There is clear and fundamental purpose behind the apparent chaos of the current Conservative-led ‘reforms’. The chaos is a cover, whether intentional or not, to distract us whilst a root-and-branch revision of the rules of engagement is being embedded into UK politics.
There’s little doubt now that David Cameron, George Osborne, Andrew Lansley and their Tory Cabinet colleagues intend to dismember the welfare state and replace it with excellent welfare service provision available to all… who can pay for it.
The rest will with luck receive a bare minimum of support to prevent large-scale social disorder (this is not a threat; it’s a genuine fear on my part) at least for the foreseeable future, though who knows what the longer-term outcomes may be.
So where are the LibDems? Haven’t they realised; or are they too afraid / unbothered / fond of their ‘power’ now to make a fuss?
We look soon, if nothing is done, to be approaching the situation described so vividly by the working class quasi-hero Frank Owen, one of Robert Tressell (Noonan)‘s characters, as he explains his ‘Great Money Trick’ in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914) – in essence, bread is freely available to buy, you just need to work for the baker to earn the money first.
As one commentator, Dave Harker (2003), has pointed out, much more recently:
Towards the end of the book Owen hands over the baton to the middle-class socialist, George Barrington. [But…] he assumes that the state is a neutral machine whose drivers will be allowed to steer society towards socialism, unmolested by capitalists, their hangers-on, the armed forces, the judiciary and the civil service….. So we face the same basic choices as Owen and Barrington. Do we give in to sophisticated despair …. [and] argue that, since capitalism is allegedly all-powerful, we should settle for a few crumbs from the table?
I have edited Harker’s commentary mercilessly, and not many of us now believe that ‘true’ socialism is, or could be, the answer to the current situation; but questions of this sort remain pertinent, challenging contemporary economic circumstances or not.
Rick of the excellent Flip Chart Fairy Tales writes recently of the ‘Dictatorship of the moment’, i.e. of the ‘with us or against us’ harrying of Cameron in his rush to embed what I have termed de-governance.
Perhaps some LibDems, especially the un-nice ones, think it’s OK to settle (on their constituents’ behalf) for a ‘few crumbs’. My guess however is that in their hearts most of them don’t.
So why are they going along with the ConDem coalition?