The bell tolls for the PR PM

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Opinion piece
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When I hear David Cameron spout the latest of his tiresome catchphrases: “hard-working families”; “long-term plan”; “Britain paying its way”, I can never get the image of his Public Relations background out of my head. He is a political PR Tickle-Me-Elmo.

“Mr Cameron, me and my partner are struggling to keep a roof over our heads with these record rent rises. What can you do to…”


“Umm okay, but I don’t see how that helps…”

“Aspiration nation! Own your own home and find fulfilment!”

“David, are you actually listening to me?”

“Our long-term plan is working! Don’t let Labour ruin it like they did when they caused the global financial crash!”

*sound of footsteps hurrying away*

The most complimentary thing anybody said about Margaret Thatcher is that she was a ‘conviction’ politician. It sounds impressive, even if she had to manufacture a war and move the ‘wets’ who disagreed with her handing over of assets to spivs and speculators out of the cabinet, to carry through her ‘convictions’. Since the Patron Saint of Greed was ushered out by her own party, the leaders following in her wake have had a conundrum: how can one be a conviction politician anymore, when one’s party is largely financed by the financial and corporate sector, who also own most of the national media? John Major found this an impossible job. Some may argue his convictions ensured the peace process in Ireland was carried through, but other than this he was brought down essentially by the Tory far-right factions demanding more, despite them having carte-blanche for the whole of Thatcher’s tenure. From the most successful elected Prime Minister in recent history in terms of outright votes, Major finished as a lame duck PM, with the country glad to cast out the sleaze-ridden Conservatives for a new start under a Labour government.

Tony Blair, despite his anointment as the new hope, turned out to just be a sublimely presented corporate spokesperson. Unlike Major, Blair had a more balanced party, but he himself was the hollow messiah. He stood for nothing but winning elections. Having researched Labour’s many defeats to Thatcher and Major, Blair imagined that the electorate fully supported the Neoliberal consensus, while the financial and corporate sectors liked having their bellies tickled. Unfortunately, it seems the fraud supreme was right, and each following Prime Minister is nothing more than a totem of corporate supremacy, with very little wriggle-room for radical redistribution or renationalisation policies. When he called himself the ‘heir to Blair’, Cameron was essentially revealing what many suspected: he was made Conservative leader to be the acceptable PR-friendly face of the continuing corporate takeover of all public assets. Much like Blair was put in place solely to appease the sceptical City of London and finally win Labour an election, Cameron was appointed solely to appease the sceptical electorate and finally win the Tories an election. And he failed, but was propped up anyway.

We can all see what his mission was: utilise the five years of power to privatise Royal Mail and the NHS, and put in place the building blocks to privatise schools and higher education, as well as the criminal justice system, then attempt to be re-elected to finish the job. This Neoliberal project is bigger than Cameron. It is his corporate donors and the City of London who insist it is completed, Cameron is merely a shiny spokesperson to lie to the voters about the Tories’ intentions. You only have to reference the Circle Healthcare Hinchingbrooke hospital debacle to see that the Tories are enacting ‘pay-as-you-go’ policies for donors, at the expense of the general public.

Circle, of course, bankrolled the office of Andrew Lansley, progenitor of the 2012 Health and Social Care Bill that opened up swathes of the NHS to private providers.

So when we see the increasingly desperate shots at the Leader of the Opposition, coupled with a complete lack of intellectual depth when answering complex social questions, we can see that Cameron has reached his limits. Even he cannot defend the indefensible, despite being a housewives’ favourite.

The previously unelectable Ed Miliband has seemingly been boosted by the transparent attempts to demonise and lampoon him in the Murdoch press, but he has also sounded like he actually has ideas to tackle social problems. When he stated in a recent speech that the welfare state and NHS “did not appear because nice politicians came long, but because the public demanded it”, he instantly invigorated my interest. Imagine, a modern politician not saying they have all the answers, but saying that public will can shape the country instead. Little chance one might think under our two-party First-Past-The-Post tactical voting nightmare, but perhaps Ed might prove better than the lesser of two evils. I for one do not trust the current Labour party to dismantle any significant aspects of the Neoliberal project, but if truly progressive parties like the Greens could enter into a coalition, maybe the crushing tide of crony corporate plutarchy might finally start to turn.


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