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Jerry Hayes

Murdoch anoints the Coalition and old men not in a hurry.

October 22nd, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

Yesterday an elderly man in a faded uniform, his breast clanking with medals of past triumphs, creeked his way to the podium. There was a hushed and expectant silence as he surveyed the massed ranks of his followers. Wrinkled and dewy eyed former comrades in arms fondly remembered past victories. Behind him ancient standards fluttered in the breeze. The names of fallen enemies, engraved in gold on granite tombstones, rekindled the glories of battles from a bygone age. Natsopa, NGA, Scargill, Galtieri, Major, Brown. All of them gone.

The ancient, but proud man, conqueror of the largest empire the world has ever  seen, is flanked by an adoring, flame haired woman. “Oh, Rebecca, if only I had been younger”, he thinks wistfully. An elderly woman cackles dementedly in a corner, whilst a cadaverous old man glares at the the blonde blue eyed young men for any signs of disloyalty or imperfection, with rheumy eyes. “Ah, Thatcher and Tebbit, my ablest of generals, together we ruled the continents”.

In the front row, two young men shift nervously in their seats. “But I see the future”, the old man muses, “and it is Cameron and Osborne and perhaps, in the fullness of time, young Clegg”. With fear in their bellies and joy in their hearts, Cameron and Osborne are assisted by a grinning Blair and sombre Mandelson to the Podium in the white robes of innocence, to be anointed with chrism and printer’s ink. For on this great day Rupert Murdoch gave his blessing to the Coalition.

Well, this is how I imagine the Guardianistas and the ghastly trolls of the left imagine it. A squalid little deal has been done with Cameron whereby Murdoch’s empire devours the British Media with the speed and compassion of a swarm of locusts in return for the slavering support of News International.

Of course, it is utter bollocks. Newspapers, despite the hype, never win elections and rarely change minds. All they do is tap into to the primal  urges of their readers; a wonderful inkstained comfort blanket. Murdoch hasn’t warped the minds of the public to favour the cuts. They are just hefted by bitter and weary experience of being lied and cheated to by governments of all colours for generations. The left have never forgiven him for breaking the power of the print unions, who at a whim would down tools if any of their Spanish practices were under threat. Ironically, Murdoch only finished the job started by Eddie Shah.

This may not last. The spending review will not be lauded or destroyed by the views of worthy think tanks. Whether it is progressive or regressive. Or in the fine details. But by the countless human lives it touches. If the public regard  it as as fair as any adjusting of any complicated labyrinthe of regulations can be, the coalition will survive. If not, it will be time to start readjusting the deckchairs.

The argument that is so hogg-whimperingly banal, is the squeal that these cuts are in some way ideological. As necessity was the midwife of this Coalition and pragmatism is it’s godfather, such a charge flies in the face of reality. Perhaps a clue is that the Tory right don’t think Osborne has gone far enough, whilst the LibDem’s representaive on Earth, Simon Hughes, has said that the cuts  are as fair as they can be.

But I can understand why an opposition that has presented no credible alternative, wants to give traction to the idealogical narrative. Dear old Alan Johnson can’t joke his way out of this one. The real difficulty for Miliband is that he cannot answer a simple question as to why they are reticent about explaining where Darling and Byrnes’s axe would have fallen had they won the last election. There must have been a plan and it must be in writing or in cyber space. I’m just amazed that nobody has leaked it yet. But it can’t be long.

Sadly, like so many of the middle aged men who inhabit the Commons the argument is all about the size of their respective choppers. The new generation. Pleeeease. It’s old men not in a hurry

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The coalition formed not out of principle but blind panic and naked ambition is falling apart. Expect resignations, for Polly Toynbee & Simon Jenkins are at war.

October 16th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

Well, at last it has happened. It had to. This coalition, conceived not out of principle, but  blind panic and naked ambition, is beginning to fall apart. Expect resignations. Expect bitter recriminations. Expect heads to roll at the very top. This is a national catastrophe. Polly Toynbee and Simon Jenkins have  fallen out in public.

For now it is just the fur beginning to fly, but soon it will be the full Halal. A slaughter of a blood splattering, goat bleating horror performed ritualistically by strange men in beards, otherwise  known as Guardian readers. The fight for the hearts, souls and wallets of this once great newspaper has begun.

Simon Jenkins’ s crime, according to Polly in her column today, is a piece he wrote a couple of days ago saying that the Coalition, “is the most left wing British government since the war”. But it gets worse. He compounds his crime by applauding the Browne report on Higher Education, as ” highly progressive” and then adds that, ” it will make university education more expensive for the rich and less for the poor”. Of course, he is correct, but the trade of running a newspapers has been corrupted from being the purveyors of accurate news to being professional reinforcers of reader’s prejudices for fear that they may jump ship. There is nothing new in this. Before the election a senior hack at the Independent was moaning to me that a perfectly accurate piece about some Green lunacy had been spiked by the editor, “as it would only upset our readers”.

The schizophrenic hell that  the Guardian now inhabits is because it panicked itself in a readership grab to support the Lib Dems, as no one with half a brain cell or an ounce of decency could possibly justify the return of a Brown Government. But now they are marooned in no man’s land. The wicked Tories are being sensibly progressive with the Lib Dems and Ed Miliband’s Labour Party stricken without a fiscal policy or how an earth to deal with the forthcoming cuts.The collective wail from the Guardian backbench is simply, “What can we doooooooo?”

Well, Captain Toynbee has blown the whistle, rallied the troops and is leading them over the top. I could almost hear the clatter of keyboard keys and smell that  toxic mixture of expensive scent, sulphur, brimstone and sheer bloody rage as her words machine-gunned from the page. Simon Jenkins is “beguiled by tokenism while ignoring unavoidable iron laws:cuts will fall unfairly”. I can’t wait for the counter attack by the delightfully mild mannered, but dangerously bright, Jenkins. He once asked the slightly bonkers, right wing Daily Mail historian, Paul Johnson,why it was that the older he gets the more radically left wing he has become. “Perhaps”, snorted Johnson, “it’s because you are a cunt”.  Not words that would quiver from the beautifully formed Toynbee lips. Yet.

But the sheer theatrical choreography of the way the the cuts are to be announced has been a joy to behold. Little teasers of rows. The possibility of resignations. The iron like grip of Osborne’s rugged determination coupled with plucky little ministers fighting their corners, has been seriously impressive. And everyones a winner. Foxy emerges as a fighter, Cameron as a conciliator and Ian Duncan Smith a cross between Mother Theresa and Albert Sweitzer.

And the Lib Dems can have their cake and it eat it. Yes, they will have to eat crow about their broken promise not to raise tuition fees. But everyone, even the students, realise that it was a daft promise. Yet a sensible and progressive compromise has been pulled from the hat. “Anyhow, chaps” says Cameron,” we have provided you with a lifeboat, you can vote against if you wish and we will still love you! But we would prefer, if it’s not too much trouble, if you didn’t”. And cocktails will be served at the Captains party when it’s all over.

But the masterstroke was to give Lib Dem MPs something for the weekend. They can claim , as Cleggy announced it, that they have wrung out of the the wicked Tories, a policy rooted in fairness, a whopping great £7 billion pounds to help the poorest of kids. And there will be more sweeties for the troops in the Sunday papers.

Fairness, fairness, fairness. All the fun of the fair. Funny how everyone has forgotten that that was the essence of Gordon Brown’s election campaign. But who cares?

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