Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Oblivion Express


So, the so-called ‘quiet man’ of the Tory party, Iain Duncan Smith has, somewhat belatedly in life, found something lurking in the recesses of his ice-bound brain - a conscience. Or has he? Is this some ruse to enable him to fade away without the reputation of being the most pantomime-villainous Baron Hardup of modern times, the man who kicks the poor and disabled in the teeth? Shall we all say “Ah, he wasn’t so bad after all…”  Well, IDS, it’s too late for that. Too many of your callous utterances made on behalf of your rich stable mates Osborne and Cameron will not be obliterated by challenging ‘Call me Dave’’s  phoney mantra, ‘We’re all in this together’. Go off and enjoy your millions, slaver over your stocks and shares, happy in the knowledge that the cruel crucible which forged you has plenty of hard cast copies waiting to do the City’s bidding.

   I have spent a lifetime living in hope. Hope for what? Fairness? Equality? Compassion? Consideration? Mutual care? Public Ownership? After George Osborne’s March Budget 2016, how meaningless these concepts seem today. I’ve joined parties, been a shop steward, I’m still a union member, I’ve marched, petitioned, protested, spoke at meetings, written for the press, the lot. I make no apologies for my Socialism. Yet it’s a dream, a figment of a hopeful imagination. I can say this now with confidence because as I approach 73 I am aware that whatever I and thousands like me have grown up believing in and fighting for, it has been steam-rolled flat, ground into the earth by the bulldozer of capitalism. As the tax threshold for the rich is favourably adjusted yet again, to be paid for by cuts to disability benefits, the NHS is savaged by deliberate neglect and vicious propaganda, and the corporate world and parliament squabble among themselves over how much money they’ll make or might lose over Europe, all the rest of us can do is stand by in despair and watch the richest bastards become increasingly richer.
Sure, we’ve got Jeremy Corbyn, but the media will roast him alive if he approaches anything close to success. Murdoch controls the public mind like Orwell’s Big Brother. The hoi polloi are happily distracted from everything around them as they clutch their precious I-Phones and text one another into stupefying oblivion. Why spend a few quid supporting the Red Cross or a refugee charity when you need that cash for your next tattoo? What used to be the proletariat will now happily pay £40 on a Saturday to watch a dozen obscenely paid young men kick a football around, most of them earning more in a week than a nurse earns in two years. We can hoot our car horns in support of striking junior doctors, but that will not faze Jeremy Hunt. He knows his long term covert plans inside out; give his government another term in office after 2020 and the Tory dream of a credit card, private health system can be fulfilled. PFI: Profit from Illness. Cameron told us three years ago that he was aiming for ‘financial transparency’ with the markets. Where is it? It will not happen for the offshore tax dodgers with their accounts in the Virgin and Cayman Islands. That’s a transparency too far. The so-called High Speed Rail Link will cost billions of public money, and for what? So that the same rich, greedy hedonists can travel in comfort between their investments. The ordinary minimum wage earners can scarcely afford the most expensive rail tickets in Europe. And how can a man have a full-time job as Mayor of London yet be an MP at the same time? Boris Johnson seems to manage it. But if you’re working on a production line in a factory, or on a zero-hours contract, try asking your boss if you can knock off at 11 am for four hours to ensure your ‘other job’ is going OK - and see what happens. The 2- job shuffle only works for lawyers, PR gurus and hedge fund managers.

There is another puzzle about the wealthy. HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU NEED, for Chrissakes? If someone gives you a million as a bonus, usually for failure in your job, how come you also get another million when they fire you, and how come someone else in the City offers you a new job with a golden handshake? How many cars, houses, swimming pools, Bermudan villas, wine cellars and helicopters does it take for you to stop and think - hang on, this isn’t fair! But that’s a four letter word which has dropped away from your lexicon of avarice.

And what happens in America is what eventually affects us here. Joe Public of the USA voted for Obama, and as soon as he took power, his wings were clipped. Yet now they flock in their thousands to pay homage to a loud-mouthed, misogynistic racist thug with the world outlook we imagined had died with Hitler. But that’s fine, because he’s what he needs to be to create an impression with a dumbed-down world - he’s stinking rich. And he will no doubt ascend to the Presidency. Thus will the lunacy of capitalism have its complete and overall victory.

Probably, in the next ten years, if I am lucky, I will expire, and shuffle off this crazy coil into the darkness of oblivion. All I can hope is that in a hundred years’ time, someone will remember that there was always a possible alternative to this world, and that they will scuffle in the ashes to try and discover what it was. But for me, it’s over. I’m sure that will make Cameron, Hunt and Trump very happy indeed. Welcome on board the Oblivion Express. The edge of the cliff is just ahead. 

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