Summer's almost here!
Which means Spring is almost here!
Oh well. It's February and despite the hurricanes and relentless monsoons that can only rationally be explained away by climate change I like the think that we're almost through Winter, even though by and large it's not been as cold as I'd feared (just monstrously wet). There's a point, when the day is at its shortest, where the trees on the far side of the horizon, as I look outside, obscure the sun as it sets so early. The sun has returned past that point and is heading for a a small bank of very tall trees about half way to the mid point (which would be the equinox). It usually hits that point mid February and is a sure sign that the days are gaining strength.
It's things like that, bizarre as they may seem, that keep me going. It's how I view the world. But that isn't what I'm going to be talking about. I've been somewhat lax in my musings recently. There was the recent Benefit Street debacle (or has it somehow turned against the propaganda pimps?), but I resolved not to watch it. I knew that it would be poverty porn (apparently Channel 5 has been sniffing around Wales to film their own slice of bullshit). What is there to say about this that hasn't been said many, many, times before. The unemployed, the poor, the sick and the vulnerable, they are just zoo exhibits now. There for the benefit of our betters to moralise over and gawk at. 'How do these people live?' they say? It must be the fault of a sinking of moral character fed by 'welfarism': dependency and indolence. The devil makes work for idle hands (just not rich idle hands it seems).
Julia Hartley Brewer (she writes for the Express, what else do you need to know?) commented on Question Time that, if she were in 'their' shoes, she'd get up at double-figures a.m. and drink beer from tins. What a grotesque assumption. That's what the unemployed do - and it's reasonable that they do because their lives must be so crap. Of course some lives are - because benefits are so pitifully low (as the Europe recently told IDS). Instead of helping them, we sneer at them and turn James Turner street into a sideshow, a circus for white van driving gorillas to visit photograph and leave their indignation on the walls like painted graffiti. Who are the real parasites (the Mirror recently alleged that some of the most squalid housing imaginable, on 'Benefit' Street belongs to a Tory who charges over the odds for places so damp ridden and cold the kids go to bed dressed!
We can't expect better from the media at the moment. The BBC has lost the plot entirely. In fact the discussion on the Jeremy Vine show this afternoon prompted me to post. The topic was workplace nepotism based on the reporting that Michael Gove had sacked a Labour person from a high ranking education position and that this was a partisan decision. I have no idea if that's true or not, though I certainly wouldn't be surprised given that Gove is selling off our schools to his chums. However when the BBC invites on Fraser Nelson to discuss this I have to say excuse me? The BBC turns to, for about the tenth time this month, right wing Spectator journalist and Tory bullshit merchant, Fraser Nelson in a discussion about nepotism. This is surely irony! He and the few other regular right wing blowhards are never out of these discussions.
Sadly this is what the BBC has become; an echo chamber for the most regressive small minded right leaning thinking going. Watching Question Time, for example (or it's radio equivalent, a copy and paste job to the point it's hosted by the other Dimbleby), and what do you see: a Tory that will bemoan Labour's term in office, A Labour shrinking violet without an opposition bone in their body, a right/centre right journalist/pundit, one of the schizoid Yellow Tories from Clegg's Club, and, if you're lucky (usually no more than once every couple of months) a token lefty who, if you're really lucky, has the wit and spark to rise above the mire. Unfortunately the prevailing paradigm is so stifling that no one takes them seriously. They are light relief at best - oh look it's that guy that used to play Baldrick!
The debate chokes on its own fumes; it's a vicious self defeating cycle of lamenting borrowing and dreading spending, of cuts that lead to more cuts and more austerity. We all know that austerity has nothing to do with managing a perceived debt; if it was they would act to cut it not fob us off with excuses for tax avoidance while hammering the poor and rewarding the rich. Yet the debate revolves around quaint and fallacious nonsense about family credit cards because that's the frame: the 'hardworking taxpaying family'. This poisonous notion has grown dense like a sociological black hole, sucking all reason and ingenuity into its negative depths. Everything has to be fair to this construct yet what that actually means is never discussed, particularly in relation to welfare. What does it mean? We are all taxpayers so who is being fair to me?
Meanwhile the audience comprises a lobby, no doubt earnestly and piously formed the moment the Young Conservative wing locally heard that Dimblebly and Co. were coming to town, of students and local business types. These are people, bedecked in their blazers and ties representing their part of the old school network, who think the world revolves around them; they are business people - gods in our society. We must abase ourselves in front of them while they reject anything that isn't capitalism even though they must plainly see that capitalism has failed. Aside from the politics students wearing ties for the first time eager to try out their theories and demonstrate their political naivete you might get a few token lefties, but they fare no better than the person on the panel. They might get some applause, but they won't be taken seriously.
Round and round it goes - and I haven't even mentioned the staggering frequency by which Ukip appears; a party that bemoans the BBC as representing the 'liberal elite', despite UKiP having no MP's. It's a joke; when was the last time a member of TUSC, the SWP, or evne the Communist Party appeared? They wouldn't stand a chance. The closest we get is Caroline Lucas, from the greens. At least she got elected.
I don't see how this will ever change. Ultimately we will spiral to the bottom until the cracks start to appear. But things cannot go on as they are. Something, somewhere, will give. The question is what and when, and will we count the cost?