Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Politics: it's all about the rhetoric

No doubt you've all read 1984 and know all about Newspeak, the political discourse in which words' meanings are utterly arbitrary and subject to abrupt change.

Down here in the literary mines, we've known about this for decades, thanks to semiotics. In politics too, Gramsci's concept of hegemony goes some way to explain why genuine oppression doesn't lead to revolution: we're led to believe that values which benefit an élite are in fact natural and permanent.

That said, even I can be shocked by the cynicism politicians will display sometimes. Two examples presented themselves over the last 24 hours.

Exhibit 1: the Prime Minister asked a personal friend and Conservative Party donor, Mr. Beecroft, to write a report about Britain's employment laws. This despite Beecroft being a venture capitalist, which means he's an asset stripper and financial engineer rather than a man who's contributed in any meaningful way to this country's wellbeing. But I digress. Mr Beecroft has come up with the surprising and entirely expected answer: that this country's economic woes aren't caused by financial speculation and tax evasion at all. They're caused by British workers being too hard to sack - despite the past 4 PM's successively weakening our employment protection and boasting about it to their rich friends.

What's even more galling is the lazy, cynical, lying defence of this report mounted on the airwaves yesterday. I listened to some lying sack of shit on the PM show claiming that the effect of weakening employment protection would be to 'make it easier for employers to plan retirement parties for their workers'. This is the equivalent of the CBI dressing up as clowns and rubbing shit pies in peoples' faces: insulting, patronising and contemptuous.

Beecroft's report isn't much better. Try this bit: he accepts that abolishing the rules means that

British workers should be banned from claiming unfair dismissal… employers could fire staff because they "did not like them". "While this is sad, I believe it is a price worth paying for all the benefits that would result from the change."

The other glorious bit of Newspeak was this announcement: the Tory Minister for Public Safety in Canada has… abolished the national register of firearms! Mmmm, that will improve public safety, won't it?

Almost forgot: massive respect for Michael Gove and other Tories for claiming that half of their MPs voting against the Prime Minister on Europe, despite huge pressure, shows that they are 'united as never before'. Hats off to them for that spin!

No comments: