Sunday, 1 August 2010
Déjá Vu All Over Again.
If your suffering from a case of collective déjá vu from the echo chamber of wall to wall coverage of 'The Big society' you may not be criminally insane. Because this idea has been tried and tested by an ample amount of characters from the political rogues gallery.
John Major's laughably attempted to relaunch his Government of 'bastards' using the slogan 'Back to Basics'. Despite the press labelling it as a moral crusade after numerous sex scandals involving Tory Ministers in the 1990's, Back to Basics was actually about "accepting responsibility for yourself and your family and not shuffling it off the State" as the Tories said. Back to Basics, most political commentators agree was one of the largest catastrophes of the 18 year Tory Government. But a more recent comparison exists. In 2004 George W. Bush launched what he called 'The Ownership Society'. The crux of this agenda was to encourage citizens to save for their retirement independent of the State and to also release the education system from the 'shackles of the state' and encourage ordinary parents to take responsibility for their children's education by setting up their own schools (sound familiar?). But the reality of the agenda resulted in the legacy of a "crumbling infrastructure in the USA".
What David Cameron is seeking to do is, substantially, copy exactly from the same Text book as Thatcher, George Bush and Carol Vordeman (did you ever see her on Question Time??). The only difference is that this time, the Tories have figured out how to sell this toxic product. If you dress it up using airy-fairy rhetoric and describe it using this years political buzzword "progressive", then you can sell any thing. Instead of 'shrinking the state' or 'slashing public spending' they will call it 'empowering individuals' or promoting 'responsibility'. Why I bet that these bunch of people could convince you the Khmer Rouge were merely dealing with stresses on public spending. All too often the mask slips of this slick salesmanship. The 'Big Society' actually scared voters during the election and one Tory Insider even desrcibed it as "complete crap". The public are not stupid. They can see through this disgraceful attempt to destory the welfare state.
The truth is the Tories don't believe in a small state. Oh sure, they believe in removing the safety net for our most vulnerbale. But in most other regards they hold the same statist tendencies that shamed New Labour and in many cases went, and continue to go, even further. The Tories crippled local government and starved it of funding. Thatcher abolished the Greater London Authority because it was run by left winger's whom she disagreed with. The enactment of s.28 by Thatcher made the state a moral arbitrator and said that homosexuality was wrong and not to be promoted in schools and we see a resurgence of this moralising with the Marriage Tax allowance. Not to mention the destruction of the manufacturing industry in Wales, Scotland and the North which crippled our communities. And now they talk of empowering communities.
With the advent of 'free schools', increasing private sector involvement in public services and the slashing of public spending the Tories are beginning demostrate that behind the lofty rhetoric the same Right Wing wet dream remains. No wonder that the private health company Tribal said in response to the Governments latest plans to reform the NHS that it looks forward to the "de-nationalization of the NHS in England". Whatever you wish to call it, 'Back to Basics', 'The Big Society' the fact remains that 'The Ownership Society' really means 'Your on your own'.