[Summary. In a blog I was trying to run five years ago, well before he became Prime Minister, I said that Cameron was not going to be (as still used to be said when I was in uniform) ‘a good hofficah’. (Go to www.plagueyear.com, dormant but still just about in existence.) If you’ve ever served, you will know that the other ranks can tell... often instantly... ‘Not a good hofficah’ was one who didn’t understand the special relationship between a proper officer and those beneath him.]
It may help if explain that I’m nearly 64. My age gives me a particular perspective, which I realise is different from that of younger people around me; simply, I grew up in a different world.
There may be no point in looking for someone to blame for what’s happening to me; but it’s only human nature to do so. But, actually, I don’t blame Cameron or his motley crew: they are, if truth be told, only creatures, fronting something much deeper and rather nastier. I don’t even blame the Lib Dems – the economic liberals of whom, like Clegg, have long been closet tories - although Beveridge Liberals, if there are any left, should be hiding their heads in shame at their party’s collaboration
The ‘nastier’ is the Old Tory spirit which has plagued our Parliament for the best part of 300 years, which resisted inter alia the reform bills, and the abolition of slavery, and home rule for India and Ireland and so on.
Change of direction, just for a moment... National economic ‘success’ (never mind for a moment its pros and cons) comes in one of three ways –
1) Solid growth, based on long term investment, planning, etc., etc.
Steady, but slow – decades or even centuries.
2) Boom... oh so attractive, massive fortunes made, etc, etc,
And so often based on the parasitic devouring of the inherent structures and wealth that had been built up by previous solid growth (see 1 above). A few years, decades at most, but glorious while it lasts. For a few people. Or
3) Serendipity (Norway and North Sea gas, Brazil and resources) or inverted serendipity (Germany and Japan after WWII, or China and India, although this requires a disciplined and educated workforce.).
Sometimes you get more than one of these at a time: the British Industrial revolution (which was 1 and 2) built massive fortunes for a few by devouring the heart of our nations – so that the working population of 1900 ate less well, worked longer and harder, enjoyed less leisure and poorer health, died younger, and had a more miserable time generally than the English peasantry of 1500; but, at the same time, new structures were put in place that created the wealthier Britain that followed.
Return to the core issue. The Thatch-Blair boom. Glorious profits to be made, for a while... at the expense of the majority (and if you hold home ownership as the argument against my thesis, boy are you deluded). Manufacturing gone; skilled employment decimated; national assets sold at a loss; infrastructure owned not just by other nations but often by other governments; etc. The boom of the last 30 years has been parasitic, self-devouring, with nothing put in its place. (I think we’re following the route which Spain followed 400 years ago.)
And even our chance at serendipity (North Sea Oil) thrown away (like Spanish gold). So that the rich could enjoy some tax breaks. Which are already frittered away.
The trouble is that the parasitic boom seems to the dazzled to burn so much more brightly than the hard slog of steady growth... and there are always those who think the rest of us can go hang so long as they get a bit of it.
It’s not usual for a government to connive at ripping the heart out of its own country.
And who’s paying? The poorest and weakest. While the richest are still, for a while, enjoying the boom. T’was ever thus.
Two different arguments going at once here, really. So be it.
So, another marginal comment; why not! People talk about Thatcher (criticism, for those who criticised her) as having the values of a grocer. But she didn’t: she had very little understanding of the values of a grocer. Grocers don’t sell off the goods on their shelves for pennies for a quick profit... (well, there are sales, of course...) BUT they certainly don’t then go and sell off the whole shop cheap. However, that’s exactly what Thatcherism did.
Thatcherism, but not Thatcher. She, too, was the creature – ambitious but still a creature – of that deep toryism. More of a Chernenko than an Andropov. So I don’t really blame Thatcher, either. (Although, in passing: Why was Thatcher too young to serve in WWII when my Mum, who was younger, could command an Ack-Ack battery in London? Just a thought.)
The one I do blame is Brown. That man, who could have stopped the rot, combined economic incompetence with personal arrogance to a quite awesome degree. ‘The end of boom and bust’!
Supremely ironic, really, that Brown, who plotted to help the poorest, is largely responsible for what’s happening to them (me!) now.
So what am I saying? It is that we have enjoyed (!) a boom for a few years that has burned up centuries of our future, that most of us were fooled by the appearance of a prosperity that didn’t really exist. Now the crunch has come (why, oh why, didn’t Brown read the Bible, 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine and all that?) and we’re beginning to pay the price (only beginning – more and more people are going to be sucked into ‘austerity’ and it won’t end). I’m paying the price, as the state reneges on the agreement by which I paid taxes (without complaint, at a level which is now unacceptable to the richest) - in return for the promise that I would be looked after should the time come when I needed it. Foolish man that I was.
I think my point is made, somewhere in all that. I apologise for the lack of polish and finish – I really do suffer from depression and the exhaustion that goes with it, and I haven’t the mental resources to give you quite the organised arguments you deserve... though I will try to tidy this posting up, if better health permits, at some point in the future.
I really don’t know if I’ve written sense. Part of the problem with depression – my intellect’s shot... But I do know that the point of my argument is sound...
Something to think about, anyway; I hope. (Apologies to those who were there long ago – although I have to ask why you haven’t been kicking up a more of a fuss recently.)
Posted unedited and therefore with apologies. But please comment.