In the days since my last blog, I’ve noticed a proliferation of articles and blogs in the Tory press defending The Gidiot and that Daily Mail article. The sheer number of these articles is not an indication of the government’s confidence but of its desperation.
Suffering from a debilitating mix of fear, anxiety (over UKIP) and anger (at being found out), the collective (yes) mass of Tory hatchet-men have squeezed out blog after blog defending The Mail’s colander-like thesis that the Philpott children died because of their thuggish father’s ‘addiction’ to state benefits. “We need to have a debate”, the Right cried. The words they left out were “on terms controlled by us”. The only people who fall for this trick are the gullible readers of the Mail and the parliamentary Labour party, which has a history of losing its nerve at the wrong time.
However this rash of anti-welfare blogs and articles from the Tory press tells us something: the government is desperate. While some trot out the usual stuff and nonsense about affordability and the myth of a “crowded Britain”, others use this tragic event as an opportunity to mount their hobby horses. Take this one from The Lyin’ King:
It wasn’t the 1945 Labour Government that created the welfare state, that Saturn which now devours its children. The real power-grab came in 1940.
With Britain’s manpower and economy commandeered for the war effort, it seemed only natural that ministers should extend their control over healthcare, education and social security. Hayek chronicled the process at first hand: his Road to Serfdom was published when Winston Churchill was still in Downing Street.
Churchill had become prime minister because he was the Conservative politician most acceptable to Labour. In essence, the wartime coalition involved a grand bargain. Churchill was allowed to prosecute the war with all the nation’s resources while Labour was given a free hand to run domestic policy.
The social-democratic dispensation which was to last, ruinously, for the next four decades – and chunks of which are rusting away even today – was created in an era of ration-books, conscription, expropriations and unprecedented spending. The state education system, the NHS, the Beveridge settlement – all were conceived at a time when it was thought unpatriotic to question an official, and when almost any complaint against the state bureaucracy could be answered with “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”
The welfare state is seen here as evil; a monster created by the Labour party, then in a wartime coalition with Churchill’s Tories. But what’s worse is that Hannan dishonestly connects the welfare state to wartime rationing. How did he do this? It’s magic, I tells ya! Magic! It’s also desperate.
Meanwhile Hatchet-job Hodges tells us that “Labour is panicking over welfare”. The
Blairite cuckoo in the nest Born Again Tory tells us,
But then Philpott was convicted, the Daily Mail made the welfare state an accessory to the fact, and Shameless George Osborne moved in for the kill. Labour’s initial response was to downplay the whole issue. Then they lost their heads, and dispatched Ed Balls to launch an hysterical attack on Osborne, driving the Chancellor’s comments to the top of the news bulletins, and making the Labour Party look like they had been employed as Mick Philpott’s defence attorneys.
Now we have the spectacle of Labour trying to recast itself as the party of welfare reform. Suddenly it’s Labour that wants to “make work pay”, is talking of responsibility at the bottom and threatening to remove people’s benefits. And good for Liam Byrne, because this is where Labour should be.
But it’s too late. Much too late. The welfare debate is over. And Labour has lost it.
Hmmm, smells like government desperation to me. The Cat thinks Balls was right to attack Osborne for his drawing of a hazy line between a tragic event and a poisoned debate on welfare. That doesn’t make me a fan of Balls or the parliamentary Labour Party, by the way. Hodges, the son of Labour MP Glenda Jackson, goes on to note his agreement with millionaire Liam Byrne’s ideas for welfare ‘reform’ , which is no better than what this government is pursuing. The fact that Byrne has started aping the speech of the government’s mouthpieces indicates weakness on Labour’s part, not panic.
The Tories, impatient for the arrival of the next General Election, have started their campaign early and, with over two years to go, this is a desperate manoeuvre. A lot can happen in two years. For instance, there may well be scandals involving government ministers. After all, this government saw its first ministerial casualty within two months of being elected. There’s also the little matter of the suppressed French prosecutor’s report into the misconduct of the Nazi-fetishist, Aidan Burley. It’s all to play for.
To be honest I’m glad the Tories have done this, now we can sit back and watch as the Tory juggernaut crashes and burns in glorious slow motion. My only concern is this: should Labour win in 2015, they will fail to repeal all the brutal and muddleheaded legislation enacted by this government.