Tuesday, 20 July 2010

It's the end of the honeymoon

I'm hearing from YouGov, via PoliticsHome (thanks to @MaximManchester). Here is a link to the YouGov article (if you have Diigo, you can turn it on and see where I have highlighted and commented on a couple of points.

There is a bit of the no-brainer about all of this, that when the cuts started... well, erm, cutting, that people were going to get a bit miffed. Two things on that: Well, serves you right obviously comes to mind. The Tories said they were going to cut, and they're cutting. And people don't like it, apparently. Which begs the question as to why we elected them with a workable majority so that they could implement their agenda unopposed... oh. Wait.

But also it's the Tories own fault if they're not loved right now, because they are cutting more than they have to. Yes, they are. Don't believe the hype, don't fall for the scare stories. They were always going to cut more than they have to. The are Conservatives. That's what they do.

But I'm confused by a couple of points raised by Peter Kellner's commentary. He explains that the public are getting disillusioned with the new coalition government much faster than they did with Labour from 1997. The statistics bear this up. However, Kellner's decisive interpretation of this seems a bit odd.
Plainly, part of the problem is that many voters are growing queasy about the coming spending cuts. No longer is it possible for most of us to believe that these will be confined to efficiency savings and services that affect other people. David Cameron’s warning that ‘we are all in this together’ is proving to be alarmingly true.
First, no, we're not all in this together, as the Tories' posh-boys, I suspect, will somehow survive these cuts relatively unscathed. Call it a hunch. But, no, it's not 'plain', Peter, no. Surely another -- perhaps even more likely -- explanation is that many Lib Dem voters are not happy that the party they voted for went into coalition with the Tories and so sycophantically support an agenda almost completely opposite to that on which they stood? Which surely the statistics themselves imply?

While approval for the coalition has risen among Tory voters, from 80% in mid-June to 84% , which is to be expected as they get to see cut in public spending beyond their wettest, wildest dreams, the situation amongst people who voted for the Lib Dems is rather different:
Among those who voted Lib Dem on May 6, opinions are divided: just 40% approve of the coalition’s performance, while 36% disapprove. No wonder Lib Dem support has slumped since the coalition was formed. Indeed, of those who voted Lib Dem on May 6, just 46% would vote for the party if an election were held now, while 18% would vote Labour, 9% Conservative and 5% for other parties; 22% are ‘don’t knows’ or ‘won’t votes’.
So Kellner's assumption that the coalition, who swept to power with 61% of the vote between them, is losing support now because of the cuts themselves seems like an assumption unsupported by the facts, doesn't it? I'm not saying that we can know for sure that the low approval rating for the coalition is due to disaffected Lib Dem voters, but isn't that the Lib Dem portion of that 61% are saying, 'Whoa!' -- because Lib Dems are like that -- 'Hold on one second here. I don't remember voting for this. I don't think I like this. No sir. Not one bit.'

Ok. It's how I feel, stupidly lured into voting Lib Dem as I was. So surely everyone else naive enough to vote Lib Dem agrees with me?

Monday, 19 July 2010

A plea.

Ok, starting a new week with a topic of grave concern for the children of Britain, nay, doubtless the world.

I wish to call your attention to a worrying trend, something that is symbolic, I feel, of how badly we treat our children. I want to call for a swift and decisive change in the behaviour of each and every one of you. I want each of you to look into your hearts, into your souls, and take the action that is necessary to free our children from a terrible injustice that will, if allowed to continue unimpeded, have serious repercussions on our children's development and the future of this planet.

So, please heed the following: IF you see a four-year-old boy skipping happily towards a cross-walk this morning, keep your finger off the fucking button to request a cross. I don't know whether it is by pathetic ignorance of malicious cruelty, but every morning last week my four-year old Jonah, after asking so sweetly if he can edge ahead of me to press the cross-walk button (and this now that his older brother is much too cool to try to beat him to it), has had his hopes crushed at the last second by the merciless finger of a callous teenage boy or the foreboding wrinkled hand of an old man.

What kind of people are these? That they either do not sense the uninhibited enthusiasm of youth, or that they wish to destroy it? Have they suffered so much, have their own childhood experiences been so traumatic, that they are compelled to repeat the injustices done to them unto the youth of today?

Sort it out. Because I'm not having it any more. My son has suffered enough disappointment. Have a look before you press that button, or so help me you'll find it bitten off. I mean it.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Shock Breaking News!

Wealthy white men in the United Kingdom are using their financial advantage, privilege and connections to get themselves elected to Parliament!

Unbelievable, I know. But apparently true. Hear all about it here.

What's wrong, Posh Boy? Not used to not getting your own way? (You could just see his stuff upper lip wanting to bark at the injustice of such an interrogation. And to tolerate that from a man who clearly buys his ties from Marks and Spencers! The horror.)

