Vital airwaves in the mounting campaigns for the Labour and Conservative parties – I’ll omit mention of the Liberal Democrats as most of the kerfuffle focuses on these two titans anyway – is up for grabs as an old Tory stipulation creeps in again through the backdoor of Westminster. Who left the door ajar? Nobody will ever know for certain, although the nature of Conservative preference imbibes the defunct notions of the past, so I’m inclined to pin this tail on their donkey. What is important is the very underhanded manipulator of current fiscal proposals: Spending Cuts.
Right now, aloft in the contentious air of electoral foreboding, the subject of the infamous spending cuts has taken to the wing (either wing will do, it seems) and it’s frantically ablaze like a polemic phoenix that I hope will eventually settle into a bowl of its own ashes. The proposals for cuts expounded by both sides of the pick-at-policies fence concoct mysterious imagery with the delivery of phrasing most ferocious – slashing, savage, deep, swingeing – and stun those on the sidelines with sheer volubility and recurrence that would turn a romantic poet googly-eyed with queasiness.
In fact, try as I might, I’m not even sure I could translate the barrage of right-minded rhetoric into anything of logical explanation. The best I can come up with is that it’s got something to do with forcing us a few steps back into a neo-austere England.
Austerity itself is another one of those archetypal aristocratic terms like aspiration that can be resurrected from the crypt of arcane lingo and thrown back into the lexis mix quicker than you can climb out of a recession – of course that clearly happened, right? What is implied by austerity in a social context is a substantial cutback on items considered as luxuries and an encouraged perception of unnecessary expenses as drawbacks that come either as a result of not acknowledging how much you can actually afford on your own income or just plain greed (had to slip a subtle bash at MPs in here somewhere).
The tone established is one of self-denial, much like when your average virile bachelor targets the ravishing 20-something blonde at the bar, only to pass the buck on to the next contestant when he reconsiders after using the demoralising ‘league’ system. Similarly it would appear that our klutzy incumbent party and its arch nemesis are edging out of their elite league as soon as the words “spending” and “austerity” roll off their tongues and down the microphone. Surely, in terms of economics, whichever stance you adopt, whether it’s Keynesian state-based welfare or an Adam Smith expostulation on state interference in favour of privatisation, it’s all whitewash except for the knowledge that to sustain markets you must pump cash into them?
Now what some people would retort with here is the argument of the equally unwelcome opposite to expenditure reduction: Inflation. Instead of being a parsimonious feral feline, the government indulges the country like a charitable fat cat in the hope that economic equilibrium will be attained. But, regardless of government intention, what I’m suggesting is that the public help itself by going deeper into the private sector; have more jobs made by the erstwhile jobless for people who are tired of inadequate public services like our police who can’t cuff a crook because they’re clapped in irons themselves. Basically we just need to spend, regardless of a weaker pound.
But, I’m probably all wrong about this grandiose economic neurosis and am actually stepping out of my league when referring to it. It is, after all, a topic best covered by either The Financial Times or, of course, The Economist, but sadly neither elicits much interest in the dominion of the general public. With this in mind, I may class myself as a nondescript member of the public sphere. However, it stands to reason that I should be perfectly able to have a voice here, as should anyone else with a finger or two in the filling of the country’s monetary pie. As a student living in a predominantly affluent area I have floundered around in search of part-time employment, as I’m sure other fellow students have also been doing, and have had no luck. In any case it isn’t hard to miss the effect bad approaches to the dismal science have had on us.
In spite of all this drastic economic turmoil we are in the midst of, I do find comfort in the fact that – and this is comfort not pleasure – we are not in the position poorer countries like Haiti are in. As I write in suggestive terms about our economy there are millions of unfortunate people elsewhere in the world who cannot even rely on themselves for basic provisions such as food and shelter anymore. For all our moaning and playing of the blame game, we aren’t exactly dwarfed by a nationwide lack of resources – yet – and for those who are close to living on the breadline there is far more hope in our sights than there is for countries faced with incessant political corruption and annual natural disasters.
Hang on, that’s getting off course a little bit – best to stick to what you know. And when you’re British what you know is mostly a sense of conviction to quintessential discontentedness and self-containment. Hence why I will end by saying that the government to emerge post-election, which will probably be Conservative (somebody cheer for them because I won’t), can go ahead and impose “swingeing cuts” if it deems it such a national imperative. All most of us will do is grin and bear it. Some might even convene for modest protests outside the Houses of Parliament, but once the clouds make an appearance and the rain begins to drizzle down they’ll be forced to head to the nearest pub for an interim pint or two. Ahhh, to be a Brit.