Institute of dementia
One of the influences on the thinking of Downing Street is the Adam Smith Institute. This organization is the so-called “think-tank" of the Tory Party. Their latest foray into the brave new world we can all expect under a Tory government is typical of the Tory Utopia they have in mind for all of us.
Britain, which at present is covered by five percent of forest, will have a forest covering 65 percent of the total land mass. Mines, factories and farmland will be given over to forests with wolves and bears.
Presumably these creatures will be shot, trapped and maimed by champagne-swilling landlords assisted by forelock-tugging peasantry.
"Private security firms will patrol villages and housing estates and surveillance cameras will cover the bulk of Britain. " (Guardian, 5 April)
In the Tory Utopia there will be major breakthroughs, in a privately-run Health Maintenance Organization, in dealing with dementia, cancer and AIDS.
We can only hope that scientists, seeking a cure for dementia, start their research in that dementia-ridden pocket of human stupidity called the Adam Smith Institute.
Land of hope and tory
A Tory Party Conference is a festival of unreality. The stirring chords of Land of Hope and Glory are struck as the leader emerges to thunderous applause.
The themes are loyalty, nationalism, toughness and realism . . . but most of all loyalty. The leader is everything. Mindless devotion . . . and loyalty are pledged. In reality it is all an empty sham. John Major is now finding out just how empty.
Take the case of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the former Solicitor General for Scotland, bon viveur and wearer of tartan trews, tartan waistcoats and for all we know tartan boxer shorts.
Speaking on BBC Scotland (4 April) he called his leader a "ventriloquist’s dummy" and a "softie".
Not that Major’s rivals fared much better. "I don’t like Clarke and I don’t trust Heseltine — I think he’s a spiv and Clarke’s a bounder."
In the nasty world of capitalist politics, loyalty is a conference illusion. These horrible job-hunters are all falling out as they try to get their snouts deeper into the Westminster trough of power and wealth.
Another ego trip
The Detroit summit involving the seven leading industrial nations (G7) set about the impossible task of solving capitalism’s unemployment problem.
Needless to say, the attending finance ministers were less than unanimous about what should be done. America wanted Germany to relax its monetary policy in the hope that this would get economic growth moving again, but this was angrily rejected: Britain was all for a free-market approach but Japan warned of the social consequences of this, and so on.
However, numerous "Think-tanks" were not slow to offer their solution. These included the inevitable work-sharing, the spread of "wise taxes" and one which really boiled down to the jobless taking in one another’s washing.
But the summit did succeed in achieving its primary aim — to provide the opportunity for some political peacocks to strut their stuff on the world stage, and they enjoyed it so much that they agreed — and here they were unanimous to do it all over again in July in sunny Italee!
Go for the big one
"Paying For Our Crimes" was the title of an article by Joan Bakewell (Guardian, 21 March) in which she highlighted various groups throughout the world who want restitution for the wrongs they have suffered.
There are those British prisoners of the Japanese during World War Two who want compensation for their ordeal; American indians and Australian aborigines who demand the return of lands stolen by white settlers, and an African organization which wants an apology for slavery along with the cancellation of all Third World debt on the grounds that "We don’t owe them anything. They owe us"!
All of these claimants, or at least their ancestors, have been treated abominably, but so has the world’s working class. They have been robbed, murdered and degraded by capitalism for two hundred years but socialists do not encourage them to ask for compensation. Instead, we urge them to forget about crumbs from the table of their masters’ banquets and to take the whole feast for themselves.
Benn’s glad tidings
That big lead over the Tories in the opinion polls may seem to point to a rosy future for the Labour Party, but an article by Tony Benn in Tribune (8 April) paints a different picture.He says that the party is in an alarming" position in the constituencies:
"Party membership is down . . . young people seem uninterested in joining . . . and our historic link with the unions has been weakened. "
If this last bit means that trade unions are at last putting the interests of their members before those of Labour politicians then it is good news. Even better is that any youngsters who dislike capitalism are less likely to have an entanglement with Labour standing between them and a consideration of the case for socialism.
"Socialists believe in levelling down while Conservatives believe in levelling-up" has been the oft-repeated claim of trie Tories down the years.
Of course, by "socialists" they mean the Labour Party, but how valid is that claim? One feature of the past 13 years of Tory rule has been the huge pay-outs that top business people award one another. The latest example is the £1.4 million Barclay’s Bank paid to the head of its broking business while offering staff in its branches a two percent pay rise. Is this levelling-up?
Then there is the Tories’ insistence that if British capitalism is to be competitive workers here will have to accept the low level of wages and conditions prevalent in Asia and eastern Europe, and they actually boast to prospective overseas investors about how this is already happening.
If “levelling-up" means bringing the wages and conditions of workers here more into line with those of the world’s sweatshops then the Tories are living up to their claim.
An old tradition
A Glasgow Tory councillor has predicted that Tommy Sheridan, leader of the council’s Militant group will be in the House of Lords thirty years from now:
"There was nervous laughter from the Labour benches when Councillor Young reminded them: "We've seen it all before and we will see it again". Presumably, the Militant leader would be re-absorbed into the mainstream of Labour ranks on his journey to the right. And respectability. ’ (The Glaswegian, 7 March)
Well, perhaps, but that Tory councillor does have history on his side. Bigger rebels than Sheridan, "Red Clydesiders" such as Manny Shinwell and Davie Kirkwood, ended up in ermine, so maybe some of that nervous laughter was coming from Sheridan and his Militant cohorts.
What a nerve!
Several orthodox Jews jeered the Dalai Lama during a visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem yesterday, calling the Tibetan spiritual leader crazy. "You look like an intelligent man, but you're stupid, fleeing from reality," shouted one worshipper.
No, this wasn’t one of the media’s April Fool jokes because it appeared in the press ten days earlier, but shouldn’t religious people be the last ones to accuse anyone else of ‘fleeing from reality"?