Sunday, 10 October 2010

To each according to their needs

Thank goodness! For a while I thought the Coalition Government was going to be the Nasty Party that swallowed the Liberal Democrats. But not a bit of it. At every opportunity they say they want dish out the pain (which obviously we must all endure) absolutely fairly. This is almost raunchy, a kind of socialist sado-masochism: "This Big Society is going to hurt me just as much as it hurts you."

Who wouldn't be for fairness? As a loyal follower of these electric paragraphs you'll know that I'm an experienced but redundant teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages. Arguably, my profession makes a useful contribution economically and socially. I find redundancy is positively thrilling, though, in an SM kind of way, which is lucky because our extremely wealthy Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Eton-educated chum the PM keep saying there has to be lots more of it. But it will be FAIR. I guess this means that any over-privileged oik who got to Oxbridge to do a science degree but sold his horrible little soul to work in the City instead will find himself having to make way for, say, all the librarians, nurses, and dinner ladies, that his salary and bonuses are worth.

When you think about it, it's as if the Squire and his brother the Parson have suddenly expressed an interest in forming a co-operative with their tenants, or as if, back further in time, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have decided to become Levellers or Diggers. Going even further back, it would be like the Lord of the Manor telling his villeins and serfs that they can keep all their produce to stick in the potage and feed the children with. Because the Tories have to acknowledge that they represent a historical pattern that advantages some at the expense of others.

But fair's fair. Now you won't be able to have more children and expect those easy-going and easily put-upon readers of the Daily Mail to stump up for their upkeep via their taxes and your benefits. Similarly, the Government now has a scientifically proven device to detect whether your benefit claim isn't actually a life-style choice. No shirking now for you. In just the same way all those high-earners legally avoiding taxation will have to shovel the gold back onto the boat and sail it into the Treasury. Likewise, the banks propped up by those of us now redundant or soon to be will find that unbridled capitalism is no longer worthy in itself. From now on the Tory Party and their Liberal apologists will mercilessly challenge free-market economics in the name of all that's Fair. So look out if you got a handsome bonus last time round, despite nearly sinking the economy; the revolution is here at last.

It's ironic. Just as when Tony Blair came to power in 1997 he stumped the Conservatives by turning the Labour Party into the Conservative Party, now David Cameron and George Osborne have pulled the rug from under the left, and from now on the struggle will be for fairness. I confidently expect to see the following on the podiums of various ministers as they face the cameras: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." However, as a redundant English teacher looking for work, I would - for a price - offer to adjust this famous dictum to include women. And if anyone wants an argument about pronouns, I'm your man.

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