Tuesday, 29 June 2010

How did this happen?

If a historian were to impartially judge the opening decade of the 21st Century, then they will almost certainly pick out two events that profoundly shaped the politics and society of the decade.

The first, of course, was 9/11. The ramifications of this, plus the further attacks on Madrid and London, were predictable - a sudden lurch into ever more authoritarian measures, regardless of country. The reasoning for this was also clear - that the political incumbents, regardless of the country concerned, did not want to be held responsible for missing a potential deadly threat, and acted accordingly.

The second major event was the financial crash. The ramifications of this, though, were counter-intuitive. A huge financial crash, precipitated by a combination of deregulated financial markets and a capitalism focused ever more on short-term profits over long-term investment and risk-analysis, almost bought western capitalism itself to its knees. It was the ancient player - the state - a supposed anachronism in the modern, transnational world, that became this capitalism's saviour.

But what came next was less predictable.

What initially looked like a mea-culpa from many on the political Right - an acceptance that the unfettered free market and the endless pursuit of immediate, maximised profit need to be tamed - quickly turned on its head. As the world moves into a new decade, a full-frontal assault on the very notion of state-led democracy is instead underway.

So, rather like the Republican politician who argues that the millions of gallons of oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico are nothing to do with oil companies, so the neo-liberal ideologue argues that it is, perversely, the very nation states that bailed out the financial sector that are itself the manifest of all evil.

Whilst the militant wings of political Islam will hear no criticism of their god, so the neo-liberal Right are blind to the defects - no matter how glaring - in the system they hold up as the only righteous path. Salvation, in these terms, can only be found in the pursuit of profit. All other considerations - whether human or environmental - must be secondary.

It is ideological absolutism. And no amount of reason, of debate - and least of all most recognisable notions of morality - can sway many of its proponents.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Oxford Dictionary 2010 - New Addition

Clegged. ( First appearance of this usage in 2010) - to be deceived, let down, lied to.

As in “He said he'd lend me the car but the b*stard clegged me".

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Tale of Two Parties

Barely 24 hours after the budget, and the cracks in the Lib Dems are showing.

Kennedy has been reported as going on a rant, Paddy was clearly upset at the deal in the first place... and meanwhile the Orange Book guys are loyal as ever (although, looking at tad pale at times yesterday).

The question is this - will Harman's line about the Lib Dems taking 22 jobs in government at the cost of tens of thousands of ordinary people losing theirs resonate?

If a backlash against the Libs becomes evident in the polls, then Charlie et al might jump sooner rather than later...

Friday, 18 June 2010

A Pre-Budget Note from Dave

Dear Little People,

Taxing a massive axe to public sector services and jobs is a absolute necessity. Everyone agrees with me - the whole spectrum of media, from the Daily Mail to the Sun. Business groups that really care about the welfare of others, like the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce. Think tanks that definitely aren't a bunch of Tories masquerading as independent thinkers, like Reform and Policy Exchange.

There may be some economists that disagree with this approach. That's because they are communists.

Now, some might say that we are using this economic climate as an excuse to enact policies we have long-since envisaged, that somehow we are reverting to type. This is clearly nonsense - it's because we care about you, the little people, and we want you to be free to come home after a whole day in the office and to spend the rest of your evening and your weekend running your local school, police station or whatever other services I can think of.

Some say that the logic of this approach only works if you are the non-working, 'yummy mummy' spouse of a rich City type, living in the kind of semi-rural community in the home counties that people like us live in, and that applying it to the 99.9% of the rest of the population who don't have bucket loads of time and money would be plain silly.

This is nonsense  - Boris was telling me just the other day, over canapes in the Carlton Club, that Blotto and Barnaby are running a finishing school in Henley very well indeed. And if they can run a school that proper people use, then schools for the plebs and commoners must be a doddle. Besides, my black man in Portsmouth says it'll work over there too. I've never been myself - it's apparently filthy - but he lives there, so he should know.

Now, some other killjoys have suggested that we are failing badly to see the irony of hammering the very workers whose taxes have paid to bail out a banking system that caused the recession in the first place, and the even greater irony that the greedy, reckless blokes that created the mess are at the same time stuffing their pockets with massive subsidised bonuses again.

This is not true. We don't see the irony because irony is now dead, crushed by its own weight. This, however, is a positive development. Austere times call for compassionate cuts, and cultural functions like irony are not exempt from this. That is why my government has also agreed a five-year plan to phase out logic, sanity and basic human kindness.

On Tuesday, my Chancellor will announce that you are all shafted, except if you are called Hermione or Felix, or you work in the handful of financial institutions surrounding Liverpool Street station. This, though, is a necessary shafting. If you care about this country then you need to understand that you are a little person and that you are getting rogered because you've spent too long acting above your station. Now back to the fields, you pleb.

Yours Truly,


Saturday, 12 June 2010

When 27% is a majority...

So - an attempt to give the millions of people who rent a slightly smaller chance of getting rogered by their landlord has been halted by the new government. No surprise there.

But Shapps should check his figures...

Housing Minister Grant Shapps: "With the vast majority of England's three million private tenants happy with the service they receive, I am satisfied that the current system strikes the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords".

And then the facts: "In a recent survey of 1,300 tenants, it found 73% were unhappy with the service they received from their agent".

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

David Laws - Forgotten But Not Gone

So... the Lib Dem that out-Toried the Tories has gone. Sort of.

The fact that Osborne is the now the strong link in the Treasury team is clearly giving Dave sleepless nights. So, barely hours after quitting, Laws is being tipped to return.

Not very new politics, that.