Thursday, 8 January 2015

Who governs Britain?

I didn't mean my list of comparisons between this coming election year and 1974, the year of two elections, to be comprehensive, but I should mention one point I missed, which I think is 2015's in-room pachyderm.

'Who governs Britain?', asked Ted Heath, hoping that the answer would be the government in Westminster, rather than the unions who were then holding his feet to the fire.

'Who governs Britain?' should still be a live issue this time round, too, although the challenge to elected governments comes from a very different direction - even any Sleeping Beauties who might have managed to doze through the post-Thatcher de-unionisation and financialization of Britain should have woken up and smelled the Gold Blend some time around 2008. 

Unions, which used to represent (however imperfectly) large numbers of ordinary working people, don't now have the heft to push governments around. The still-to-big-to-fail, still-above-the-law financial institutions, busily snatching massive slabs of cake for the mollycoddled 1% and leaving the rest of us to squabble over the crumbs, do. 

We've got a sitting prime minister who's failed to 'grip' this issue and his Number Two, who's guilty of lobbying the rest of Europe for yet more sucking up to the pampered vested interests that hold elected governments to ransom. We have an opposition hamstrung by a jet-setting back-seat driver, who wants a return to some weirdly-defined "centre ground" where everybody's  intensely relaxed about millionaire ex-pols leveraging their brand capital to lobby dictators on behalf of bankers.  And a cross-party consensus that the only sensible thing to do is to heap a bit more or less austerity on the backs of the poor and middling sort of people, then pin the blame for any pain on foreigners, or some other conveniently powerless group of scapegoats, whilst ignoring the places where all the money went.

The question of who's really in charge should be even bigger than it was in 1974, come this May.

But it probably won't be, since the City, via its well-paid flunkies, is probably spending a lot of its considerable stock of influence keeping this question off the electoral agenda.

Nah - on second thoughts, that's crazy talk...