Tuesday, 18 January 2011

How to Finish Off the Welfare State, in One Easy Term

Cameron looks obliquely through the window, surveying his domain. He leans lightly against the right-hand frame, as though the Overton window itself had somehow crystallised into real hardwood and Heritage eggshell and bulletproof glass.

He idly contemplates life after his successful foray into parliamentary politics. In this rare quiet moment of stillness, Cameron permits himself, too, a few idle thoughts about the present.

Life is good.

A PM with captive backbenchers and no concern for the next ballot is remarkably close to a dictator, he muses. And his backbenchers are as caged as they come. The Orange-Bookers of course are happy as pigs in shit; the bovine remainder of the Lib Dems, those not wedged firmly in government salaried stalls waiting to be milked for votes, are irrelevant.

His own backbenchers are a mixture of neophyte lambs to the electoral slaughter, carnivorous lemmings in the grip of the privatising bloodlust, and baffled Tory dinosaurs with nowhere to go but the Lords. Altogether a very managable menagerie.

Initiating the final phase of NHS privatisation has been easy enough. To spice up the task, he has played a private little game. The challenge: to do it without explicit recourse to the standing pretext, the economic state of emergency, and indeed without giving any reason at all for pushing through this particular 'modernisation', and at such a pace.

He has simply relied on the capacity of the press to internalise the government's position and forget how they got there. The economic state of emergency is, well, a banker. It's estalished to the point that 'deficit-denier' is used without irony. The need for cuts elided into 'reforms' that don't actually involve any short-term savings, that was the main pinch-point, and went through without demur.

Another cheeky on-air pseudo-gaffe, this time a less-than-Freudian slip of the tongue describing the NHS as 'second rate' - he'd enjoyed that one. And the rest was repetition, repetition, repetition.

This must be done. It has to be done. If not now then when? There is no time to lose. We cannot delay.

Which is true of course - we cannot delay, cannot lose momentum, or it's just possible that someone who matters might start asking questions. And we certainly can't delay beyond the parliamentary term: there may very well not be a second. Which would not be a bad thing, with such a huge quantity of shit hitting an accelerating fan: a second term really could be rather tedious.

Yes, it has been a good day's work. Cameron is particularly pleased at having spelled it out quite clearly: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our public services. The press loved that little soundbite. They lapped it up without a murmer, never asking why exactly, especially if the reforms are really such a good idea, this moment is the one opportunity in a lifetime to carry them out. None dare call it opportunism, even when he insists that it is.

Yes, David Cameron is very much amused.

[edit @ 19 Jan 2008 07:50 - clarified and expanded main points, cut verbiage]