27 March 2016

Are things getting better or worse?

Doesn't the world outside exist? Well sure it does. You wouldn't say so after all these tales of going underground or overground or some staring at dead calcifying life forms. This is, after all, a personal blog. But I am aware of, and influenced by, what happens on the world stage. Who isn't.

The Middle East is on fire, desperate people flow across borders to be treated like vermin, we have had four terrorist attacks in as barely more months in Europe, Putin is up to no good, the USA is at risk of electing a bully as a president. Enough to worry about. But I wanted to focus on the UK.

Here in the UK we're still reeling from the budget announced by George Osborne. It's a Tory budget, so one would expect it to involve a lot of cuts hurting the poor and money flowing towards the rich. Everyone who does not like that sort of thing and votes Tory anyway makes decisions I don't understand. I still don't understand at all why there are so many more Tory voters than ex-Eton millionaires. Anyway. This time the taking from the poor and giving to the rich was so blatant it backfired; Osborne wanted to squeeze £4Bn out of disabled people, especially those who are so disabled they can't get dressed or go to the toilet without help. This saving was compensated by tax cuts for the rich. This was so shameless the protests were so loud, especially with Iain Duncan Smith resigning, that Osborne had to retract it.

Another item that attracted a lot of attention was the intention of the Tories to turn all schools into academies. That sounds like just a different name but it's relevant; it opens the door for them being commercialized, and given that this is a Tory plan it probably is exactly what this is all about. A lot of protest is heard about this too but the Tories haven't backed down.

I am wondering a bit whether this turmoil is a good or a bad sign. The Tories were confident enough in their pursuit of societal inequality they proposed this shameful budget. That is a sure sign of the times. That it backfired is a good sign, but is it good enough? Many voices say IDS only resigned to make Osborne look bad, as they are on opposing sides of the EU referendum debate. Maybe this has less to do with a thread of morality still left in the Tory party and more with smoke and mirrors in the Europe discussion. What's also disappointing is that Labour, which since it has been lead by Corbyn has become a party that deserves the benefit of the doubt, has not managed to call them out on this mess. If they don't manage that then what will they manage?

So is the UK going to hell in a handcart at modest or high speed? I'm not sure. Time will have to tell. And it will tell many things; this will be an interesting year, with a score of elections in May (amongst others, Welsh and Scottish elections) and the EU referendum in June. I will cast my modest vote and hope for the best...

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