Friday, May 18, 2007

Come to me, my Big Viking Warrior!

Your humble Devil would like to apologise. He has been most remiss, allowing darling Polly a good few weeks of unfisked publishing. But, you see, I was waiting for this: her ecomium to her big, Norse warrior as he steps up to begin the Fimbulwinter, the winter of winters.
Finally ministers are off the leash and free to say the rich are too bloody rich

I always think that this angle, coming from a woman who is estimated to earn £140,000 per annum from the Guardian alone (for writing two articles a fucking week, for heaven's sake!), is a particularly dodgy one.
Brown has now accepted what Blair would not: the growing gap between rich and poor is splitting and damaging our society

Pol, it is Gordon that has, at least partially caused the split; on the front page of today's Guardian is trailed the following article.
Inequality at same level as under Thatcher
Labour has failed to cut gap between rich and poor.

Who's been in charge of monetary policy for the last ten years, Polly? Could it, by any chance, be your beloved Gobblin' King?
'We're allowed to think again!" said one minister, surprised by freedom.

Well, he would be. As part of one of the most illiberal governments of the last... well... fuck knows how many years, I imagine that he feels what the rest of us will when this shower of shits are shown the door.
There is a new light-headedness in the Labour party.

As opposed to empty-headedness...
Under the peculiar feudalism of politics at the top, where the leader's whim is absolute and there are no appeals against wrongful dismissal, none of them know what - if any - job they'll have in six weeks' time.

Unlike you, eh, Pol; you'll still be writing this drivel in six weeks time. Fuck, but you're an odious woman.
Departments are off the leash, reckonings are in the air. New thoughts and long-suppressed ones are breaking to the surface.

Oh fuck.
It's hardly a 1989 wall-coming-down moment, but the weight of a relentless decade in the yoke has for a moment slipped from their shoulders.

Hopefully, in 2010 or so, we'll know how they feel. And no, it's definitely not "a 1989 wall-coming-down moment"; don't overdo it, Polly.

Besides, the falling of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of Communism in that country; this moment is likely to signal a drive towards it in this.
With the passing of Blair goes the burden of many of those things they wish they hadn't done, or had done better. They are free to confront their failures...

That'll take a while...
... and talk openly about what to do next. With the coming of Gordon Brown there is scope for hope: everyone can indulge in their own wishful visions of what he will do.

Wishful is the word, you old bag. You know as well as I do that Gordon is a rampant control freak. Don't tell me that he doesn't order you to bend over the sofa and pull your cheeks aprt to expose your sparsely-haired minge to his probling Scotch caber.

Don't tell me that he doesn't grab you by the hair and make you beg for it. Don't tell me, Pollyanna, that he is not the dominant body, that he doesn't possess you, that he doesn't push you around your house with his cock up your flappy twat. Been late to any more meetings, Pol?

What he will do is precisely what he has been doing for the last decade; extending his client state, further screwing that two-thirds of the country who do not yet rely on the state for their income and who work, whilst continuing to buy the votes of those who do not.
These curious handover weeks will not be paralysis, but a breathing space...

Heavy breathing in your case, eh?
... and thinking time before shouldering the yoke again, back in harness for two more years, whipped on by polls that remind them how much is to be won back before the next election.

All he's thinking of is how much more money he can shove into off-balance-sheet PFI projects and how much more he can tax us to make up the shortfall.
Gordon Brown set out as PM-in-waiting yesterday with a suitably low key "truly humble" opening speech after an "election" that raised mocking comparisons with unsavoury leaders around the globe.

I read it. It was crap. Pretentious crap at that, and about as genuine as a nine bob note.
But his words struck the right note: "This is who I am, and I will do my best for all the people of Britain."

All the people? No, the working taxpayers will get fucked; his clients might do well enough, but even that is unlikely going on the form of the past decade.
His will be a short honeymoon: this is, after all, a second marriage.

I bet that you wish that it was, quite literally, a second marriage. To you. Eh, Pol?
Long gone is the 1997 innocence of balloons and flags. This time round is less Diana than Camilla - mindful of what can go wrong, but hopeful of doing better. How will it be?

"How will it be"? Hmmm, is anyone else reminded of that Beyond The Fringe sketch in which a small cult are waiting on the top of a mountain for the end of the world?

"How will it be," they demand of their leader as they wait for the impending Armageddon. "Tell us, how will it be?"
Too early to tell, but each day he opens another small door on his advent calendar.

He probably has one, actually. Each door concealing a little chocolate Polly...
He has been saying all the right things.

