Thursday, 19 August 2010

Panem et circenses

Cameron and his Brokeback deputy are heading for a Big Society Nation with the least state interference. Revising the balance of power between government and governed together with empowering volunteers. They claim that this will put decision making back in the hands of the populace. However, given the parlous state of the Nation's finances this fine aim may have to be foregone or much held in abeyance.

Having bright ideas is easy - I come up with twenty every morning whilst isolated in a small room. Every single issue I bring forth requires financing. Either direct grants or just seed corn money. If there is to be any real devolution of how this country is run, it will have to come from us - the proles. Government will be largely reduced to thumb up or thumb down gestures in the latter day equivalent of bread and circuses. The sensation of being a valid facilitator of change will wear off if there is too much Westminster display of thumb infra.

The solution of relying on philanthropy seems unlikely. Sure, we can flatter the Philip Green's of this world by inviting them to comment but they will feel that they already contribute enough as indicated by the measures they take to avoid the really heavy taxes their enterprises sustain. There are quite serious redundancies forthcoming in the public sector and payroll costs are the quick route to reducing costs in the private industries. Like it or lump it, costs associated with just everyday basic living are set to rise; the disposable income will rise for almost all. There will be less 'spare' for practical philanthropy. Less love for mankind all around I see. Our erstwhile Socialist masters with the realities of opposition facing them, describe Cameron's Big Society as nothing but a cover for draconian budget cuts.

They claim that his government's push to enlist more volunteer firefighters and policemen comes as the cuts could slash the ranks of paid officers and first responders. At the same time as calling for more citizen volunteers, the new government is also slashing grants to the charities that organize and provide them. Even such a seemingly simple step as abolishing the free milk in junior schools generated sufficient adverse reaction as to supply big black headlines for a number of days. Other proposals will generate far more reaction - schools where Latin is on the curriculum and to omit the cultural sensitivity classes common in British schools is but one issue that will lead to dissent amongst the coalition. Too far, too soon. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, and that is a risk I see. The coalition does not sit well with all latter-day followers of Jeremy Thorpe and they might well swallow affiliation with a nouveau-Labour as the price for getting their own way. Better get that nasty decision as to voting reform out of the way first though eh?

Just where we, the poor public, would figure in all this is uncertain. If we look at the end result of the last time we were allowed to express an opinion that mattered, the thumb verdict hardly mattered in the wheeling and dealing that followed. If 'the others' were again put into a position of power, the mere processes of rescinding what Cameron and his deputy have let loose would be horrific. Getting the genie back into the bottle would be very painful.

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