Cameron is a consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant

There must be a word for people who turn other people’s tragedies to their own benefit. That is, a word that wouldn’t set publicity-hungry Daily Mail readers into a full-blown “Fury”, if it appeared in an Nintendo version of Scrabble. I stole the phrase above from a TV comedian. (Sorry, I forget who it was. I’ll credit him or her if I remember.) It has the advantage that you can fit quite a few cusswords into the template and still be sure that you’ve made an accurate judgment.

In this case, Cameron is speaking to the Daily Mail readers. (consonant, vowel, consonant, consonants to the power of 1 million or so) The topical prop for his speech is the case of Shannon Matthews. Shannon became Maddie-level famous when she was “abducted.” Her mother made tearful TV pleas for her return, sobbing to camera, while clutching a cuddly toy. Oh, and tried to get the sort of millionaires who stumped up for the Madeleine McCann appeal to give her loads of money. Her use of the people around her and the media was as masterly as you’d expect from a Jeremy Kyle devotee. (Sobs, props, appeals to class and community loyalty, going straight for the emotional jugular every time.)

Only it turned out that the mother had planned the whole scheme. The child was being hidden, drugged, in the mother’s boyfriend’s flat a few streets away from her home. Mother and boyfriend were arrested. The child was reportedly much happier being looked after by the kidnapper than her mother or current father-substitute.

Hell seems to have no fury like a tabloid tricked. Shannon’s mother has now become the archetypal underclass hate figure. And if the right-wing tabloids and their ideological chums in the Conservative Party (and New Labour, sadly) have been made to look like gullible consonant, vowel, consonant, consonants by one poor person, the poor are surely going to have to pay.

Hence Cameron’s bizarre column in the Daily Mail
DAVID CAMERON: There are 5 million people on benefits in Britain. How do we stop them turning into Karen Matthews?

As if that is an ever-present danger…. One in 5 million. That seems like a very very low ratio of “Karen Matthews” to “people on benefits.” Unless she has some strange epidemic condition and isn’t so much going to jail as getting put into quarantine.

As far as I can see that makes 4,999,999 people on benefits who haven’t kidnapped anyone. Who somehow manage to survive almost on air alone and still don’t feel the need to drug their own children to keep them quiet in their kidnap-den.

Why stop at people in benefits? Karen Matthews was female. How do we stop x million women turning into Karen Matthews. Well, they’d have to have children. How do you stop a lower-value-of-x people turning into Karen Matthews? Or Northerners? Or people whose first names start with K?

It turns out that Cameron has strung together a few isolated and horrible incidents involving children, (spread over a couple of years) to say that Britain is b0rked. And the solution is – guess what – not expanding the life opportunities or providing better support for kids on the edge- but

And, yes, we do need tougher punishment, longer sentences and more prison places. But it’s not enough just to treat the symptoms of social breakdown – we need to treat its causes.
The Conservative plan starts with supporting families. ….. ”

By cutting benefits, if you read past the rest of the waffle.

If that’s being supportive, I’d hate to see what constitutes undermining.

The Guardian/Observer website has a report on the Tory benefits plans.

Tories to probe long-term jobless
Out-of-work families face close scrutiny of their children and home life under new opposition proposals

Blimey, it’s almost worth celebrating the massive recession we are apparently entering, if only because lots of Mail-reading people might suddenly find themselves forced to experience what it is really like to survive on benefits. To become “scroungers”, even πŸ™‚

Lord Palmerston vs Pitt the Elder

The Tories have been playing a game that looks a lot like the bar room argument from an old Simpsons episode.

At Moe’s Tavern…

Barney: And I say, England’s greatest Prime Minister was Lord Palmerston!
Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!!
Barney: Lord Palmerston!!!
Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!!!! [pokes Barney]
Barney: Okay, you asked for it, bud! [punches him out]
Moe: Yeah, that’s showing him, Barney! [scoffing] Pitt the Elder…
Barney: Lord Palmerston!!!! [punches Moe] (from

Except in the Tories’ case, it’s a survey on “greatest Tory ever” and the Conservative Party show less understanding of political reality than Barney and Moe.

(I won’t make any jokes like “the only good Tory is..” Some, eg David Davies, have even been known to do the right thing on occasion.)

Ironically, given the present global meltdown of the financial system, they chose Mrs Thatcher over alternative Tory leaders such as Churchill and Disraeli. Hmm. (Lord Palmerston was both a Tory (Conservative) and a Whig (Liberal) according to wikipedia, so maybe he doesn’t count. Pitt the Elder was a Whig so he definitely wouldn’t count anyway.)

You can’t just blame Margaret Thatcher – you can blame the idiots who fawned on her and voted for her, for a start. Mainly, you can blame the global tide of neo-liberal economic policies.

But it was her mission to dismantle most of what remained of the UK manufacturing sector, giving people the bizarre ideas that

  • as long as the rich are getting ever richer, the economy must be sound
  • messing about with money is a reliable basis on which to base a national economy
  • rising property prices are somehow putting wealth into the economy as a whole rather than making a few property speculators wealthy
  • private companies are so much more efficient than nationalised companies that the taxpayer will magically save money by letting private companies profit from providing public services
  • and plenty more than doesn’t stand the test of a moment’s consideration, if you factor in the awareness that markets fluctuate
  • but makes lots of sense if your backers are going to profit from your “reforms”

(Amazingly, the nuLab part of the Labour Party is also mesmerised by this tosh.)

It’s quite funny that the Tories are choosing the moment at which the mad vapour-industries of finance are self-destructing to align themselves with the personification of the stupidity that allowed these industries free rein. Not as funny as the Simpsons, admittedly. Moe and Barney could probably form a more effective government.