It's called being a politician, Pol. But though the old joke—"how can you tell when a politician's lying? His lips move"—applies doubly to this bunch of NuLabour bastards. So Iu wouldn't worry too much about what he says.

By their deeds shall ye know them, and all that. Which, unsurprisingly, is precisely what I think about you, Polly, when I see you banging on about people being too rich. Well, that and fucking Champagne socialists...
On housing he gets the desperate plight of those excluded forever from the national house-price lottery winnings.

Forever? A little dramatic, don't you think?
On the NHS, patients need access to GPs, but he will sit down with doctors and nurses and see if peace can be made with the 1.3 million angry staff currently acting as NHS badwill ambassadors, despite increasingly good results.

I look forward to Doctor Crippen's write-up of that meeting...
Education is "my passion" and he is down where it matters, where what goes into children's heads counts, where catching fallers at the youngest age matters more than ideological reorganisings.

What? What the fuck are you talking about?
Expect a big boost for families through health visitors, Sure Start and extended schools.

You mean, expect yet more taxpayers' money to be flung at parents who are unable to support their own children. In other words, Gordon will happily restrict the lifestyle of those who have chosen to live within their means, in order to support the lifestyle choices of those who have decided to live beyond theirs.

And when the fuck will you learn, Polly? How maqny socialist nightmares do we have to point at to show you that central planning foesn't fucking work, you troll? How much of our income has to be pissed up the wall before you realise that simply throwing money at things doesn't work? Haven't you learned anything from the last ten years?

Believe you me, missy, the rest of us have.
Lobby groups see him open some surprising windows, seizing on slender words with new hope.

Oh, great. More unelected cunts deciding policy for the rest of us.
On the constitution, he delighted electoral reformers by declaring he had "an open mind" so long as the constituency link is kept.

We wouldn't need a fucking Constitution had Brown and his merry men done so much to undermine our ancient freedoms, if they hadn't done so much to corrupt thje legal process, if they hadn't done so much to curtail our liberty in the name of security.
Devolutionists are encouraged that he means to let go.

Er... You're just pulling these little, shitty nuggets out of your arse now, aren't you, Pol? You really think that Gordon is going to even contemplate for instance, more devolution for Scotland? That would make his position as a Scottish leader of the English nation even more tenuous.
Stronger select committees will let parliament scrutinise key quango appointments.

Or, as I see it, effectively it's elected QUANGOs scrutinising unelected QUANGOs. Oh joy.
Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti seized on these Brown words as a good sign for human rights, promising to be "vigilant about ensuring that the hard-won liberties of the individual ... are at all times upheld without relenting in our attack on terrorism".

So, he'll be repealing all of the illiberal terrorism laws, will he?
Tone and mood are telling, as he set out hints and clues.

Bit of a bizarre change of tense there, Pol...
But take the big one.

No, you take it, Polly; you take it nice and hard in every orifice.
He has broken a 10-year taboo on the I-word. He used it - inequality - and expunged all that Blairite "never mind about the filthy rich" mantra by admitting what Blair would never say - the gap between rich and poor is important, it matters, inequality is a problem. What did he mean? Ask his people and they say he means renewed efforts to pull up the bottom, to give life chances to those with none.

Pollyanna, don't be a thick cunt, please. No one in this country has no life chances. Not one.

Everyone in this country is entitled to the biggest chance of all: free education. That many choose not to take this chance (and often disrupt and destroy the opportunities of others) is nothing to do with inequality. It is because they make a choice not to take advantage of this offer. It's called personal responsibility, Polly.
But what about the rich? The gap can never be narrowed while the top keep taking the lion's share of income and wealth.

So what? Economics is not a zero sum game: everyone has got richer over the last ten years. Admittedly, we'd all be rather better off if your Norse warrior let us keep a larger proportion of our earned money, but that's the real problem.
On Labour's watch three-quarters of the extra income went to the already rich.

And what would you do about that, Pol? As I pointed out to you a little while ago, your Swedish paradise has just abandoned its wealth tax. Why? Because all of their rich were moving to reside in other countries.

In fact, Polly, I emailed you, remember?
Polly,

I wonder if you have seen this?
STOCKHOLM -- Maybe the next Björn Borg won't feel compelled to move to Monaco now that Sweden plans to scrap a decades-old "wealth" tax that imposes levies on assets -- not just on income.

The tax, which a handful of developed countries retain, was designed to keep the rich from getting richer, but is increasingly seen as harming primarily the upper-middle classes.

The move, expected to be approved by Parliament later this year, underscores the country's efforts to keep successful Swedes and their capital at home by changing its fabled but costly welfare state.

