I am sorry, but I feel all political today. Since the election when my principled vote for the Lib Dems resulted in a Tory government I have been in a bit of a quandary. People who know me generally consider me a Guardian reading left leaning liberal, but recently I have been not so much leaning to the left as hurling myself over to the socialist side. Now I am not a real socialist, I don’t know what it actually means in practice anyway. I just know that listening to John Redwood and Patience Wheatcroft on Radio 4’s Any Questions yesterday I felt a Wolfie Smith ‘Power to the People’ moment coming on as the two of them answered the question about spending on school buildings and cutting 25% of a your personal income to match government savings.
Suddenly the class system is once again rigidly in place it seems. What is a ‘middle class income’? Teachers, nurses, police officers, local government middle managers? Apparently these people can give up their ‘trips to the theatre’ ‘meals out’ and ‘foreign holidays’. In addition, the freeze on public sector pay is ‘extremely helpful’ as that will save lots of money, whilst there is no point taxing the bankers and highest paid any more because that wouldn’t raise enough (and after all someone has to keep the theatres and restaurants in business.)
Now this is just bringing out the spiteful in me, something I like to keep supressed most of the time just in case I am actually, deep down, a really horrible person. I don’t care if it is pointless to take all the banker’s bonuses away, or raise all those taxes that will apparently drive millionaire entrepreneurs abroad. The millionaire heir to a wallpaper dynasty told us we are all in this together didn’t he? It reminds me of the story I heard of the tribe which apparently ties a cord around a man’s testicles while his wife is giving birth, which she tugs hard at every contraction so her partner can appreciate her agony. Urban myth perhaps, but a deeply satisfying idea. That really is ‘new labour’. In fact, why bother to wait till giving birth? Who will help me pin John Redwood down?