Friday, 15 June 2012

All in this together (Icelandic remix)

In a crisis, the Icelandic government can plausibly claim that everyone's in this together:
"We cut the budget but we preserved as much as possible in education, health, social security and infrastructure like law enforcement," Sigurdardottir said. "In the years leading up to the crisis, the gap between the richest and the poorest in society widened and our measures in the crisis focused on diminishing this gap, with more equality."

The relief boosted consumption, lifting growth to 4.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter this year, in sharp contrast to stagnation or recession in much of the euro zone.


Here in the UK, George Osborne's 'we're all in this together' sound bite never sounded quite so convincing and his expression of solidarity only makes sense when applied to the individuals who were really 'in this together' - a tiny group of insiders in the political-media complex who were, in David Cameron's own words 'pushing the same political agenda'.

On a day when the UK is timidly thinking about getting round to introducing a diluted version of cautious reforms intended to address a problem that's been urgent since 2008 whilst trying to keep 'business as usual' going by throwing money at problem banks and driving ordinary families back into poverty, it's worth remembering that there are alternatives.



Afterthought: Iceland scores a creditable sixth place in the current Press Freedom Index rankings. The UK got to 28th place (beaten by, among others, Cyprus, Slovakia and Mali). Demonstrating, perhaps, that a free press isn't precisely the same thing as an embedded press, sharing and pushing the political elite's agenda and bound together by an incestuous web of favours, networking and unattributable briefings.

Could this axis of agenda-setting media interest and media-savvy insiders have anything to do with the comparative disconnect between the UK's governing elite and the rest of us, along with the fact that the economic pain is being disproportionately heaped on the shoulders of those outside the charmed circle? Given that the outgroup who've drawn the short straw constitutes most of the UK's population, it's a question worth asking. Maybe the Leveson inquiry is more than Westminster village gossip.