Sunday, 10 April 2016

Cameron's teflon failure: hypocrisy and diversionary tactics

The Panama Papers are much more interesting than the presentation by the majority of British media outlets suggest.  In focusing on the ethical and moral failures of the Prime Minister, interesting and important though they might be, the challenge to the accepted political and economic framework is being carefully ignored.  There are vested interests at play that fundamentally undermine confidence in the ability or desire of government to control those who can buy their way out of their obligations to the communities that sustain their wealth and cupidity, and it is unlikely that there is only one channel into this financial morass open to the rich and kleptocratic.

Cameron's idiocy has been not to admit up-front that his family wealth operated at the point where tax planning, avoidance and potential evasion become semantic definitions.  To get useful idiots (or calculating back-stabbers) such as Nick Boles and Chris Grayling to dribble platitudes around honouring his father's memory was crass in the extreme - most mere mortals being crawled over for tax or benefit misdoings would not expect this level of grace to be extended.  It is interesting to note that in publishing his personal tax affairs there is no real clarity as to what arrangements are in place for family wealth beyond those which are already known about, and which therefore a damage-limitation exercise would require disclosure.

The grudging, farcical incremental disclosures over the course of a week damage Cameron much more than the detail of his family fiscal freeloading.  Blair's legatee is now truly defined by the same kind of snivelling hypocrisy and cant, even to the apologetics doled out to Tory activists at their recent spring gathering - doubtless patrolled by peacekeepers, qualified first-aiders and ghouls anticipating score-settling in three months' time.  The collapse of trust in politicians can only be accelerated if no alternative is offered.

Given that this international disclosure only affected one law firm and financial service in Panama, the operation of free-market economics suggests that there is a reasonable probability that this is not the only source of murkiness upon which lights can be shone.  Again, using inductive reasoning and probabilities the possibility that other senior politicians and the wealthy may be less than spotless is a plausible explanation as to why the flak has been concentrated on a wounded, unwanted Prime Minister who has displeased many of his media clients by securing his manifesto commitment around the European Union and admitting it.

The sceptical may wonder why those paragons of national interest, Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere, have been relatively happy to assail Cameron.  The fear of scrutiny of the personal and corporate affairs of the wealthy is endemic, encouraged by the Thatcher-Blair-Cameron continuum of sucking up to the rich while at the same time pleading poverty and austerity as excuses for the failure of public policy to promote the interest of the majority of citizens.  Going forward, any time that Osborne parrots the collective mantra: we're all in this together, anyone with brain-stem activity and intellectual function greater than an amnesiac amoeba will mentally substitute the second person for the first person pronoun.

Of all the cargo cults on offer, there is the acceptance that the rich are immune from both obligation and the impact of their decisions, and that this is some form of promotion of dynamic economics whereby trickledown will magically improve the lot of all citizens.  This is hubris and humbug justified by a perversion of economics and a morality that bears no relationship to the self-proclaimed Christianity that is used to provide casuistic justification for post-colonial adventurism, or any of the other major religions.  Disclosure of the extent and depth of this penetration of perverted ethics into the mainstream is the long-term reality of the publication of information around tax and financial affairs of those seeking to avoid scrutiny or challenge in the pursuit of not paying their dues for the individuals, communities and social structures that have generated their wealth in the past and which sustain their security going forward.

The irony is that the security of the extremely-wealthy has become the end of politics, not the happiness and prosperity of the citizenry in general.  Students of language will note that "social security", with its collectivist undertone and notion that the citizen has basic rights, expectations and obligations, has been replaced by "welfare" - a grudging and loaded term that implies neither rights, not humanity, but a burden-driven requirement to provide just enough to stop the underclass from a visceral rejection of the property and power relationships that are promoting increased inequality and which are likely to alienate increasing sections of the middle classes who have previously been co-opted into the new right consensus.

Cameron's failure to arrest the notion that the only deserving group are his cronies in the wealth-based establishment mirrors the causes of the rise of the mavericks.  The prospect of Donald Trump becoming the Republican candidate for US President is frightening, but reflects, much as the temporary elevation of Farage did, a final twitching of the idea that incoherent rightist ramblings provide a narrative for the frighted.  What is more interesting is that there are challenges from the non-traditional left - in Europe and the USA - which destroy the fixed assumption that there is an inevitable move towards far-right authoritarianism.  Even Corbyn will benefit from this, despite the best efforts of his opponents within his own party, let alone the wider media.

The distrust of politicians that the revelations reinforce is as deep-seated as it is reasonable.  When the financial crisis hit in 2008, the most effective governments realised that there was a need to provide stability - Brown and Darling nationalising zombie banks will probably be seen to have been the least-bad option.  Compare and contrast to the destruction of the UK steel industry, and what appears to be ineffective hand-wringing by government.  A European industrial strategy takes strategic interests into account.  At the same time it is proposed to spend billions on Trident replacement, which has very limited strategic or economic value, as its deployment would demonstrate the final collapse of civilisation and its societal relationships, and its maintenance is a matter of phallic drive in a world where traditional power relationships and enemies are over-shadowed by terror and incoherent foreign policies.

Hence why a sceptic regards the stupidity of Cameron as being a side-show.  It is, however, instructive to compare the sanctification of Cameron's deceased father with the treatment doled out by the Daily Mail (Hurrah For The Blackshirts!) to Ralph Miliband - whose reputation and behaviours were traduced in the name of politics.  Ian Cameron may have been a grasping, tax-avoiding upper-class Tory, but it does not necessarily pass down through the generations.  Dribbling rightists should take care not to be exposed in glass houses - a warning and portent for the future.

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