Tuesday 12 August 2008

Don't talk wet!

Many views have been expressed both for and against Brown in recent weeks (bet you can't guess which side I'm on...). But, in the midst of all the speculation as to whether or not there's going to be a leadership challenge in the autumn (I hope there is!), I notice one piece of unintentional comic relief. Namely, John Prescott's comparison of New Labour to the Titanic (BBC News: Valid point but unfortunate metaphor).

Prescott was intending to say that the Titanic was sunk by the iceberg, not by its captain. Yet what Prescott seems to have overlooked, is that the Titanic was sailing rather too fast in an area known to be hazardous due to icebergs. What's more, there was pressure on the Titanic crew to recklessly increase the speed, in order to cut the journey time and maximise White Star Line's profits.

Likewise, the economic problems of the UK, and the government's seeming inability to deal effectively with them, have been - at best - greatly exacerbated by the New Labour government's commitment to neoliberal free-market policies. Fuel, food and water price hikes are all the product of the free market's pursuit of profit at all costs, and the credit crunch is the result of poverty wages leading people to borrow money which they become unable to pay back. Yet rather than consider renationalisation of the energy companies, price curbs and a decent minimum wage, this government is hell bent on further privatisation (often in the form of PFI) and shifting the tax burden onto the poor. Hardly a recipe for economic stability, let alone social justice!

Back to the Titanic - where the White Star Line rode roughshod over the safety and welfare of its passengers - this has been repeated time and time again. Most obviously, we saw it in the Herald of Free Enterprise sinking in the 1980's, but we have also seen it in Railtrack's many avoidable train disasters, and on countless building sites etc.

But staying with the nautical theme, the film The Perfect Storm has at least one parallel with Titanic. Although it was a hurricane which sunk the Andrea Gail, the crew of sword-fishermen were under pressure to get back to shore as quickly as possible, in order to 'set the market' for the swordfish which they caught. Which is why the Andrea Gail ended up sailing through, and sinking in, a vicious hurricane.

Speaking of perfect storms, the economic gloom and the government's disastrous poll ratings, seem to be combining with an increase in industrial action (such as the recent local government workers' strike) and grassroots protests (such as the recent protests against E-ON's new coal power station in Kent). Hopefully these will come together to create a political hurricane from the left which will not only sink Brown and his New Labour cronies, but also shipwreck the capitalist system which is so beloved by all Establishment politicians :-)

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