’ve never felt like this before” at a raucous late-night karaoke party.
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That’s the minister responsible for overseeing the single biggest UK benefits drop since 1921, which will slash £1,000 a year from the budgets of the poorest among us, boogieing without a care in the world.
Earlier, her boss, Rishi Sunak, who is married to a billionaire’s daughter, chose to portray himself as an Iron Chancellor by refusing to give in to the screams of anguish from those affected by this savage financial blow. And Tory grandee Peter Bottomley complained that it was “really grim” living on an MP’s annual salary of £82,000.
Meanwhile, their glorious leader channelled the ghost of Thatcher by saying there was no alternative to lumbering families with a desperate choice between buying electricity or food.
He showed zero humility or regret for the deep pain being caused. Instead he launched into a rambling policy-free speech full of cheesy puns and his guffawing audience wallowed in their bubble of insulated privilege, mentally blocking out the current damage their dire Brexit is doing to the country.
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
This is how it must have been in medieval times when plagues broke out and those inside court would turn up the noise of the feasting and ribaldry to drown out the screams from the unfortunate wretches trapped outside the castle walls.
These people brazenly talk about levelling up a country which, after a decade of austerity they chose to inflict on it, lies broken and drifting. Those inside that conference hall are convinced this levelling-up delusion will do the trick for them at the next election, keeping their second homes, inheritance and share dividends safe.
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They believe that the Blue Wall voters will still fall for it when the snake-oil salesman who leads them lies about Labour planning to flood the land with foreigners while he wants to pay the British working-class better wages.
The bar is very low, but rarely have I felt so disgusted by these people. Set in the context of slashed benefits, frozen wages, rising food and heating costs and empty supermarket shelves, this conference felt like a festival of mocking the poor.
But when the Prime Minister was once an enthusiastic member of Oxford’s Bullingdon Club, whose idea of a good night out was trashing a restaurant and lighting £50 notes under the noses of the homeless, then what do we expect?
What do we deserve?