I have – to this point – made no comment on the somewhat startling outcome of the recent UK general election. This is in part because – as I have stated before within the compass of these scribblings – this blog has no inclination to major on politics. It is also in rather greater part because the result was just so dashed depressing!
Actually – the further we travel from the election night itself the less truly startling the outcome appears, and the more all would seem to have been a dreary inevitability. Similar ballots involving Christmas and large birds of the genus Meleagris spring to mind… but then – I am hardly an impartial observer.
No matter. It is what it is – and I am in any case pretty much disqualified from judgement by my imminent departure to a different – though perhaps no more agreeable – political clime.
One thing – however – I can’t just let go…
I am appalled by the Tories’ post-election notion – courtesy of Cameron himself it would seem – to attempt to re-appropriate the ‘One Nation‘ soubriquet. Benjamin Disraeli (from whose 19th century novel, ‘Sybil‘, the term originates) truly believed in paternalism as a mechanism by which the poor and the needy should be offered support, and that it was the duty of those fortunate enough to have gained thereby to assist those who had lost out in the amoral jungle of the free market. Considerable social reforms were effected as a result during Disraeli’s terms in office.
This paternalism formed the basis of the Tories’ ideology – on and off – for a considerable stretch of its history until the New Conservatism – of which Thatcher was the flag bearer – swept it away during the 70s and 80s in favour of a belief in the unfettered power of the market to shape whatever actually existed of ‘society’.
You might expect me to raise at least two cheers for the return of the Tories to their former doctrine, and I might indeed be persuaded so to do were it not for the fact that – as in so many other things – this new direction is simply another cynical attempt to co-opt a meaningful philosophy (which actually has a track record) as some sort of promotional device for something lesser (which clearly does not!). This is nothing more than marketing and PR at its very worst.
Disraeli’s ‘One Nation‘ was intended to be just that. It was un-equal – certainly – but the intention was to care for the poorest and most destitute even if only by the largesse of their ‘betters’. Cameron’s nation – whichever ‘one‘ it might actually be – would certainly have been unrecognisable to Disraeli. It is – for example – apparently necessary to qualify to belong to it. There may indeed be welfare but only for the deserving – those who are ‘hard-working‘. This clearly excludes single mothers bringing up families – or the disabled who cannot work.
I could go on – but others have written on the subject with far greater lucidity than I could manage. This is The Observer’s editorial on the Queen’s Speech that opened the new session of parliament.
What perhaps galls the most is that the Tories have wasted not a second in setting in motion their campaigning for the next election – five whole years hence. No Tory is allowed to put in an appearance in any of the media without in-canting the party line on ‘One Nation‘ and ‘hard-working families‘. This is PR drivel of the highest order – presumably intending by endless repetition to hammer home the Tories’ ‘brand essence‘! Never have I been more relieved that I for one do not have to endure this farce.
What is worst of all is the sneaking feeling that just such cynical, patronising feculence very probably did help to win them the election just passed.
Doesn’t bear thinking about.