Conservative voters should really be encouraged to live in gated communities, far away from the rest of the population. I propose that we fence off Essex and the home counties and send them all there. Or perhaps we could use all those nice tax havens for them. In any case, people who are more concerned about themselves than about the welfare of their fellow countrymen are not people that I would recommend living next door to.
Why? Well, as someone with a very progressive attitude to economics and a couple of Tories amongst my friends and family, I naturally have a lot of conversations about politics. My Labourite and former Labourite friends tend to think I am a bit right wing, and my Tory friends just think I am stupid for caring and possibly a bit rebellious and over emotional.
It is very simple. If you are interested in the nation state, and when I think about issues, I tend to think at a nation state level, rather than how things affect me, then Conservatism makes no more sense than Socialism. When dealing with people over the long term, you become very much aware that people’s politics are determined by their self image.
The hospital issue in the West of Scotland, that I was discussing yesterday is a case in point. When I informed my Tory friend about it, his first reaction was how this affected him. It did not cross his mind for one second that thousands of people were suffering and potentially dying as a result. This is typical of the Tory voter. It is all about you, the money, legally obtaining the money whether it is fair or not, and everyone who does not think like this is simply stupid. Such people need a lot of bombs, weapons, policing and laws to protect them, because they, at heart, just aren’t very nice people who do not care about others.
Socialism, on the other hand, is in a sorry state in the UK. It is divided, it is still hampered by this Blairite hangover of Thatcherism, and the genuine socialists wait to be told what to say and then repeat it ad infinitum.
Here is my perspective – running a country is no different from running a tribe, in much the same way that running a multinational is much the same as running a market stall. There may be more components, but the basic transactions are the same. If you want to run a country well, you make sure that all sectors of the community are treated with a basic level of human dignity. If you cannot manage that, arm yourself because sooner or later the rest of your tribe will turn on you.
Conservatives like to think that there is a rule book for life, that nothing bad will happen to them, and if it does, the money they have squirreled away will solve the problem. Try replacing an absent arm or leg with a pile of cash and you will see that this idea is false. Enjoy the sensation of that pile of cash dwindling because you do not qualify for benefits if you have too many savings. Pay out some more cash on people to do what you cannot because of your absent limb. Nobody will help you, in a conservative world, because nobody can survive without working, just like you. Life is not fair, and the only thing you can do is decide that if you prefer not being murdered or robbed, it is really better if people do not starve to death or commit suicide.
Likewise, in Scotland we have the case of the Unionists. Unionists, whether Conservative or Labour, are a little bit thoughtless, a little bit selfish and they have little imagination or vision. They have their house, they have their pension, everything is very neat and the question of independence is too far fetched for their tiny brains. Having ‘eaten their cereal’, they are now constipated and their movements are hampered as a result. They do not wish to consider the matter of morale, of a rebuilding of a system that does not work and they fail to realise that Scotland is actually an occupied country. It may not be occupied by military (so far) but it is certainly occupied by the media and the crippling influence of Westminster. It is entirely beyond them to consider that they could create something much better, that works for everyone and makes it much easier for people to progress and enjoy their lives.
I have earned astonishing amounts of money at different times in my life, in my various careers, and it has never crossed my mind to begrudge my taxes to people who either should not be in the workforce, cannot be in the workforce, or who are taking a few years out to have children or take care of the sick. I had a Tory mother and a very strong tradition of Socialism on my father’s side. I count myself lucky to have experienced a great deal of debate in my family household.
When I visited America playing backgammon in 1998, I was asked several times whether I wanted to move there, and my reply, a surprise to me as much as anyone else, was that I could not possibly live in a country that allows people to starve to death or deny people healthcare on the grounds of money.
The primary reason for fairness in a society, and this ought to be understandable to all, is safety. Your pile of useless cash and friendless, money funded life of luxury is far more assured by treating everyone with a basic level of human dignity, than by having an armed policeman outside your door. In a corporatist world, people are learning not to trust government.
This is serious stuff, we are moving out of the period of political economy financially, and everyone is aware that artificial growth figures are sustained only by inviting more rich people into the country and selling them luxury goods, by using our tax havens to get 3 percent of something rather than 23 percent of nothing, and by putting thousands of students into debt, hampering their growth in a way that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. Yes, students, your debt counts as growth on which the political class get themselves voted in.
As a result, nation states are going to be phased out, unless we find a way to make our governments trustworthy, unless we stop feeding the giant companies that influence them, and unless we stop getting bound up in issues of who has the biggest pile of cash and whether that makes them more worthy than us.
It is very simple. Nobody is more worthy than you, and your pile of cash is meaningless to anyone but you. If you employ others to work for you, the likelihood is that you are paying them less than yourself. It does not make them a less essential component. It just makes them impermanent. And so you can continue to draw the analogies. Everyone in a society is worthy, and whether you are a nasty little boy that went to Eton, or a paraplegic from Cardiff, you deserve a basic level of welfare.
Lining your friends pockets with public money because you managed to get your hands on the public purse is not smart, and it isn’t funny. Neither is pretending you are something you’re not. Honesty is a basic requirement for running a country and there is nothing funny about putting one over on the public.