Tuesday, 16 November 2010

An extended metaphor which becomes a parable

As I walked to the swimming pool this morning, I noticed that the eight-way junction's traffic lights had failed, leading to traffic and pedestrian chaos.

I thought to myself, 'you know, Lionel [apologies for the obscure Radio 4 joke], this is a very real metaphor for Mr. Cameron's Big Society. The traffic lights represent the overweening power of the state, telling people what to do rather than empowering them to make decisions on their own. According to Mr. Cameron's claims, without the dead hand of the lights, the vehicles and pedestrians will move freely, giving way to each other in an efficient and caring manner, so that everybody reaches their destination'.

Obviously, this was complete bollocks. What really happened is that every driver immediately behaved in their own self-interest, diving into the junction as fast as possible, leading to anger, minor collisions and total gridlock even for those who thought they'd get ahead by acting selfishly. Pedestrians such as myself were left marooned on the island.

I did my bit - called the police, expecting them to send a couple of rozzers to direct traffic, then went for a swim. When I emerged, all that had happened was that the repair company had put 'out of order' signs up and left the drivers to sort it out for themselves - which of course they didn't.

The Big Society is a bunch of people who've inherited enough money not to need the state (23 millionaires out of 29 members of the Cabinet) telling the rest of us that we must do without it.

So there you have it. Government good, Big Society nonsense.

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