Europhrenia – Whoever wins, the rain will raineth every day
May 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
The first British general election I remember was in 1979. It was Mrs Hamilton, the local Protestant lady from the Big House (this is borderlands Irish Republic) who was telling us, a bunch of Catholic kids on the way home from school, that a lady was gonna come. She was going to smash the unions over in England, was going to smash the killers five miles away in the North. She was a rain that was going to come to make it all clean.
The name of the rain was Thatcher. I didn’t know what Thatchers were, nor Tories, nor Labours. I listened and took another bite out of one of the Mars bars she handed out to us kids. I wondered if Mrs Thatcher was as impressive as Mrs Hamilton, who went swimming in Donegal bay every morning, every day of the year. In the coming months, as I began to start watching the news, I saw the rain clouds gather, grow darker, then break.
So I sympathise with Gary Younge’s Anything-but-the-Tories comment in the Guardian today. It brought back lots of memories of “the miners, apartheid, Bobby Sands, Greenham Common, selling council houses, Section 28, lining the pockets of the rich and hammering the poor – to name but a few.” And I sympathise with his killer point that as a youth Dave Cameron looked out on the social carnage wrought by the Tories and thought “These are my people.”
Sounds good at first but does Dave Cameron have the balls of a Lady Thatcher? Would he even go swimming in the Atlantic every day? I doubt it. After thirteen years of Labour, though, I’m inclined to agree with some, just some, of the Daily Mail’s points – “New Labour will also be remembered for corrupting the democratic process, politicising the Civil Service…launched a series of bloody and highly questionable wars, cheated us out of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty” – while finding David Cameron utterly unpalatable.
The best point made today comes from the Telegraph’s Simon Heffer on the mammoth in the room throughout this dreadful election campaign that has me missing the passions of the Thatcher years when politics walked the land etc etc, this being “the failure of any of the main parties to address how they would tackle the deficit.” The Guardian has just reported that, according to the European Commission, Britain’s deficit is on the verge of overtaking Greece’s at 12% of GDP, making it the worst in the EU. Now that deficits can no longer be the issue of the languid Med, we can perhaps put a stop to this sub-racist sneering about the Greeks and their feckless ways.
For whichever of the candidates who wins tomorrow, there is a rain that going to come. In the current way we organise our economies, this will mean massive cuts in the public sector, jaw dropping tax hikes, and in the way the Irish journos so lovingly call it like clients queuing at an S&M parlour (S&P?), there will be “pain”.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the problem is that we don’t even use the right words to describe this crisis. We can’t even “think” it properly. We are led to believe that this is an unlucky streak in poker, when for the vast majority of us citizens, we are locked in a game of Asshole not of our choosing. Until we begin to ask some questions about our relationship to work, why we work, what we work towards, the very nature and terms of our economic life, then the rain will raineth every day.