London, England

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

swings and roundabouts

The British electorate swings to the right and, in the media’s view at least, the Conservatives finally look electable. But not so fast say I and Mr Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail. In his blog, the latter warns that the left-leaning media are only prepared to make Mr Cameron look credible because he’s adopted their policies. Things won’t change, he warns, and I’m minded of my own blog (presently de-published by my esteemed hosting-company) which said that British voters were liberal democrats who just didn’t vote Liberal Democrat.

Depressingly, Mr Hitchens gives us his take on the transition from Major to Blair: “And when it was all over, the Government was almost exactly the same – high taxes, slovenly services, hundreds of thousands of people in baseball caps living off the State, feeble police and courts, mass immigration. You know the sort of thing.” We do indeed, and he predicts more of the same if the Tories win in or before 2010.

My “not so fast” is broader. Exciting and interesting though a change from Ken to Boris may be, fundamental problems will persist. England, from being a holy nation in the early 16th century, has become secularised, a bastard-heir to its Christian tradition, charging admission-fees to its despoiled cathedrals and abbeys. Marriage is a wreck and genteel behaviour mocked. The nation fixates on self-harming celebrities from TV, sport and music, drinks itself silly, and increasingly disregards just laws and regulations.

Most of us who work do so for others and not ourselves, let alone on our own land. The property we occupy may be rented or bought at usurious interest. Just a few people own most of the nation’s wealth, parallelling the global situation. Our savings are eroded by inflation and the state takes and controls a huge share of the nation’s wealth. When we do encounter government’s attempt to provide us with a service, we experience bad staff-attitudes, unionisation, rationing of those services, lateness, budget-overrun and just plain bad quality. (I include the railways in that category because, while the motive may now be commercial, sometimes monopolistic, the ethos is statist.)

We are involved in dirty wars overseas which do not relate to our territorial security but, rather, to trade-driven geopolitics. They make us hated and, as if that weren’t bad enough, we seem actually to be losing those conflicts. National policy is effectively surrendered to Brussels and Washington, our highest courts for at least some cases are overseas, and, while we have enough nuclear weapons to commit major war-crimes, we still need someone in the Pentagon to give us the scratchcard with the launch-codes on.

Just because globalisation exists doesn’t mean we need to succumb to it, any more than the existence of malaria means you don’t bother with mosquito-nets or vaccines.

Sadly, the malaise runs deep, and at least some of it is to do with the gathering of much power and property into a few hands. I used to fear that such observations made one a communist, yet, with its doctrine of state-control, that creed is as bad as capitalism. What folks can’t see is that politics, like life, has three dimensions rather than two. Even on a flat sheet of paper you can represent a line which cuts across an otherwise single ideological spectrum (the one from left to right).

We are imprisoned in the view that you must be left, right or centre (even though 21st century centre is way to the left of, for example, 19th century liberalism). You can be state-dominated, trade-dominated, or enjoying some kind of standoff where, as in modern Britain, government provides poor-quality essential services while big business makes billion-pound profits out of the rest (including food which is kinda essential too).