Saturday, March 28, 2009
Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of this Parliament – that being to say one thing in this chamber, and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that; who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British Jobs for British Workers’, and that you have subsidised - where you have not nationalised outright - swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks.
Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words. Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country.
The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child.
Now once again today you tried to spread the blame around, you spoke about an international recession; an international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squall – but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear up their rigging – in other words, to pay off debt – but you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line, under the accumulated weight of your debt. We are now running a deficit that touches almost 10% of GDP – an unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary – countries where the IMF has already been called in.
Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising - like everyone else, I’ve long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things these things - it’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening the situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year, in the last twelve months, 125,000 private sector jobs have been lost – and yet you’ve created 30,000 public sector jobs. Prime Minister you cannot go on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorging of the unproductive bit.
You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re well place to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like a Brezhnev-era Apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense. Everyone knows that Britain is the worst placed to go into these hard times. The IMF has said so. The European Commission has said so. The markets have said so, which is why our currency has devalued by 30% – and soon the voters, too, will get their chance to say so.
They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are a devalued Prime Minister, of a devalued Government.
The really important thing is not what was said, which is very well crafted & accurate but not new, but the reaction to it.
This has become the most watched speech ever on YouTube which, considering they have stuff like Kennedy's Moon speech, is quite something. More important than that is that it was done with no initial MSM coverage just a fair bit on blogs. Indeed later MSM coverage, which has been running to catch up, has been really rather bitchy.
I think this shows 2 things.
On the party front that it struck a very strong chord with the public. I compare it to a fully saturated chemical solution which, by adding only one drop, undergoes a phase change to a completely different structure.
Beyond that is the fact that political discussion of all sorts is no longer going to be poured through the narrow funnel of the MSM. The BBC no longer get to decide that nobody may appear who does not subscribe to the claim that our recession is a "crisis of capitalism" - in fact it is a crisis of big state socialism. They no longer get to decide that when they claim to be discussing all points of view on global warming they can exclude anybody who has any doubts.
Devil's Kitchen recently mentioned both Daniel Hannan MEP's blog & that of his co-author of their book on fixing the economy, the Plan, Douglas Carswell MP as representing his favourite politicians.
On the point about the effect of the internet taking over from the MSM as the forum for political discussion I can do no better than repost Mr Carswell's comments:
The internet will utterly transform politics in three ways:
1. Remove barriers to entry. Daniel Hannan's famous speech was ignored by the big corporate media players. So what? There are no left-wing BBC producers on YouTube to veto views they disapprove of, so over a million of us watch it anyway.
The terms of the political debate won't be set by the press lobby and party managers - it'll be decided more democratically. But removing barriers to entry isn’t simply about democratising communication and the dissemination of "news". It’ll be far more profound.
Just as the internet removed barriers to entry in business and commerce, it'll do the same for politics. Established corporate media and political parties will either have to adapt - or lose market share. Expect to see the democratising of party structures, with, for example, voters having a direct say over who the candidates are.
2. Aggregation - techie speak for bringing like-minded people together. In the past, it was difficult for people with sectional interest to work together. They were often spread around over many constituencies, and diluted. Hence the rise of the corporate political party.
Parents unhappy over the choice of schools they are offered. Residents concerned about the failures of their local criminal justice system. They’ll start to hook up in what'll amount to on-line town hall meetings. The full impact of this has yet to be felt - but it's coming.
3. Rise of the AmPros: In The Long tail, Chris Andersen notes how the internet blurs the distinction between what is a professional and what is an amateur. So, too, in politics.
Already the internet allows people who’d never previously have had access to specialised information to access it. Need information on how to fight a planning decision, or get your child the special educational needs they deserve? It’s a click away – you no longer need to defer to a professional expert to do it for you.
Politics will increasingly become something that we do for ourselves, rather than leave to a remote and unaccountable class of politicians to do for us in Westminster or the town hall.
Final thought: The single most influential development in politics last century was the rise of organised labour movements. What if the internet now allows consumerist citizens and taxpayer movements to mobilise? Could a tax strike against, say, the BBC license fee, be the 21st century equivalent of the Taff Vale railway strike?
It is really good, not to say unusual, to see some radical progressive thought from a few of our own politicians. Gives one hope.