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It’s the only thing to look forward to – the past

Comments Off on It’s the only thing to look forward to – the past 03 December 2017

It's the only thing to look forward to – the past

In the dark and distant days when Theresa May became the new Tory leader and prime minister (last year), she said she was going to be very different to previous Tory leaders. She was going to tackle the “burning injustice” of social mobility for the “ordinary working people” she cared about so much. And you know what? I think she actually did mean it. Even though she is married to a multimillionaire and surrounded in cabinet by countless other multimillionaires, many of whom would not recognise “ordinary working people” if they pissed down their legs, there appeared to be some compassion in her voice. Perhaps this was not, after all, the woman who when home secretary ordered vans to be sent round London urging migrants to “fuck off back to where you come from or we will kill you” (I am not sure of the exact words, but that was generally what she meant). This was the new caring, sharing Theresa May who would transform forever the party of selfishness and greed. Yesterday, the wheels came off.

Let us see some of May’s actual words from 2016: “I want Britain to be the world’s great meritocracy – a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow”. And how exactly did she seek to implement these fine words? Here are a few examples of what has actually happened:

Major cuts to state education at all levels
Huge cuts to working age benefits, especially to those who are in low paid work
Retaining all pensioner benefits and shafting the young (because pensioners vote Tory)
By ensuring that under 24s get a lower minimum wage and that the minimum wage is not a living wage
By presiding over a system whereby vast swathes of the country cannot hope to get on the housing ladder
Pushing for a hard Brexit which will have an even more catastrophic effect on social mobility

In other words, to tackle the “burning issue” of the scandal of social injustice by making working class people worse off and to remove their life chances. What could possibly go wrong?

What went wrong yesterday was that key members of the government’s social mobility commission, including its ‘Tsar’ since 2012 Alan Milburn, resigned, accusing May and the government of “indecision, dysfunctionality and lack of leadership”, adding that, “Talking the talk is all very well, but you also need to walk the walk. I see precisely no chance of making progress.”

Perhaps, May is not wholly to blame in all this shambles. Perhaps, she thought when first installed in Downing Street, that she really could improve the life chances of “working class people”, but soon concluded she couldn’t or, just as likely, she hasn’t had the time, and never will find the time to do anything because of the all-consuming nature of Brexit which she now supports and which will still further reduce the life chances of “working class people”. If May really is well meaning – and I rather doubt that, given her history – she is also, as most people now realise, hopelessly out of her depth as prime minister.

I do not mean this to read like nothing more than an attack on the Tories; it isn’t. I see absolutely nothing from the Labour Party which has moved forward by returning to 1980s reheated Bennism, led as it is by privately educated middle class “intellectuals” (I used the word advisedly and in this instance probably wrongly) and its increased membership has come largely from the ABC1 social groups, which is to say the better off. The truth is that the likes of Corbyn, McDonnell and the rest of the comrades are about as in touch with the “lower orders” as May and her millionaire cabinet. Not only that, all the comrades do is criticise. They offer no alternative solutions beyond insane and irresponsible levels of borrowing and are clearly saying and doing as little as possible whilst hoping for the government to implode. The latter may well happen but Labour offers a narrow vision of what is might actually do if Corbyn ended up in Downing Street. I certainly won’t raise a finger to help him get there.

I suspect that for the majority of the establishment – and I include the comrades very firmly in what we call the establishment – they are pretty happy with the way things are. The Tories look after their own and the comrades stir the pot in the hope and belief that one day the lower orders will rise up and the revolution will begin.

Few people manage to escape from where they begin. If you start off rich, you remain more likely to end up richer. If you start off poor, the system is tilted heavily against you and the pathways to a better future or limited. And for the elite politicians, key voters are more concerned about losing the votes of their natural supporters. They want to keep their green fields, they want to keep all their pensioner benefits and that generation played a huge part in damaging the future of their own children and grandchildren by taking us out of the EU, many of whom openly admit that they would be happy to see their own family members lose their jobs as long as we leave Europe. And at the top of the list of any politician is winning elections. Everything else is secondary.

The “burning injustice” of the lack of social mobility is only felt by those who suffer from it. In my lifetime, only the Blair government of 1997 really tried to make a difference and whilst the country was undoubtedly better off, and happier, under New Labour, the only criticism being that they did not go far enough to deeply entrench the principles of being in a country that was better for everyone.

“The worst position in politics is to set out a proposition that you’re going to heal social divisions and then do nothing about it,” concludes Milburn.”It’s almost better never to say that you’ll do anything about it.”


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