Monday, 12 September 2016

Bye Dave

Asked why he wanted to be Prime Minister, Dave reportedly replied it was because "I thought I'd be rather good at it". Well, I have some news. He turned out to not be very good at all. And as he draws a curtain on a political career that hadn't even begun when this century started, it's time to reflect and take stock.

100 years from now Dave will be remembered only for one thing, and that's Brexit. Future historians and biographers will rightly conclude that his career was one gamble after another. As the rewards diminished over time, so the stakes grew higher. Detoxifying the Tories to the extent they became the party that pushed equal marriage through the house cost Dave little beyond losing his party's wing of the unreconstructed and unhinged. And three years later to woo back this sliver of activists and thin layer of voters, Dave staked Britain's membership of the European Union and its position in the single market. We know what happened next.

Leading politicians do feel the need to dress their politics up in some sort of world view. Dave didn't really have a philosophy as such. Yes, he did try the Big Society wheeze, which was exactly that. On its own terms, official efforts to encourage civic mindedness and volunteering isn't objectionable. Giving social enterprise and the third sector more recognition, and highlighting cooperatives was no bad thing in and of itself. But critics, and they were legion, were quick to point out that increased volunteering was to compensate for the swingeing cuts to public services under his watch. For instance, many a library saw paid posts deleted as budgets radically imploded, and had to rely on the good grace of unpaid amateurs to remain open. I don't know whether this was Dave's intention - his six years as Prime Minister showed a remarkable resistance to the radical notion that actions have consequences, but the Big Society was something that kept a few wonks in employment.

Nor was there much distinctive about Dave's politics apart from egregious opportunism. For cheap electoral reasons, he and Osborne seized upon the 2008 stock market crash and subsequent bail outs as evidence of Labour "profligacy". The tanking economy, we were told, was a consequence of the huge debt Gordon Brown had piled up. Cause and effect were cynically swapped around, and the message driven home that everything would get fixed if public spending was reined in. With a supine media and an opposition turning immediately inwards to fight a leadership election, once Dave assumed power he defined the terms of the discussion. The deficit was all; it was the black hole that sucked politics into a spiralling, doomed orbit around it. Against the backdrop of a crisis of capitalism, and from the standpoint of the British economy, it was absolutely the wrong thing to do. It choked off investment and the economy stalled, gaining momentum only after this stupid and ignorant plan got junked. But its immediate effect was to stoke fear and social anxiety, to allow employers to speed up casualisation and precarity, and erode the social wage further. Grounds perfect for a fear-mongering election campaign the Tories later won. But again, one should not credit Dave with Machiavellian genius. He was no thinker and did not ponder his politics in these terms. He was spontaneously neoliberal, and therefore committed to the magical, recuperative power of unregulated markets simply because that was Tory common sense. Petty prejudice and predisposition, not politics, was his guide. It just so happens that they always operate to the benefit of the wealthy few.

And now, he's gone. The self-justifying memoir is bound to appear in due course, just as the clutch of directorships will surely present themselves. Yes, Dave shall be remembered alright. All political careers end in failure. But few suffer the ignominy of climaxing in complete disaster.


Robert said...

Goodbye Dave. I won't say it's been a pleasure because it hasn't.

Always thought Osborne was the worst of the two.

Lidl_Janus said...

It's a tricky one, I'd say. Cameron and Osborne come across like two variations on the Trolley Problem; in both, the train is heading towards one rich man, and you can redirect it towards five poor people.

In the Osborne case, you pull the lever and flatten the five in part because you want to, in part because you think you can blame the five people for it to get the rich guy on board with the plan, and in part because you're so coked up people could slalom down the side of you.

In Cameron's case, you accidentally lean on the lever and switch the points. You have plenty of time to change it later, and you could easily make the case for pulling it back to everyone watching, but you can't really be arsed to think through the implications. Later, you kick a stone onto the track, which derails the train. It is now barrel-rolling in a fiery wreckage down the track, and might hit all six people if we're unlucky.

BCFG said...

It is telling that you do not mention Libya once in this piece. The destruction of an entire nation and culture is a mere afterthought to the Yvette Cooper loving centre left.

I mean apart from Bush's inner circle, a few neo liberal nut jobs and the most despicable of the bunch, pro war 'leftists', is there anyone left who thinks the war on terror, the invasion of Iraq and the destruction of Libya and Syria was a good idea?

At least us 'idiot' anti imperialists said so before the whole adventure begun.

The laughable thing is the pro war leftsists still take the high moral ground and claim they are right about everything. The enlightenment my arse!

asquith said...

Hopefully, we are seeing the end of Ozzy's cynicism and brute tactics and Shameron's total inability to think anything through. The man disgusts me more the more I think about him, he makes me as angry as bLiar now.

Rightly is it said that if he'd been at the local comp with me instead of Eton he'd be working at bet365 now, conning people out of their hard-earned money on a smaller scale, or maybe a bailiff or some other form of small-time spiv.

I have chronicled his poisonous lies and cynical running down of this country with, it seems, a different anecdote for each blog. His shameful behaviour in 2015 is arguably the worst of them all. Appealling to Little Englander instincts- which found their outlet in June- he stirred up hysteria about the non-existent possibility of a pact between Ed Miliband and the SNP, which was never going to have happened but let him and Gidiot scrape over the line. Long-term consequences? Who cares?

After the failings of bLiar and Pa Broon people were willing to give the new guy a chance. But the AV referendum and his lies on the issue put paid to any of that for me (At the same time, Labour's bad behaviour over this and the student loans issue- which was actually one of the less bad of Shameron's policies- and hysterical attacks on the Liberal Democrats put me off them).

Politics is a sordid business thanks to, among other thing's, Dave's (ex?) pal Rupert Murdoch and Dave "helped" to further the degeneracy of national life and culture in pursuit of his short-term, negatively defined goals.

What our new headmistress has to offer remains to be seen but I'd start by reading the thoughts of her advisor, who also wrote a book about Joe Chamberlain that I've ordered but it hasn't come yet.

SimonB said...

I'm surprised that you quote Powell, "All political careers end in failure." It only takes a little thought and a few examples to show its specious guff. It's about time it was fully debunked and the notion that Powell was a political intellectual replaced with the truth about his cynical opportunism.

Phil said...

I suggest looking up what 'literary device' means.

SimonB said...

Is that a literary device to avoid the point I was making?

I meant no specific criticism of you, I was just surprised that your normal perspicacity seemed to have failed you when you quoted him. His words are far too frequently and unquestioningly used as a truism.