Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Price of Clear Blue Water



And so after the drama of another British election, the world which was eclipsed for 36 hours is back into full focus.  I switch from the scenes of yet another earthquake hitting Nepal to more asylum seekers and/or economic migrants, especially women and children arriving on Europe’s Mediterranean coast. Theresa May, articulating the sentiments of those who voted for the British version of America’s Tea Party, says ‘send them back to Africa’. The new Justice Secretary is about to dismantle the Human Rights Act and he will be unopposed, except perhaps in the unelected and undemocratic House of Lords.

 

Without the Liberal Democrat veto, such that it was, it is open season for the Tories who secured some degree of clear blue water to put their manifesto into action. As Cameron was assembling his Cabinet, a cross section of the public together with MPs representing all political hues were gathered on the Green across the road from the House of Commons. They were being interview by Sky News. One young Black woman said, having voted Conservative, she had followed her head and not her heart, now she was feeling anxious. Good. I'm glad she feels like that, with good cause.  She should be very afraid.

 

In a bid to give weight to the Tories being ‘the real party of working people’ and to fend off the charge of having a Cabinet made up of Old Etonian elites[1] Cameron wants us to know that he also believes in ‘blue collar conservatism’. I guess that’s true; it is why one Labour MP had to apologise when she sneered at UKIP’s ‘white van man’ supporters, who are also the Tory/Labour ‘aspiring middle’. To make the point, much coverage has been given to Cabinet posts going to the offspring of a milkman, a garage owner and a bus driver who also happens to be Asian.

 

For now Cameron is basking in his success. His reference to One Nation conservatism, the doctrine championed by The Tory Reform Group is a veiled gesture of reconciliation both to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, deliberately trashed during the election campaign in the name of political expediency, and also to the 60% of the electorate who did not vote for him.

 

Tories use superlatives to describe their mood including ‘euphoric’ ‘ecstatic’, even ‘orgiastic’. And the description of Cameron: ‘walks on water’.  As the camera spans the room at the first meeting of the new Cabinet, you catch a look of adoration on Jeremy Hunt's face...or does he look like that all the time?

 

I do have to acknowledge one thing about Cameron’s new Government, women make up a third of his Cabinet. That’s historic. But my granddaughter, who should have the opportunity to go into politics if she chooses to do so, is being charged £350 more than she can afford per month for decent housing because her chosen university does not have enough student accommodation on campus. We are encouraging her to persevere; that all will be well and she does not have to give up on her dream and take on a zero hour contract. Such is life for most people in Cameron’s Britain, especially ‘working people'.

 

A few ex-MPs shared how it felt to suddenly find themselves unemployed with little prospects of securing another job in a hurry. The world had moved on since the time they first entered the Westminster bubble. One person, an MP for 20+ years, and a Tory bless him, wondered how he would pay his mortgage and support his family. Of course the twitter sphere let him have it. Hello. Welcome to the real world.

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