Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Greased Weasel Escapes!
With one bound Tony was free. He got away today, he'll get away tomorrow. There won't be any great breakthrough and the chances are that Blair will jump long before he's anywhere near being pushed. Still, with all that, this is perhaps the worst of all possible worlds for Blair.
For a start, while Blair has quelled the rebels this time, rebellion is apt to become a habit. Blair has, once again, resorted to the diva gambit - threatening to take his ball home if the vote goes against him - but this only works a certain number of times (and, indeed, only partially worked this time).In this case the rebels have succeeded in getting significant concessions - which will hardly deter them from trying again later.
About those concessions: the tuition fees idea was never well thought out but the bill as passed is a legislative monstrosity. Students will be charged huge fees, since they'll make a shed-load of cash later, except they won't pay the fees if their parents are poor. Like, why? Surely if mere graduation results in being swept away by a tidal wave of filthy lucre then it hardly matters who your parents are ? The main result of these concessions is that the lower middle class will take it in the shorts again. If you haven't worked since Lady T was at the helm, then the Government will throw money at you. Similarly, if you're filthy rich then who cares ? Nice of the government to knock out some of Orlando and Olivia's competition. In short, smackheads and lawyers are in clover, cops and nurses are going to get the hammer. Again.
This isn't Labour's Poll Tax - the point about the poll tax is that everyone paid it, while tuition fees impact worst on those who actually work for a living. Neither the partners at Scumbag, Weasel and Slime nor their clients really give a rat's backside. If tuition fees are a replay of anything, then it's the collapse of the housing market in the early nineties. Then, people felt betrayed by a Conservative Government that had encouraged house ownership yet (so Liberals claimed) had let buyers sink into negative equity. Note that it was the perception, rather than the reality (and how exactly was the Conservative Party responsible for the market doing what markets do anyway ?) that did for John Major. There's no such ambiguity here: Blair talked about education, education, education and served. up debt, debt, debt. He's betrayed the aspirations of the very people whose support put him in No 10 in the first place.
They won't like it.