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.)

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