Wednesday, April 20, 2011

32/100: Cameron: Britain's Warren Harding Mistake

David Cameron is one of the more 'impressive' Prime Ministers Britain has had in the recent years. Young, handsome, articulate, someone with 'clear' views and a bias for action, who wins almost every PMQ and who has so far effectively dangled the debt question to transform almost all aspects of British life: What a contrast this makes from the unloved Gordon Brown who could get nothing done. Cameron's twelve months already make the preceding Labour years feel like ancient history, the charmed life of the boom years as well as the time of massive expansion of the 'collectivist' credo, and he seems destined, like Tony Blair, to leave a legacy, however long his coalition manages to cling together.

But, like Tony Blair, this legacy may not be a positive one for Britain. Because, David Cameron, for all his posturing, is a hopeless populist, who succumb to every opportunity to please his home crowd. He has not stopped being a publicist and start becoming a Prime Minister. He seems to believe in words, because he could spin them, and not real change. What he has led is a counter-revolution of sorts on behalf of the jilted bankers, backed by the Murdoch press, and wielded the fear of debt to destroy Britain's public services and universities. David Cameron's legacy is most likely to be a stunted Britain in the years to come.

He is a bankers' Prime Minister, indeed. He found money to save the banks here and abroad. Indeed, bankers are hardworking people working away their summer days in Golf and Yachts, and the little people who steal benefits must give up their £100 a week to pay for such noble enterprise. The charities which bumbled their way to help some disaffected young kids must give in to large, professional 'social enterprises', which must employ some retired bureaucrats and kicked-out councilors: That's Big Society as opposed to Society if indeed there is such a thing. The university professors must toil away like usual artisans because real knowledge resides only with bond traders, because they are the ones who keep the economy, as evidenced in Premier League Football Clubs, City Nightclubs and Southern European countries, going. There will be big banks, big media, big society, and a small England - that's the legacy David Cameron is destined to leave.

With hindsight, then, British public committed a Warren Harding error in the last election. They chose, egged by Presidential style TV debates, two people who 'looked' better. They got muddle and populism in return, a swath of policies that needed to changed next minute and a complete disregard of the social fabric of a country. If a Banker run the country, he would be as concerned as Cameron about the 'debt': Prime Ministers are supposed to be capable to have a broader view.

Now, the world needs one more thing: A Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney in the White House in 2013. This is how the last Great Recession was played out: A greed-led disaster, and then a follow-on with flawed economics of creative destruction (this time around, this is creative capitalism), leading to great miseries for little people and finally a great war. History need not repeat if we learn from it: But the collective coma of a crowd is harder to disperse than one may have thought.

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