Oh Lord, it’s upon us again: Party Conference Season. This is the time of year when No. 10 goes into overdrive, thinking up a whole raft of half-arsed “policy” announcements, designed to keep the media busy. Unfortunately, this year, it seems to serve only as background to the long-running “when is he finally going to realise that no one wants him” saga. Bliar is acting like the straggler that every party or social event has: the one who, long after everyone else has remembered they have a home to go to, steadfastly sits on your settee, refusing to leave.
In the meantime of course, we have the procession of announcements. The last two days have been interesting because it tells us quite a lot about the mindset of government now.
On Wednesday was the announcement about the intention to make possession of “violent pornography” an offence. While there might at least some basic grain of right in this, the problems are significant. For a start, how does one define what “violent pornography” actually is? There is a significant grey area here when considering the range of fully consensual activity that might be covered by such legislation. Second, how is this legislation likely to be enforced? Lots of talk has been aimed at making sure that “vulnerable people are not pushed over the edge”. All very admirable, I’m sure, but not really a sustainable argument in proscribing a range of (currently) legal behaviours.
And then there was yesterday. Tony dips his toes into the ocean that is social engineering, talking about identifying “trouble causers” at the earliest age possible, preferably before they even get to the second trimester. Once again, while there might be some merit in the idea of understanding the social breakdown of criminal behaviour, notice that we don’t seem to have any sign of any of this being applied to nice middle class families, who might, after all be floating Labour voters. The idea seems rather reductive actually, and primarily designed to assuage the fear of all those middle class floating voters (in effect, people like me) who spend their lives in fear of the rampant power of the, “chav scum”.
Unfortunately, I don’t necessarily think that they are the problem. This brings me back to the idea of the government’s mindset, namely that the mob are like little children who need protecting from themselves. To that end then, they will swathe us with legislation designed to prescribe almost every single aspect of our lives: birth, school, work, childcare and all the rest. To go with it is an infrastructure of people who cannot resist but interfere in the lives of ordinary people for increasingly bizarre and inappropriate reasons. In the meantime we are sedated by reality TV and the culture of venerating people who are famous for being famous, not for actually bothering to do anything useful or productive or admirable.
And all the while Tony fights to hold on to his increasingly tenuous grip on reality.