In Kafka’s The Castle, officials from the 'castle' go to extraordinary lengths to conceal their presence in the village, where those who rely on their administration live. Meetings with petitioners are held in the middle of the night, and so sensitive are the officials to the possibility of being confronted by a villager that they hide in their rooms at the village’s inn until the right moment to dash out to their carriage and depart.
Less than 48 hours after the election of the Tory government, thousands took to the streets in a spontaneous demonstration that ended up at the Conservative Party HQ. They were kettled and attacked by the police.
In the last Parliament, people with disabilities who challenged government cuts were labelled extremists. Political opposition was weakened by a fear of being seen as on the side of ‘scroungers’. But with more cuts coming, perhaps that is about to change. As more and more lives are affected, awareness of just how bad these policies are is growing.
The prevailing fiction of our times is that the private sector is better at running things than the public sector. This has been the ideology we’ve lived under since Margaret Thatcher. And despite evidence to the contrary, politicians in Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats all seem wedded to it.
Shock does not produce reasoned reaction. No one was expecting a majority Conservative government and, despite the fact that Labour increased its share of the vote by 1.5 per cent over the Tories' 0.8 per cent, the parliamentary arithmetic meant that Friday's news was defined as a Labour wipe-out.
After the Labour Party’s disappointing results in the UK General Election, some senior figures are urging it to move still further to the right. But this could be electorally damaging, as well as ethically questionable.
On Friday, when David Cameron stood outside Downing Street to address the nation, he struck a less strident note then he has for some time. He talked about giving the poorest a chance for 'training, a job, and hope for the future'. He seemed in his speech to be reclaiming the mantle of the compassionate Conservative he appeared to be back in 2009/10. I wish I could believe him.