Friday, May 14, 2010

opening the cabinet

More importantly than anything else, we are going to form a new kind of government; I hope this is the start of a new kind of politics I have always believed in. Diverse, plural, where politicians with different points of view find a way to work together
- Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Ministerial acceptance speech, 11 May 2010

At least nineteen of the 28 listed Cabinet members are millionaires. Two thirds of them are privately educated, including three old Etonians and three who went to Westminster.

A year ago David Cameron pledged

by the end of our first Parliament I want a third of all my ministers to be female

There'll have to be a serious reshuffle then, as the new Cabinet is just 14% women.

The only non-white member says it's 'humbling' to be in the Cabinet. Not surprising, given how humble a position she's got - Minister Without Portfolio, Tory party chair, making the tea and passing the biscuits.

For the first time in well over a decade, there are no openly gay Cabinet members.

Diverse, plural

But enough of who's not there, who's actually in?

The Lib Dem cabinet members are overwhelmingly from the Orange Book, a collection of writings from powerful Lib Dem top brass, setting out a concerted rightward lurch for the party, basically doing to them what the Blairites did to Labour, moving public services to private hands.

politicians with different points of view

Tom Lehrer said that satire died the moment Henry Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize. This side of the Atlantic we just got our version of that. There seems to have been some extensive irony going on in choosing who does what in the new Cabinet. Many of them have beliefs and history that makes them totally unfit for their given post.

Oliver Letwin - Minister for Policy

After the banks led us into a financial crisis, who do we want to be in charge as Minister of Policy? How about a guy who has spent years being a director of NM Rothschild, one of the world's biggest investment banks, and indeed still holds such a position?

As long as that 'national interest' they're telling us about is the same thing as the interests of enormous global financial conglomerates, we'll be fine.

Theresa May - Home Secretary and Minister for Equalities

By tacking the Equalities brief on to the far more weighty Home Secretary, they're essentially sidelining it. And no wonder. The Tory record on equality is appalling. Right through the Labour years they opposed almost every effort to advance LGBT equality.

This post was going to be Chris Grayling's until he disgraced himself during the election campaign by saying that B&B owners should be able to refuse customers on grounds of sexual orientation.

But Theresa May's record on equality is also barbarous. She consistently voted against gay rights, wanting to retain clause 28, ban gay adoption and keep the unequal age of consent. She's still been a homophobe at the most recent opportunity, 2008's vote to say IVF treatment should have a male role model (so lesbians and single women are unworthy of parenthood).

Ken Clarke - Justice

And in case it wasn't ironic enough making a proven long-term bigot into Equalities Minister, we get this guy.

He's personally trousered millions as a board member of British American Tobacco. A major player in perhaps the only industry whose products kill customers when used properly, BAT is responsible for over five million deaths a year.

BAT has been criticised by Christian Aid for its treatment of tobacco farmers. But its record on this, and documents indicating their involvement in smuggling their products, have been glossed over by their king of Corporate Social Responsibility - Ken Clarke.

Ten years ago Vietnam, where all cigarette sales were state produced and controlled, had a large black market in Western cigarettes. Ken Clarke had plainly said that BAT acts to ensure 'that our brands will be available alongside those of our competitors in the smuggled as well as the legitimate market'.

The Vietnamese government stepped up its customs activities and stemmed the flow of contraband tobacco, cutting demand. The tobacco barons supplying that black market weren't at all pleased. Vietnamese customs officers were murdered, and in June 2001 Mr Justice himself Ken Clarke went in to negotiate with the government. Within weeks they'd agreed to let BAT open the first private tobacco factory in the country.

William Hague - Foreign Secretary

William Hague is one of the legion of unelectable twitchy right armed slapheads the Tory membership chose as leader, until the party's selection process was de-democratised and they installed a post-Blair leader in the shape of Cameron.

Hague - our representative to the other nations of the world - is notoriously hostile to the EU as a concept and an entity.

Leading the Tories to their crushing 2001 election defeat he criticised Labour as 'a government that holds Britishness cheap' and foresaw the Tories getting new votes from 'good, patriotic people who may be lifelong supporters of another party but who are not willing to watch their country being handed away.'

Andrew Lansley - Health

I've written about this guy before. He wants to remove 'traffic light' labelling of food, as giving people information about how healthy things are is 'nannying' them (ie discouraging them from buying the higher-profit junk food). He then said there's no excuse for people being overweight (even though he is).

Watch the Tories try to cut health spending on things they deem to be your own fault.

Why is obesity and tobacco addiction my own fault, yet when smug fucks go round being Tory in public, it's not their own fault that reasonable people slam their heads into walls? Inconsistency or what?

Chris Huhne - Energy and Climate Change

This one went to the Lib Dems. Chris Huhne is another Orange Book freemarketeer. I've written about Huhne before too:

He got a first from Oxford in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He made his millions as a City economist, then he became an economics journalist before he moved into politics. His time as an MEP was spent on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Once he became an MP, he was the LibDems Treasury spokesperson. His wife was Chief Economist at the Department of Trade and Industry.

The man's an economist to the marrow, a believer in the free market above all. His deliberately crooked logic when challenged shows his adherence to the goodness of the market is faith rather than reason.

He is, then, no different from David Cameron, Gordon Brown or Melanie Phillips. They use the language of concern to distract and delay proper response to climate change because they have an over-riding need to help rich institutions get even richer.

The creatures outside looked from Clegg to Cameron, and from Cameron to Clegg, and from Clegg to Cameron again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How many of the cabinet are from the south of England ?

Take a look at the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The Tories have appointed a former chief economist with none other than the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Says it all !