Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Soft-core fantasies and the post-electoral hangover

The dispiriting wait is over, the post-event disappointment is coming around the corner.  An election campaign should be the opportunity for useful illumination of the darkened corners that are ignored for the remainder of the political cycle, and for this to be supported by analysis and challenge that goes beyond speculation over the potential dealings after the event.  Mature democracies, of which the United Kingdom is not one, should be capable of rising beyond the gutter and the inadequacies of the commentators and scrutinisers whose egomania feeds the media self-delusion.

The latter part of the campaign has been spent in xenophobia and diversionary tactics.  An electoral system that has been paraded in its ability to deliver strong outcomes even when the country does not desire them has now clearly broken down.  The Tories have raised the bar high with their denunciation of anyone who does a deal with the SNP - conveniently forgetting that in many of their fiefdoms, when analysed, there is similar exclusion of that majority of the electorate that did not endorse them.  The SNP should ask, on 5th May, whether Tory mandates in Surrey and Hertfordshire are equally reflective of the will of the people, and, if not, whether Tory MPs should have any influence over wider policy.  The logical fallacy of this argument is so pathetic as to be beneath contempt, were it not the knee-jerk response of the parasitic cheer-leaders.

Reducing politics to calculation of how governments are constructed is in the interest of all politicians who have been caught with their vacuity exposed.  The 2010 election ducked the issues around how society and institutions should be reconstructed following the failure of the neoconservative experiment and the clear demonstration that unfettered capitalism, cheered on by Blair, Thatcher and the current Conservative hierarchy, does not result in either stability or cohesion.  We have had five years of pandering to established interest groups, be they current pensioners or the financial services sector, without any attempt to determine and remedy the fundamental issues that beset society.

The corruption of political discourse has meant that virtually all political leaders have been peddling the delusion that there is something for nothing, and that it will always be the "other" groups in society that suffer for it.  Constantly cutting taxes implies that public spending will need to be reduced, even if there is general consensus that there is necessary expenditure - especially given the addiction to prestige defence spending.  Where is the honesty?  Why are people so scared as to admit that the consequences of social, economic and demographic change will require different responses and solutions that are not solely centred on atomised selfishness?

Despite Osborne's sleights of hand, the economy is not performing well.  Manufacturing growth is slowing, and the rebalancing towards productive rather than parasitic activity has not proceeded apace.  The pursuit of asset bubbles in the form of housing, coupled with the manic desire to attract dubious plutocrats to own vast swathes of property and the media, creates a short-term wealth illusion - and many of the political class are too young to remember the early 1990s.  Distracting from this by raising the European bogeyman is the theme that the right is pursuing given that they will be found out over the next two years.

Come Saturday, when the results are in and the commentators, exhausted from their own brilliance, withdrawn, politicians will need to face up to reality.  A broken system will have delivered a confused result more by accident than design.  Any party or group that articulates the need for the citizenry to take and use its power may have the best opportunity for decades to do this - a 21st century progressivism is needed to defeat the retrospective fear and inertia that we appear to be about to continue.

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