Tuesday, April 12, 2011

25/100: Waiting For An Upturn

One year into the Tory rule, Britain looks seriously out of sorts. It is quite difficult to keep a tab of all the policy announcements, and all the U-turns, that happened since. The over-riding theme, however, was the 'cuts', the systematic dismantling of the welfare state, and the Utopian hope that something else will take its place. The consequences are bound to be severe: This is exactly the kind of policy US government followed in the years leading to Great Depression. There are many similarities: The faith in market forces, the almost sadistic celebration of creative destruction, the bookish hope that enterprise is a cure-all, and finally, the very British habit of watching the weather, in the housing market.

Which has now effectively stalled. The declaration of victory against recession was surely premature, and the double-dip seems to be back in force. The housing market, except in London, has stalled completely, and this is before further mortgage crunch and higher interest rates that are almost sure to follow. London market is atypical, so far as the continued foreign demand keeps it afloat. The recent bounce in house sales in London, for example, may have nothing to do with the economic realities of the UK, but more deeply correlated with the going up of taxes on property sales of worth more than £1 million and the fleeing Sheikhs from Middle Eastern unrests. Besides, the pound is quite cheap now, and it will continue to be in the days to come. That makes London quite attractive to Russians looking for nightclubs, Arabs fleeing the street protests and the Japanese fleeing nuclear radiation: As long as there is trouble around the world, one is safe with the property investments in London.

But there is still one thing that can spoil the party. The return of racism in Britain is quite clear. The Tory party indeed played on this, and the recent bungling attempts of the Home Minister to do 'something' made things worse. Suddenly, racism is back in vogue, and the closet racists are out in force. The systematic discrimination of people from outside Europe has started and the Government has progressed in making Britain an unattractive place for would-be migrants. The only issue with that is this does not help Government's cause of building an enterprise economy, as social protectionism and economic liberalism do not go hand in hand.

Indeed, the Tory policy-makers are sticking to their playbook, which starts with the Thatcherite dictum: There is no thing as the Society. Using the Liberal Democrats as human shields, they are continuing the funeral march of British society, that as an open, liberal entity capable of producing new ideas and durable institutions. Their rather pathetic attempts to supplement it with a textbookish 'Big Society' turned out to be stillborn: The concept proved out-of-touch and out-of-date. What we get instead is social nihilism, the dismantling of 'British' liberal values in a hurry.

The outlook for Britain is, thus, grave. The British institutions are falling down as the wheels of Westminster are going round and round. The Labour Party is as clueless as ever, being the bureaucrat's party as they are now. They failed, so far, to offer an alternative story, criticising the government policy-by-policy almost out of compulsion. The abdication of responsibility both by Liberal Democrats and Labour left the people in Britain in the clutches of a bunch of out-of-touch, elitist Tories, and their Edwardian age economic thinking and Mid-Victorian nationalist pretension is destroying the post-industrial consensus of Britain. Thus, the public universities are being destroyed, public healthcare is being subverted, diversity has gone out of fashion and local administration is being systematically undermined in favour of central decision-making.

Hope is possibly the only strategy left for Britain waiting for an upturn.

1 comment:

latika said...

Hi Supriyo,
Wow...that was good...having just returned to india from london i fully understand and empathise with your words ...to the extent that the fears expressed by you are to a great extent responsible for our decision of not going back...To see such a beautiful country gradually dissolve into a quagmire is indeed sad...as you said as of now the only thing that can be done is to wait for an upturn....in the meantime you keep the thoughts flowing....
thanks,
Latika

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