It has been a very long year. 364 days ago, this humble blog expressed worries over what 2011 might bring. On reflection, those worries now seem the product of rosy optimism and as we welcome the dawn of 1982, mere worries have been replaced by actual fear.
Twelve months is a long time in politics, and it would be superhuman for our hard-working politicians to remember everything they said and promised. Having not actually been elected, all that stuff about not destroying the NHS, building houses, improving social care, “fairness”, investing in education, “progressive reform” and stimulating growth by reducing unemployment seems to have slipped from the minds of busy ministers and their back bench familiars. Anything in the party manifestos should now be considered as allegorical and not the true word of God as revealed to Michael Gove and David Cameron.
If 18 months ago is too hard to recall, imagine the scale of collective amnesia after 30 years have elapsed. Way back in 1981, two years into Margaret Thatcher’s first Conservative government, riots, savage cuts to public services, rising unemployment and an economy run by the greedy few for the greedy few brought the nation to crisis. Cabinet minutes released under the thirty year rule give an insight into what is actually in the minds of those who claim to rule us. The day the papers were made public, a succession of retired ministers, senior civil servants and military men were wheeled from their care homes covered in warm knee rugs and, brandishing ear horns, claimed complete ignorance in front of the microphones and cameras.
“I was misrepresented”, claimed one.
“I don’t recall saying that”, said another.
“I was not aware of that discussion. I knew nothing of that”, bleated a senior advisor to the Prime Minister.
“Look, it was all a long time ago and these things happen”.
The parallels between 1981 and 2011 are astonishing. There was even an heir to the throne marrying a fairy tale bride.
The released papers reveal that Margaret Thatcher was in negotiation with Irish Republicans regarding hunger strikes by IRA prisoners demanding political status. After telling the commons and the nation that she would never, never, never negotiate with terrorists, she went to her study to edit telex messages to the IRA. Using a pen, she would cross things out and change the wording. It should come as no surprise that a British Prime Minister tells lies to parliament and people. One need only think of Tony Blair.
Selling tanks to Pinochet’s evil dictatorship was good for the British “defence” industry because Chile was an expanding market. Similarly, a contract to repair and refurbish British made tanks sold to Iran and captured by Iraq would preserve British jobs. At this time, Britain was officially “neutral” in the Iran-Iraq war and we all surely remember what happened when Saddam won…and then lost. When Libya fell, Cameron took arms dealers to Benghazi. It doesn’t seem to matter who the dictator is as long as they have deep pockets to pay for stuff that “defends” them and kills people.
The minutes reveal that dead sheep Geoffrey Howe advised that, following the Toxteth riots, Liverpool should undergo a “managed decline” and that spending money on that blighted city would be wasted on “stony ground” and would be like “trying to make water flow uphill”. Geoffrey should know. He was once the MP for a posh part of Birkenhead called Bebington, a commuter town inhabited by the well-off working in Liverpool. Geoffrey was kicked out of town in the 1966 general election and followed The Beatles to that there London.
It is unlikely, to say the least, that your humble correspondent will live to see New Year’s Day 2042, but that really doesn’t matter. The cabinet minutes released in late December of that year will have a strange familiarity, especially if they have internet connection in heaven or hell. One can understand the devil creating the world wide web but why would God come up with such a subversive invention? Eternal paradise – no signal.
The on line minutes will be the same as 1981. Sell weapons to nasty people, crush the poor, protect the greedy, dismantle everything that has been hard fought for since the Tolpuddle Martyrs, categorise anyone who objects as a terrorist, remove legitimate financial support from terminal cancer patients and disabled children and continue to allow bankers to pay themselves obscene bonuses. For good measure, throw in some good old-fashioned austerity for those who can’t afford it.
If you need proof of who is valued in our coalition of the incompetent and the vindictive, take a look at the New Year’s Honours List.
Paul Ruddock receives a knighthood. His company, Lansdowne Partners made £100million by speculating that shares in Northern Rock and other banks bailed out by the tax payer would fall. So short-selling that results in small businesses going under and throwing people out of work is okay in coalition Britain. He has, by the way, donated half a million to the Tory party.
You might not recall Gerald Ronson, but from now on he is entitled to put CBE after his name on his business cards. He was the chap who was sent to prison along with Ernest Saunders and Anthony Parnes in 1990 over the Guinness share fixing scandal. Jack Lyons, also guilty but too old and frail to go to prison, was stripped of his knighthood.
Peter Bazalgette is awarded a knighthood, presumably for his contribution to media and culture. He is the man who gave us Big Brother and Deal or no Deal and is the great great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the genius civil engineer who was instrumental in constructing the London sewage system. How ironic that Peter’s forbearer, who was tasked with removing the crap from London, now turns in his grave at the news that his descendant is ennobled for pipping crap into British television.
Britain has changed since 1981 and so has the demeanour of Tory Prime Ministers. Mrs Thatcher’s implacable Iron Lady image brooked no compromise and apart from little white lies regarding dead hunger strikers, her legacy remains a divided nation and a dead cert Oscar for Meryl Streep. The lady, as we all remember, was not for turning. Cameron, on the other hand, is attempting to play Hugh Grant with Andy Coulson providing the screenplay. His many U-turns, lack of coherent policy and incompetent stewardship of the economy is explained by “listening” to the people and masks a deep rooted and spiteful desire to preserve the power and wealth of greedy at the expense of everyone else. This is where worry becomes fear.
Given the savage attack on the most vulnerable in society and Osborne’s complete failure, one would assume that HM`s Loyal Opposition would be landing body blows on this vindictive government on an hourly basis. Sadly, Ed Miliband comes across as a whining sneering scholarship schoolboy facing Flashman at PMQ`s and the Labour Party is not an effective opposition. We are now on our own.
In 1982, the internet was in its infancy and the powers that be saw it as a powerful tool to maintain the control, manipulation and compliance of the masses who funded their wealthy life-styles and shiny toys designed to kill people. Thatcher, to her credit, realised the potential of the internet to allow free access to information and, worst of all, allow a platform to express an opinion. She hated the idea that the controllers and manipulators should be held to account and criticised by those that refuse to comply. She made it very clear that she wanted it stopped.
Our present illegitimate government, along with other governments around the world have suddenly woken up to Thatcher’s prophesy. Dark talk of shutting down the internet during times of civil disobedience is rife and in 12 months time, the opinions offered in this humble blog might be impossible to publish. That would undoubtedly please certain local politicians of all political shades who seem to resent any form of criticism even during periods when there is no evidence of public unrest. So before this humble blog is shut down:
Welcome to 1982.