It is possible, if you are prepared to dig deep enough, to find an explanation for even the most bizarre behaviour. When faced with a perfect storm of malice conjoined with incompetence, the least we can expect is a little bit of cabin fever madness and some random arson.
The recent nonsense spewing out of the coalition government is far from accidental and has, if you think about it deeply enough, exposed two important if unreported facts. Firstly, the coalition government is in complete political, economic and moral disarray. Secondly, away from prying eyes, they are fighting like ferrets in a sack in an effort to inherit an empire of dust. In a futile attempt to divert attention away from a massive failure of economic management, we are now treated to the undignified spectacle of cabinet ministers scurrying around lighting bonfires of distraction. Having grown accustomed to blaming everything on inherited deficit and the previous government, 25 months of blatant lies and abrogation of responsibility no longer seems to be the only tactic of choice for the discerning ministerial millionaire. The Conservative Party have turned away from their core electorate and are now concentrating solely on appeasing their powerful corporate financiers. As Essex white van man and angry of Tunbridge Wells raise a quizzical eyebrow at the latest smokescreen reported in the Murdoch press, ministers are beginning to realise that the game is up.
Osborne has fulfilled his potential by developing himself into the most imbecilic Chancellor this country has ever had to suffer. The coalition`s single most important priority was to reduce the deficit. The deficit has increased. The strategy to reduce the deficit was to reduce borrowing, reduce spending, reduce public services and by doing so, inexplicably, stimulate economic growth. Borrowing is up to record levels, spending has increased and cuts to public services, mostly involving the removal of gainful employment, has resulted in tax revenue down and benefit payments up. Growth has come to a grinding stop and we are in recession. Add to this a spectacular inability to grasp the fundamental difference between accumulated debt and a shortfall between income and expenditure and we are left with an inept Chancellor equipped with only the economic experience of extorting tuck money and cigarettes from the younger boys in the dormitories of St Paul`s Public School.
Old Paulines, as they are delightfully described, include Milton, Pepys, Sir Isaiah Berlin and Nicholas Parsons. Osborne may not possess poetic genius, the skill of a diarist or an understanding of value pluralism in political language, but he is certainly capable of extraordinary feats of hesitation, deviation and repetition. When it became clear that Osborne`s disastrous March budget would lead to ruin, even Tory back benchers realised that simply repeating “inherited deficit” as an excuse was becoming more than a mere irritation and was, along with Osborne, an electoral liability. Taxing pensioners, caravans and savoury pastry based products did not go down well in leafy Tory shires and the reversal of lunatic budgetary imposition began. To cover this deviation away from Plan A, cabinet ministers did not hesitate to say anything, no matter how ridiculous, to divert attention away from the economy going down the plug hole.
So we had Francis Maud jabbering wildly about petrol shortages, Duncan Smith, Grayling and Pickles slagging off the poor, the terminally ill and people with disabilities, Lansley blaming Labour for hospital closures because Gordon Brown invented PFI schemes, Gove running up and down the curtains with a piece of the carpet in his mouth making no sense at all about O levels and Baroness Warsi finally and mercifully forced to stop talking drivel due to her unfortunately error in breaking the ministerial code. Jeremy Hunt was told to keep his mouth shut but that did not stop Mr Speaker allowing him the honour of being the first MP in history to be described as a liar in the House of Commons. Teresa May tried valiantly to join the pantomime but has now, like Maud, Hunt and Warsi, disappeared from view after the Home Secretary was found guilty of contempt of court. House Captain Cameron sallied forth with some utter bilge about removing housing benefit from the under 25`s possibly, maybe, sometime after the next election and by questioning the morality of the tax arrangements of someone off the telly. We should be concerned about the stability of the Prime Minister`s mental state as he seems to be suggesting that he is capable of being re-elected and that he pursued a so-called comedian over tax avoidance rather than under the trade descriptions act.
As Osborne`s budget unravels, no amount of willy waving and petulant pouting can disguise the fact that the Chancellor`s days are numbered and it is here that we are offered a glimpse of the true nature of the Conservative Party. Budget priorities that will not be reversed are tax breaks for millionaires, a cut in Corporation Tax and relaxed legislation in governing the behaviour of banks including further bail outs and the level of executive bonuses. This humble blog will return to the breaking scandal at Barclays and other banks once the lengthy FSA report has been read, digested and puked back up.
Call it Omni, mega, uber or complete, government is in a state of total shambles. An hour after briefing Tory MPs to attack Labour as hypocritical for demanding a reversal of an increase in fuel duty, Osborne told the Commons that he was reversing an increase in fuel duty. Forgetting the noble concepts of chivalry and gentlemanly conduct instilled into the pupils of St Paul`s School, Osborne went to dinner and left the hapless Chloe Smith to face a savage mauling on Newsnight. In defence of his Chancellor, Cameron may have misled the house by stating that Osborne could not attend media interviews because he was making his statement in the Commons. The statement was made just after midday, Newsnight, a live programme, starts at 22-30. Poor Chloe, her credibility now ruined, also took a kicking on the Radio 4 PM programme at 17-00 and on Channel 4 News at 19-00. One can only assume that Osborne enjoyed his dinner.
Given carte blanche to say whatever they like, no matter how outrageous to distract the electorate away from the current economic train crash, Tory ministers possessed of more ambition than ability, see the parlous state of government as an opportunity to seize power. Osborne is toast and Cameron has a haunted look and if any serious investigation into their tax affairs is undertaken, the regimes at St Paul`s and Eton might yet prove to be morally preferable to an education at Wormwood Scrubs or Pentonville.
The added distractions of the Jubilee and the Olympics might stave off melt down until the autumn but with voracious self interested ministers already looking at succession by attempting to appeal to the hearts and minds of the 1922 committee, the ferret fight is likely to become dirty. Sadly for the wider electorate, the 1922 committee have not been blessed with either hearts or minds.
As an Old Pauline, George Gideon Oliver Osborne, heir to the Ballentaylor baronetcy of Tipperary will know that “Surmaster” means Deputy Head and will understand the significance of the Apposition Dinner and ceremony held every year at that school. Apposition allows for the removal of poorly performing, corrupt and incompetent masters. One High Master, way back in 1748, was given his marching orders for threatening to “pull the Surmaster by the nose and kick him about the school”. Gideon, with his nose offering the only tangible evidence of actual growth, might wish to cut his puppet strings and become a real boy, but he is best advised to avoid any future Apposition Dinners.
David Cameron, a direct and illegitimate descendant of William IV, went to Eton. At the end of dinner at that school, they have a mess. That, for those that don`t know, is a pudding. It might just be coincidental that what Cameron calls pudding, is now the definition of his government.