the decay of lying

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Democracy?

 

 

“I will say to honourable members: I adjourn the sitting, grave disorder having broken out.”

Bernard Weatherill

Did you notice that just recently in London Town the flags all waved. The people smiled a lot, the world was right. But now it seems that nothing’s changed.

The Damned: Democracy 2001

 

 

 

 

A history lesson. It wasn’t always like this you know. Plummeting house prices. Rising unemployment. A punitive Congestion Charge, spreading and increasing, choking life out of businesses in the areas it touched like the Red Weed. No. Just a few months ago the world was a very different, oh so much happier place: Crippling house prices. Massive employment – but no one with actually enough money to do anything with, oh, and a punitive Congestion Charge, spreading and increasing, choking life out of businesses in the areas it touched like the Red Weed.

 

There's no getting away from the fact that these are tough times. As the recession bites all around many a city banker has given proof to the widely held belief that for all these years they've just been complete rhyming slang. There are huge reductions wherever you look. 30% off consumer electrical goods, 50% off clothes for the party season, a much vaunted 2.5% off VAT. Unfortunately these gestures rather pale in comparison to the 90% drop in new mortgages, the 65% drop in disposable income and the 97% drop in general optimism. Whilst the reductions in the cost of some goods is being trumpeted in an attempt to get spending going; there is a less heralded suspicion that big business is also looking to make savings on production by reducing their “output”. One confectionery company, it is feared, has reduced the size of its honeycomb centred chocolate bar from 44g to just 38g – that's right - it's the Credit Crunchie.

 

The temptation of course, is to look back to better times... but be warned... it's quite a long way to look and there's been a bit of a run on rose-tinted specs in Labour Party Headquarters over the last few months. Despite the uncertainty, there were always some things in politics you could rely on. Tory scandal took the form of sex and sleaze, whilst Labour corruption tended to involve manilla envelopes and large amounts of cash. It is a mark of how far we have come that even these vices have changed allegiance.

 

The Sword of Truth and the Scales of Justice may well be the property of some blindfolded woman on top of the Old Bailey but sadly in recent times some blind Home Secretary managed to get his hands on them too. Then there was that railway steward who’s no good at croquet but seemed to have little trouble banging his balls through his secretary’s hoop. Oh, I know, I know, Love is blind and all that. (Though if that was acceptable as Prezza’s excuse, it shouldn’t really have made any difference to you, should it Dave?) And yes, you’re probably right; it’s all just a witch-hunt led by the headline hungry, sensationalist press. Suits me… I mean someone’s got to get them out of office. Though it would have been so much easier and quicker if they’d all just been sacked for being crap at their jobs. But Tony was hardly likely to do that was he? He needed the cover of their incompetence so that he could go on relatively unscathed. After all, who was going to notice one more stinking turd in the sewage plant?

 

I could go on: a Health Service in such irreversible decline, that were it one of the few patients it gets off a waiting list and into a bed, the life support would have been turned off years ago. An Education Secretary (numerous Education Secretaries) presiding over a system so hopeless that those who have been through, and come out of, Further Education since 1997 saw fit to vote Him back in… twice. Hardly a ringing endorsement of our collective intelligence that. So anyway, you get the idea. A Labour administration so on it’s knees that it would have been consigned to history long ago were it not for the Conservative Opposition still on it’s arse.

 

No it wasn’t always like this. In 1997 Tony and his pals were swept into office on a tide of euphoria and optimism. A hope-filled future. A chance to wipe the slate clean of all that Tory sleaze. A sleaze that had taken such poisonous root within the party that the politics of governing the country gave way to the politics of in-fighting and backstabbing. Labour were unstoppable. Not because they were any good, just because they weren’t the Tories. Labour was the irresistible force; there was no immovable object. And with the inheritance of an economy in the rudest of health it seemed nothing could go wrong. “Thiiiiiings can only get bettaaaaa. Can only get bettaaaa…” Things got worse. Unfortunately Tony seems to have paid far more attention to the next line of the song. Let's just run it on a little and you'll see what I mean. Within weeks Britannia really was Cool and whenever a camera clicked there was Tony, beaming, the flashbulb glinting off his pearly whites, as he shook hands with pop stars, soap actors, celebrities so micro they could only be viewed with the aid of a powerful lens.  But only of course when it was possible to photograph him without the oh-so-right-on bloody Fender.

 

How could people have been so blind? Please don’t tell me I was the only one. Surely there must have been a collective sense of unease at the sight of all those prats jigging and twitching uneasily on the spot to the strains of D:Ream like a bunch of autistic six year olds at a disco? They were out of time then and have been ever since.

 

The point I’m trying to make is this: 1997 was a wonderful time for the right wing student to be growing up. It is a rare luxury in this country to be afforded the opportunity to be so rebellious, so anti-establishment and so right wing at the same time without having to compromise any of one’s opinions for fear of contradicting oneself. I loved it.

 

Of course things really have moved on. Let me just take a moment to read you this:    

 

“a government of honesty; untainted by spin and corruption. A government free from the stains of financial irregularity. A government that works to a united goal of improving our country and not a government that itself is governed by the twin might of spin and vote grabbing. A government where progress not popularity is the driving force.”

 

There; now does that ring any bells? No? Oh hang on.... there's a bit more that I missed:

 

Dear Jim, please could you fix it for me to have a government of honesty; untainted by spin and corruption. A government free from the stains of financial irregularity. A government that works to a united goal of improving our country and not a government that itself is governed by the twin might of spin and vote grabbing. A government where progress not popularity is the driving force.

 

Yours sincerely,  Gordon Brown   Age 56 ½

 

Well – it was a big ask but I s'pose you can't blame the guy for hoping.

 

Incidentally... when Gordon swept into office on that great wave of indifference the advertising campaign behind him went to great lengths to distance him from all the froth and superficial nonsense that Tony was so concerned with and came up with the marvellous slogan: Not Flash, just Gordon.  

 

Now at the time this seemed a pretty cute idea – the country was crying out for a steady reliable chap who was going to put things right.  Not sure that he's had such a marvellous time in office as they were hoping. Perhaps I might offer a new slogan:

 

Not Golden, just Brown.