In order to take our minds off how profoundly f**ked we all are going forward, it has been decided to start the May General Election campaign now. The vehicle of choice when distracting the doomed used to be Christmas getting under way in September, but times have changed: things are so ghastly as we go into 2015 – see my post from yesterday – Brits would need to be tempted by a thousand bribes (a day) to destroy any remaining focus they might have.
The thing that sets ‘professional’ politicians apart from any other job beyond banking is that they never, ever use their own money: they are supported by business, get their salaries from us…and only they have the power to spend our money for us. How much nicer it would be if we reverted to having amateur politicians who – like Gentlemen’s XIs in the nineteenth century – would work solely for the glory of British Bulldog. But life isn’t nice any more, and so the opening rounds of The Big One have been all about The Munneeee.
In order to follow the process, it’s important to remember that, when it doesn’t belong to you, there are two types of money. The first is hooray money, and the second is boo money. Hooray money is that which has been invested by the incumbent administration, and boo money is the outrageously unaffordable sums the Opposition Party wants to waste.
With lots of hooray money at his disposal, Health Minister Jeremy Hunt is busy lying his way to victory: not only is he saying it’s all hooray money, he isn’t actually spending any new money at all. That fact thus enables him to say out of the other side of his mouth that the cost per patient has fallen. Thus, Tory supporters are happy, and Labour followers are confused. It’s all in the great Blair tradition of “everything is exactly as it always was, only better”.
The job of Establishment media in this context is to accuse the Labour Party of wanton, as yet unfulfilled desires to blow lots of boo money on pointless projects. I have to say that this description makes me immediately think ‘HS2’, but this isn’t what’s coming through.
The Scotnats are off at the gallop with free lunches for all primary school kids in Scotland – a £95m initiative covering state schools that will save families some £330 a year…and hopefully not include deep-fried Mars bars. Meanwhile, Scotland’s new top Labour bloke Jim Murphy, is promising voters 1,000 more nurses, presumably to deal with the after-effects of the school lunches. And not to be outdone, Nick Clegg is promising £8bn for the NHS. So if you want healthier kids, more nurses and better NHS services, what you’ll be wanting is a Lib/Lab/ScotNats Coalition. It may well happen, but the mayhem it would produce doesn’t bear thinking about.
Keen to depict all Labour’s plans as being based on unfunded money, Mr Funny-Money himself George Osborne has announced that Tory campaign HQ will issue a cost analysis of the Ed Miller Band’s spending proposals, the purpose of which will obviously be to label it all very clearly as boo money. So before seeing it, Ed Miliband has declared the analysis to be “utterly false”, a move which puts the retaliation before the punch, but is nevertheless probably the triumph of experience over optimism. Ed knows only too well that one can’t woo the voters with boos, it’s the hoorays what pays: and that’s why David Cameron was quick to wade in with the plans being certain to “wreck Britain’s economic recovery”. I couldn’t possibly comment on that one; but for once I turn to the Guardian for a quite neat summary as offered today by Michael White – a pompous old git who is nevertheless often right:
‘Four months of scaremongering by politicians who don’t have much room for manoeuvre anyway and may be forced by pressure of events to cooperate when it’s all over? Yes, because advertising experts tell them repetition is the best way to get a message across. I’m not sure they’re right if the product is suspect.’
Michael’s knowledge of real advertising experts is also suspect, and times have moved on dramatically since Saatchi & Saatchi won whatever it was that Mrs Thatcher used as a heart. But what’s certainly true is that, after four months, the entire video tableau will have become horribly blurred – not to say totally impenetrable. My own suspicion is that this is precisely what the pols want: they do know they’ll have to do a deal, after which they can say it wasn’t their fault they had to break promises.
The problem for the élites is that sixteen weeks of bollocks is unlikely to be either entertaining or even engaging – except for the wonks amongst us. And above all, it is a continued distraction from reality that they really want. My hunch remains that external events are far more likely to dwarf the election than be swallowed up by it….so some top-notch distraction is going to be de rigueur.
Achieving such a result may mean media owners resorting to importing news from abroad that isn’t about earthquakes on Wall Street, financial aridity in the eurozone, and China going into reverse. And there are already signs that the papers are limbering up ready to go Full Ahead Silly Season.
We read, or example, that firefighters in the US have rescued a naked woman trapped halfway down the chimney of her ex-boyfriend’s home. I haven’t seen a decent sitcom on the telly for at least 25 years, but I’d certainly watch one with this plot-twist in it. The questions regarding what and why are almost infinite: was she coming down the chimney or going up it? Why did she have no clothes on? How long had she been there? Amazing stuff.
Meanwhile, my favourite daft Barclay Brothers EU scare story of the last 24 hours has to be the one about Cornish pasties being threatened by “a flood” of American imitations under the proposed free trade deal between the European Union and the United States. Can you have a flood of pasties? Wouldn’t it more likely be a mountain? Does anyone actually make Cornish Pasties in the US? I’ve been going there for nearly half a century, and I don’t remember ever seeing one.
Still, as the twins definitely look as though they might be the boys who ate all the pasties, I can imagine why they might be worried if such foods died out. But ultimately, I have to say that the Teletubbies lack that essential dimension of ruthless invention when coming up with tripe like this: they simply aren’t in the same class as Dacre of the Mail.
Given such a thing to distort, Paul would’ve run a headline along this track: ‘Listeria found in pregnant Romanian Pasties destined to push genuine Cornish Pasties into the ditch under new EU-US bonus for foreign jobless’.
In a way, I hope this trend to importing nonsense develops. It promises to be far more enticing than anything our sitcom The Westminsters could ever offer.