Saturday, 17 June 2017

Staring into the abyss

Rage is building.  Theresa May, lurching from ill-considered political liaison to full-blown contemptuousness, is rapidly turning the national fate to tragedy and farce.  The full extent of the Grenfell Tower disaster is not yet known, although its scale and impact are only too visible and imaginable, but in a week where no stable government can be formed, and when the illegitimate squatters are commencing the process of negotiations with our European allies, it is an appalling reminder of the legacy of ill-considered policy.

There are events, which, in hindsight, feel less seismic in impact than they appear to as they unfold.  This is unlikely to be one of them.  Coming after an election called for vanity and narrow partisan advantage, the focus is inevitably on the failure of the state and its apparatus to protect its citizens, and the rampant greed and incompetence that allows this to be the case.  For over thirty years, governments of all hues have pursued policies that, taken in their totality, are based not on the public good but around slogans and unproved assertions of a cultishness that would be seen as too extreme for mainstream consumption.

Rightly, attention has been focused on the heroism and suffering that accompany such grotesqueries.  The undercurrents of anger and the reflex reaction that there is something stinking and foetid in the political system are there, and being articulated.  Where you have the right-wing echo chamber  calling for an event not to be politicised, the only appropriate reaction is to speculate on precisely what they do not wish to emerge.  

During the prolonged idiocy of the campaign to leave the 21st century behind, much was made of the opportunity that this would provide for further destruction of the rights and obligations to provide a decent society.  There is the ongoing reminder of the far right's advocacy of a "bonfire of controls" - a phrase that we should use to remind them of their complicity in evil.  Shielded by wealth from the consequences of their own venal stupidity, and by a compliant media that repeats their scrofulous vomitings of "market", "enterprise" and "choice" without demur or intellectual challenge, they have fraudulently obtained power and destroyed accountability while ducking responsibility.

This week's disaster now has the feeling of inevitability.  Tory and Labour governments have washed their hands of housing policy, and in some cases the former have actively encouraged the use of economic sanctions as an indirect means of social cleansing.  London Tory Boroughs, of which Kensington and Chelsea is just one example, have followed in the footsteps of Westminster in the 1980s and taken at best a passive role in accelerating the march of inequality and exclusion, and, in some cases, actively promoted this for electoral gain.  Hardly surprising, therefore, that, beyond the insulated ranks of parasitic plutocrats there is increasing unrest.

Add to this the mania for outsourcing, subcontracting and washing hands of responsibility.  Councillors hide behind officials, who hide behind "arms-length" bodies, who hide behind contractors, who hide behind subcontractors, who hide behind suppliers, who then go bankrupt.  At the top of the pile, there is no sense of public service, and no clear acceptance that with receiving public largesse and trust there come an obligation to shoulder responsibility.  From May's choreographed and disgraceful behaviour through Ministers, Tory Council leaders and the third-rate senior officers lured by huge salaries and minimal accountability, there is a cesspool of graft and venality at the centre of all levels of government.

These are the people who claim leadership and entitlement - not those victims of their policies.  These are the people who will be engaging with European leaders in the months to come, if the seditions administration survives.  This marks the destruction of what remains of civilised values and discourse, in favour of virtue-signalling and blame-deflection.  As a republican, it is deeply ironic to observe that the hereditary monarch has displayed more empathy with human catastrophe than an allegedly-elected leader more concerned about her own survival.

Events conspire.  As has been observed, rioting is more common in the summer than the winter, and if nothing is done by May and her cabal to deflate the anger and rage then there is an increasing probability that social breakdown will occur.  Opposition politicians have been much more effective in acknowledging the risks - they will need to step up further to link the consequences of current policy with the need for change and reform, including the "unpalatable" message that society requires contributions and integrity from all levels.  Anything less will, over time, be seen as copping out and allowing the spivs, fraudsters and idiots of the Tory ascendancy off the hook - and the consequences will be unimaginable.

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