Beware the Tory wolf in liberal clothing

Written By: - Date published: 4:28 pm, April 9th, 2008 - 23 comments
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Polly Toynbee of The Guardian writes: “Beware the lesson of the Tory wolf in liberal clothing: Sweden’s great social democracy has been transformed for the worse – and Britain risks importing the nightmare”.

At the previous election [the moderates] had crashed at just 15%, so Reinfeldt, an appealing and eloquent 41-year-old, had a free hand to change everything. His tactic was to adopt virtually all social democrat policy so there was no observable difference – familiar?

… What has Reinfeldt done? A lot more than voters bargained for. Welfare reform has been radical: benefits are cut and so are taxes… National insurance contributions have been raised sharply, with the unplanned effect that nearly half a million of the lowest paid have walked away from the scheme, leaving them nothing if they lose their jobs. Since the scheme is administered via the unions, union membership has dropped by the same amount…

Meanwhile more of the health service is contracted out, with GPs free to charge for the first time, raising alarms that they are moving out of poor areas to richer places where they can earn more. The prime minister’s wife, in charge of the Stockholm region’s health service, has been particularly radical. State-owned Absolut vodka has been sold to the French, and state-owned liquor stores are about to be sold off too…

Read the full article here.


23 comments on “Beware the Tory wolf in liberal clothing”

  1. Steve Pierson 1

    Stephen Harper in Canada,
    Davd Cameron in the UK,
    Reinfeldt, Merkel, etc
    John Key

    they’re all cut from the same cloth. They campaign with three prongs:
    – the existing government is ‘tired’
    – ‘[country X] sucks’ – like National’s constant barge of attacks that try to convince people life in New Zealand is not as good as it is.
    – we won’t change much or do anything scary – release vague policy.

    Of course, once they’re in power every ‘solution’ just happens to be from the same old tory play book – sell off assets, cut services, cut wages, cut taxes for the rich, spend now and fuck the future.

    captcha: Orwell weather – sounds foreboding, better take a coat.

  2. Daveo 2

    But John Key’s a centrist. Tracy Watkins told me so.

  3. Sam Dixon 3

    Yeah, and John told her so himself

  4. r0b 4

    Re Steve’s first “-” point above, the attempted tory “meme” that Labour is tired and out of energy can itself I think be put out to pasture. Behind in the polls, yes. Stagnating, no!

  5. mike 5

    “benefits are cut and so are taxes ”
    Great – so we get to keep more of our hard earned money and living off the state is no longer a career option.

  6. Sam Dixon 6

    mike – if you think $200 a week on the dole is something any significant number of people choose, you’re living in a dream world.

  7. r0b 7

    Meanwhile mike, back in the real world, the number of working age people on benefits in NZ is significantly lower than it was under the last National government, and still falling. The benefit as a “career option” is another tory myth.

  8. Tane 8

    Yeah mike, because that’s been the trend over the last nine years…

    National’s hoax on unemployed workers

  9. rjs131 9

    Is that true that their were state owned liquor stores? And he is suggesting it is bad they are sold off? Would love to sell an argument in support of them being strategic assets!

  10. stevedore 10

    The last two paragraphs in that article are the most fascinating; where Toynbee wonders what the impact of a short burst of neo-liberalism can have on an entire culture and history of successful social democracy. The damage, as we know here, can last for generations. I’ll be interested to see how Sweden responds. Importantly the rest of the world needs Sweden to continue to act as an exemplar for the rest of us.

  11. Billy 11

    Yes rjs131. Liquor stores and airports are obvious strategic assets.

  12. Anyone who has had to live in Hamilton will tell you that yes indeed, liquor stores are strategically important…

  13. r0b 13

    ‘Sod – I’m so sorry – I had no idea…

  14. higherstandard 14


    ‘Importantly the rest of the world needs Sweden to continue to act as an exemplar for the rest of us.’

    An exemplar of what exactly ?

  15. Billy 15

    And please tell me there’s not really a person called Polly Toynbee. That’s so obviously made up.

  16. Dan 16

    I watched Bill English on TV tonight. The prospect of the duplicitous right following the prescription from conservatives overseas, and led by the depressive and uninspirational English appalls me. Key is history. I have been talking to various right-leaning friends who are really depressed at Key’s profile and performance.
    “Dan,” they say, “Key is up against Clark who is a modern day Muldoon. He is keeping his powder dry for the election!”
    What powder, I ask. You need policies to have powder, and if the above article is any indication of the policies proposed, then the Nats are looking at 30%.

  17. r0b 17

    And please tell me there’s not really a person called Polly Toynbee. That’s so obviously made up.

    You are joking, right?

  18. Billy 18

    Yes R0b. I am. In future, I’ll try to work out a little signal for you.

  19. r0b 19

    That would be great Billy. I hear tell some people use this here smiley thing 🙂

  20. Billy 20

    Never been a fan, actually. It seems to me like the blog equivalent of using a little love heart to dot your i’s.

  21. r0b 21

    I don’t use them myself, but emoticons do have a long and honourable history! It wouldn’t be so bad if so many recent applications didn’t turn them into cute little graphics. Mutter, mumble, offa my lawn.

  22. DS 22

    Regarding the Swedish government owning liquor stores, the reason is simple: most of the Scandinavian countries have a very long tradition of temperance and regulation of alcohol consumption. Sweden, unlike Norway, Finland, and Iceland, never actually adopted formal prohibition, but it did ration alcohol until the 1950s. To this day, stronger alcohol can only be bought in Scandinavia (Denmark is the exception) if you buy it from the government monopoly.

  23. randal 23

    so the right in sweden is prepared to fracture social cohesion so some of there mates can purchase a revenue producing asset…hmm where have I seen all this before…

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