I’ve only tweeted once @zebrared today. This was that tweet:
This was provoked by the stories today that government – British government; Tory government at that (so when was the last time a Tory administration didn’t manifest the most awful of nanny states?) – was aiming, in David Cameron’s words, to push forward his “one-nation” vision by owning benefit claimants’ lives:
The prime minister, David Cameron, will say: “Our one-nation approach is about giving everyone the opportunity to improve their lives, and for some that means dealing with those underlying health issues first and foremost.
“Whether it is drug or alcohol problems, or preventable conditions in terms of obesity, support and treatment will be there for you. And we must look at what we do when people simply say no thanks and refuse that help, but expect taxpayers to carry on funding their benefits.
“Over the next five years, I want to see many more people coming off sick benefit and into work and Carol Black will report back to me on how best to achieve that.”
Black will say: “Addiction to drugs and alcohol, and in some cases extreme obesity, can have a profoundly damaging impact on people’s chances of taking up meaningful employment.”
So much of the above so very disheartens me that I really don’t know where exactly to start at all. Apart from anything else, it’s the poverty-porn equivalent of blaming rape victims for the experiences they’ve suffered, and for the trauma which inevitably proceeds to muck up their lives. For when Cameron says we must deal with underlying health issues first and foremost, he is taking onboard in his capacity as politician the right to interfere with the judgements and knowhow of a swathe of other professionals. It is a clear example of the rank politicisation of everything.
And when he argues that we have significant numbers of people (they must be significant because if they weren’t, government wouldn’t spend time on making the relevant policy) who say no to the help such professionals will be offering, as they (ie the people saying no) simultaneously expect the taxpayer to continue funding their “circumstances”, I’d really like to ask him how he can square “one-nation” ideas with:
- arguing that to be in receipt of support from the state gives politicians, more than any other professionals, the right to decide how people live their lives
- and in so doing, allows the aforementioned politicians a similar right to let everyone else who is not in receipt of benefits do whatever shit they please
For in essence, what Cameron is constructing is a two-tier humanity:
- people on benefits, who are little more than miserable fashion accessories which high-level egos can wave and brandish triumphantly on their way to further personal and work-related success
- people off benefits, who can thank the
LordCameron – for the moment, anyhow – that the state has decided not to stick its bargepole into their affairs
In truth, it’s not a bargepole – Cameron loves the less poverty-stricken, after all. Numbers – ie those which relate to dosh, obviously – are much easier to quantify and comprehend than emotions, thoughts, being caring and – hey-ho, why not? – even acts of love.
But even as bargepoles are not right now an issue for Cameron himself, there is – for the second group – an element of supping with the devil. As long as nothing changes, or appears not to be changing, we can sit quietly, broodingly perhaps, whilst we make a pact of silence and conspiratorial resignation with our status of “having been left alone for the while”. How long it will last we cannot know. All we know is that at the moment the focus is not on us.
And it’s surely true that the more we do social, the less social we become. So who really needs to worry too much anyway? The trend is much bigger than any of us wee individuals.
Neither is managerialism any more the challenge most facing us: if only all we had to deal with was a CEO or two feathering their corporate nests. No. This is something much bigger. This is the politicisation of everything, can’t you see? Everything and its mother is now the goal of a politics without limits: a politics which seeps into every corner and space of our lives like water into tapestries of ruin.
This is the Google effect, in fact: such politicians have realised they want to get everywhere; they want to see everything; they want to be involved in everyone; and they want to know all about what you want to do, before you even know yourself.
Cameron’s not a politician so much as a flesh-and-blood version of a 21st century search engine, exhibiting monumentally intrusive instincts.
And such search will never give up until you do. And when you finally do, it’ll turn to your beloved. Until you beloveds no longer exist as such. And until neither, as a discrete individual, do you.