In the pub last night a friend laughed and said to me, quite seriously, “Politicians are the best possible advert for anarchism.” The idea that no one doing anything could be worse than the last decades self-serving, stumblingly incompetent, attacks on communal values is a joke. We had been discussing, as briefly as it deserves, the current media brew-ha-ha over the introduction of a tax on pies. A stupid policy, incoherent in enforcement, that smacked of another symbolic attack on the poor. No sooner had it been jumped on than the Labour leader was in a bakery, pictured dribbling gravy down his lapels. He was criticised for playing to the cameras, a cheap publicity stunt. It wasn’t a politician pandering to the tabloids, it was a tabloid politics. If the freaks stoop any lower we will have to start calling it reality politics. We may only be a few months away from politicians selling stories about there latest breakdown, just to garner some attention. Like all celebrity culture, these are a talentless bunch, and any attempt to separate them, to decide who to vote for, is like picking which turd to drink.


Having been out of England for four years I do come to the current situation rather fresh. Cynical, but inquisitive nonetheless. When I returned home to find Question Time on the telly, I couldn’t help but watch. I went several years when I was last in London without being able to watch politicians on TV, Tony Blair was the worst, but they all made me sad. I’d have rather seen someone kick a puppy in the nuts. I managed last night though, fresh as I am. Each of the three major parties had a representative, flanked by a comedian and a journalist. I would hate to generalise too much on one show, but it was a pastiche of easy conclusions that damn the entire political class as it stands at present.


It has been seen as a rough few weeks for the Tories, but in truth it is probably everything that they are in power for. First they proposed a budget that cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations and paid for it by slashing benefits for pensioners and welfare recipients. Then, the party was exposed as selling meetings and presumably influence to donors who are the sort of rich that they can give away a quarter of a million quid. Hardly a crisis, that is just representing their constituency. However, elitist as it is, it garnered some bad reviews. To cover this up they concocted a panic about a possible strike by fuel truck drivers that isn’t official and can’t start for at least two weeks. British petrol stations had to shut because the queues to fill up were blocking traffic. It was a transparent farce that sent them quickly back-peddling when it got out of hand.


So, after all this the first question went to the cabinet member on the panel who, somewhat inevitably, just so happened to be a Lib-Dem. This agitated and overly belligerent women is apparently the Children’s Minister. It sounds like some sort of scare story you use to induce good behaviour, like the Boogie Man, or Myra Hindley. Staunchly she defended the government position. Tory positions. She seemed out her of her depth, but certainly dogged. It didn’t seem to matter what scandal or cheap attack on the vulnerable she was asked to cover, she was for it all.


It hasn’t been the best of times for the Lib-Dem leadership either. The body of the party has gone the way of anyone who voted for the party, presumably on the grounds that they were either liberal, democratic, or a competent left leaning alternative to the traditional parties, and deserted. They are now exposed as none of these. The coalition has been a disaster. They have alienated their supporters and confirmed, what was once a slur, that they lack the necessary talents for government. Throughout they have been out manoeuvred, out thought, and generally politically battered by the Tories. Nick Clegg’s position as king maker seems a distant memory. Now the senior Lib-Dems seem to have realised that beyond this coalition they will find the familiar territory of a political wilderness a long way from power. Whilst the party will surely suffer more than any other at the next elections, it may be an even more brutal experience for the individuals that led them to the drubbing. The party will continue, but careers will end. These same people are now clinging desperately to what will be their high water mark, career politicians in full cynicism, defending anything that pays. Like Icarus at the moment he realised his mistakes, but with no other option but a final brazen attempt to delay the plummet.


Labour offered up a shadow cabinet minister, a would be defence secretary. Like so many Anglo-American politicans, he seemed to struggle when asked to engage with human beings are answer even the most simple of questions. Occasionally, in between long and dull recitals from party policy bullet-points he had memorised but not thought about at any depth, he did try and attack the flagrant class agenda of the tories and there sleazy corporate connections. However, he was regularly flayed by the panels resident comic who was armed with endless examples of the exact same degeneracy and corruption from Labour. A marxist who would not let a New Labour tool trade on the notions of the left. Ninety-seven former Labour defence appointees are now on the boards of aerospace corporations, this might have been the decisive blow. By the end he looked rather beaten, with no answer to the accusation that by attacking the current Tory policies and state of the country he was really blasting the work of his own party over the previous two decades. Like the Lib-Dem minister, when given the choice between a career in the party or a whiff of principle, it was only the hint of sadness in the eyes that betrayed it had even been a conscious capitulation.


Needless to say, the Tory MP was smugly defiant and at her best when lapsing into delusional agitprop, that probably energised the faithful but contradicted policy throughout. New Labour sold out its base wholly. The Conservatives still slavishly serve concentrated wealth, but she was indignant at the suggestion from the Labour panelist of this reality. It was particularly depressing as it hammered home the fact that the right can still trade quite profitably in attacking a left that does not exist, whilst at the same time denying the existence of the rightist political class that all three parties form. In such a state, it reminded me of another quote from the friend in the bar, when asked who he had voted for last election, he simply responded, “do Turkeys vote for fucking christmas?”

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