Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Timber!!! Another Tory policy falls

Yes, they've finally ditched the insane plan to flog off the woods to the spivs (if you want to know what happens when Tories sell land to their businessmen mates, read Private Eye on goings on in Worcestershire's Rotten Boroughs).

The whole plot depended on the Tories' belief that we all see government as a big oppressive monster destroying our rights and infantilising us, while stopping business from innovating efficiently (i.e. stopping them paying us in bootlaces while poisoning the earth, air and water). Sometime government is like this: when the Tories, Labour and now Tories again spend our money on nuclear weapons, illegal wars and bailing out the banks which have ruined our countries in the pursuit of private gain, they are like that. But on the whole, I think most people see most of government as expressing our wishes. We want good doctors, minimum wages, health and safety rules at work, decent schools, green space, social services, libraries and so on, and we think that democratically-elected governments are the least-worst way of organising these things for maximum benefit. We can sack them if they get it wrong, and we can become the government if we really feel strongly about it.

When was the last time you saw millions of people flooding the public squares demanding less government, more privatisation and the Big Society? Never. The Eastern European masses weren't Friedmanites demanding that corporations run everything for profit - they wanted responsible government. The Egyptians don't want no government - they want a democratic one. Handing the NHS and the schools over to dodgy companies isn't democracy: it's theft.

The forests outcry is a bit of a red herring: it appeals to the romantic nostalgic Tories who no doubt bothered their MPs in exactly the way they won't over SureStart or the NHS, but it's still important. Green space is a key idea of Britishness, and the public are uncomfortable with the idea that it can or should be worked for profit by uncaring shell companies. In this instance, the state and nation are the same, and it's the Tories who failed to understand this.

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