Labour has lost our AAA credit rating. The agencies haven't announced it yet, presumably so as not to seem political. But bankers of my acquaintance are in no doubt it will happen. They are already re-pricing the nation's debt on that assumption and the epic costs of servicing it will soon rise. Britain has dropped in every international economic ranking. Yet Labour is winning the economic argument. It is winning it with the Keynesian idea that the government should prime the pumps with public money during a recession. That's a respectable argument (even if I don't buy it). What's not respectable is that no-one is pointing out that the pumps should be primed from tanks filled with reserves during the good times. Labour ran those tanks dry years ago. They can't be blamed for a global recession. They must be blamed for that lack of prudence. Why can't the charmless Gideon Osborne and his soigné chum Dave make that simple point?
In fairness, how can they reason with an electorate that believes government can "put money into" the economy? From which other economy do Labour voters think it gets that money? Do they think Alistair Darling leads parties of rievers during the night to raid the Banque de France? Do they imagine he has a stargate in Number 11 through which he runs convoys of trans-dimensional space freighters? Yes, I know he can print more money. He can and by God he has. But currency only represents value, it has no intrinsic worth. Bank notes (and numbers in bank accounts preceded by a "£" sign) are just tokens, like casino chips. They have precisely as much value, in aggregate, as exists in the economy. Stealing one players chips and giving them to another doesn't help. Making more chips doesn't help. Real value has to be earned.
As so often, the wisest words ever written by a Jewish teenager in Queens spring to mind;
The British population is not, on average, stupid or insane. It is however in deep denial. It cannot face an economic truth quite so horrific. Perhaps voting for the agents of economic apocalypse is psychologically the very best way of denying it's happening? God knows.
Yet the economy is by no means the worst of it. After all, no Labour government ever left the economy better than it found it. How could it? Labour hates wealth creation. Its puritanical creed revolves around the chastisement of the men and women who do it. It is not, and it has never been, more than the ideologicalisation of Envy. Perhaps the best way to counter it would be to found a political party based on another of the Seven Deadly Sins? Lust might give them a run for their money.
No, the worst of this government's works has been its sustained onslaught on liberty. Labour voters have always envied the distant rich but despised the predatory criminals near at hand. They have always hated their more productive fellow citizens, but loved their nation. The working classes of Britain, unlike Labour ideologues, are criminal-hating patriots; a.k.a. Tories. That was the electoral flaw Mandelson, Brown and Campbell sought to mask when they made "New Labour" - and put up a chirpy, charming, clueless public schoolboy to front it.
They are personally as fond of economic excuses for crime as any Labour intellectual. I am sure they despise our nation as much as, if not more than most of their crew. But they cynically decided to manipulate perceptions in order to counter the long-standing (and accurate) impression of Labour as unpatriotic and weak. They did it very well.
"Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime"
...was a clever slogan. The second part expresses Labour's insulting belief that we are mere automata of social forces; that exposed to economic hardship any of us will become a predator and a parasite. The faithful heard that part, but the politically-inattentive voters caught only the first three -surprising- words. The party's conduct toward criminals is unchanged. If stupid enough to get caught, they are briefly coddled, equipped with psycho-babble to baffle the next investigating officer, and sent on their merry way to undermine property rights and demoralise the prudent. All on state benefits, of course. John Gotti had implausibly to pretend to be a plumber to explain how he earned his bread. All Britain's criminals have "the social" as a front (and as a start-up grant when they embark on their careers).
So, instead, Labour has expressed its "toughness" by criminalising thousands of new activities. it has expressed its "toughness" by demanding the population pays a heavy price to defeat crime by sacrificing those irritating freedoms that Labour always hated. The very freedoms that (it deludes itself) prevented previous Labour governments from achieving the victory of socialism. Their CCTV cameras don't work half the time. Those that do produce grainy useless images and have not reduced crime at all. But that's not what they are for. They are to accustom you to state surveillance. The scanners that strip you naked at the airport are no proof against crime neither. They are merely the outward and visible sign of your submission to state power. How ironic that Muslims, the name of whose religion means "submission" are the ones refusing to submit.
Henry Porter (who is far too good to work for The Guardian and really needs an honest job) says it all in the linked piece. Referring to the imminent changes in the law to permit the Revenue to open your mail without permission, he says;
Years ago I found myself in a dismal room at the Stasi headquarters in the East German town of Leipzig and saw the piles of opened mail left by Stasi officers when the Berlin Wall came down. There was a pulping machine, adapted from a piece of agricultural machinery, which had been hastily used to destroy the evidence of the massive programme of interception. It was an impressive sight and to me a lasting symbol of the East German dictatorship.
Quite, Henry. Perhaps it's time for you - and any others not completely lost to humanity among the Guardian's employees - to acknowledge what your Labour Party has become.
Perhaps it's also time to take heart from that dismal story. The greatest event of our lives was symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi did not endure. Socialism failed as it always must. Every decent human yearns to be free. While we may be fooled for a while by "big ideas" that promise us "social" benefits from individual oppression, in the end economic murder will out. But not just yet, it seems.