This government raises a great many questions. The most important of these is does it have the mandate to carry out such extreme policy decisions? The recent budget has been judged as harsh by most experts and now that the cuts are rumoured to be up to 40% in some departments, this particular issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
It was hoped – I was never convinced – that the Liberal Democrat part of the coalition would counteract the excesses of their Tory partners, but this hasn’t happened. In fact, at every available opportunity Liberal Democrats are wheeled out by the Tories in an attempt to endorse their decisions and this is now becoming quite sickening. Judging by appearances, the Liberal Democrats have sold out their own policies for a share in governance – certainly their leader, Nick Clegg, seems to growing more Tory by the day. The policies that the Liberal Democrats campaigned with were centre-left, and the fact that they seem to be happy to be used to defend egregious right-wing policy-making is a disgrace, for example; massive job-cuts in the public sector, a cap on non-Euro immigration – all of this is happening on the Liberal Democrats’ watch and completely at odds with their policies before the election.
Nick Clegg’s performance yesterday – arguing for Alternative Voting (AV) rather than his party’s sacred Proportional Representation (PR) – is yet more evidence of what he has sacrificed. Not only that, but this Whitehallian navel-gazing shows a callous disregard to the issues that are facing the vast majority of the electorate, some of whom voted for him. The Liberal Democrats have long been associated with strong education policy, for example, but on the very day that Michael Gove announced massive cuts in that department, Clegg seemed more concerned with making self-serving arguments for AV. Why should anybody ever trust the Liberal Democrats again? His party has long been in the wilderness and now when they could be making a real difference, they are supporting the most stupefyingly inept Tory government of all time.
The Tories are attacking the very foundations of the Welfare State and public services, and make no mistake, this will adversely affect all of us, excepting the only people they care about; the rich. I, like most left-wingers of my age, remember Margaret Thatcher’s time in office, but this is potentially worse. Thatcher’s cabinet lacked compassion for ordinary people but it did at least have some knowledge of how business and economics work – Cameron’s government seems to lack that completely. This is a government led by (mostly) men born into privilege who have never had to prove their worth, and although they can’t exactly help that, they don’t appear to be making any effort to understand the needs of the electorate. Their actions are cavalier and show casual contempt for people who need public services to survive with dignity. Indeed, Osborne’s budget seemed to be an exercise in machismo ruthlessness and his side of the house resembled a gallery of Roman aristocrats cheering for blood when he announced it. The budget is not big, and nor is it clever. It will certainly hurt the poorest, but – here is the clincher – it will also inflict pain on the middle-classes. This government is not for middle-England – Thatcher’s government were perceived that way and so were New Labour. The only people that this government represent are the ultra-rich, most of who don’t even pay their taxes here.
What I am most disturbed by is the fact that the people making decisions about our public services and welfare are people who have never needed such things and never have. The members of this government probably don’t even associate with people who do. So how can they judge the worth of public services and welfare? This government is so narrowly composed it doesn’t represent the UK’s electorate in any shape or form.
This coalition is painfully aware that it wasn’t democratically elected. Perhaps this is why they are now trying to force through anti-democratic legislation which will force the country to endure its un-mandated policies for the next five years. This government is incompetent. It is vandalising the wealth of this country and we need to get rid of it. And it needs to happen soon, before the damage is irreversible.