The Plastic Hippo

March 3, 2014

Fall from grace



There can be few things sadder than seeing formerly dignified and noble institutions descend into squalid decay or once respected and decent individuals fall from greatness into the gutter of ruined reputation.

First among equals in the downward spiral towards derelict oblivion seems to be parliamentary democracy. According to our government, doctors, nurses, support staff and ambulance crews wilfully neglect their duty and are deliberately harming every single NHS patient. By this bizarre logic, the NHS is evil and has to be dismantled. Teachers and their sinister assistants have blighted the lives of children and ruined state education. State education, therefore, is failing and needs to be put out of its misery. What passes for government thinking might also conclude that every police officer constantly tells lies about cabinet ministers, fire fighters start fires, badgers cause floods and fracking will cure cancer. The welfare state, constructed in the aftermath of war and a litmus test of just how compassionate and civilised a nation is, is dead. The illness was mercifully short. It has been less than four years since May 2010.

After less than four years in intensive care, it looks like liberalism is flat-lining and the only option is to disconnect the life-support machine. It would be futile to list the occasions of tacit complicity in ill-liberalism bartered for a brief moment of governance by Clegg and his mercenary MPs. In would also be a waste of time to chronicle the forced resignations, court cases, decisions not to stand again, policy defeats, broken pledges and the acceptance of the Tory shilling. Thank heavens Lord Rennard is no longer making party policy but how sad to see Shirley Williams, once a gifted and effective politician now reduced in her twilight years to a shambling bag lady shouting in defence of the NHS but voting for its extinction. It seems a shame that liberalism has expired and that its best remembered sound bite will be “sorry”.

On the other side of the house, Labour, or New Labour or One Nation Labour or whatever they are calling themselves this week, are already rehearsing their “mess we inherited” speeches due to public opinion polls suggesting a lead over the public schoolboys of between five or seven or nine points and a victory in May 2015. Given the current carnage, five or seven or nine points is nothing to celebrate and Labour cannot keep quiet and assume victory. Opinion polls are an easily manipulated black art. There has been some fine talk of repealing this and reversing that but, as yet, no concrete policy on saving the welfare state or, as privileged people tend to refer to it through gritted teeth, social security. The clue is in the title; it`s not scrounging, it`s a secure society. However, some shadow ministers are suggesting that some of the coalition scorched earth antics are a good thing and will be maintained and “improved upon” after the glorious socialist revolution. There seems little point in chronicling the forced resignations, court cases, decisions not to stand again, policy defeats, broken pledges and the acceptance of Tory dogma.

Perhaps the most tragic fall from grace has the transformation of what was once a balanced, impartial, accurate and trusted news provider. The self-proclaimed “home of comedy”, BBC Radio Four, is now peddling weak political satire during its news broadcasts. When Ed Miliband secured 86 per cent approval for his “reform” of Labour`s relationship with Trade Unions, the BBC correspondent helpfully reported that such a majority had not been seen since the days of Saddam Hussein or the Soviet Union. Summoning up Tony Blair`s Clause Four moment, he dismissed the block vote and the end of the electoral college as a meaningless empty gesture that is not likely to change anything. Sadly, he forgot some of the usual script and failed to describe Trade Union leaders as “barons” and did not call greedy, fraudulent crooks “business leaders”. Standards are obviously slipping at the BBC.

At first glance, it would appear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party have held onto their impeccable reputation and their power to inflict vindictive suffering remains undimmed. There has, though, been a subtle change in emphasis since the lofty auspices of Churchill and MacMillan. The core support of self-made, hard-working, law-abiding and ever so slightly jingoistic people is aging and is being replaced by younger “entrepreneurs” who rather enjoy climbing on heads to get rich and stay rich either within or outside of the law. Cameron`s problem is that after nearly four years of deception, diverting blame and rewarding the mega-rich, decent and ethical traditional Tory voters in leafy suburbs might ask themselves “did we really vote for this bunch of spivs?” There seems little point in chronicling the forced resignations, court cases, decisions not to stand again, policy defeats, broken pledges and the acceptance of Hedge Fund money.

If he is to be judged on his record, Cameron`s spectacular arc of failure will become a less than graceful nose dive into a great big bucket of oblivion taking the rest of us with him.


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