Greetings, my fellow members of the Anti-Growth Coalition!
Well I know the current (whoops, nearly said “interim”) prime minister Liz “Disas” Truss didn’t specifically single out the New European’s readers and contributors as denizens of that newly imagined foul cohort but I definitely got the feeling that we’re in there somewhere, didn’t you?
As far as I can tell, the “Anti-Growth Coalition” consists of pretty much everyone except Ms Truss herself, some – but by no means all – of her parliamentary party, and the somewhere between 20 and 25% of the electorate who, according to unrelentingly brutal opinion polls, still find something to support in this increasingly shambolic vestigial administration.
I’ve been a bit busy since Liz “Preposs” Truss’s address to the Conservative Party conference (I’m on tour, since you ask; dates at mitchbenn.com) so I haven’t really been able to gauge what effect the speech had on the party’s rapidly dissolving morale, but even at the time I got the feeling that the “Anti-Growth Coalition” wasn’t quite landing as a boo-line as emphatically as Ms Truss and her speechwriters (one imagines she does have speechwriters although you never know) might have hoped.
I think the problem might be that simply repeating the word “growth” six or seven times in every sentence didn’t manage to anchor it in the minds of the listeners as the only thing worth working towards in a country that’s economically imploding AND literally up to its knees in its own effluent just now, and as such merely decrying one’s enemies as “anti-growth” doesn’t immediately establish them as The Bad Guys.
So if the “Anti-Growth Coalition” doesn’t catch on as nice umbrella term for the enemies of the people, here are some alternatives that Ms Truss and her advisers might consider:
THE LEAGUE OF MOANING MINNIES
Since Ms Truss is so keen to emulate (and indeed, imitate and impersonate) her idol Margaret Thatcher in as many ways as possible, why not appropriate one of the Iron Lady’s own verbal barbs? Mrs Thatch, those of you of a certain age will recall, was fond of dismissing those who questioned her methods, expressed reservations about her policies or who noted her apparent total lack of anything resembling human emotions as “moaning minnies” and the tabloids, always keen on alliteration, lapped it up. So that’s a win-win for Ms Truss; her enemies dismissed and her claim on Mrs. T’s legacy reinforced with two simple words. And no silly hat required.
THE LEGION OF HERETICS AND DEVIANTS
It’s increasingly obvious that Ms Truss and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng are now pursuing their policy of “trickledown” economics and tax cuts at all (literally ALL) costs as a matter of pure political faith, given that everyone with even one foot still in the real world is decrying it as fiscal suicide. That is the only explanation. Well, apart from the possibility that they’re essentially engaging in insider trading on a colossal scale by deliberately tanking the nation’s economy in order to enrich certain people who might be in a position to return the favour one day, but ABSOLUTELY NOBODY IS SUGGESTING THAT THIS IS THE CASE. Perish the thought.
So if policies are now to be pursued as religious doctrine, it follows that all who reject that doctrine must be decried as unbelievers and despoilers of the faith. I’m sure Jacob Rees Mogg is already relishing the task of thinking up suitable punishments (and then scourging himself for having such lustful thoughts).
THE COALITION AGAINST GROWTH
One possible unforeseen way in which coining the term “Anti-Growth Coalition” might yet backfire is that it does something which is very difficult to achieve: it unites progressives under a single name.
As everyone on the left-ish side of the political spectrum knows all too wearily well, trying to get liberals and progressives to work together towards common goals is like herding particularly uncooperative cats, whereas uniting big and small C conservatives seems to be depressingly easy. But by dismissing them all with a common epithet, Ms Truss may have inadvertently provided them with a common banner ’neath which to assemble.
However, by the simple expedient of providing a few alternatives – the Coalition Against Growth, the Anti-Growing League, The Pro-Shrinkage Alliance – the government could easily return the progressive wing to its usual schism-happy self as furious arguments break out as to which label to go by. “Excuse me, is this the Anti-Growth Coalition?” “Naff off, this is the Counter-Expansionist Front”…
POEM OF THE WEEK
There can be no hesitation
There can be no ifs or buts
The economy’s collapsing
So it’s time to find some cuts!
Twelve years of austerity
It’s like it didn’t happen
The rich demand their tax breaks
So get those scissors snappin’.
Our every public service
Has been pared down to the bone
But those hedge fund managers’ bonuses
Won’t get paid on their own.
As the door to Europe closes
The one to everywhere else shuts
Though our belts can draw no tighter
It’s time to find some cuts