Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

MODERN TIMES: The Dinosaur Column

In Dinosaur on September 3, 2014 at 8:01 pm


The old soft shoe (re)shuffle:

July was the month chosen by Cameron for his Cabinet re-shuffle – a bright shiny new mix, all ready and prepared for next year’s General Election.

The PM chose to go down the road of “Blair’s Babes”, who were paraded in front of the press photographers back when “New Labour” came to power. This time we had a line-up of power-dressing and stiletto heels to get the photographers drooling.  I suspect that much of it is window dressing for the benefit of the more impressionable voters. It may all look different, but the policies remain the same.

But perhaps more significant is the humiliation of Michael Gove. His removal from education is a demotion however we look at it. He’s been replaced by one Nicky Morgan, about whom I know very little at this stage. Apart from the potted press reports, of course – which don’t endear her to me one jot.

And spare a thought for poor old William Hague who has been ditched as Foreign Secretary. Now he’s a man who’d come a long way since he first appeared as a precocious teenager at one of Thatcher’s Tory Party conferences – but he’s mostly made it in fits and starts. His spell as Party leader got him nowhere, and now I gather he plans to quit the Commons altogether at the next election.  I’m sure we wish him an uneventful retirement.

David Cameron was quick to label his new Cabinet as one that “reflects modern Britain”.  No, David, it doesn’t. It doesn’t even reflect the modern Tory Party, except in terms of the policies that will continue to be promoted. It’s merely a glossy, superficial facade.  But behind these changes, nothing’s changed.

“Lethargic and depressed”:
Meanwhile, I hear that local Tories in the constituencies have been warning Cameron that membership of the party is in sharp decline. There is, they claim, a continuing “mass exodus”, and “lethargic and depressed” supporters.

In Cameron’s own constituency in the leafy east Cotswolds, there’s been a loss of 170 members alone. Across the board, there’s been a drop of some ten per cent in membership over the last couple of years. Some have just slipped below the radar whilst others have wandered off in the direction of UKIP (including the Hon. Member for Clacton).

Is there any connection between all this and Cameron’s re-shuffle, I wonder?

It’s the way that you say it:
Words slip easily into our vocabulary (just as others just disappear without trace). Particularly under the kind of government we have to endure these days. Many have been around for a long time, but they develop a distinctly skewed meaning.

Let’s look at a few examples. The word “Skiver” for example. It’s used to describe anyone who has no job (and no private income to fall back on). Maybe disabled or simply been made unemployed – but he/she is still a skiver and of course is therefore a burden on the state.

On the other hand we have “entrepreneur”. Now this is a good thing to be. The entrepreneur works hard, has lots of ideas and makes loadsa money. He/she’s good for the economy, has a nice home (or two) and is the kind of person we need more of.

The word “militant” has been around a long time. Once upon a time, the Salvation Army described itself as the “church militant”. Then it became a political tendency. And now it’s used to describe any trade unionist who stands up for the rights of the union membership. “Militant trade unions” are definitely a bad thing. We’d be a lot better off without them- or so we’re told.

Remembering Tony Benn:
It was good to hear Tony Benn’s grand-daughter, Emily Benn, paying tribute to her grandfather at Tolpuddle in July.  And just as good to hear that Glastonbury organiser, Michael Eavis, has also remembered Tony – who made a number of appearances at the Festival.

Eavis described Tony Benn as a “fantastic fellow” who was “highly principled…  We’re going to miss him”. The “Left Field Tower” at the festival site (originally built by GMB apprentices from the Appledore shipyard) is being re-named  the “Benn Tower of Strength”, said Michael Eavis.



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