Darling v. Brown 2009:
Ok, so tomorrow's Pre-Budget Report is shaping up to be a horrendously political affair. But, rest assured, it could have been so much worse. In what is, by now, a familiar Budget-time story, Alistair Darling is fighting the good fight against some of Brown's most inharmonious fiscal brainwaves. According to Rachel Sylvester's column today, here are just some of the measures that the Chancellor has resisted:
-- A long-term windfall tax on bankers' bonuses (Darling favours a temporary, one-year tax).
-- A call to lower the 50p tax threshold from £150,000 to £100,000.
-- A reversal of the plan to make it easier for couples to pool their inheritance tax allowances.
-- A, ahem, "more optimistic picture of the British economy".
Against the backdrop of our debt crisis, Darling's victories can seem kinda minor – but the next government will be grateful for them nonetheless. If there's perhaps one unifying feature of the "suggestions" coming out of Number Ten, it's that they would worry, even more, the kind of investors we need to get our economy motoring again. Darling's incompliance could just spare us – and the public finances – the worst of that.
So, we've already established that for Gordon, this is all a big game of "Fuck the Tories, they're all bastards", or possibly a game of "Scorched Earth, the Jockish Wars". So what of his opposite number, the buttered new potato? Well, I'm sure this will cause ructions in the Oboatriou Cuntry Club, but I can recognise sense when I read it, even in the unlikely form of a Peter Hitchens column:
When we were deciding what to call my Channel Four programme about David Cameron, I wasn't, to start with, specially keen on the title 'Toff at the Top' which was eventually picked. But I came round to it for the following reason: Mr Cameron's lofty background is exactly what makes him an Unconservative. As one of my interviewees, who had been his boss, pointed out, Mr Cameron doesn't really believe in anything. I suspect he has no real reason to be passionate about national decline, rotten state schools, poor law-enforcement, mass immigration, the concreting over of open space, the vanishing of familiar landscapes. He has been exempt all his life from such things, and from the confiscatory, suspicious attacks of the state on the middle class.
He is interested in office not because he is gripped by any set of desires or aims, but because he thinks he is entitled to it because of his standing and his education, and is vaguely upset that the government is now full of people who aren't from the Top Drawer, and that his friends have been out of the Cabinet for too long. His education at Eton and Oxford was almost designed to produce people who think it rather beneath their dignity to care about such things as patriotism or national sovereignty, the concerns of 'prejudiced' little people swept aside by history and progress. There's nothing necessarily conservative about Toffs, or about the rich. Small 'c' conservatism, especially moral and cultural conservatism (which the wealthy elite, Labour and Tory, often snobbishly despise as suburban) comes from other places.
So, from that reading, I find it hard to see that iDave is any better than the Gorgon, really. It's abundantly clear to me that the Tories are not offering anything better than "at least we're not Gordon."
Time and time again, they have resisted calls to reveal their policies -- and I don't believe it's because they don't have any policies.
It's because they don't have any policies that are different from what Labour are offering.
It's been apparent to me for years now that there is no significant difference between the political parties, and for this, I "blame" the 1997 electoral landslide. In reality, I obviously can't blame the landslide, but the conclusions that the politicians have taken away from it. Tony Blair's repositioning of the Labour Party and the result thereof has led politicians to believe that the tiny niche of centrism is where the electoral action is.
With no ideology or philosophy or even conviction underpinning their politics, it has become clear that electoral politics in this country is no more (and quite possibly less!) valid than the voting on Strictly Come Factor Get Me Out Of Britain's Got A Celebrity.
It's become a sham. Even the minority parties like UKIP and the BNP are really just tinkering around the edges. The accepted basis for all their polity is centrist social democracy. They may jiggle it slightly one way or the other, but they're all based on the same paradigm.
And Cameron's complete failure to "seal the deal" with voters shows that voters are not at all keen on this mindset either. People can instinctively sense that if they vote for Cameron, they could quite easily wind up with yet another unprincipled, amoral, "entitled" fuckwit who will do anything to stay in power and will do absolutely fuck all of use.
So to Brown, Cameron and Clegg (and all the others): keep playing your games, keep making yourself irrelevant -- and we will keep on mocking and ignoring your increasingly irrelevant selves.
But what I fear is what will come when we all get too tired of your games. You might not like what happens then.
Update: more games from the turd-coloured one:
If today ends up with the government in a row with the City over plans to tax bank bonus pots with bankers threatening to take the government to court, then it will be mission accomplished for the Labour party. The same goes if we end up in a debate over the merits of a Tobin-style tax. For obvious reasons, Labour would rather talk about anything other than the state of the public finances so anything that distracts attention from that central question is, to use the word of the morning, a bonus for Brown.