What do you think? Is this moving towards fracturing Sweden's caravan? I ask with particular reference to your Bow Group talk, at which I pointed out that, at present, many of Sweden's wealthy businessmen do not actually live there: will this measure draw them back?

DK

And your reply?
How depressing. This is what conservatives do. It will make inequality soar, and it probably won't bring back those who want to avoid high income tax anyway.

Possibly. But it's also possible that the Swedish government are finally facing up to reality.

He probably won't say anything about that. That's going too far. Social mobility, yes, but he worries that middle England aspires to mega-wealth.

Everyone aspires to mega-wealth, Pol; otherwise all those working class people wouldn't spend their dole money on Lottery tickets. But, of course, mega-wealth is relative: to the vast majority of people—what with the median wage being about £23k an' all—would regard you as mega-wealthy. They might view your denigration of their aspirations rather unfavourably, frankly. I certainly do.
None the less, he has opened the door marked "inequality".

I wish he'd shut the door marked, "Polly's mouth"...
This is one of many issues the deputy leadership campaign may push further and faster than Brown's studied positioning. There are 11 official Labour hustings meetings still to go, with a plethora of others organised by Labour-affiliated groups. The restrained first outing at the Fabians on Wednesday was deceptive. Expect the arguments to hot up and stronger lines to be drawn.

Drug references, Pol?
Never mind the dubious status of the job, the fight is on. These ministers are big beasts...
Aaaaaaahahahahaha! Ha! Haha! Oooh, you're priceless, no, really.

They are a collection of incompetent non-entities, barely more capable than the strategically-shaved chimp that they are vying to replace.
... competing hard for the votes of party members who are, in the main, yearning for bolder progress - and for individual trade union members' votes whose colour is unknown and unknowable: they are ordinary people, not necessarily Labour, since inertia means very few bother to opt out of the political fund that makes them affiliated Labour party members with a vote. Nor will they pay much attention to how their leaders tell them to vote. This won't be dull.

Eh? What? Oh, sorry, Pol; I fell asleep.
Gordon Brown will, alas, have no opponent, but he is likely to find himself swept up in the swirl of the deputy debate at his feet.

Well, he's so much higher than them, up there on his pedestal; he is Odin—for Odin, too, had only one eye—and you, Pol; are you not one of his Valkyries?
He may find a tide pushing him to be bolder than he planned.

Or, of course, he may just find people bowing and scraping, cravenly protrating themselves to do his bidding.
Leadership elections after many years often unleash pent-up urges to surge forward faster. Wherever they start out, questions from the audience will force the six candidates to take competitive positions that reveal where they stand on everything.

Or everyone will be so fucking bored of the whole process and, knowing that Gordo will not relinquish any real power, simply vote for whomever has the prettiest face (I'm not expecting Hazel to win).
Class positioning was the oddest outbreak in round one: not only Cruddas, but Johnson and Blears played their working-class card hard.

How odd. NuLabour aimed to build the "classless society", a true mediocracy; instead, all that we have at the end of an entire fucking decade is mediocrity.
Expect this personal positioning on class to turn into hard questions about inequality.

I don't think that'll happen, Polly. It would be very difficult for an MP on £60k a year plus £130k expenses plus a gold-plated, tax-payer-funded, final-salary pension to justify attacking anyone else on the grounds of inequality. The best thing that they can do is shut the fuck up about the whole issue.
The Office for National Statistics published figures yesterday showing again that the gap is widening.

That's right, Polly, it is. After, and I'll say this again, a decade of NuLabour's redistributionist policies, the gap is wider than when they started in 1997.

Now, what would that suggest to you, Pol? I'll tell you what it suggests:
  • Simple redistribution doesn't fucking work.

  • There is an uderclass who are making no real attempt to better themselves and are thus staying on roughly the same income.

  • Since the economy has grown, the proceeds have therefore gone to those who work and who have thus invested and grown their resources.

I believe that one of the definitions of a mad person is one who keeps doing the exact same thing time and again and—in defiance of the actual disappointing results—keeps on doing it, expecting to get a different outcome the next time.

You are like that, Pol. Despite a century of stark demonstrations that redistribution doesn't work, you keep on hoping that the next time it will be different. You are a mad fucking cow.
So what does Labour really think? Candidates can all agree on poverty, but have they nothing to say about City bonuses, boardroom kleptocracy and the gap getting wider?

No, because what private businesses pay their employees is none of the state's damn business, you appalling excuse for a harridan.
Some do. Alan Johnson's website talks of "pursuing greater equality" but sticks with the meritocratic agenda by calling for "more fluid social mobility", unachievable without closing the gap.

