For some time now a lot of us out here in Leftie-Land have been worrying out loud, and in print, at the direction this Coalition Government are taking. We have concerns over their policies and the way they’re being presented; we have concerns over their rhetoric, directed invariably at sections of society against whom they wish to justify savage cuts; we have concerns about the very language they use, language calculated to stir up hatred in the less intellectually-acute of their supporters, terms such as “shirkers”, “malingerers” and “something-for-nothing culture”. I’ve written myself about the transparent desire on the part of Cameron, Gideon Osborne and their colleagues to divide and rule, and the way in which they’ve spread malicious falsehoods about the targets of their policies, lies that have been eagerly taken up and spread far and wide by the right wing coterie in the Press. I compared the phenomenon of their wilful deceit to the “Big Lie” technique employed by Josef Goebbels for the embryonic Nazi party in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Basically, if you repeat a lie often enough – and the bigger the lie, the better – it will seep into the public consciousness and be accepted. I feel that the Government’s endorsement of this tactic is the fair and obvious conclusion to draw from the way they have relentlessly sought to paint the poor and helpless as a malign, self-seeking and parasitical section of society.
The turn of events this week, though, has taken even the most cynical and suspicious of us by surprise. In a shocking and rather sinister plunge towards the gutter-end of their ideology, the Government and certain sections of the press have decided to use a criminal case which concerns the unlawful killing of six young children as material for a further attack on their hated and hapless targets at the bottom of the economic pile. In the wake of the conviction of Mick Philpott and his accomplices for the manslaughter of six out of seventeen children, the lamentable Mail has – without allowing a decent interval to elapse, indeed hardly pausing to draw breath – launched a bitter front-page broadside against a welfare state which, it astonishingly contended, was at the root of the whole Philpott tragedy. This blatant tarring of all benefit claimants with the brush of a sociopath/psychopath like Philpott predictably and quite rightly brought vilification from proper newspapers and media outlets alike. Scandalous, opportunistic, tasteless, vile, they screamed, accusing a bang-to-rights Mail of making cheap political capital out of the deaths of innocents. Quite so.
But then, whose trotters did we hear, galloping over the horizon as he raced to dump his porcine carcass on this timely bandwagon? None other than Gideon Osborne; failed Chancellor, shameless blagger of disabled parking spaces and determined first-class rail traveller (albeit with only a standard-class ticket.) Such is the measure of this vapid man; his brainless arrogance leads him to believe that what he wishes will naturally come to pass, that ordinary conventions are for ordinary people and not for such bright shining stars as Gideon. Now he could hardly wait to endorse the Mail’s bile-ridden outburst in his haste to appeal to little Hitlers everywhere and further perpetuate – indeed enlarge – The Big Lie. He was swiftly backed by his boss, Cameron, a beleaguered PM whose eggs are now clearly all in one basket. Shocked and horrified, the rest of us were left gaping at the sheer, malevolent viciousness of it; the appalling timing, the unwarranted slur on people who wouldn’t dream of harming a fly, the public-school adolescent nastiness of it. What to do?
Well, some thought they might try a little satire laced with logic, a standard procedure for putting in their place those of arrogant stupidity. By your own arguments, it was forcibly and eruditely pointed out to the Gruesome Twosome, the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe could be laid at the door of the Road Haulage Association; those of Harold Shipman at the feet of the NHS and provincial medical practices everywhere; while the evil-doings of Fred West are to be blamed on private enterprise and aspirational construction workers throughout the land. The effect of all this admirable logic? Negligible at best. Those who are currently on the attack and have the poor, disabled and vulnerable in their sights are in talk mode, with a view to draconian action. They are not for listening. And readers of the Sun and the Mail are likely to listen, sadly enough, only to other such readers – or perhaps to like-minded know-it-alls down the pub.
In the absence of many other practical options, I’ve made my views known to the Press Complaints Commission. I’m not exactly holding my breath for a positive response though, as high-ups at the Mail are also influential in the PCC, so it’s a little bit like complaining to your mother-in-law about your wife’s nagging. But something clearly has to be done; this is not the kind of “politics” that can be taken lying down. The utter, untimely viciousness of it, as well as the blatant opportunism, leaves a rancid taste in the mouth. It’s easy to forget in these alarming times that this is a coalition we have in charge, with – supposedly – a restraining, moderating influence ready built-in as it were. The shocking lack of balls displayed by the Liberals in matters like this and many others will — if there’s any justice* — contribute to their deserved annihilation at the next election. But that’s not going to come soon enough to protect this country from a Tory Party that seems to be diseased at the very top, intoxicated with the sickness of megalomania and determined to visit their own brand of evil on their own chosen targets.
The spirit of Josef Goebbels is alive and well in the corridors of Tory High Command as well as in the editorial offices of our less salubrious newspapers. Those of us with opposing views – those who are resolved to speak out for the helpless and vulnerable – had better make sure we speak loudly and constructively enough to be heard over the brazenly unashamed rhetoric pouring like so much liquid sewage from the lips of Osborne and Cameron. If we don’t, we’ll simply be begging for more of the same, and worse.
*There isn’t; so don’t hold your breath there, either.