Ever since the failure of 2010’s general election to produce a clear winner and the unedifying sight of Gordon Brown desperately trying to cling on to power finally persuaded the Liberal Democrats to get into bed with the Conservatives and form a coalition, the country has been slowly and inexorably pushed towards collapse. Forces outside the government who see any cuts in state expenditure or the welfare state as an attack are rapidly forming allegiances with more militant groups to protest each and every cut. Those groups in turn are forming lose understandings with far more extreme antiestablishment individuals and collectives who see in this wave of protest an opportunity to create wider disorder, sow division, and to possibly bring down the government and with it the Establishment.
Ever since the first student protest and the taking of Millbank Tower caught not just the police, but just about everyone else by surprise, every protestor and militant grouping worthy of the name, from anarchists to the Socialist Workers Party, are seeing the coming year as a real chance to smash the Tories, kill a few police and really smash the rich. And I think that they might just do it, as for once the all the necessary ingredients for creating an explosive are coming together, and the students have unknowing lit the fuse.
It was Gordon Brown though who set everything in motion and who is conveniently now out of the public eye earning vast sums of undeserved money giving after dinner speeches and writing his memoirs while others have to deal with the results of his profligacy. Brown mired the UK in debt and created a false boom in house prices and borrowings by consistently keeping interest rates at historic lows. He compounded this when things started to go awry by using Quantitive Easing to try and buy the government out of debt in the short term by printing more and more virtual money to purchase its own government bonds.
The financial icing on the cake though was his ‘save the world‘ moment when Brown pumped billions of pounds into the banking sector in order to save key banks like RBS and Northern Rock from collapsing under the weight of their own financial indolence. In doing so he undermined any validity capitalism has in claiming that companies stand or fall by their own actions and those of the free market. He showed instead that greed. failure and incompetence, when on a scale of ‘too big to fail’, carried no responsibility and could actually be rewarded by unprecedented bailouts from the taxpayer.
The US and most of the West has in turn followed the same model and the world’s economies are now awash with QE and bailed-out bankers demanding enormous bonuses again. Yet such is the level of debt of banks, hedge funds and some countries who have mortgaged everything up to the hilt and then borrowed even more to pay the interest on the interest that someone has to take steps try and reduce it and start paying the debt off. At this point Gordon Brown vanished and the UK’s students lit the fuse that Brown had left conveniently out for them on a plate.
Cuts are never easy, particularly when for years the UK government has handed out money as if we had a limitless supply. Soon people take State spending for granted; their benefits, grants, health care, education, housing and so on is seen as a right yet where that money comes from is often overlooked. People understood that the country was in debt, people began to take on board some of the issues surrounding bonds, QE and so forth and yet as the cuts were outlined they also saw smug bailed-out bankers and the billions pumped into failed banks. Banks that should have been allowed to fail, with the shareholders and investors taking the hit instead of the tax payer. Instead the moral high ground has been lost. How can the government demand millions in cuts when they have just given millions to some of the very individuals and companies responsible for causing the financial crisis in the first place? The bailout of the banks is another ingredient added to the explosive.
The Coalition is yet another ingredient. A weak union between two weak parties that oscillate between indecision and niceties and along the way try and sneak in some ineffectual savings has no hope. Government spending in November 2010 was actually up on November 2009. It’s as if the government has lost control and despite desperately trying to do the right thing is secretly wringing its hands in despair. The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is, according to some newspaper reports, suffering depression or cracking up and Prime Minister Cameron has yet to show he has the mettle to be as tough or as strong as he will need to be to stand up the coming storm.
Alongside a weak government we have a dispirited police force that is disliked, maligned and restricted by politically correct dogma that has made its handling of anything from street crime to demonstrations the subject of discourse and remonstration. They are in effect damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Yet the police’s role in the coming year is crucial as they stand, often literally, between the force of the protestor and the Establishment. If they fall or fail then inevitably the Established falls with them.
The protests themselves, the cuts, a weak unstable coalition government, bitterness at the bankers bailouts and the potential of a UK sovereign debt crisis; non of these in isolation would be enough to destroy the status quo, but combined they just might.
Yet the Establishment as we know it has stood for over a thousand years and has weathered everything from the Spanish Armada and the second world war to the General Strike and flower power so why should this current situation be so different? Because the last ten to fifteen years has so changed both the make-up of the country, through immigration and social engineering, to the extent that nationhood nolonger binds the people together around a centre. Secondly the invasive and relentless attacking of the Establishment, by which I mean the State, Christianity and the values by which we live, have so undermined and devalued it as a core belief system that few would rush to defend it and many more would seek to destroy it.
And then the lit fuse reaches its target and bang! No more Establishment, or rather the slow unravelling of our society and Establishment would begin. Some riots, some nastiness, some looting, some whatever .. And then what? David Miliband and New Labour? A utopian non-capitalist ideal where we trade sandals for lentils and plant trees in the City and sacrifice bankers on May Day? Or will it be a slow disintegration into anarchy, where the police force slowly crumbles, where the veneer of decency and morality decays bit by bit until finally its gone and a brutaligenzia reigns?
But have those wishing for the demise of the Established order thought things through? Smashing a window is easy, finding and paying someone skilled enough to replace it is harder. And who will invest in a Britain racked with civil disorder and strife. Who will pay the bills and who will govern? Left or Right, if those wishing for the destruction of the old order win, then whatever follows will, in all likelihood, be far worse.