Government of Denial: Crisis? What Crisis?
Robert Woodward – TruePublica contributing editor: Looking at the Conservative party as it is right now, it would be easy to believe they are of a different species, who speak a different language, who came from a different world – a different dimension even. Every day a new statistic of our failing nation feels more like the opening of festering wounds, the result of a banking-led crisis in 2008, itself the making of failed and weak politicians who caved into the lobbying practices of the most corrupt in corporate power. ‘Old Blighty’ now seems like a good term, for Britain is now so badly damaged, so blighted in almost every metric of well-being that society’s life-blood is literally draining away in front of our very eyes. And irrespective of your stance on the big issue of the day, Brexit is the result of politicians by the politicians but for the country, it is like Britain has had its throat slit.
And yet, with the country on its knees politically and the rich and powerful playing roulette with its economy, the Tories have decided during an exercise of extreme navel-gazing to embark on a leadership contest. The future prospects of our country or its citizens is not considered in their world. It only goes to show that there hasn’t been a leader in the first place since the current one lives in a Game of Thrones battle to cling on to power – having only got the job because her predecessor simply snapped the country in half and ran away.
As Jonathan Lis from British Influential explains in politics.co.uk in a piece about Brexit:
“The government manufactures solutions which dissolve as soon as they’re presented or simply pretends the problems don’t exist. Seventeen months after signing the backstop, they remain incapable of admitting what it means. They offered Labour a customs union until 2022, even though that is already covered by a transition which will almost certainly still be in place. The Tories know Labour will refuse the offer, and that they can’t offer them anything else without inflaming their own backbenches. But they’ve gone too far down the wrong course to accept they need to turn back. They flail in the water, waving and drowning because there is nothing else they can do.”
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The Tories have backed themselves into a corner and still don’t know it. They have few options left. It’s either call a general election where they will be utterly wiped out or end up calling a referendum that they themselves became the leader to prevent in the first place – or did they. We don’t really know. But then again, nor do they!
So far from reality are the Tories now that their very survival is not even a topic for discussion – only who is going to lead what is really little more than a dead body in the water and no amount of prodding will bring it back to life.
In the meantime, all the distraction of Brexit has meant public outcry has not been heard on other important matters. The number of GP’s is now in reverse for the first time in 50 years. The NHS staffing crisis is set to literally implode the service by this time next year. An eye-watering 250,000 unfilled medical staff places are expected. Senior medical staff, especially consultant doctors are retiring early or emigrating in record numbers to exit the mayhem and a new tax imposed on them by George Osborne.
The housing crisis is getting worse. Homelessness and deaths as a direct result of living on the streets is rapidly rising – up nearly 25 per cent in just five years.
Mental health problems are escalating to such an extent that alcohol, drugs and suicide for those aged above 50 kill more Briton’s than the biggest previous killer – heart disease. All this because of ‘economic isolation’ – described as the ‘deaths of despair’ by Sir Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.
Our up and coming generation are down and out. Britain’s millennial generation, born since 1981, has suffered a bigger reversal in financial fortunes than their counterparts in other developed countries all except Greece. They are also much worse off than the previous generation – a first in Britain. Their prospects of ever owning a home have halved in one generation.
The economy has witnessed the slowest growth of the five biggest recessions since 1830. This was because the Tories slashed public spending in the middle of one, a big one, and totally against the Keynesian values of previous government’s who had some handle of what to do in such times. Britain now languishes at the bottom of the growth charts for the G7.
In work poverty has rocketed to 4 million. Child poverty is already dire but looking to hit numbers not seen since Dickens last commented live from the streets of London. A record 37 per cent of all children are expected to be living in poverty in just four years time – an out-of-control escalation that started in 2011 that shames the sixth wealthiest country on earth.
Inequality, as celebrated by this years Times Rich List has reached a new pinnacle. This alone is not just an indicator of failed economic policy – it is the arbiter between extreme capitalism and what is charitably known as a ‘guided democracy’ – also known as – authoritarianism. A warning has been given that Britain needs ‘protection from the horrors of US capitalism.’ This is the direction of Britain – callous capitalism at all costs.
The social care crisis has not been debated. Who is going to fund this escalating social crisis – because the previous generation is straddled with educational debt, out of control housing costs and weaker prospects to do anything tangible? Taxing the elderly after a lifetime of work and paying taxes is now looking like the only answer.
