I’m annoyed with the Tories. It’s coming in waves at the moment: some days I even slightly look forward to the next government coming along just to put Labour out of its misery, and besides, it might put Ken in a better position to regain London in 2012 off the back of a fading Cameron honeymoon. (Cloud, silver lining, desperate hope, me? Never!) But at the same time they are just so singularly irritating. At least back when they were the nasty party you knew that voting Tory meant a vote for publicly flogging ruffians, the NHS reduced to a singular travelling carnival (limited seasonal availability – please book in advance) and the privatisation of all breathable air into fifty seven gaseous franchises to be owned and operated by companies specifically chosen for their ability to hire older, half-dead Tories as chairmen of the board. (Chairmen, yes.)
(OK OK, I’ll be straight with you – I don’t really have a tattoo, and the title was just a ruse to get you to read at least part of a political post, which no one ever does. Sorry. You can storm off in a huff now… but wouldn’t you like to stick around to see what happens next?)
But in this bold new age of the Cameron, the Conservative and Happy-Smiley-Cuddly Party have ditched all that in favour of utter blandness, in order to reassure you that when they win the next election they will be ever so careful with the country and not mess it up even a little bit. And, sure, that’s progress of a sort. But I sincerely hope that no-one really thinks they have the faintest idea of doing anything big, bold and good. Boris is right: the Tory administration in London will prove a test-bed for the next government, and that means a government of low-level incompetence – infuriating to anyone who watches it closely enough, but not splashy and exciting enough for the papers to notice. Take the latest from City Hall: star appointment Tim Parker resigns on the basis that Boris has finally realised – months after being elected – that becoming Mayor of London and promptly handing over TfL to someone else is a bit like a pilot wandering down the aisle of a plane asking if anyone else fancies a go at flying the thing.
(If I had got a tattoo, what would it have been of? Hopefully something geeky and obscure, like </head> on the back of my neck. Although I think it’s been done, and it wouldn’t validate anyway. Bah.)
I honestly have not met a single person who thinks they know what Cameron’s government would actually do. I know they’ve carefully identified tax cuts which will deliver the maximum benefit to the very poorest in society, like inheritance tax and stamp duty. I know they’re going to do away with Labour’s out-dated top-down target-based hyphen-loving culture for public services and instead introduce things like (to quote directly) “a national focus on the health outcomes we want the NHS to deliver”. But most importantly of all, I know they’re determined to tackle Britain’s ‘broken society’, even though Boris Johnson thinks the very idea is piffle. Oh, really? I’ll sit down and shut up then, because even though the risk of my being repeatedly stabbed by a gang of vicious drunken yobs is about as high as the likelihood that anyone is still reading this you can never be too careful, especially given that a guy in an orange top gave me an odd stare on the way home today, and he might just be the harbinger of fatal doom. So, anyway, what you got Dave?
(Why not get a tattoo which looks like the surface of a pavement? Potential stabbers would just look right through you, and you could continue in your merry invisible way as long as you stayed away from any countryside. And let’s face it: crime just doesn’t happen there.)
With a probable recession looming, increased levels of government borrowing and tight budgets all round, the Tories have decided that they would go ahead and mend our ‘broken society’ with tax breaks for married couples. Yes, seriously. As an ‘early priority’ and a ‘key policy’ no less. The mind just boggles.
I don’t even understand how the damn thing is supposed to help. OK, so let’s for (barmy) argument’s sake say that when a man and a woman go for a jolly outing to the registry office and return as severely-indebted man and wife they are blessed by Almighty God with the golden touch required to raise happy, well-adjusted (middle-class) children. That’s, ur, if they have children at all: but maybe there will be a special deployment of nudge + wink economics at this point to help the process along. Right, so redistributing money to these shining married beacons of happy, well-adjusted (middle-class) humanity away from single and unmarried parents – who, let us be reminded, are much crappier at being parents in the first place – will therefore help society because, ur, those in need of the most help will be left poorer in favour of extra cash to those already doing hunky dory? What?!
Oh, blimey. It’s just mad enough that Gordon Brown might copy it. What a depressing thought.
(Out in the real world, Tasha got fantastic GCSE results and Lucy came over to visit: we saw Mamma Mia in the cinema and Let There Be Love at the Tricycle. )