Oh, Zac. Zac, Zac, Zac, Zac, Zac, Zac, Zac. You poor fool. You've just joined Michael Howard in the annals of The Classic Political Interview. Jon Snow at last takes his position alongside Jeremy Paxman. Next time you'll remember to call Dave's media people, won't you, old chum? There's a good lad.

But seriously. Good investigative journalism from Channel 4 and all, but doesn't this feel a lot like getting Capone sent away for tax evasion? I mean, if it gets the job done good work and all that, but don't you feel like we're missing something in all the detail? When the Prime Minister and his Chancellor, yes, I will mention it again, thank you very much, were happy Bullingdon dinner pals in their youth, along with the mayor of London?

I just think there's a Bigger Picture here, you know?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Where have I been?

Well, other than in a dentist's chair -- interminably -- I've been largely depressed. Not 'depression' like depression, but just sick sick sick of it all.

I'm not depressed that we've got a Tory government. (Yes, it is. For all the talk of a coalition, we've got a right-wing, conservative government. They just happen to have a yellow fig leaf for cover. We couldn't have got a more right-wing Tory government had we all rushed to the poles and voted overwhelmingly for it. Which we didn't.) I'm not depressed about that because, if I'm being honest, there is something strangely comforting about the axe-wielding bastard Tory villains coming at us while we sleep. Like the Pope being a misogynist schmuck and Russian spies being uncovered in the US and being deported. It all reminds me of snuggling warmly into my Star Wars sheets as a boy, fighting the certain knowledge that world was going to end in nuclear holocaust before the morning. It's like everything's conspiring to rid the world of its usual ambivalence, of Labour politicians taking us into a neo-con war, etc. etc., but hey, this is good, because it's what we know. It's less work. Let's get on with it, I say!

SO, I was ready for a little joy, Schadenfreude, what have you, in climbing back under the anxiety-soaked sheets of opposition, of complaining endlessly about what Those Bastards are up to now. But what's the point? Nobody's listening.

Have you been watching the news? Listening to the radio? Everyone seems to be receiving the Condem claims of Big Cuts Now on face value. Even Labour, who are putting up a shadow of the resistance they should be, seem to accept the Tory claim '... because of the mess left to us by Labour'. BBC interviewers seems incapable to thinking outside the Tory cage.

'Whose fucking mess?' I find myself screaming impotently at the radio in my kitchen. 'Who's fucking fault is it that the UK is in so much debt?'

'Is it the banks' fault, Daddy?' Will asks.

'Yes! The banks fault...!' and we carry on like this. (If your children go to my sons' school and have inexplicably started swearing in the last couple of weeks... well, I don't know where they got that from.) It seems like everyone has declared war on the public sector, forgetting it seems that it wasn't a bloated public sector that got us into this mess but an irresponsible private section.

And New Regime has emboldened every asshole who, for years during the Labour government, had the decency to at least moderate their bullshit. So you've got disgruntled men who have been laid off their private-sector jobs blaming everything on the 'cushy' pensions of teachers. You've got VCs -- both Vice-Chancellors and Vice Cable -- who for years pretended that they gave a shit about students, now slipping back into complete elitist mode: 'Don't cut our funding, just cut the number of places', daring to call for markets in a way that was, frankly, very awkward for them under Labour.

Everyone is suddenly calling for Markets to be introduced into everything - the NHS, schools, unversities -- forgetting that it was Markets that got us into this problem in the first place.

And of course it is worth remembering that MOST of us didn't vote for such dramatic cuts. Most of us wanted something different. What was it you said, Nick?

Oh, yeah.

So there was no mandate for these cuts, but the Tories are going to do it anyway. And as I said, that in-and-of-itself isn't what frustrates me. I was rather looking forward to joining the mass-uprising against what the Tories wanted to do, given that -- again -- MOST of us didn't agree that the Tories had the right idea. But it seems that we've all been lobotomised. Post-election, we have forgotten what the debate was, and instead of fighting the cuts, everyone is getting behind the Tory's plan, just because they've scared us into thinking that their ideological want-to is a pragmatic need-to.

It's not. These are choices. The Tories want to cut corporation tax so that it is, as they proudly proclaim, the lowest in the developed world. They raise VAT and make deeper cuts into public serves than are necessary to pay for their smaller state. Which I understand. They are Tories. It's what they do. But can the rest of us stop pretending to like it?

(Incidentally, thinking of such choices and the attacks on the BBC and very idea of public broadcasting, as another example, it is worth remembering that 15.1 million people chose to watch the World Cup final on the BBC, the publicly-funded model, whereas only 3.3 million chose the private model on ITV. These things matter, you know.)