The ceaseless cycle of Christmas carols has been put away for another year, only to be replaced by another seasonal cycle with no joy, little originality and only the veneer of goodwill. If the miserable weather and post-holiday blues are not enough, the newspaper headlines will certainly drown you in the dismals!
After a blissful two weeks of virtually news-free isolation, the first headline to greet me on the doorstep on return from holiday was this from The Sunday Times; “PM in new year cash giveaway: Election pledge to raise pensions until 2020: Hints at income tax cuts for all to come.” This was followed by broadcast news that shrieked the next day’s headlines; “George Osborne targets £25 billion more in spending cuts.” It appears that the 2015 election campaign is now underway! Talk about conflicting messages! If you want evidence that politicians are more concerned with re-election than anything else, you don’t have to look any further.
Depressing though this political self-serving is, it pales into insignificance against the complete disregard for economic reality, and with it not just the assumption of, but the taking for granted of, a blind and stupid electorate, who can be bribed, bought and bullied into believing anything that they would have us believe. Basic common sense tells us that a government that cannot meet its current commitments cannot afford an increasing pensions bill in a rapidly aging population that is variously and validly called “the demographic time-bomb” and that is rapidly approaching the end of its fuse. This is not leadership; this is treason.
Focusing on “spending cuts” as the way of reducing government expenditure is treason too – especially when the figures being discussed reputedly represent barely 2% of the problem, and when efforts-to-date have only been slightly successful. There is no doubt that the challenges we face are unprecedented. The world is on a cusp and, economically and environmentally, we need new solutions and new systems. So to keep repeating the failed formulae of the past is to fail the first test of leadership and to border on the insane – if you accept the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That, however, can be excused if not forgiven. What is criminal, however, and therefore cannot be ignored, forgotten or forgiven is the blatant disregard of what you might call “the new reality.”
Though they may have brought some pain relief, the remedies of the past are neither effective nor affordable and they have not cured the disease. Now it has become rampant and demands new remedies, and if they don’t exist, to identify, define and develop them. They demand collective effort and goodwill, and to persist with the parochial party politics of the past is to perpetuate the problems and reduce the odds of ever finding the solution.
Personal survival depends on inter-dependence. Democracy as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” recognises that and demands that we look out for our communal interests as much as our own. Consequently, we have not reached the stage where our so-called leaders can act like the band on the SS Titanic and keep on playing while the ship sinks. They have a more important role to play and to carry on such self-serving, looking to their own interests rather than ours, is treason and that message needs to be brought home to them loud and clear!