I wasn’t going to rant about Gidiot, or IDS. I really wasn’t, but then I saw this little gem in this morning’s Guardian and wondered just how offensive these two halfwits could get before they get stoned in the streets by a rampaging mob. Plenty, seems to be the answer judging by the press reactions today. There are no signs of any civil unrest yet, nor any major increase in the sales of handheld ballistic masonry. The words in this title are emotive, and I haven’t chosen them flippantly; there’s something very nasty going on, yet it’s not causing the anger that perhaps it should. After all, most of us could find ourselves in similar situations within only a couple of months. None of us are bulletproof, or indispensable.
Yesterday, the vacant, slap-headed halfwit’s halfwit, IDS, smirked his way through the launch of the Coalition’s assault on a system which, though imperfect, at least has the laudable aim of attempting to help the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Yesterday, all pretence of that has been removed. The Big Society? Is that ‘Big‘ spelled ‘No Such Thing As‘? And when his vapid remark about being able to live on £53 was challenged, he dismissed it as a stunt. He did attempt to justify his claim that he himself had faced hardship during his career, Unfortunately this is undercut slightly by the knowledge that when he lost his job as a marketing manager, he and his family moved into his father-in-law, Lord Cottesloe’s, 17th-century Old House in the village of Swanbourne in Buckinghamshire. His in-laws apparently moved into smaller accommodation to make way for them. Yes, it’s at just those times when having a wife whose daddy happened to be the lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, with a spare property or two can be so very useful. Most people aren’t quite so lucky.
And then, yesterday, there was our dear Chancellor. With a fixed rictus-grin and the glassy-eyed stare of a kitten trying to understand quantum electrodynamics, he turned up at a Morrisons distribution depot in Sevenoaks in Kent to wiffle at a bunch of bored blokes in hi-vis jackets. Gidiot went on the offensive (the very offensive), deriding those who oppose preying on the weakest (you know, like the church, and anyone else who isn’t basically a massive bell-end) as ‘talking rubbish’ and ‘having an agenda’. When you are on what looks very much like an unspoken ideological crusade to dismantle most of the mechanisms of the welfare state, complaining about other people having an agenda is pushing the irony meter to pretty dangerous levels, I think. But, to cut him a little slack, I’m not entirely sure he has that keen a sense of self-awareness.
He spoke of getting rid of a ‘something of nothing culture’, which let’s be brutally honest, shows a quite breathtaking amount of brass neck, given that he’s the heir to the Osborne baronetcy and the lucky recipient of a £4m trust fund. A fund he earned every penny of, didn’t he?
Anyway, having chosen his venue very carefully for the speech, he then went rattling off about workshy scroungers and the feckless, deftly sidestepping the rather inconvenient truth that many of the people who will be affected by these changes are actually in work. For instance, the number of people in work claiming housing benefit is rising. The decoration on the hoardings and the platform was very telling: “for hardworking people” it said. Which hardworking people exactly? The ones who earn minimum wage and have to claim befits to make ends meet? Because if it was one group of people Gidiot really didn’t want to talk about in any great detail, it was them. Still, why bother a good narrative with inconvenient things like evidence or the possibility that anyone who disagrees with you might have sound grounds for doing so, Going back to this Guardian story is more disturbing in that context. If this is allowed to be the case, it’s no longer enough just to be working. Not only will they make work pay, but if you don’t do the work they want, you’ll be made to pay some more.
And where, pray tell, is the Deputy Prime Minister? Currently he has the public profile of the 7th Earl of Lucan. As, it must be said, does Dave. Though maybe Dave’s decided to keep his head down after discovering he’s about as popular with most of Europe as Paolo di Canio at a Socialist Workers Party meeting. It wasn’t just the benefit changes. Yesterday saw major changes to the NHS and to Legal Aid. All things which provide a safety net for the majority of us: those of us who are not wealthy enough to be able to bear all of the costs on our own. But most of it passed with little clamour.
Maybe the motto of the coalition from this point should be: Work will set you free. It’s certainly more media friendly than fuck the poor but it amounts to much the same thing in the end.