13 May 2010

Going all gooey-eyed over the coalition - lame punks and journalists who should know better

Gawd, there was some right awful nonsense being written about the Coalition on yesterday's Guardian website. The normally pretty good Jonathan Freedland, who 24 hours before had been claiming (sensibly) that Cameron "limped across the finishing line, clinging to the shoulder of the Lib Dems", now suggests that this is "David Cameron's clause IV moment - a bid to seize the centre ground permanently". What, with Iain Duncan Smith at DWP, William Hague as the most anti-EU Foreign Secretary since records began, neo-con Micky Gove in charge of schools, and George Osborne at HMT? This isn't "seizing the centre ground" - it's the more ambitious neo-Thatcherite project of attempting to shift the centre ground so that You Are It.

Freedland even goes so far as to suggest that needing a coalition with the Lib Dems was the result he wanted to give his "modernisation project" more weight and legitimacy. Well, if this govt manages to develop something genuinely new on the centre-right rather than swallowing up the right wing of the Lib Dems on the way to a hard-right destination, he will have been proved right. But I'd argue it's a stretch, and I think Lib Dem activists (those that haven't left already) are going to have a tough job selling this to voters who mainly (not exclusively) voted Lib Dem to keep the Tories out.

Freedland at least attempts to get to grips with the real issues even if it's from a different perspective each time out. I can live with that as an intellectual exercise. What I can't live with is the odious Julian Glover, the Guardian's head leader writer and a man who is seemingly on a mission to turn it into a clone of the Telegraph. His is a political sabotage mission of the most audacious kind. In his article yesterday Glover suggests that: "the unifying idea [behind the coalition] is liberal... [which] implies a strong respect of the primacy of the individual over the state - a distrust of arbitrary authority and interference that is part of the Conservative philosophical inheritance".

There is so much wrong with this sentence that I don't know where to begin. Firstly, Glover's described a libertarian - not a 'liberal' - philosophy. I don't use "liberal" myself to refer to any kind of political discourse as the word's become so confused (partly because in the US it was used from the 1930s onwards as a more palatable synonym for "social democratic") that it's lost all meaning, in the same way that "progressive" will be doing soon...

Secondly, the Tories are almost never about the primacy of the individual over the state. They are about the primacy of (very rich) individuals over other (poor) individuals with support from the full apparatus of the state - and institutions who owe their legal existence to the state, such as corporations - where necessary. People on benefits who think that the Coalition prioritises their interests over the state will get a pretty fucking rude awakening when their benefit cheque gets cut. And the Tories are never afraid of using the most extreme police state measures against their own citizens to preserve the 'natural order of things' - police hit squads in the miners' strike of 1984, anybody? (To be fair, Labour shares this obsession with the creeping police state).

A real liberal govt (in the Glover terminology) would take on multinational corporate power, enact land reform and land taxation on a massive scale, and effect the kind of fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families that this country really needs. A British political party did once promise to do that in its manifesto, but it wasn't either of these lame coalition partners. The party was Labour. And the year was 1974.


Martin said...

Just come across your blogg and find them interesting reading..esp around the election. Why the name Giroscoper?

giroscoper said...

The reason is lost in the midsts of time really. I think the idea originally was "a device for measuring orientation", the orientations in question being political - primarily to do with the direction that UK politics has been moving in since 2006, when the blog started. Why the funny spelling ("i" instead of "y"?) Out of deference to the mass unemployment of the 1980s (scheduled to be with us again soon, I'm sure).