The first two years of this Westminster coalition have been an abject failure on a scale I cannot recall in my lifetime. The Tories and the Lib Dems have turned out to be practically as authoritarian as their Labour predecessors, they’re as anti-wind as everyone predicted despite the husky moment, and they’ve attacked the people with disabilities while forcing the poorest to take non-jobs for non-money. Education at school and university has become even more divided by class. Nick Clegg’s piss-poor efforts to bring the British constitution into the 1910s have failed completely, with his “miserable little compromise” perhaps having set back a chance of change by a generation. And the privatisation agenda rolls on.
On tax, the richest have done very well, while the increase in the personal allowance is at least dubiously progressive, and probably worse. It’d be hard to see a more blatant spot of class war than cutting the 50p rate while forcing a quarter of a million people out of work in one year alone, with all the squeezed public services that means, plus sundry other offences like selling off playing fields in defiance of a pledge to the contrary.
Ah, but it’s all about the economy, they keep saying. We came together in the national interest, they say. You might think that means Nick Clegg lying back and thinking of England, but this austerity regime was their idea too. And on their own measure they could hardly have made a more spectacular mess. If you believe in growth, a double-dip recession and a -0.7% quarter two years after the last lot left surely marks you down as a failure, especially when it’s not even having the impact promised on the deficit or the ratings. It’s not just as though they disagree with Keynes, it’s like they’ve never heard of him. This entire economic experiment, like some brutal IMF programme imposed on the UK, is as likely to fix the economy as a dose of leeches is to fix syphilis. Even for those of us opposed to the standard growth model, these aren’t the alternatives to growth we were looking for.
So, as the coalition agreement starts to fray, as Cameron loses his right to UKIP-lite delusions and homophobia, and as Clegg loses a quarter of his members in one year, the worst may now be over. The less they can achieve, the better off we will all be. At least if a programme of economic, social and environmental suicide is attempted by an incompetent and divided administration, there may be something left for the next lot to pick up (not that it would make sense to have any faith in Labour after their last go).