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Date: 14/01/14

If You Have Tears...

From time to time, there comes a point where satire is not merely otiose but in irredeemable bad taste.

That this should so often come as a result of a politics story perhaps should not surprise anyone any more. If the great Tom Lehrer felt that political satire became redundant when Henry Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize, one wonders how he may have felt this past week witnessing the sanctifying of a mass-murdering, genocidal grand larcenist such as Ariel Sharon as he finally raised the average Moral Quotient of living humankind by being shuffled off under the Mount of Olives, accompanied (although not, alas, for that most final stage of his journey) by some of the finest war criminals gathered in one place since they shut up shop at Nürnberg.

On a smaller, more local scale too, one may come across cases where even the arching of an eyebrow in response may be deemed to be an unnecessary act of punctuation for something which comes with a large quiver of built-in exclamation marks.

What I have in mind on this occasion is the latest eructation of stale air from that most vacuous of modern politicians, Edward Samuel Milliband MP, the phantom leader of the wraith of the Labour Party.

Ghost-writing (via Peter Mandelson's ouija board) in the Toryglyph, the Bland One claims that the British middle class is facing an unprecedented crisis. The 'economic essentials' which had underpinned that most crucial stratum of society (so crucial, in fact, that no-one can really point to what precisely is denoted by the term used to describe it) were being 'undermined' and that they were being terribly hard hit, don't you know, by reduced access to Agas, Land Rover Freelanders and annual fortnights in Fuengirola...

...Sorry, lines crossed there...I meant reduced access to further education, good quality jobs with reliable incomes, affordable housing and secure pensions.

These poor put-upons never dreamed, claimed The Cipherborg, that life would be a struggle, as they ponder where their next ciabatta was coming from, or whether they might even have to take one of their annual holidays in Britain!.

Britain needs, he flubbled on, "a strong and vibrant middle class". Just like we had in the 80s and 90s, in fact.

Indeed, so 'strong' and 'vibrant' was the middle class in that Gilded Age that they were able to get just about anything they demanded, not only of politicians but of the rest of us as well. Cheap money - offered to you by those paragons of probity, the banks - to let you buy a house too big for your requirements and a couple of cars too big for your actual needs to park in front of it? Fill yer boots! Hyperinflation of property prices? Coming right up (and up)! More and more means to sneer at those you despise for their supposed 'fecklessness' and lack of 'aspiration'? Sure thing! A nice school for Jake and Arabella, run by pushy, faux-pious snobs just like yourselves? Cram them in!

These are the true 'entitlement junkies' of our age; those who were so willingly seduced into thinking that they could have all that the high-class hookers of the ad-biz could promise, and on easy terms which need not be worried about because, after all, they had been assured that there would always, but always, be Room In The Middle.

But now - when the vultures are coming home to roost, and they start to get it into their 'stuff'-obsessed heads that The Dream was never anything more than that, and that all the consequences of their arrogant venality are starting, if not to bite their arses then at least to peck peevishly at their Prada - they seek protection from the fire-sale firestorm which they themselves spent years assiduously feeding. Now they begin, however dimly, to recognise that there is no prize without a price, that 'standing on your own two feet' is less attractive when they have to do it because their three-piece suite has been repossessed, and that all those networks of solidarity like trade unions, which they were taught from every governmental and corporate orifice to beparrot as 'wreckers' and 'the enemy within' actually existed for very good and pressingly real reasons.

And, unlike those who are, have been and will continue to be most brutally smacked about by the reducing of all worthy and worthwhile things to a monetised figure - the poor, the un- and under-employed, the chronically ill and those who, for all their efforts, just didn't get the breaks - they will find their Very-Slightly-But-Not-Too-Pink Knight lumbering over the hill on the back of a spavined old nag to raise The Beige Flag. For Truth! For Economic Justice! For Conspicuous Consumption!

For this is what politics here has now become; an ever more twisted reflection of those Old Glorious United States to which the British middle class aspire to go when they die (so long as the Experian check on their immortal soul comes back clean, of course). A politics where the only people whose suffering is deemed in any way worthy of attention are those who are likely to continue to see the point in voting at all (an ever-diminishing group, for reasons which I will leave as an exercise for the class to deduce) and who live in the few dozen constituencies which are the only ones likely to change party at any given election; a politics in which the plight of those who can genuinely be said to have been consistently on the shitty end of the stick not just for years but for generations may safely be disregarded or discounted for the same reasons.

A politics, moreover, where something which still calls itself 'The Labour Party' - albeit with the same degree of self-awareness and attachment to observable reality shown by such entities as the England cricket team - can not merely sit on the sidelines whilst those whose interests the Party was set up to defend are traduced, vilified and fucked over by far and away the nastiest and most casually and gleefully vicious British government of my lifetime (and by their agents and assistants in the print and broadcasting media), but can sit on the sidelines and actually cheer the process on, whilst promising that - in the name of the 'aspirational' and the 'squeezed middle' - they will go further still if granted the opportunity.

The British 'middle class' - however defined - is still, therefore, firmly in control of the debate; their self-described, self-centred 'needs' are still being lovingly pandered to by the political class, and their sense of deep hurt that they may have to take just a small twinge of the pain that has been visited on millions who are 'not quite their class' will still be assuaged, to the further detriment of those who are deemed to be ballot-, cannon- and distorted-reality-TV-fodder.

Perhaps they should take the advice that they have so sneeringly, jeeringly shoved in the faces of those for whom access to further education, good quality jobs with reliable incomes, affordable housing and secure pensions have long been unrealisable fantasies whilst they were having it so good for so long:

Live within your means, you arrogant, selfish twats!