Pensioners now earn more on average than workers do, another shocking first for Britain. Doesn’t anyone see the impending financial and social collapse of that scenario?
The climate crisis is exactly that – a crisis. It’s now an emergency where catastrophe is staring at all of humanity. Anyone who believes anything else is not simply a climate change denier – they are an out-and-out conspiracy theorist. As a life-long environmental activist and journalist, George Monbiot writes:
“Modern governments respond to only two varieties of emergency: those whose solution is bombs and bullets, and those whose solution is bailouts for the banks. If they took other threats as seriously, this (February’s) revelations of a catastrophic collapse in insect populations, jeopardising all terrestrial life, would prompt the equivalent of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The escalating disasters of climate breakdown and soil loss would trigger spending at least as great as the quantitative easing following the financial crisis. Instead, they carry on as if nothing is amiss.”
Where is the hope we all need right now? Real, genuine hope.
The Tory government of John Major that came before Blair suffered all sorts of political problems, not least its never-ending attachment to sleaze. It was the government that privatised British Rail – since proven to be a disaster in so many ways, criticised for its mistaken handling of the Bosnian conflict, and of course bad decisions over Europe that saw ‘Black Wednesday‘ ruin the Tories reputation as an economic safe pair of hands. In May 1997, the Labour Party won a landslide general election victory, the largest in its history. It ushered in a period of time called ‘Cool Brittania‘ – a celebration of a modern, outward-facing Britain, which at the time was very much the envy of much of the world. Where did it all go so wrong?
Today, it is only right, given the sheer scale of failure after nearly ten years of ineptitude, sleaze, malfeasance, corruption and sheer incompetence – that the Conservative party disintegrates and a better form of Conservatism emerges, minus the idiots who got us to where we are right now.
That the Labour party are unable to make proper gains in such an environment as this is what fuels the hopelessness of it all though.
The middle-classes were not to blame. Many that have struggled through this last decade (albeit not to the extent of those further down the Tory food chain) do not trust Labour yet. These people are wary of losing even more of their hard work to pay for the crimes of Tories. It’s a plain fact that neither the rich nor the poor pay for the government to govern.
It’s another fact that populists – the likes of Farage & Co – are not the answer. Research by The Atlantic found that only 17 per cent of populists stepped down after they lost free and fair elections and 23 per cent only left office under more dramatic circumstances – they were impeached or forced to resign. About 30 per cent have been in office long enough to raise serious concerns. In the end, most populists are dictators. We do not want or need a toxic Farage like character filling the political void currently opening up in Britain.
However, all the indicators in recent days are such that in a general election Labour would win. There are some serious concerns about its leadership though, which has damaged their prospects no end. On the other hand – what could the Tories campaign on because it couldn’t be on economic or political stability. It couldn’t be because of its legislative or reforming social justice performance. It couldn’t be because any single metric of well-being is improving. The Tories have nothing to boast – nothing at all. It’s as if your child came home after all their years at school and proudly presented you with a single qualification in papier-mâché – you’d be too embarrassed to tell a stranger, let alone your neighbour.
Fifteen years ago, The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA) published research containing a list of British characteristics from an international perspective. The rest of the world thought we British were ‘witty and clever.’ Paul Crake, of the RSA said: “I would have expected more dirt being dished out by foreign groups. But we had to really push them to say anything at all negative.” Conformity and manners were high on the list, so was tolerance and multiculturalism – all that thrown out the window in recent years as the growing battle between in/out wrecks our once liberal national identity. We’ve become all … American. The words that once described us as a nation have been replaced with shouty and pointy stuff like; isolationist, nationalist, racist – a very far stretch from a country with so many international legacies and relationships.
Another fact is the end of the union. The writing is on the wall. Scotland we lead the breakup. And there will be a border crossing. Imagine that.
Looking outside in, it is obvious that Britain is now circling the plughole as a direct result of political mismanagement and denial of reality. The latest announcement by British Steel is but one of now dozens of examples of the damage being done to what industry remains. Brexit Britain is all about divides, not about the national spirit. How many of us are no longer bothered about being British – the current international laughing stock of the world?
When will this Tory concoction of destroying Great Britain finally come to an end?