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Monday, 18 August 2014

Fag-end Politics

Given that there is less than a year to go before the next UK General Election it is remarkable how little campaigning is yet under way. A government announcement this morning, that new 'family friendly' policies are to be adopted shows most clearly that the 2010 Coalition Government has failed to find popular policies. As earned incomes stagnate and state benefits are pared back in the face of rising prices, the 'typical' family is now reckoned to have up to eight identifiable 'problems'. The Prime Minister had now declared that government departments must satisfy the government and the public that all their policy proposals are 'family-friendly': empty words that carry no price-tag. Tiny sums of extra funding have been allocated to relationship counselling and other small-scale spending that is supposed to mitigate some of the issues. Of course, Labour spokesmen have commented that this just shows how out-of-touch the Etonian-led government is on real-life issues.

Anyone with even a modest memory can recall the most nonsensical political slogan of my lifetime: David Cameron's tommyrot about The Big Society. Apart from actually giving government money to a Big Society Foundation - which is now accused of incompetence and profligacy [if not fraudulent misuse of funds] - the slogan was echoed only by people who wanted Prime Ministerial patronage: and those who uttered those words had no benefit from them.

The Scottish Independence Referendum has allowed the UK politicians to stand back from primary news. The media report the speeches in which Clegg and Cameron flog the moribund horses of the policies that have made no positive impact on the lives of most Britons; while the government has utterly failed to convince anybody that failed attempts at deficit control will bring ultimate rewards to 'hard-working British people/families'. Economic 'growth' is reported, but for more than 90% of the population personal benefit is impossible to discern. Whenever any improvement in living standards is paid for by a withdrawal of savings or an increase in household debt, in the medium term the impact of the extra spending is that when the depreciation on the new purchase has exceeded the cash spent on the item, the family estate is diminished. This experience is more common than any beneficial impact of a government policy. The great exception is from housing, where the increase in prices in the last few years in most of the country has so far offset the cost of borrowing. This price-rise has been funded by inflation, principally in the form of 'Quantitative Easing' and it is desperately fragile. House prices have collapsed many times before - and it will happen again: the only open questions are 'when?' and 'by how much?'.

The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the 'political class' becomes more apparent in every failed attempt by its members to evade the truth.

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