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First it was big business, now Looney Tunes are backing Dave

By Mark Steel

Published 02/05/2015

Animal attraction: David Cameron’s appeal knows no bounds
Animal attraction: David Cameron’s appeal knows no bounds

I wonder what the Daily Telegraph will put on the front page on Monday morning. Most likely is a letter urging Britons to vote for David Cameron, signed by 500 cartoon characters. The Road Runner will write to say his name was added on without his permission, but they'll ignore that.

This would be more logical than the claim by Boris Johnson, in response to Labour's proposals to stop landlords raising rents above inflation, that the policy would "destroy a city faster than any bomb".

Hollywood should take note of this and make a new Godzilla film.

Instead of wrecking Tokyo by stomping across buildings, the monster passes a law to stop landlords raising rents above inflation and everyone in the city runs screaming and jumping into sewers.

One little-known city that already has rent controls along the lines suggested by Labour is New York. I suppose they must have brought them in on September 10, 2001 and that's what caused all the trouble.

Boris Johnson's comments complement the retort to another Labour proposal, to buy disused land and build houses on it. A measured Daily Mail headline described this as "Miliband the land-grabber's Stalinist plan".

It went on to explain how this was exactly the sort of thing that happened in Soviet Russia.

Stalin did, indeed, take over the peasants' land, killing about 10 million people in the process, so if Ed Miliband is planning something similar, it's surprising this hasn't been more of an issue.

You'd think it would have cropped up in the leaders' debate, with someone asking, "Mr Miliband, though I agree with your views on the NHS, I'm troubled by your plans to murder 10 million people to seize their land. Could you reassure me as to why this is necessary?"

Someone else with a keen eye on history was Theresa May, who pointed out that if Labour and the SNP win a majority of seats, this will create: "The worst constitutional crisis since the abdication of the king."

This means it would be worse than the Second World War, so I, for one, have already built a shelter at the bottom of the garden to hide in whenever the siren warns us that Nicola Sturgeon has been spotted by the RAF on her nightly raid over the border.

As an example of how evil she is, one newspaper revealed with fury this week that while the NHS struggles, she "opened a new hospital in Glasgow, with a helipad and private cinema". What a nerve, to provide somewhere for the air ambulance to land, rather than save money by making it land in the cardiac unit, while cheerful porters call out "be careful not to slice through the saline drips with those propellers".

But the hysteria isn't random. There's a theme, which is that any attempt to redress growing inequality, or to curtail excessive profits, will make the poor poorer. The explanation for why this happens is in the first place anyone would look, the history of the English Civil War.

Because, during the reign of Oliver Cromwell, there were a series of debates, about how to organise a system governed by parliament, rather than a king.

A radical group, the Levellers, suggested that all men should have the vote, even if they owned no property. Cromwell's man replied this would be disastrous, "because if men with no property have the vote, they will simply vote to take property off those that already have it".

That's similar to the problem the Conservatives face now.

How does the wealthy lawyer, the bankers who caused the mess, but somehow became even richer, the investors who made millions buying Royal Mail, the tax-dodgers and those that revelled in the top-rate tax cut, persuade the majority to vote to be clobbered even more?

One answer is to terrify them that, if you try to stop rents being raised by more than inflation, you'll make them go up even more and destroy the city. If you pledge to raise the minimum wage or reduce zero-hour contracts, you'll just make those people poorer.

The logic is that the best way to help the low paid is to force them to work for nothing, and sign up to a less than zero-hours contract, rather than cripple business with a whole zero.

Then, as long as they rip up their floorboards and send them as a present to the major shareholder of their choice, they'll soon be rolling in it.

The Tories have to convince people that they will only be worse off if they attempt to improve their conditions at the expense of the wealthy.

But luckily, neutral characters such as Rupert Murdoch, with no interest in whether a government acts in the interest of the rich or not, kindly use their newspapers to explain the issues out of public duty.

You may believe Labour's response to this has been half-hearted, or that they wouldn't correct much of the damage.

But a Conservative victory would mean the country has voted to endorse all this, and swallowed the shrieking cultivation of fear.

So it may be worth considering a vote against it, as it can't be healthy to be on the same side as Murdoch and Cromwell.

Belfast Telegraph

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