The Church of England used to be known facetiously as “The Tory Party at prayer”. Not any more, it seems. Under the feeble leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan “Catweazle” Williams, the church seems headed for terminal decline. Probably a good thing too: natural selection and the survival of the fittest requires that the weak and wishy-washy should go to the wall. Shame about all the nice buildings, though. Who will look after them when all that's left is a mindless, twitching puddle of gutless, liberal-lefty half-baked ideas?
In a rather incomprehensible article published in the New Statesman this week, Catweazle attacks the coalition government, bleating that “we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted”.
What a dim-witted thing to say. Since when did any General Election give us the opportunity to vote for policies? Did Labour voters in 2001 know they were voting for war in Iraq? Did they eagerly put their crosses in a box marked “ID cards”, or “open our borders to all and sundry, we have loads of benefits money to squander”?
In 1983 did we know we were voting Thatcher in to smash the miners? In 1970 did we realise our ticks in Edward Heath's box meant joining the EU?
These are rhetorical questions, of course, and the answer to all of them is a resounding “no”. Because that's not how elections work – in fact, it's not how democracy works, unfortunately. No government is elected with a clear mandate to carry out a particular policy. We simply elect the gang of crooks and chancers we dislike the least, and rely on them to make the decisions for us. Sad, but true.
In 2010 we all went to the polls knowing full well that whoever we elected would have to implement a whole raft of measures to cut the government deficit created by the previous Labour administration. Whether it was Cameron or Brown made little difference: either would have unpopular decisions to make, and the results would hurt us all.
Of course there are always ignorant, selfish people who believe that cuts are OK provided they themselves are not affected. If they're in work they don't want to pay more taxes, if they're out of work they don't want their benefits cut. Teachers don't want their spending reduced, and NHS workers want to carry on splashing public money around. Unions are happy to see cuts, but not at the expense of their members' pay packets. Arty-farty freeloaders can't see why their pet theatre or dance company or hedgehog sanctuary should lose its lump of public money so they can no longer prance about looking important at someone else's expense. Local government bosses can stomach reduced spending so long as they can keep their exorbitant pensions and cut services to the public instead.
But the selfish and the venal apart, we all knew what had to be done, and expected it. The only difference between Cameron who did get in, and Brown who didn't, is that Cameron was brave enough (or possibly foolish enough or inexperienced enough, depending on your point of view) to grasp the nettle and get on with it.
So, in case poor Catweazle is still having trouble sorting out his muddled brain, let's spell it out as simply as we can ...
The government is in debt. It owes zillions and zillions of squids, and its creditors selfishly demand punishing interest payments (it's worth pointing out that the Blair government often got into debt deliberately, saddling future governments with colossal obligations in the form of PFIs. It's not just self-employed plasterers from Basildon who over-mortgage themselves with gay abandon)
We none of us want the government to be in debt so much, and would like something done about it
In order to cut the debt, the government has to spend less money
Therefore the things the government normally spends money on, won't get quite so much money in future
Therefore we must all expect some changes in the way our society and our services operate
Or, if we don't like it, we could all just dig our heads in the sand and hope the debts go away. It might happen. A tsunami might come and wash away all the banks and financial institutions, miraculously leaving the rest of us unscathed. Or there might be some new plague, a sinister disease that only kills people who have more than £500,000 in the bank. It could happen ...
There, Rowan, old fruit! That wasn't so difficult, was it? You get the point now? Unless we introduce some sort of “government by referendum”, no one votes for policies, they vote for parties. No government has any mandate except for the mandate to govern.
Actually, come to think of it, who voted for you? And what is your mandate, exactly? Anyway, take our advice and lose the silly beard. You'll never get a man date if you don't tidy yourself up. “Man date”, get it? It's a joke.
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