The gap between the rich and poor is widening before our eyes
It was the usual haughty performance from the Prime Minister at PMQs.
Cameron looked delighted at his own ability to deftly avoid questions on child poverty and public sector suffering, as his party and the liberal democrats next to them chortled and brayed at every witty evasion.
There were even a few heart-warming jokes about honourable members’ facial hair grown for Movember. Top fun!
Has there even been a more potent example of being out of touch? The anger from Ed Miliband and the Labour opposition, an inoculation-strength dose of the real bad blood that has been let all over the UK, was rejected, ignored, mocked, scorned.
But Cameron should welcome this diluted form of the poison. Outside the warm halls and corridors of Parliament, millions are apoplectic.
He labels the strikers ‘irresponsible’ and ‘reckless’ and the whole process a ‘damp squib’.
Will history record this moment in the same language? He had better hope so, or he will go down as one of the most disconnected prime-ministers in history.
Words like ‘reckless’ are ones that don’t feature much in the history books. They live in the here and now; angry disapproving reflexes against people asking for change.
Much more permanent are terms such as ‘discontent’, ‘unemployment’, ‘inequality’, ‘poverty’ and ‘injustice’.
Unless you look very hard you won’t find, perhaps to the posthumous relief of the conservatives of the day, records of the patronising language used to describe the protestors that won the rights to a weekend, universal suffrage, minimum wage, employment rights, women’s rights, healthy reasonable working hours or a thousand other protections from greed-driven exploitation.
All the appalled outbursts of the time, blurted from dumbfounded conservative mouths against such outrageous left wing treason, have long since been buried when the right once again caught up with the progressive left.
Not all striking is justified, and some union leaders need to look at their own definition of greed before laying all the blame on big business. But that is where the Tory party’s connection to reality ends.
Only a blind man or one unwilling to see the truth would miss what’s really happening. People are incensed that once again the government is making the poorest pay.
Vengefully reducing public sector workers’ pay increases (once the current freeze is over), squeezing tax credits for the poorest families, a move likely to drive another thousands more children into poverty while increasing the bank levy by a nominal 0.01 % (to their consternation) and persisting with plans to cut taxes for the richest, are not the actions of a government who has the first clue how ordinary people feel.
Out there, whether the Conservatives would like to admit it or not, there are millions of discontented people who are sick of being used as human shields. Sick of seeing poverty increase while elitism flourishes. Sick of being on the front line against an unseen enemy, paying the ultimate price for the mistakes of others.
If it was all being proved a success – after all, nobody would deny the deficit needs to be reduced and interest rates need to be kept low – it would be one thing. But borrowing is up massively since the conservatives took over. Households are facing another decade without improving standards of living. Thousands more people are going to join the ranks of the unemployed. The gap between the rich and poor is widening before our very eyes.
And this is Plan A.
David Cameron said today, “I came into politics to try to improve the welfare of people working in our country”. He must be sick at the way it’s going.