The recession hasn’t actually started yet. By which I mean the public narrative of the recession hasn’t started yet because it hasn’t affected the public sector yet. It soon will. The recession proper will start the day the staggeringly huge subcutaneous membrane of paper shufflers and middle management in the civil service and public sector start getting their marching orders.
This section of society will have watched the events of the last ten months unfold with slightly worried eyes while safe in the knowledge that though the P45s were being handed round in the sector that pays for their padded existence they knew they were on for a pay rise. Well, sooner or later that party will be over and then the trouble will start in earnest.
Government sympathisers within the media may be reduced, but many journalists addicted to the Thatcho-Socialism of Labour are still at large and occasionally they lob a ‘green shoots of recovery’ story in to help out. A cheery economics reporter on the BBC this morning: “Why is everybody being so gloomy?’
Once the grim scythe comes towards his people, the state employees, the tune will change rapidly. Popular culture will suddenly discover the recession; indignation will appear; it’ll be like the early 80s all over again. Perhaps The Specials will make a record.
Had the economy had been wrecked by a Tory government we would have heard a great deal more from all movers and shakers in our culture by now. Brown would have been the butt of every comedian and DJ’s joke, as Thatcher, Major and their cabinets were in times of economic distress. But most of the people who control popular culture in Britain thoroughly approved of Blairism and new Labour (it was a superb way of being an absolute pig for money, power, advantage and privilege while maintaining you had a conscience and were not a ‘wicked Tory’. That is why so many TV and newspaper people were new Labour supporters) and still do. Now all the wheels are off the wagon and there is truckloads of evidence about sleaze, incompetence and downright deceit you might think there’d be an emerging strain of opprobrium for Labour, with its Goebbelsian deceit, its wars and its incompetence, but I don’t see much of that.
Contrast this with Cameron’s likely tiny-majority government come next year. There’ll be some noisy and righteous condemnations of government then. Marches, benefits, placards, the full monty Just you wait.
Encouraging events! Revolt in Iran and the Times’ leader calls Gordon Brown a liar (the Ed Balls fan club known as the Financial Times has, last Friday, also declared this government’s stance on spending plans to be dishonest).
I have nothing to say about the Iran rebellion other than I wish them the best of British luck, as people used to say, they are going to need it. Let’s hope Barack Obama can find some time to yell them on. That will upset Ahmadinejad but I don’t think that matters much, does it? As a pal pointed out to me yesterday, ever since Obama became King of America that country’s enemies have been rattling their sabres with rare energy. Do they sense a weakling has taken over from a bull in china shop?
Back to Brown. He’s unveiled the big lie that will take us to the general election: Labour Will Spend, Tories Will Cut. We know that this man is incompetent, but to castigate the Tories for spending figures straight out of your own government’s plans and projections is pretty incredible incompetence.
The money’s all gone and the only course of action any future government will have is to cut spending and raise taxes. It’s a simple as that.
I take no Thatcherite relish in this but I long ago came to the conclusion that if any form of modern socialism – fairness versus inequality of resource and opportunity – is to win the political argument then it must confront its many Achilles heels; the big one being bureaucratic sclerosis and managerialism. It won’t, but there you go.
Ooh, we get an Iraq inquiry. All done behind closed doors. What a surprise. It will be finished long after Brown is finished and I’m quite prepared to bet cash this very afternoon that the big dirty secrets of that epoch – and the major guilty parties – will remain largely untouched. The Iraq inquiry will be Labour’s last long raspberry at the truth.