Thursday, 11 August 2016

David Cameron's radioactive political legacy


Every Prime Minister leaves legacies. Margaret Thatcher left the Westminster establishment club utterly fixated on socially and economically ruinous hard-right neoliberal madness and the use of nasty divide and conquer propaganda, John Major left us the absolute shambles of rail privatisation, Tony Blair left the devastation of Iraq and the lawless sectarian chaos which eventually led to the rise of ISIS, Gordon Brown left us the enormous cost of bailing out the reckless bankers who had gambled themselves into insolvency, and David Cameron will always be remembered as the man who gambled the entire future of the UK in order to secure a bit of short-term political advantage at the 2015 General Election, and lost.

Cameron's failed EU gamble is clearly going to be the most significant defining legacy of his regime, but he leaves behind plenty of other toxic legacies too.

Cameron dragged the standard of political debate down from one appalling new nadir to the next; he brazenly misrepresented statistics; he evaded pretty much every parliamentary question with snidey pre-scripted put downs; he told countless outright lies to parliament and the public alike; and towards the end he even used parliamentary privilege to smear some random guy as an Islamist fanatic in an attempt to damage Sadiq Khan's London mayoral bid, when the only extremists he had actually been cavorting with was the Tooting branch of the Tory party!

Aside from losing his EU gamble and booting the standard of public debate into the gutter and then micturating on it for six revolting years, Cameron also left us the ideological vandalism of the English education system; the carve-up and mass privatisation of NHS services; a bigger increase in the national debt than every single Labour Prime Minister in history combinedan astonishing 205 unelected cronies stuffed into the House of Lords
the annihilation of local government services through ideological austeritythe longest sustained decline in wages since records beganan exponential rise in food bank dependency; 800,000 workers on exploitative Zero Hours contracts; financial sector reform booted into the long grass; the reinflation of the unsustainable house price inflation bubble; and huge numbers of deaths and suicides due to savage welfare reforms like "Bedroom Tax", sanctions targets and the WCA disability witch hunt

It would take an amazing pair of blue-tinted spectacles to remain blind to all of the damaging legacies David Cameron has created, but one of his most significant blunders simply can't be ignored because he's left his successor Theresa May in an impossible bind over the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

The deal Cameron and Osborne struck to bribe the French and Chinese into building our energy infrastructure for us is absolutely woeful. In 2013 Cameron and Osborne agreed to a ridiculous price-fixing deal to pay double the market rate for electricity from the plant for 35 years, but the estimated cost of this rip-off deal has already quintupled in just three years to £30 billion!

The deal is so bad that even George Osborne's father-in-law (a former Tory energy minister) described the deal as "one of the worst deals ever for British households and British industry".

Not a single one of the nuclear reactors of this design has ever been successfully completed, and if it does go ahead it is already projected to become the most expensive object on earth (even before the inevitable cost overruns are taken into account).

Theresa May's only sensible option would be to scrap the deal, but that would be a foreign relations disaster. Not only would it anger the French at a time when we need to avoid infuriating our European neighbours as much as possible so that the Brexit deal isn't even worse than what we're already facing, it will also enrage the Chinese.

It really isn't a great idea to offer huge bribes to the Chinese to get them on board and then slap them in the face by scrapping the whole deal. Maybe that kind of behaviour is considered acceptable in Tory circles, but in China such behaviour is a grave insult because it leaves both parties in a face-losing situation.

Theresa May has been left in a situation where she's either going to have to gravely insult the Chinese and piss off the French at pretty much the worst juncture imaginable, or continue with Cameron's plan to lumber the British public with one of the worst rip-off deals in history.

For all of her faults (of which there are many) Theresa May is a belligerent sod, so there's still a small possibility that she'd choose to enrage the Chinese by scrapping Cameron's rip-off deal. However the much most likely course of action will to be lumber it on the taxpayer with full awareness that it's an abusively poor deal, but hit them with a propaganda war to redefine it as the best thing ever.

Whichever course of action Theresa May chooses, one of David Cameron's most appalling legacies is leaving this atrocious lose-lose situation for his successors to deal with.


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