The problem with living under a right wing government is that it’s like being governed by your dad. Your ageing, past his prime, dad. Who scoffs at the noise young people listen to, grumbles at even the hint of expense, and watches NCIS religiously.* I was born in the midst of Margaret Thatcher’s stint as Prime Minister, and my awareness of the political world around me coincided with the meager years that marked John Major’s turn as Prime Minister and the boom years of new New Labour. I’m British, and you’re probably
British Politics is dominated by two major political parties. The left of centre leaning Labour and the right leaning Conservaties (or Tories). There is a third party, the Liberal Democrats, but even during their strongest overall political run they still functioned as almost rans against the two big parties.
In theory these three parties represent three key points on the political spectrum with the Tories as traditional right wingers, Labour as centrists with left leanings, and Liberals as traditional left wingers. The problem was that over the course of Labour’s reign from 1997 to 2010 they stopped acting like Labour and started acting a little like the Tories. As such New Labour became a right of centre party, not as militantly right wing as the Tories mind, but still increasingly moving to the right side of the political spectrum.
Coupled with a leader who was seemingly an astute old school politican, but lacked the kind of social graces to win a modern election, and an opponent who tapped into the kind of empathic, emphatic, nonsense that wins a modern election Labour found their defeat to be something of a foregone conclusion.
What people didn’t seem to expect was the Tories to revert back to form quite so quickly. Y’see, I’m a liberal kid, raised by a liberal parent, surrounded by liberal influences, who had these liberal thoughts reinforced by the media agreeing with my biases. As such I always had a childish ‘Tories are the bad guys’ complex about the conservatives. Even what I was trying to be rational I couldn’t shake my image of them as greedy, upper class orientated, villains. My vision of the Conservatives is essentially two dimensional, cackling, malevolent, autocrats, enacting policy seemingly for the sole intent of fucking with people they don’t like.
Rational Spike fought against these thoughts, weighed up the pros and cons and prepared himself for five years of thrift. Then the Conservatives turned into the vicious, sniveling, shortsighted, monsters I had envisioned.
I’m a public servant** and as such the Conservative mantra of thrift, of hard cuts, and new ways of thinking about public services hit me in a very specific way. The issue with the public service is that it’s something of an ungainly beast. It serves a function, and performs to all of the standards placed to it, but it’s still a place where complacency and indolence can become common. On a logical level, with our country’s finances in such supposedly catastrophic condition, it makes sense to streamline these unwieldy structures to get cost savings and efficiency. The problem was that the model the conservatives decided on was kind of…well it was kind of bizarre. Gone were city based Trusts which handled the medical needs for their areas, and in their stead comes a consortium of GPs. A panel of 300 doctors who then disperse income to insular hospitals, health centres, and surgeries within cities. As such all of our medical establishments would, in theory, become their own islands. It’s an odd way of doing things and it struck me more as the Tories trying to destroy the work of the previous administration than an actual attempt to fix the service.
On a less personal level these cuts continued on into the entertainment industry. In the run up to the election both Tory and Labour politicians had agreed to a proviso to give tax breaks to videogame developers in an attempt to promote larger studios to set up shop in the
Similarly today’s abolition of the UK Film Council, a body responsible for the implementation of hundreds of Digital Cinema screens across the country and funding for countless films, felt like it was move that was designed to hurt an old Labour initiative and to maintain an aura of austerity for the Tories. At a time of financial pressure the knee jerk reaction is to ditch luxuries, the problem is that the gaming tax break and the UK Film Council were both initiatives which could have generated revenue in the long run. In a country rapidly running out of industry our videogame and film industries could have been a recession proof way of ensuring jobs and income generation.
*Seriously, what the hell is the deal with old people and NCIS? It’s like the show that everyone’s parents watch.
**For the Americans, that means I work in organizations subsidised by taxpayers money providing a service to benefit the people. In theory.