Friday, 31 December 2010

A Year of Living Rough.

8 months since the Coalition took power from a bankrupt Labour government and the pitch hasn't changed one bit. Still the government claims to be leading the "Good Fight" against a budget deficit created by a one-eyed dour Scotsman. Though the Conservatives have stopped going around promising change and no longer speak critically of the politics of the last 30 years. As that might be a fly in the ointment when the public notice the similarities of the current regime and those we've endured since 1979. The shadow platform of the Lib Dems is now laid bare for all to see, with the consequences visible in plummeting approval ratings. Meanwhile New Labour has found a new leader who strongly resembles a Simpson, which isn't bad considering the Conservative leader looks more like shiny evil than an actual organism. On a more serious note Ed Miliband made positive detours from the lurch to the Right by the Labour Party, which saw Britain being led into wars for oil and gas, but has presented a luke-warm opposition to the Con-Dem Coalition on the cuts and tuition fees.

David Cameron, the harbinger of an austere Dickensian future, has issued a New Year message which begins by reassuring us that he is an optimist when it comes to people, human nature and the future of Britain. Going onto claim that the Prime Minister begins the New Year with the same positive outlook he had back in May. In doing so Cameron displays a caution for negativity, which can be a turn-off for voters, opting for a golden mean of rhetorical prestidigitation. He stresses that if we resolve the "real problem" of British society, namely the budget deficit and the economy, we can be one of the "international success stories of the new decade". Then Cameron reverts to a commonsensical position, "We have been living seriously beyond our means, we have to sort this out. Every sensible person knows this." He then posits that it would be easy to delay the cuts and highlights action (e.g. immediate and savage cuts) as the right course to take. This is a conscious attempt to evoke not only the dark outlook of conservatism but also the "idealistic" side of resolving problems by preserving traditional values, responsibility and order.

Keep in mind that the Conservative Party of today is most definitely Thatcherite, if not hyper-Thatcherite, in character and the only traditional values that matter are the ones established in 1979. Forgot community, civic duty and responsibility. Remember individuality, freedom and self-interest. Private vices equal public benefits, or so they will claim. Buying goods produced in sweat shops is good because it employs children, keeping them from abuse and sexual exploitation (in theory), this is the thinking of the Conservative Party. The Coalition is not lying in claiming to be creating the "Big Society" as a society in which government is small may be one which could be considered "big". Public relations at its best.  We've been sold cuts from the very start of Cameron's term. The long-term aim is small government, where everything from the NHS to the BBC is privately owned and taxes have been cut in half - more like Goldwater Conservatism than Red Toryism.

The Prime Minister goes on to say that "Britain has a really bright future to look forward to. 2011 is going to be a difficult year as we take hard but necessary steps to sort things out. But the actions we are taking are essential, because they are putting our economy and our country on the right path. Together, we can make 2011 the year that Britain gets back on its feet." This is emotive waffle, words typed up to sound nice and reassure the listeners to the insecurity of the path the Cameron ministry is taking this country. Following this waffle Cameron inserts some interesting claims, apparently New Labour racked up the biggest deficit in peace time history. Actually government debt didn't drop below 70% until the late 70s and early 80s under the Irony Lady, before that it was well over 100% for almost 50 years and during that time the welfare state was constructed. He goes on to evoke the widely covered crises in Greece and Ireland, even though we're not in the same situation as either country. Let alone the hypocrisy, David Cameron has backed the bailing out of Irish banks this year and will not doubt do the same during the next financial crisis here.

It becomes evident that Mr Cameron fears the country's credit rating is at stake, that we're facing rising interest rates and falling business confidence, before keenly reiterating that the deficit was inherited from New Labour and Gordon Brown - Labour's John Major. He conveniently forgets to mention that the Irish debt increased following huge austerity measures and that Britain had the lowest debt in proportion to GDP out of the G7 countries. After this Cameron goes on to claim that the Coalition has already "pulled Britain out of that danger zone" through some tough decisions in the Budget Review. At this point the Prime Minister introduces a justification, the ends justify the means, economic growth is predicted to rise from 2011 and even further in 2012. After attributing the growth achieved in 2010 to the Coalition's policies, and not Labour's "imprudent spending", Cameron concludes that we must swallow the Con-Dem prescription of austerity. He then repeats the old Thatcherite mantra "There is no alternative" and claims that it would be irresponsible to avoid cuts.

Following this is a load of noise about intentions, the national interest, aspiration, practicality and not ideology, as well as a reminder that "We're all in this together" before claiming contradictorily that "We want to bring people with us". Some noise about economic dynamism, more bank lending, greater deregulation and greater investment in the "sectors of the future". All of which is so vague no one could oppose them, except the part about deregulation which partly caused the financial crisis. After all this noise, the Prime Minister reminds we the people of the threat of international terrorism and radical Islamism. Noting the recent arrests of terrorist suspects the Prime Minister states this government will give the police the full support and defeat those who threaten our values and way of life. Just like New Labour the Con-Dems are looking to get the public to accept repressive policies - whether it be an attack on civil liberties or the welfare state - by evoking patriotism and advocating defensive violence against an external threat.

To avoid any scandals Mr Cameron highlights that the threat of Islamist violence is from a minority in the Muslim community. Soon after Cameron ensures that the door for more wars overseas is open by saying "We also need to take action with our international partners (US) abroad." As WikiLeaks has shown we are currently in the grips of another pro-American government, which has no problem with paying £80 billion to replenish American nuclear weapons we're allowed to hold onto and use when Washington gives the order. In the last minute the message descends into pure emotivism, the words were mostly hollowed out for public consumption, like a speech at a fascist rally. The emphasis is on making Britain is a "better, stronger and safer country" which is a meaningless platitude as no one would ever want to make Britain worse, weaker and less safe. The New Year message ends with words crafted by a PR-team "If 2010 is the year we stopped the rot, we can make 2011 the year that Britain gets back on her feet." To the government the public are a bewildered herd to be feared and manipulated, this is the reason behind the rhetoric and the gloss.

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