What absolute horseshit. That might be one of the stupidest things that you've ever said and, fuck me, but that's a strong competition.

You need to provide a machanism for mobility. We might disagree on the exact nature of the mechanism—I think that grammar schools provided just such a conduit, you disagreed—but claiming that this cannot happen with high inequality is just so much crap.
Peter Hain goes further.

Heh. From what I've heard, Peter Hain goes all the way, baby...
His website says efforts to close the gap should not be concentrated only on low incomes but on the "super-rich" too. But his remedies call only for "voluntary" social responsibility in the boardrooms. Harriet Harman takes the same line on the rich, but goes one further, insisting it needs government action to tackle the gap. This cries out for more clarity and honesty.

OK, here's clarity and honesty: Harriet Harman wants to build a Communist command and control economy. That makes her more than usually insane.

Look, there is a good deal of hypocrisy here. Every time that MPs vote themselves yet another stonking pay-rise, they justify it by saying that we need to attract the most talented people into politics and to do this we need to pay them a decent wage. OK, fine; no doubt you would justify your disgustingly high level of pay in the same way.

But politicians can't use that argument to justify their payrises and then turn around, when the boardrooms put the same argument to MPs, and say that it's not a valid argument. You cannot have your cake and eat it.
These hothouse debates will force their own trajectory. Briefly freed of collective responsibility and bidden to think out loud in answer to hundreds of questions, these seasoned ministers are not about to delight the Tories by plunging over an icy precipice.

What do you mean? Some of them have already done it: Harriet Harman for one!
They know better than anyone that Labour will only win when it wins again on crime and the NHS.

Ha! Yeah, good luck with that...
But unfrozen from mantras fixed in 1994, they can now say some of the common-sense things to be heard in any pub or wine bar: the rich are too bloody rich.

I don't think that you'll hear that in the wine bar, Pol. Besides, actually, most people don't talk about how some people are too bloddy rich; they talk about how they themselves are too bloody poor. I know, Pol; I hang around in pubs in Brixton and Streatham.
Opinion polls confirm it. Even the Daily Mail sometimes says it. Runaway greed without responsibility splits society and destroys social harmony and wellbeing...

Polly, the inequality gap was pretty damn high in the Victorian times too. The difference was that all of the public amenities were provided by the mega-rich. The Welfare State has removed that sense of social responsibility; and not just amongst the rich. It permeates every level and strata of society. Once we abdicated our responsibilities to the state, we also abdicated our responsibility to our fellow humans.
... the good super-rich know it, and they say it themselves.

Do you, Pol? I must have missed you saying that...
It's so blindingly obvious that it's not brave to say it. Labour urgently needs to say it and not mumble if it wants to regain some credibility and trust in its own values and sincerity of purpose - and sock it to the 15 super-rich Etonians on the bench opposite.

Ah, yes. It's a wonderful thing, isn't it: only Britain that would regard the fact that its government-in-waiting were successful, intelligent and well-educated as something undesirable.
Other issues will boil up, but this one is totemic.

It is totemic, symbolic; nothing more. Acting will not improve the lot of the poorest in society one fucking iota, and you know it.

This inequality shite that you constantly spout is based on nothing more than jealousy and the pimping of jealousy onto others. There are—what?—a few thousand millionaires in a country of 60 million bodies? For every millionaire that they read about, the "poor" will meet, interact with and talk to tens of thousands of people like themselves. People who are just trying to make a living and, whilst they may aspire to mega-riches, know that they will probably never achieve this goal.

What most people want, Pol, is enough money to pay the bills, buy fags and booze and the odd DVD player when they want. And the best way to facilitate that is to ensure that they are allowed to keep as much of the money that they earn as possible.

You want social mobility? Give people a decent education (which is going to require reform, not more cash) and then STOP STEALING THEIR FUCKING MONEY!

Ye gods, I loathe you and your Viking warrior so very, very much.

4 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

It's not one-third who rely on the state, it's about half, to wit, 11 million pensioners, 7 million public sector workers (including sub-contractors) and 5 million benefit claimants = 23 million out of 46 million or so adults.

Bag said...

I very much enjoyed this one DK.

mitch said...

outstanding ! i used to email her the links to these but i doubt she reads them.

Umbongo said...

Whenever Pol appears on that BBC24 discussion programme, usually opposite Michael Gove, Gove is so unbearably polite and reasonable. Pol trots out every one of her favourite mantras and Gove just disagrees: he never goes for the jugular. Why should this be? Gove is not an idiot and he argues (eg on Question Time) pretty well. Do you think he and Pol are, well, an item? If so, the Gobblin' King will be mighty put out.