In 2010 the incoming government was handed a note penned by departing treasury minister Liam Byrne which read, “Dear chief secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards – and good luck! Liam”. It was, of course, a joke, the kind of joke shared between colleagues which us Brits are, or were, rather good at.
We are known the world over for being self deprecating, we love to talk ourselves down, something that leaves many of our American cousins scratching their heads.
In the face of uncompromising disaster, some wag will crack a deadpan funny or make a towering understatement. as the Captain of the Titanic might have said to his First Officer that fateful day in 1912, ‘Well that’s a bit inconvenient, Bill’, to which the response might have been, ‘Indeed, Sir’.
Byrne’s note was a classic, an in joke, and when David Cameron made political mileage out of it, all he really did was reveal himself to be the crass opportunistic oaf he was and remains to this day.
Cameron went on to fundamentally change British politics and the social landscape with all the heavy handed crassness the worst of the privileged elites have to offer, epitomised by tales of burning £50 notes under the noses of homeless people. When Lord Ashcroft alleged in his book, ‘Call me Dave’, that Cameron had put ‘a private part of his anatomy’ into a dead pigs mouth, it was an act of revenge and bitter rivalry between posh boys, but entirely believable because that’s the kind of people they are.
Cameron successfully diverted the nations attention away from the bankers who had crashed the global economy and who had been bailed out by bewildered tax payers, money that paid for their continuing bonus culture and Stock Exchange gambling habits, to blame it all on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. He paved the way for an obscene outpouring of poverty porn and lethal hatred of all those on benefits, in which the symbol of burning £50 notes under the noses of homeless people translated to, ‘Why should ‘we’ pay for scum?’
To succeed in the Tory long held dream and long term plan of ripping the heart out of Britain’s system of health and social care, frontline services, education, publicly funded services and to asset strip the nation, Cameron was the perfect front man, along with coked up fellow Etonian rich bitch George Osborne. To the mantra of ‘we’re all in this together’, Cameron launched an all out war on poor, sick and disabled people not seen since Victorian times.
The remit for hounding the poor to death, fell to David Freud, Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey, loathsome individuals who between them turned Britain’s system of social security into a secret penal system with the introduction of brutal welfare reforms, under the guise of Universal Credit, Fit Notes, sanctions, benefits denial and Workfare, 500 disabled people a week having their Motability vehicles stolen from them, and seeing off tens of thousands of lives.
In 2017 this is routine, even Frankie Boyle seems to struggle to find a joke about Britain under Theresa May who is now so inhuman she’s called ‘Maybot’ and listening to Tories speak, they wouldn’t even pass the Turing test as even remotely sounding like anything human. In February Jeremy Hunt went off to America for secret meetings with health care companies and our NHS stands on the brink of full privatisation. Iain Duncan Smith is rewriting history as if he was some kind of saviour of the poor and Theresa May is behaving like a tin pot dictator having a constant paddy that anyone dare question her divine right to rule as she sees fit, even declaring in Parliament about the prospect of a Labour government, “We will never let it happen.”
Meanwhile, in a parody of Labours Momentum, Jacob Rees-Mogg is running a leadership campaign called ‘Moggmentum’ which, astonishingly, is attracting a good many Victorian minded, cap doffing, sycophants for whom, doubtless, the reintroduction of workhouses might be seen as the solution to the poor problem, whom Rees Mogg has consistently voted against, from scrapping human rights to the imposition of mass surveillance, welfare cuts and against guaranteed jobs for young people. He’s a walking relic of a bygone era which the Tory party are hell bent on driving us back to, and for Rees Mogg to consider that his time has come says everything we need to know about the direction we’re headed.
In all of this, however, something is happening for which these hide bound privileged elites have no answer other than to hit back with vile slander and hate filled language. Ordinary people have had enough, and, despite the closed ranks of the privileged, are eloquent in saying so and if some speak out in affronted spluttering rage, better that than the deceitful xenophobic tones of spite with which our lives are scorned.
These days Britain is looking ever more like a monstrous Titanic and like the Titanic there are (seemingly) not enough life boats for the many, but unlike the real Titanic, those who are securing safety for themselves are the very people who are sinking the ship and care nothing for those who are losing their lives. Where once it was women and children first, these days, it’s the privileged and powerful first and only, the rest of us can sink or swim. It is impossible to imagine Theresa May saving anyone but herself. There can be no more horrifying symbol of this titanic and deliberate national injustice than Grenfell Tower.
Grenfell Tower should remain as monument of our times as a warning to future generations to never again allow humanity to become enslaved to money. Life is too precious to be allowed to be auctioned by those whose only god is greed.