The angry former Tory voter’s interjection on this week’s question time was a rare example: it doesn’t happen often. For the first time I can remember, a Tory minister was genuinely confronted by someone at the receiving end of one of their policies; their anguish was honed, their message was blunt, and their anger totally justifiable and impossible to compare to the whimperings of Labour MPs or guardian columnists. Nothing can be substituted for the effect felt by a politician, having their fantasy-imaginings of how the world should work shattered so mercilessly and with such passion by exactly the kind of person whose vote they need.
I have no personal dislike of Amber Rudd, I think she’s a fairly good MP, it just do happens she’s been put in charge of her party’s indefensible policies regarding renewable energy. Although the subsidies for nuclear energy and fossil fuels will remain, the subsidies for renewable energy are being slashed, leading to a general collapse of the industry.
It’s all very well to have free market principles; the trouble comes when those people find themselves in government. Because economic reality seldom reflects the imaginings of Friedrich Hayek. When jobs are threatened, politicians have a moral duty to do all in their power to protect those jobs, it is not just their role as representatives, to do otherwise is electoral suicide. Besides this, despite the Tory pontifications of individual freedom, once in power those ideals are rarely carried with them into ministerial offices: given the chance, they are just as keen as their statist rivals to “change lives”, and use their power to remake the world in their ideological image. The only real difference is that in the case of Labour, that ideological image is an image where community spirit blossoms; the Tory image is one of naked self-interest and primitive, Darwinian struggle, which to them is not just a fact of life, it is something to yearn for.
It’s one thing to say that self-interest is an unavoidable aspect of human nature – most people would agree – it’s quite another to relish the prospect of hunting benefit claimants from their hideouts in Shinewater with bugles and hounds. Equally, it’s one thing to say that renewable energy is a costly way of dealing with climate change – it’s quite another to say that you’ll cut funding for it, whilst prioritising funding for those industries that will kill the planet.
Tax credits will be the downfall of this chancellor. I think history will remember him as one of the cleverest political operators in British history, but if it has any sense of justice, it will not remember him as a committed public servant. Time after time he has outmaneuvered his Labour rivals, humiliating them with political traps like his fiscal charter (which has no worth as an article of law, and further degrades the respect politicians of any party have for the nonsense they decide to burden the statute book with) but he has also damaged the British economy – and the livelihoods of millions – by inflicting his hardcore Thatcherite ideology on a country that clearly doesn’t want it. When, in 2011, after his omnishambles budget, he realised that austerity wasn’t helping the British economy, we can identify a change in thought at the treasury. He abandoned austerity as a driver of the economic recovery, but retained it as a political message.
And so the policy that made him so hated that he was booed at the olympics became his badge of honour. He had made the hard choices, (as Tories always do) and as a direct result, Sky News says there has been a slight improvement in the economy, and major falls in inflation. Never mind that his economic recovery has been dragged out over five years of his political maneuvering and five years of daily misery for millions; never mind that the drop in inflation is entirely down to a fall in international oil prices, as far out of George’s control as was being born a Gideon. Sky news isn’t saying that. And neither is the Telegraph or the Times.
And so you begin to see how elections are won, and political legacies made, by sleight of hand and the success of soundbites, faithfully relayed by a media with such double standards that it’s astounding they haven’t gone cross-eyed like Mayan babies.
That’s all for now.