Thursday, 13 November 2014

Horsemen of Hypnosis

England appears hypnotized. How else can one explain the inaction, inertia, blindness, sleepwalking? The country is heading into a perfect storm which will make the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse look like a Sunday School picnic.

Here they are;

The Pestilence of Poverty

Are England's ruling class aware of poverty, outside their own back door? This is the scandal of the wealth gap - the UK's near-to-worst position (24th in 2011, ahead - just - of Israel, Turkey and Chile...) in the OECD list of countries ranked by wealth gap.

We know from charities and from walking the streets that there are far too many people who have little or nothing. And from walking streets not many blocks away, too many with too much.

Britain, and especially the privileged bubble of Westminster has created a society of two tribes. The Rich Tribe is comfortable in its cars and its brand-name shops, while Sebastian ('he's something in the City, darling') squeezes the max out of his salary and bonus package. Its politicians are happy to reduce benefits and tax the spare rooms of the poor because they never consciously encounter the Poor Tribe.

The people who cross this tribal divide are the philanthropists. Not just the high profile people of wealth, but the thousands of people who know that poverty is not another world and who give their money to good causes. But there are not enough philanthropists to fill the growing wealth gap. And some day the Poor Tribe are going to have had enough. 

There will be an explosion in the streets of Britain.

The War Horse

It is Poseidon's weapon of choice. It sits sizzling just 25 miles upwind of Glasgow. And it is costing you, and you, and you a King's ransom. The UK parliamentary committee that met to approve its upgrade reckon £80 billion over the next twenty years... but that's one of those defence spending estimates that has a habit of increasing, maybe doubling.

And yet the English public seem blind to the atomic war horse that is Trident. Most will spend most of their working lives paying for it through their taxes. Some, the million Scots living downwind of Faslane, may one day sniff it in the air. But only a tiny number seem to care. Think how many schools and hospitals you could build, equip and run for £80 billion!

The Financial Famine

Yesterday's Financial Times reminded us that the UK is horribly in debt, and that the debt is getting worse each year, despite awful cuts to social services. ONS says that the debt is now £1.4 trillion. This year it is likely to be £100 billion more.

Britain is sleepwalking into the red, with a government that is meant to be good at financial management. But this is a neo-liberal government that refuses to the sensible thing (tax wealth to pay the debt.) Instead it has announced tax relief on wealth, and further cuts in benefits for poor.

One morning we will wake to the news that a trader in the Far East, a new Soros, has decided that the UK economy can't support the debt and that the pound is worthless. When that particular horseman arrives he'll be galloping, and the apocalypse will be fast. The collapse of the pound ('if only we'd joined the Euro when we had chance!') will mean hyperinflation and massive social unrest. A very British apocalypse.

The Death of the World

The palid horse of Death also approaches, across the Channel. It is the Death of Britain's world, and the rebirth of Little England. The people of England seem to have become afraid of anything foreign, starting with the 'terrorists' and now encompassing the EU and its massed ranks of 'immigrants.'

England, exporter of migrants to her colonies where they were supposed be a civilising influence, now fears migrants who might civilise the Motherland. Students are now blocked from entering the UK to study here. Entrepreneurs and new corporate recruits (the CBI complained last week) are facing delays and refusals at our borders. And Prime Minister Cameron has flown the dangerous kite that he will attempt to remove the right of EU citizens to move to and work in any Member State. His kite string will snap in the combined storm of protest from Germany and France over this core principle of the EU.

But this fourth horseman appears to be invisible to many in England. To the UKIP supporters and the loonie right of course, but also to Conservative and Labour voters. Can these Little Englanders not see the illogic of their position? 'We emigrate' equals 'good'. 'They emigrate' equals 'bad'. Really? 

And do they not see the dangers? Targeting immigration means targeting immigrants and that smells, quickly, of racism. And of course Britain will be expelled from the EU - even if England does not vote the whole UK out - if it persists with this folly.


Hypnotic Men on Horses

Why are the people of England blind to the four horsemen? It seems to be an almost perfect disconnect between the English and their politicians. A disconnect made obvious by the contrast with Scotland, where these topics were aired and discussed for the Referendum and continue to be the subject of writing, thinking and discussion afterwards.

But for hypnotised England the clip-clop of hooves is already audible. We just don't know which horse will come in first; poverty, and social turmoil when poor people finally sicken of the cuts? The a massive sell out of sterling when the markets discover that our debt is unpayable, ever? A 'tragic accident' at Faslane? Or the loss of Britain's largest trading partner? Or will all four Horsemen arrive together in a perfect storm?

Whatever. It's coming. Someone, please: wake up England.

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