Goodbye and good riddance

21 March, 2016 (20:52) | All articles | By: Stuart Fraser

SINCE Friday, I’ve been trying to imagine what it must be like to contemplate a life in which you are looking up, up at Iain Duncan Smith on the moral high ground.

How cataclysmic a shambles do you have to have made of your humanity to be lectured on unfairness and inequality by Iain Duncan Smith?

Only the vacuity and venality of Duncan Smith’s former Cabinet colleagues can help them sleep; how, otherwise, could they live with being more unkind, more incompetent, more disliked than the man who, among other things, presided over perhaps the single most petty, vindictive, incompetent and pointless piece of legislation ever enacted in this country, fit-to-work assessments for the disabled?

I feel almost as sorry for Duncan Smith’s opponents: for six long years, six long years, we’ve been yelling ourselves blue in the face:

‘The Conservatives haven’t changed – they’re incompetent, petty, greedy, selfish, cruel and willing to punish the poorest and sickest in society in order to enrich the corrupt corporations who bought their election, and the compliant middle classes who are prepared to tolerate any cruelty so long as they can gaze slack-jawed at soap operas and football on their 48-inch flatscreen tellies.’

And now? All the influential people who’ve been turning a deaf ear to these essential truths suddenly woke up in the wake of The Resignation and discovered:

‘The Conservatives haven’t changed – they’re incompetent, petty, greedy, selfish, cruel and willing to punish the poorest and sickest in society in order to enrich the corrupt corporations who bought their election, and the compliant middle classes who are prepared to tolerate any cruelty so long as they can gaze slack-jawed at soap operas and football on their 48-inch flatscreen tellies.’’

There they all were, the analysts, the first-person opinion-givers standing where news journalists used to stand, spouting all this and wondering how they were going to break the news about the toilet habits of bears and the religious preferences of pontiffs.

So Iain Duncan Smith, the liars’ liar, is appalled at the inequality and unfairness of Conservative policy? Well, chum, it would have carried a lot more weight if you’d realised what shits your friends were at the same time as the rest of us, i.e. before they got their grubby little hands in the till thanks to 24% of the electorate.

But no. Doubtless he will now join that sage company of wise men and women formerly in positions of power, trotted out to share their wisdom on the news of the day. I always chuckle – or clench my fist – when I hear Lords Lawson and Lamont asked for their opinion on economics. Given their records of economic depression, fiscal cock-ups and negative equity, it always strikes me as somewhat akin to asking an ape for its opinion on the theory of relativity.

Osborne – one day to be Lord Osborne, of course – will one day join that august company, and his record of shattering incompetence will fit him well for the role.

But there’s one great thing to come from all this, one great shout of an answer to all the nay-sayers who whine ‘well what are you doing about it’, one great shout of an answer to all the  cowards who say ‘there’s no point getting angry about something, you’ll never change anything’:

We saw a particularly nasty piece of petty Tory policy, we protested in our hundreds of thousands and we stopped the bastards!

Two lessons from that:

One, never forget the names of the cowardly, bullying Tory yes-men and women who voted for this revolting policy, including, in our part of Cornwall, Sheryl Murray and Scott Mann – not fit to lick the boots of some of their predecessors.

Two, bring on the next challenge. At the moment it looks like the Tories’ attempt to hand over education to their business chums through the forced academisation programme. More than 100,000 of us have already signed a petition on the No 10 website to force a new debate, and we all must make sure we fight this to the last breath.

Why? Just choose a few of the arguments.

There is no evidence that academies deliver better outcomes than democratically accountable local authority schools, the model we’ve had for decades. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary.

Academies can have control over formerly publicly-owned land, with all the development temptations that involves.

Academies – and here comes the naked attempt to de-unionise the profession – don’t have to employ properly qualified or monitored teachers.

Academies don’t have to follow nationally-agreed standards or safety procedures or curriculum guides.

It’s all about handing control to local people, say the Tories. And they’re lying Again. Local people already have control of education through their local authority and their elected parent governors, both of which are to be taken away. This is handing control to somebody, certainly, but it has as much to do with local democracy as Iain Duncan Smith had to do with fairness and equality.

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